Envision BC – December 2015: your community newsletter


CNIB kids get into the holiday spirit with a little help from our friends

  Young CNIB clients from the Lower Mainland had a ball at this year’s holiday party on ice! The kids bundled up and put on their ice skates – many for the first time – to join Santa and a local junior hockey team for a spin around the rink. This event was hosted in partnership with BC Blind Sports and Recreation Association and Courage Canada Hockey for the Blind and garnered smiles in spades.

From our CNIB family to yours, we wish you a very happy holiday season!

Companies shine with CNIB’s Bright Light corporate campaign

This month, CNIB British Columbia launched our Bright Light corporate campaign, which gives companies an opportunity to add a fundraising component to their office festivities this holiday season in support of CNIB.

To engage companies, we asked representatives to think about how many colleagues they would see in their office over the next 12 minutes. We then pointed out that during those same 12 minutes, someone in Canada will begin losing their sight, or will have lost it entirely. A few more facts to consider:

  • If you or a loved one loses their vision, the primary – and in some cases only – choice for any type of physical or emotional support is CNIB, a charity.
  • CNIB provides those who are blind or partially sighted with post-vison loss rehabilitation therapy services which include independent living skills and travel instruction, emotional and wellness support, low vision services and assistive technology services.
  • CNIB, a registered charity, receives less than 9% of our funding from the provincial government to deliver our services to over 23,000 registered clients in British Columbia.
  • While CNIB BC has over 23,000 registered clients today, 64,546 British Columbians are living with blindness or partial sight, and 727,376 residents of BC are living with a major eye disease that may lead to permanent vision loss down the road. Sustainable funding is ever important to enable us to be there for all those who rely on our services.

Our Bright Light campaign goal is to raise $10,000 through corporate giving from now until December 31, 2015.

Companies that support CNIB truly make a difference in the lives of blind and partially sighted people in our home communities. FYiDoctors Surrey, a new corporate supporter of CNIB BC, recently told us why they decided to partner with us:

“We were excited to join forces with the team at CNIB. It was a great way to build a relationship between the local community, CNIB and FYidoctors. I couldn't think of a better way to connect with people who depend on eye care. My feeling is that there are not many eye-related events where practices can have a direct connection with the community, and this was a perfect opportunity for us to join forces with CNIB and help educate about the importance of maintaining healthy eye care.” - Jayson Marcial, General Manager, FYiDoctors Surrey

Please contact Theresa Blancaflor at theresa.blancaflor@cnib.ca if your company would like to get involved and support CNIB British Columbia.

Vancouver Island’s Maggie Wehrle wins first place in CNIB’s Braille Creative Writing Contest

Maggie Wehrle speaking on a podiumCongratulations to eight-year-old Maggie Wehrle from Victoria, BC on her first place prize in CNIB’s Braille Creative Writing Contest!

The contest is an annual competition for primary and secondary students who are blind or partially sighted and live in Canada. Stories and poems are submitted in uncontracted, partially contracted or fully contracted braille, and a cash prize is awarded for each age category.

Maggie won first place for her age group and a $75 cash prize for her story entitled, “The Underground Festaval.” She also got to travel to Toronto with her mom in October to read her story at CNIB’s National Braille Conference and collect her award. CNIB BC is very proud of this budding author!

Newly launched Eye Give campaign issues friendly challenge: join us!

CNIB British Columbia is putting the ‘I’ into ‘give’ through our newly launched monthly giving program, Eye Give.

The campaign kicked off in May with our staff and extended to our Divisional Board in September with great success. CNIB staff and leadership volunteers have stepped up to the plate, and now we’re issuing a friendly challenge by asking you to join us!

About Eye Give…

For as little as $10 per month, your gift will enable individuals with vision loss to lead full, active lives and pursue their personal goals.

All funds raised in British Columbia stay right here in our home communities. By joining the Eye Give challenge today, your generous support will help British Columbians with blindness or partial sight build the confidence and skills necessary to achieve independence – whether that means learning to cook again after a loss of vision, getting around safely with a white cane or using assistive technology to pursue employment or education, your gift empowers.

Eye Give donations are designated gifts that go directly towards post-vision loss rehabilitation therapy delivered in the province of British Columbia. Eye Give generated funds provide a sustainable source of income for CNIB to deliver these essential rehabilitation services, which is ever important given the fact that we receive less than 9% of our funding from the provincial government. 

Who you will help…

At a very young age, Cherise’s mother knew there was something different about her daughter. Cherise would wince in the sunlight, her eyes would shake rapidly and no matter how many times she was asked what colour a crayon was, she never had an answer until she cleverly learned to read the label. These were just some of the symptoms of her rare eye condition, achromatopsia, which commonly causes low vision, extreme sensitivity to light, and colour blindness.

“Growing up, I was lucky to never be treated differently; I was provided the same opportunities as everyone else. CNIB gave my parents and I the support we needed throughout my childhood and when I became an adult. This support included providing accessible transit solutions, assistance when I was going through university, and visual tools for everyday enjoyment. Such tools include the large print Reader’s Digest and my beloved monocular that allows me to see my children’s faces. We all have the potential to be whatever we want no matter what. CNIB assists us in overcoming limitations that our disabilities may put on us.” – Cherise McGee, CNIB client from Surrey, BC

Join the Eye Give challenge today…

Signing up is easy! Simply go to cnib.ca, or contact Jennifer Yankanna, Manager, Community Giving, CNIB at 604-431-2121 ext. 6040 or Jennifer.Yankanna@cnib.ca.

Volunteer Spotlight: Gary Sandhu

Gary SandhuIf you’ve never visited the CNIB Prince George office, you really should. It’s run by a small, dedicated, close-knit team of staff and volunteers who work tirelessly to provide services to the vast region of Northern BC.

One of those dedicated volunteers is Gary Sandhu.

Gary has held many volunteer positions with CNIB since 2003. He started out by performing general office duties such as answering calls, photocopying and phoning clients for about service days. He has since taken on many more CNIB roles – he’s a peer mentor, a fundraiser, a board member, a peer support group facilitator and a translator for our Punjabi clients.

Our Executive Director, John Mulka, sums up the importance of Gary’s contributions: “Gary makes a huge impact by volunteering countless hours in our Northern BC region. He works closely with our small staff team providing excellent administrative support and, in fact, sometimes he’s the one keeping the office doors open when staff are unavailable; we can count on Gary to hold down the fort.”

Gary chooses to give back to CNIB by supporting others who are adjusting to vision loss because of his own experience with losing his vision in 1998.

“I lost my eyesight overnight and it was a sudden shock to wake up blind,” says Gary. “CNIB has helped me tremendously by giving me the practical and emotional support I needed to move forward. They have been there for me when I needed them. I am extremely independent today because of their support and ongoing help throughout the years.”

Recently, Gary participated in the first annual CNIB Night Steps event in Prince George. CNIB is extremely proud of Gary’s efforts as a participant; his hard work raising funds on behalf of CNIB were nothing short of remarkable. As the top fundraiser for the event, Gary raised over $5,000. These valuable funds will directly benefit programs and services in Northern BC. Gary is already looking forward to Night Steps 2016 and we hope others will join him to ‘brighten the night’ for those who are blind or partially sighted. 


With New Year’s resolutions around the corner, did you know that smoking cigarettes can double your risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD), the leading cause of blindness and vision loss in Canada?

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