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December 2014 Graduate Class

December 2014 Class Photo

Thank you to the sponsors of this month’s graduation ceremony:

We are extremely grateful for Louis Bouchard’s generous support of the Special Needs home training of his daughter M.J., who received Guiding Eyes Zed.

We also thank the Fain Family for their support of our video streaming capabilities. Click here to view the December graduation online.

Residential Graduates
Daaiya and Harpo
David and Indigo
Elke and Cutlas
Jill and Gable
Kenneth and Forest
Keyla and Angelica
Marquia and Neil
Ronald and Clarissa
Vivian and SAS
Eva and Nanette
Joyce and Jason

Home Training Graduates
Allan and Rodeo
Clayton and Garvin
Nancy and Albert
Robert and Renata
Cynthia and Robert
Mary Jeanne and Zed

Many thanks to our instructors
Melinda Angstrom, Class Supervisor
Michelle Tang, Class Instructor
Lori Busse, Class Instructor
Graham Buck, ACTION Instructor
Miranda Beckmann, Home Training
Ben Cawley, Home Training
Megan Crowley, Home Training
Jolene Hollister, Home Training
Julie Angle, Special Needs Home Training
Andrea Martine, Special Needs Home Training
Erica Lichtman, Instructor Assistant

Marquia & NeilMarquia and Neil

Texas resident Marquia has been matched with yellow Labrador Neil, her second guide dog and first dog from Guiding Eyes. Marquia’s eight-year-old son is very excited to meet Neil.

Marquia was born with retinitis pigmentosa; she has prosthetic lenses and is totally blind. She is an actress with Dionysus Theatre and attends the local community college. Marquia enjoys tandem bike riding, outdoor sports, cooking and baking. She is also a licensed massage therapist.

Marquia is a Braille advocate and is currently teaching her son, who is dyslexic, to read Braille. She knows having Neil will enhance her life and make it easier to do the things she loves.

Congratulations to Neil’s puppy raisers – Linda and Jim DePuy!

Elke & CutlasElke and Cutlas

Elke and male yellow Labrador Cutlas will return to Alabama where her husband eagerly waits.

Elke has Usher’s Syndrome; her hearing was affected first, then three years ago, vision loss made it impossible for her to drive. Elke attended a hearing deaf school where they stressed the importance of learning to read lips and how to connect to peers. She worked in Germany, trained as an industrial business clerk, and was a stocker while her husband attended school.

Elke enjoys reading, drawing, studying fine arts, bowling and pottery. She takes long trips with her husband and is excited to bring Cutlas to Germany. She feels safe with Cutlas and happy for the freedom to go places independently again.

Congratulations to Cutlas’ puppy raisers – Erik & Jaymie Anderson and Peyton L. Krevonick!

Eva & NanetteEva and Nanette

Eva and Nanette, a yellow Labrador, are participating in the accelerated ACTION program. Nanette is Eva’s second dog from Guiding Eyes and sixth guide dog.

Eva was born with congenital glaucoma and ultimately lost her vision due to retinal detachment. She works as a receptionist for The Center for Independence of the Disabled New York. She married her husband, also blind, in September. Together they have four daughters, two sons and a new granddaughter.

Eva finds solitude in music. Eva says, “Nanette is a little dog with a lot to give!”

Congratulations to Nanette’s puppy raisers – The Weiksner Family and Abby McCarthy!

Joyce & JasonJoyce and Jason

Joyce, an ACTION student, has been matched with her fifth guide dog, black Labrador Jason. She recently moved into a new home in a very active retirement community in Massachusetts. The grounds are large enough for her to take Jason on her daily three-mile walks.

Joyce was diagnosed in her twenties with retinitis pigments and received her first Guiding Eyes dog in 1987. She graduated from Boston University College of Management in a class of seven women and 300 men. Joyce retired four years ago and volunteered at a hospice center where she developed a pet therapy program. She has a married daughter and three grandsons who cannot wait to meet Jason.

Congratulations to Jason’s puppy raisers – Debbie & Bob Gillispie!

Daaiya & HarpoDaaiya and Harpo

Daaiya is from New York and has just received black male Labrador Harpo, her first guide dog.

Daaiya vision impairment is caused by optic atrophy, nystagmus, eye ptosis and double vision. She also has hearing loss and vascular necrosis. She is the mother of a daughter and two sons whom she home schools. Daaiya has trained to become a professional chef and hopes that having Harpo will help her to realize her goal of owning her own restaurant.

