Insight E-Newsletter - November 2011

Welcome to the November edition of “Insight”! This month, we celebrate our seventh annual holiday wreath campaign, which supports vital services for Canadians with sight loss. Next, in honour of Remembrance Day this past November 11th, we recognize two special veterans who’ve given back to not only their country and their communities, but other Canadians who – like themselves – are living with vision loss. As always, we welcome your feedback at

Hope for the holidays

CNIB launches seventh annual holiday wreath campaign

Image of CNIB holiday wreathIt’s that time of year again – time to unearth the holiday lights from the basement, break out the mistletoe and start decking the halls. And that means it’s also time for a CNIB annual campaign that, just seven years after it began, has already become a much-loved holiday tradition.

Yes, it’s time again for CNIB’s holiday wreath campaign.

“The holiday wreath campaign is really such an exciting time in our year,” says Steve Lutz, Vice President of Fund Development at CNIB. “It’s so amazing to see how our community rallies together for this campaign. It just puts you in the holiday spirit.”

Launched in 2004, the campaign had CNIB staff and volunteers banding together to promote the limited-time sale of beautiful holiday wreaths to support our rehabilitation services for Canadians who are blind or partially sighted. Since then, it’s become a national annual event, and a crucial source of funding for CNIB well into the new year.

“It’s blossomed so much over the years, partly because people just love the wreaths so much,” says Steve. “They buy one for themselves, and then they see the quality of them and come back to buy more as presents for their friends and colleagues.”

Handmade by DeLong Farms in Nova Scotia, CNIB’s holiday wreaths are crafted with fresh balsam fir trimmings, natural pine cones and holly berry clusters; and adorned with a weatherproof red velvet, gold-backed bow.

The wreath also comes with an optional free gift card that buyers can have personalized with their own message to the recipient. The $45 cost not only includes taxes, but also delivery to Canada's 10 provinces and the continental United States.

What’s more, proceeds from all wreath sales go directly to vital services for Canadians of all ages who are blind or partially sighted – services like emotional support, the CNIB Library and independent living support, which empowers Canadians with the skills to do everyday activities like travelling and cooking after a loss of sight.

“Buying a wreath really can help change someone’s life,” says Steve. “So every single wreath we sell makes a big difference for our clients.”

The last date for purchasing a wreath is Tuesday, December 6, so get yours today! To order your wreath now, visit


Photo of John BurkeBand of brothers

Veteran with sight loss helps other vets make the most of their remaining vision

Ninety-one-year-old veteran John Burke hasn’t let vision loss slow him down.

In fact, he’s an active member of his community, helping other veterans like him adjust to blindness or partial sight.

A dedicated volunteer at the legion and four nursing homes in Truro, Nova Scotia, John lost the majority of his sight to glaucoma in the 1970s. He has since made it his mission to inform others of the free vision rehabilitation and support services available to veterans through CNIB, so they too can lead full, active lives with vision loss.

John enlisted in the army in 1941 at age 15 and joined the Princess Louise Fusiliers, a machine gun regiment. After completing basic training in 1942, he was deployed overseas.

“For a couple of months, my regiment guarded Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother at her summer home,” he says. “When the army decided that they needed us as a support group, we became a part of an infantry assault unit and made our way to the war zone.”

He joined the Seventh Canadian Infantry Brigade and served in Normandy, France, where he was later wounded in battle. Upon returning home from WWII, he received a degree in business, advocated for affordable rural and native housing, operated several small businesses, and worked for the provincial government.

With the support of CNIB and Veterans Affairs Canada, John’s retirement life has remained just as busy.

“I was always an avid reader, but as my glaucoma got worse I couldn’t read the newspaper,” he says.

With funding from Veterans Affairs Canada, John received a CCTV through CNIB, an electronic magnifier with a large video screen that enables individuals to read books, magazines, letters and newspapers.

“I’m still able to continue my same routine of waking up at six every morning to read the paper,” he says. “No one has to read to me – my CCTV has helped me keep my independence.”

When he’s not busy keeping up with current issues, he’s volunteering at his local soup kitchen and reaching out to other veterans in his community. John visits veterans in local nursing homes and helps those with vision loss make the most of their remaining sight.

“I do everything from informing them about available services to helping them secure CCTVs, talking watches and other items they may not have been able to afford.”

CNIB offers Canada’s largest array of products specially designed to make life with vision loss easier – like magnifiers, talking watches and large-button tools. For veterans, the costs of many of these products are covered by Veterans Affairs Canada.

“When I meet other veterans, I tell them that there are solutions that can ease the stress and frustration of vision loss,” he says.

For more information about CNIB and Veterans Affairs Canada visit To browse our selection of helpful products, visit


Committing to knitting

Veteran with vision loss and wife knit for Prince George homeless

Photo of William StanleyWWII veteran William Stanley has been giving back to his community, and country, his entire life.

It all began when he joined the army and medical corps when he was 20 years old. Since he didn’t want to carry a rifle but still wanted to serve his country at war, he worked as a stretcher bearer for the First Brigade, Fourth Canadian Field Ambulance.

Despite having lost sight in his left eye after a failed cataract operation, the 90-year-old continues to give back by knitting scarves and hats for the homeless with his wife, Marian Doris Stanley, who has Alzheimer’s. Marian lives in another part of their Gateway building in Prince George, British Columbia – William visits her every afternoon.

“I do the knitting and she does the finishing. We have a big sale coming up on Saturday; proceeds will go to the local food bank and the Salvation Army,” he says.

Engaged before the war in 1941, they’ve been married since 1945 and have four children together. This past October, they celebrated their 66th wedding anniversary.

After arriving in England in 1942, he moved through Sicily, Holland and Germany until the war ended. When he returned to Canada, he worked as a heavy-duty mechanic and a welder, then later for the Government of British Columbia.

After losing his sight, CNIB came to visit William in Prince George. Knowing how his good eye gets tired when reading, CNIB provided him with a magnifying glass, and later a DAISY player, to help him with the fatigue he was experiencing.

“We support the CNIB. They keep in contact with me; they call and visit quite often,” he says.

In recent years, William has been active in the veterans’ community. This year, he hopes to organize a Remembrance Day celebration in his building. As a distinguished WWII veteran, he’s benefitted from the support of Veterans Affairs Canada over the years.

“Veterans [Affairs Canada] has been very good to me here. They’ve supplied a power-chair and different items because I can’t walk, like my walker and a hospital bed – they’ve really looked after me well,” he says.

For more information about CNIB and Veterans Affairs Canada visit


Photo of talking thermometer


Be prepared and stay warm this winter with a talking thermometer, $27.95

When the snow starts flying this winter, stay in-the-know with this attractive talking thermometer, which can be featured on your desktop or hung on a wall. With a large dual display that shows both indoor and outdoor temperatures, it announces them verbally at the push of a button. Announcements can be set to occur automatically every hour on the hour, and can even be programmed to function as a wake-up alarm. Daily high and low temperatures, and freezing point alerts, can be easily programmed. Temperatures may be announced in Fahrenheit, or in Centigrade, at the flip of a switch. Two AAA batteries are required but not included.


Photo of a woman hugging a young childMonthly Giving - Become a Partner in Vision

Researchers estimate that more than one million Canadians are living with vision loss today, and that number is growing all the time. By giving as little as $10 a month, you can help Canadians who are blind or partially sighted build the skills, confidence and independence to enjoy life again – to see beyond vision loss. Become a Partner in Vision today

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