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January 2016 Graduating Class

January 2016 Graduating Class
January 2016 Graduating Class


The Westchester Council of the Blind is proud to sponsor the January 30, 2016 graduation at Guiding Eyes for the Blind.

Congratulations to all the graduates and puppy raisers in honor of our
wonderful Noya girl!
Sarah Bolensky

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams! Live the life you’ve imagined.”
Henry David Thoreau

Congratulations to all of the graduates – here’s to the beginning of a beautiful journey together.
Rudge and Weale Families

We also thank the Fain Family for their support of our online streaming capabilities.

Watch this month’s graduation live by clicking here.


Residential Graduates:
Angela & Finley
Cathy & Noya
Allen & Walton
Henry & Dakota
Kristi & Judith
Brian & Intrigue
Tena & Yarrow

Home Training Graduates:
Samuel & Pete
Carol & Barton
Patricia & Treasure

Many thanks to our instructors:
Ben Cawley, Class Supervisor
Michelle Tang, Class Instructor
Shannon McGee, Class Instructor
Megan Crowley, Home Training Instructor
Julie Angle, Special Needs Home Training Instructor
Crissy Vetrano, Home Training Instructor
Deanna Lentini, Instructor Assistant


Angela and FinleyA Bambrey & Finley

Angela has just received her second guide dog from Guiding Eyes, a male yellow Labrador named Finley. She is looking forward to returning to Virginia where her husband and three children eagerly await.

Angela’s vision loss is caused by Leiber’s hereditary optic neuropathy. She attended Mary Baldwin College and graduated with a double major in communications and sociology. Angela has worked as a massage therapist and website accessibility compliance tester. Currently, she is a stay-at-home mom. She is thrilled to be home and have time for the many activities she and her children enjoy, and Finley will be an integral part of this. Finley allows her to walk faster and travel more easily. She is looking forward to keeping up with her children without being concerned about uneven and cracked pavement, or trekking across a grassy playground.

Congratulations to Finley’s puppy raiser – Katie Meuer!


Cathy and NoyaC Bieder & Noya

Cathy has come to Guiding Eyes for her fourth guide dog, a female black Labrador named Noya.

Retinopathy of prematurity has caused Cathy’s vision loss; at the age of 10, she lost sight in her left eye and a detached retina at age 18 left her totally blind. Cathy holds an associate’s degree from Elizabeth Seton College, a bachelor’s degree in computer science from Iona College and a master’s in rehabilitation counseling from the University of Buffalo. She is a volunteer with Guiding Eyes for the Blind, assisting the organization’s senior director of response marketing.

Noya will have the company of her retired guide and rescue pup when they return home. Cathy shares, “I am viewed like everyone else while I have my guide dog by my side. The cane may give me a lot of information, but it is very uninviting.”

Congratulations to Noya’s puppy raisers – Sarah Bolensky, Ann Walko & Mike Muchmore!


Allen and WaltonA Lao & Walton

Allen lives in Massachusetts with his wife and three children. Walton, a male black Labrador is his third guide dog.

Medical professionals have not been able to identify the cause of Allen’s visual impairment. He has limited peripheral vision that continues to deteriorate. Allen came to the United States in 1981 and studied English as a second language. He worked in a Chinese restaurant and transitioned to owning a vending stand.

Allen’s life was changed when he was matched with his first guide dog; opportunities opened, people gave him more respect and approached him more easily. Allen is thankful for everyone involved in raising a guide dog and helping the students learn to work with their new partners. He thanks the puppy raisers, staff, volunteers, instructors – everyone who makes these dogs the amazing workers they are and the process of working with the new guide fun.

Congratulations to Walton’s puppy raisers – The Faust Family and Tony & Lisa Falk!

Kristy and JudithK Schnakenberg & Judith

Kristy is from New York and has just been matched with her first guide dog, a female black Labrador named Judith. Her husband is excited to welcome a new member to their family.

Kristy has optic nerve damage; she is legally blind, but can see some colors. Judith will “fill in the missing vision pieces” and guide her safely around obstacles. Kristy is a student at SUNY Orange, studying occupational therapy and early childhood development. She has also worked at the Humane Society as a volunteer. When she is not studying, Kristy likes to read, knit and garden.

Kristy feels much more independent and safer now that she has Judith. She has the confidence to go out more and pursue some of the activities she loves. So far, the transition has been smooth and she looks forward to many adventures with Judith by her side.

Congratulations to Judith’s puppy raisers –The Duxin Family!

Brian and IntrigueB Switzer & Intrigue

Brian has come from Massachusetts for his first guide dog, a black and tan female Labrador named Intrigue.

Brian has Usher’s Syndrome Type 2 causing both hearing and vision loss. He was diagnosed with hearing loss at 2 years old and vision loss at 4. Brian is a graduate student at Suffolk University studying ethics and public policy. He holds his undergraduate degree from Stonewall College where he double-majored in economics and philosophy and minored in German. His career goal is to pursue advocacy work for people with disabilities.

Brian participated in the Fairbanks, Alaska marathon, the fifth toughest marathon in the world, and will be doing the Boston Marathon again this year. The Massachusetts Association of the Blind has helped to coordinate the match between him and his sighted guides.

Having Intrigue has helped Brian to feel confident.  He says, “Cars that did not stop for my cane will stop for my guide dog.”

Congratulations to Intrigue’s puppy raisers – Linda & Jim DePuy!

Henry and DakotaH Tucker & Dakota

Henry, a New York resident, has been matched with his fifth guide dog, a male German shepherd named Dakota.

A detached retina and cataracts caused Henry’s visual impairment. Operations failed to save his vision and he is now totally blind. Henry worked sewing uniforms for the Army and learned the craft of putting together soldiers’ fatigues. He is proud of this accomplishment and worked very hard to produce high quality work.

Henry is looking forward to travelling with Dakota and knows he will feel the same level of freedom of movement he has experienced with all his guide dogs. He remarks, “When you are moving at a pace that is faster than a cane, you don’t want to go back.”

In his free time, Henry bowls with a league that competes on a national level.

Congratulations to Dakota’s puppy raisers – Faith Stiles and Christie Murphy & Family!

Tena and YarrowT Witherspoon & Yarrow

Not profiled.