Meet some of the members of our recent training class who graduated in June 2009.
- Bob Arnold
- Gabe Castellanos
- Andrew Crane
- Ricky Jones, Jr.
- Joe Mauk
- Donald Moore
- Melanie Moore
- Quintina Singleton
- Christiane Soares
- Kin Szeto
- Wendy Wamsley
And many thanks to our instructors:
- Melinda Angstrom, Class Supervisor
- Stephanie Koret, Instructor
- Maureen Mellett, Instructor
- Graham Buck, ACTION Instructor
- Andrea Martine, Special Needs Instructor
- Jean Kolor, ACTION Instructor
- Megan Crowley, Instructor Assistant
Bob Arnold has returned to Guiding Eyes from Kentucky for his fifth dog. Retinitis pigmentosa claimed most of his sight by the time he was 19 and shortly thereafter, his colleagues at the vocational rehabilitation facility recommended that he apply to Guiding Eyes for a guide dog. Bob is Executive Director and CEO of the Kentucky Association of Counties and annually organizes a golf scramble that raises money for Guiding Eyes. Bob describes his new guide as friendly, playful and great worker. Having spent one year without a guide dog, Bob is thrilled to have his new companion by his side. Describing his experience with Guiding Eyes for the Blind, Bob remarks, “This is basically my only association with people who are blind. It is a positive, valuable and an ‘eye-opening’ process each time I come!”
Gabe Castellanos, this month’s youngest class member, plans to enter Gonzaga University in Spokane this fall where he will major in Computer Science. A diabetic coma in early 2006 left Gabe with partial and fading vision. Following hip surgery just a year ago, he has come to Guiding Eyes for a guide to enable him to resume a broader life of social and academic independence. An emerging rock composer and guitarist, Gabe is especially appreciative of Oregon’s hard-working, but playful personality. He shares, “It’s really great here I expected a ‘book study’ but this is an alive, helpful and hands-on program that produces great camaraderie among us all!”
Andrew Crane, 21, came to Guiding Eyes from Kansas for Orzo, his first guide dog. Born without one eye and with poor vision in the other, Andrew also has cerebral palsy in his legs. He became aware of Guiding Eyes at an I.T. computer camp where a Guiding Eyes representative encouraged him to call the school. This September, Andrew will enter the freshman class at Friends University, majoring in Business. Andrew, self-described as a “get-go” person, says he likes to cook, party, listen to music, play guitar, and hang out with friends. Andrew is especially pleased with Orzo. Andrew is thrilled that he came to Guiding Eyes, commenting, “I have been given not only a dog, but a new life!”
Ricky Jones, Jr.
Ricky Jones, Jr. will take Pearson, his first guide dog, home with him to Tennessee. Ricky chose Guiding Eyes upon the advice of his mom, who had graduated from the school in 1980. Born with astigmatism and anarydia, Ricky’s condition worsened as he became older, but being hit by a car that ran a red light while using his cane shocked him into action. Ricky has a 3-year-old son, Jonathan, attends college, majoring in Physical Education, is a teacher’s assistant instructor of Life Skills, and works part-time filling vending machines for a blind manager. He also serves as Executive Director of the Tennessee Association of Blind Athletes. Ricky is sure that Pearson’s strong, alert, and energetic demeanor is a great match for his own: “He has already given me my old feelings of self confidence, support and ability to reach my personal goals. He has become my true best friend. The instructors are caring and supportive. Everything they say has true purpose and meaning in my life.”
Pennsylvania resident Joe Mauk, 47, has come to Guiding Eyes for Roxanne, his first dog from the school. A diabetic since the age of eight, and having undergone a pancreas and kidney transplant, Joe attended a blind and vision rehabilitation services program and was able to observe others who had dogs from Guiding Eyes. Formerly a telephone power and cable lineman, Joe lives with his arthritic mom, helping her with cleaning and cooking. He will enter the University this September, with the goal of becoming a social worker. An outdoorsman by nature, Joe enjoys fly fishing and camping. “Roxanne,” he says, “is incredibly intelligent!” He remarks, “In a crowd of a million, with her at my side, I will never feel alone.”
