Exceptional volunteer keeps giving back to CNIB - June Feswick

Male client with white cane hugging June FeswickJune Feswick first came to CNIB in 2006 after her husband George had a stroke and lost much of his vision. Since then, June has become like family to CNIB’s clients, staff and other volunteers. Eleven years later, June is still giving back to CNIB as a way to honour her husband, who passed away in August 2013.

June has been a dedicated volunteer with CNIB Nova Scotia’s eight-week Adjustment to Vision Loss Program as an assistant and as a peer support volunteer. She makes tea and coffee each week (ensuring all participants are well looked after and comfortable), and brings inspirational quotes to each session that she shares with the group. 

A week doesn’t pass where June isn’t advocating for the rights of individuals with vision loss.  If she goes to a place – the Sackville Library, for example – where the stairs are not marked with yellow contrasting paint, she will speak to whomever is in charge to try to get that fixed, not only for our clients, but for anyone who may have difficulty navigating stairs.

In November 2015, June marched outside the Nova Scotia legislature to raise awareness about the urgent need for adequate, sustainable funding for vision rehabilitation.

Every two weeks, a the Knitting Club (which June founded in June 2015) meets at the Halifax CNIB Centre to socialize and make creations out of yarn. Beginner knitters learn with the help of CNIB volunteers and long-time knitters – some of whom have rediscovered their love of knitting after losing their sight. It is the only such group offered at a CNIB anywhere in Canada. June’s dream is to see 20 to 30 women regularly participating in the knitting group. She also wants to see the program go across the country.

In the summer of 2016, June accompanied the knitting club on an excursion to a special knitting shop in Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia.

June also worked with staff to establish a peer support program for family members – a need identified during the Adjustment to Vision Loss Program, and was instrumental in assisting CNIB to introduce a pilot project at the Eye Care Centre in Halifax – linking patients with CNIB vision rehabilitation programs and services.

Her passion and amazing ability to reach out to patients (and their family members) by regular “rounds” to each waiting room with a CNIB kiosk resulted in an increase in the number of referrals for CNIB services. She provided information about CNIB’s programs and services and demonstrated popular products, like talking watches and large print playing cards.

Although June “signed up” for one three-hour shift a week at the Eye Care Centre, she often worked a full day, she trained volunteers, and she took initiative to make CNIB vests for Eye Care Centre volunteers to wear.

The service that June has provided to CNIB and individuals who are blind or partially sighted has been primarily local, based out of CNIB’s Halifax office. But it is also provincial, helping people in communities across the province…and in other provinces, as patients have travelled from across the Maritimes to visit the Eye Care Centre.

CNIB is so very fortunate to have someone, like June, with the passion, dedication and drive to continue making a difference – again and again.