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On Sight Newsletter

Sent February 10, 2015


Fund Development Updates 

Gifts and grants help us change lives 

$5,000 Grant Awarded to Wisconsin Council of the Blind & Visually Impaired (WCBVI) from WI Department of Veterans Affairs


On January 15,Executive Director Loretta Himmelsbach accepted a $5,000 grant from Governor Scott Walker and Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs Board Member Larry Kutschma at the State Capitol in Madison, Wisconsin.

The Council is excited to begin putting these funds to work. The grant will fund the development of a Low Vision Support Group in Rock County and four one-on-one technology visits. The first support group session will be held in April 2015 and monthly sessions will continue on a pilot basis until December 2015.

In addition to the Support Group development and assistive technology education provided, the Council will partner with the Middleton VA in Madison to offer a statewide webinar. The webinar, “Benefits and Support for Veterans with Low Vision,” is slated for September 2015.

Special thanks go out to WCBVI’s Board Member Gary Traynor, Calvin Tucker from Dryhootch Madison, and Kurt Brunner, VIST Coordinator at Williams S. Middleton VA in Madison for their assistance in the beginning stages of the grant proposal process, and to the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs for supporting nonprofit organizations that serve veterans and families. This grant will further the Council’s efforts in fulfilling its mission.


The Big Share – March 3, 2015

Tuesday, March 3 will be the first ever online giving day in Wisconsin hosted by Community Shares of Wisconsin (CSW), The Big Share™, to benefit 70 local nonprofits, including the Wisconsin Council of the Blind & Visually Impaired. The goal is to raise funds to benefit our nonprofit member groups and continue the work building a fair, just community and protecting our environment.

Please share this announcement with your friends, family and business networks to help spread the word! The minimum gift is $10 and there is no maximum gift amount. You or donors in your network can schedule your gift online now!

No special plans for Valentine’s Day? Share your love for the Council that day by scheduling your gift ahead of time! Visit to access the pledging page. Your credit or debit card will be charged on March 3 and we will receive your gift shortly thereafter.

Thank you to everyone in our community for your continued support and spreading the word about The Big Share!



Event Reminder: Bowling Social
For Adults Who Are Blind and Visually Impaired in Wisconsin

We will be hosting a bowling event on February 28, 2015 at Wagner’s Bowling Alley in Eau Claire, Wisconsin from noon to 4 pm in conjunction with the Eau Claire Noon Lions Club. The goal of this event is to provide a great networking opportunity for people who are blind or visually impaired and most of all – to have fun! The event will include up to three games of bowling, bowling shoes, soda, pizza, and prizes. There will also be a 50/50 drawing (you must be present to win).

Please share this event with your networks. We are limited to offering this opportunity to only 40 people, so reserve your space soon by calling Patrick at 608-237-8120 or via email at The registration fee is $20.00 and proceeds from this event will be used for more recreational opportunities around Wisconsin hosted by WCVBI. This specific event is open to people ages 14 and over. Youth 14 – 18 must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.

There may be stipends available to cover the registration fee. Carpooling opportunities from Chippewa Falls, LaCrosse, Madison, and other locations may be possible to curb travel expenses. Patrick can provide you with more information when you call or email to reserve your spot.


Welcome New Staff Members


Low Vision Therapist

Amy Wurf joined the Council in January 2015 as a Low Vision Therapist. Prior to working at the Council, she spent 19 years providing low vision services to veterans at VA Hospitals in Chicago and Madison. During the last six years at the Low Vision Clinic at the William S. Middleton VA Hospital, she worked on a national low vision research project and led her clinic team in its national accreditation. In her spare time she enjoys reading, cross stitch, and going on adventures with her family.



Grants, Social Media, and Publications Writer

Michelle Roach joined the team in January 2015. In her time as a working professional, she has explored many parts of the communications world, including journalism, outreach, social media and website development, and graphic design.

Michelle is excited to begin developing social media strategies, writing for the Council’s publications, and interviewing the people whose lives have been transformed by the Council’s services. Outside of work, Michelle participates in a bowling league, tennis league, and loves to cook meals for friends. She also loves biking around Madison, travelling nationally and internationally, and speaks fluent Spanish.


Discover Low Vision Services


The Council is excited that Amy will be providing a range of vision services at our office in Madison as well as in people’s homes. Some of the responsibilities include low vision evaluations and services, education to support groups and community organizations, and participation in vendor fairs and conferences.