Daaiya did not want to depend on her children as sighted guides, and Harpo allows her to be more involved in her children’s daily lives. He has already brought a sense of independence and peace of mind.

Congratulations to Harpo’s puppy raiser – Kelly Coney Pacious!

Ron & ClarissaRon and Clarissa

Ron is a returning Guiding Eyes student from New York. He is married to Guiding Eyes graduate and staff member Becky Fuller Barnes Davidson. Black Labrador Clarissa is his fourth guide dog.

Ron’s vision loss started with Uveitis when he was 14 years old. He lost his right eye in an industrial accident at 19 and an eye stroke that ruptured his retina caused him to lose the remaining vision in his left eye in 2000.

Ron is a professional woodcarver; he designed and built custom furniture and cabinets for 38 years. Today, he focuses on creating intricate wood carvings, many of which are modeled after Guiding Eyes dogs. He plans to expand his work in the coming year, creating detailed relief carvings. Ron shares, “Clarissa is an independent excellent worker. She is very focused and very curious. A perfect blend for my lifestyle.”

Congratulations to Clarissa’s puppy raiser – Laura Youngblood!

Kenny & ForestKenneth and Forest

Kenneth traveled from Texas for his first guide dog, a black male Labrador named Forest.

Kenneth’s vision loss was gradual. He worked as an undertaker for 29 years and now is a licensed massage therapist. Kenneth loves to work in the yard, go to movies and cook. He is exicted to see Forest already opening a new world for him, sharing, “I didn’t realize until Forest what I was missing. For 10 years I knew every crack in the sidewalk and nothing about the buildings. I am amazed at what I have seen in just a week.”

Congratulations to Forest’s puppy raiser – Mr. Corley E. Puckett!

Dave & IndigoDavid and Indigo

David has been partnered with his second guide dog, a black female Labrador named Indigo. His retired guide and wife are home in Colorado awaiting the team’s return.

David was born three months premature with retinopathy of prematurity which ultimately claimed his vision at the age of 17. He graduated from the University of Northern Colorado with a degree in political science. David worked for the Department of Labor for the State of Colorado Unemployment Division in benefits administration and appeals. In 2013, he began a new career in sales.

David knows Indigo is a wonderful match for him and is thrilled she has come into his life just as he and his wife are about to become parents; they will welcome their first child in April.

Congratulations to Indigo’s puppy raisers – Maura and Colleen Bennet!

Vivian & SASVivian and SAS

Vivian lives in Massachusetts with her husband, son and daughter. She has come to Guiding Eye for her first guide dog, black male Labrador SAS.

Vivian’s vision loss is the result of retinitis pigmentosa. Originally from Brazil where there are no guide dog schools, her husband got a job in Massachusetts and moved the family there four years ago. Vivian studies English as a second language at Dartmouth College. In her free time she enjoys walking, baking, going to the beach and reading.

Everyone is excited for Vivian to come home. She is looking forward to introducing SAS to her pet golden doodle and imagines the two big dogs playing together when SAS is not working.

Congratulations to SAS’s puppy raiser – Paul Huebner!

Jill & GableJill and Gable

Jill has returned to Guiding Eyes for her third guide dog, black Labrador Gable. The pair will return home to her partner and son in Georgia.

Jill was diagnosed with hydrocephalus (water on the brain) at 19. Prior to that, she had perfect vision. Jill twice earned a place on the Olympic Swim Team and held the freestyle swimming record for three years. Jill is a licensed massage therapist, bowls, hikes, loves to read and do crossword puzzles. She holds a Bachelors degree in psychology. Jill is looking forward to introducing Gable to her two rescue dogs and anticipates an exciting, active future.

Congratulations to Gable’s puppy raiser – Sydney Harcourt!

Keyla & AngelicaKeyla and Angelica

Keyla is from Texas and received her first guide dog, black Labrador Angelica.

Keyla lost her vision to diabetes. She worked for a bank as a broker and when her department was moved out of state, made the decision to stay home to raise her three daughters. Keyla is a counselor with Child Protective Services and is studying to become a social worker. She loves spending time with her family; she has eight grandchildren and one on the way. Keyla is looking forward to the freedom that will come from having Angelica.

Congratulations to Angelica’s puppy raiser – Elizabeth Williams!

Congratulations to the raisers of the guide dogs placed through December Home Trainings:
Robert: Alexandra List
Zed: Pat & Mike Webber
Albert: Katie Meuer
Garvin: The Harrison Family
Renata: The Stephens Family
Rodeo: Lynne Post and Catherine & Leslie Foldesi