Who should consider scheduling a low vision evaluation?

If you are someone who is experiencing vision loss, ask yourself the following questions:


Because of vision loss, do you have difficulty:

-       reading your mail, recipes, or newspaper?

-       telling your medications apart from one another?

-       signing your name or writing checks?

-       reading your watch or a clock?

-       cooking or cleaning?

If any of the questions above were answered with, “yes,” there may be a benefit in a low vision evaluation. The Council can provide direct services or refer you to other, more appropriate resources. Call Amy at 608-237-8107 or the Council toll-free at 1-800-783-5213 to discuss your need for vision services.

The Council Announces Scholarship Opportunities

This year, the Wisconsin Council of the Blind & Visually Impaired is offering 10 scholarships in the amount of $2,000 each to full and part-time students - whether undergrad, graduate, professional, or doctoral - who are Wisconsin residents and are blind or visually impaired.

A scholarship application kit with guidelines is available on the Council’s web site: The deadline to submit all materials is April 10, 2015. Scholarship recipients will be notified by May 1, and an awards ceremony will take place at a Council event this spring in Madison. We support education for meaningful employment. If you do, too, please share this information with others. Thank you!

The Council Smiles for the AmazonSmile Program

Did you know that if you shop on Amazon, you can choose the Wisconsin Council of the Blind & Visually Impaired to receive ½ % of your purchases? The AmazonSmile Program makes it easy to donate to your favorite organizations at no cost to you. Tens of millions of products on AmazonSmile are eligible for these donations.

To shop on AmazonSmile, go to from the web browser on your computer or mobile device. Before you begin shopping, select the Wisconsin Council of the Blind & Visually Impaired to receive donations from your eligible purchases. The system will remember your selection, and then every eligible purchase you make on AmazonSmile will result in a donation to the Council.

Thanks for keeping us smiling!


February is Age-Related Macular Degeneration (AMD) / Low Vision Awareness Month

This February, learn more about AMD and how it can affect you or a loved one. AMD is a leading cause of low vision in the United States. Any older adult is at risk for AMD; people who are Caucasian, smokers, overweight, or have a family history of AMD are even more likely to get it. It damages the macula, a part of the eye’s retina that allows you to see details (print or people’s faces, for example) and colors. This loss of central vision can happen quickly or slowly. Although there is no cure for AMD, it is important to work with your eye care professional to learn about medical interventions and lifestyle changes that may slow the progression of AMD. Two online resources to learn more about the disease are and

In addition to your eye doctor, you may want to connect with vision rehabilitation services, which can include a low vision evaluation, in-home rehabilitation services, assistive technology training, orientation and mobility training, and home safety checks. Services are useful any time you have questions that start with “How can I do this again?” Vision rehabilitation professionals can help you regain confidence and independence in daily activities by learning alternate ways of doing or using adaptive products. If you have questions, call our Director of Vision Services and Education Jean Kalscheur at 608-237-8106. If you’d like to find out about vision rehabilitation specialists in your area, contact the Council at 608-255-1166.

Your eyes are an important part of your health. The risk of losing your vision from AMD can be decreased by:

-       Having a comprehensive eye exam at least one time per year if you are over 60 years old.

-       Exercising regularly

-       Not smoking

-       Eating leafy greens and fish

-       Maintaining a normal blood pressure

-       Maintaining low cholesterol levels


Would you like one of our experts to come to your support group or organization's meeting to speak about AMD/Low Vision? Call the Council at 1-800-783-5213 to request a speaker.


Save the Date – Legislative Advocacy Day – April 16, 2015

Each spring, Council members and advocates from all over Wisconsin gather in the Capitol building and meet with legislators who vote on bills and laws that directly affect the well being of people who are blind and visually impaired. This year, WCVBI’s Legislative Advocacy Day will take place on April 16, 2015. You can anticipate learning more about this event in March and registration information will be delivered via email.



Sharper Vision Store – Featured Item


Women’s Leather Organizer Wallet


This Money Organizer Wallet is designed especially for the visually impaired. This organizer has four separate compartments for one, five, ten, and twenty dollar bills, as well as three separate change purses. It also has multiple slots for credit cards and an extra compartment for a slate, checkbook, signature guide, or charge slips.

Item # HP 115 $25.00



May we help you?

If you have questions about the Council’s programs, services, events, outreach or advocacy, please visit or call us toll-free at 800-783-5213 or locally in Madison at 608-255-1166.