Sight impaired since birth, Florida resident Donald Moore has returned for his fourth guide dog, Keebler. Donald applied to Guiding Eyes following the advice of his brother and has since become a strong advocate for the school. A graduate of Utica College, Donald worked for Social Security for thirty years and is now retired. A former golfer, he is President of his Condominium Association, an active member of Shriners and his church, and also visits hospital patients. Donald describes Keebler as obedient, noting, “He will be a tremendous aid in my travel by train and plane as well as my local neighborhood meandering.”
Ontario resident Melanie Moore, 45, has come to Guiding Eyes for Vaughn, her third guide dog and first from the school. Born without vision, Melanie is the mother of four. She has followed the advice of her husband, a guide dog user, who has nothing but praise for his two guide dogs from the school. Employed by the Center for Independent Living in Toronto as a social worker, Melanie also serves as the President of Guide Dog Users of Canada. Her spare time at home is spent reading, hiking, listening to music and playing the piano. Melanie values Vaughn’s leadership expertise and hardworking nature. She already feels a strong bond with him and knows he will be a loving and solid companion in her daily commute. Melanie expresses her appreciation for the care and patience of the trainers, who “make it easier for each student to give one hundred percent!”
Diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa at 25, Ed has come to Guiding Eyes for Oxford, his first Guiding Eyes dog. Ed lives in South Dakota with his wife of thirty two years. They have three children and two grandchildren. Ed is an Independent Living Specialist, working with folks with disabilities. He spends a lot of time on the road traversing a five-county area. His relaxes by fishing, walking, working on his computer and following NASCAR racing. Oxford, who is both attentive and obedient, bonded with his new master immediately. Ed looks forward to his new-found independence and expects that his innate fear of walking and traveling by himself will vanish. He comments, “Guiding Eyes for the Blind is great! They know my needs and have met them head on!”
Quintina Singleton has come to Guiding Eyes from New Jersey to meet her first guide dog, a black male Labrador named Lipton. Tina’s sight loss began when she was a third grader as a result of glaucoma. Now 28, Tina is a college graduate and will soon pursue her master’s degree in Special Education. She came to Guiding Eyes upon the advice of a friend. Tina enjoys spending time with her son, Quincy, reading mysteries and action novels, and exercising. Tina has an engaging personality that has enabled her to reach her goals in life. Lipton is affectionate and sweet natured, but like Tina, is very serious about his duties. Tina is fully confident that he will improve her travel, personal safety and mobility. She says, “Guiding Eyes has the most caring faculty and happy students I have ever met. Overall, I feel the horizons of my life have been substantially broadened and expanded.”
Despite noting that she had always felt “somewhat secure and comfortable when walking on the city streets of Brazil,” 35-year-old Christiane Soares has come to Guiding Eyes upon the advice of a friend and Guiding Eyes graduate. Christiane was born with retinitis pigmentosa and was blind by the age of 27. Married for six years, Christiane is a busy massage therapist who has her own practice. She now truly recognizes how much easier her life will be when she returns home with her guide, Yvonne, a happy and obedient yellow Labrador that has a personality very much like her own.
Born in Hong Kong and an American citizen for almost forty years, Kin Szeto came to Guiding Eyes for the Blind for his first guide dog, Maddie. A graduate of the City College of New York, married and a father of two daughters, Kin has enjoyed a successful career as an electronic engineer. He was declared legally blind as a result of retinitis pigmentosa in 2006. Self-described as a shy and introverted, he is a master of mechanics and loves to learn new things. Kin enjoys doing Origami, fishing and taking nature walks. Maddie, he says, is playful, but works “like a soldier in uniform.” Kin expects she will enable him to go out more with less restriction and enlarge his social life as well. Kin comments, “The students here are friendly and supportive as we share our life stories plus the food and the staff are absolutely fabulous!”
Returning to Guiding Eyes from West Virginia for Emery, her second guide dog, Wendy Wamsley declares that she would never go anywhere else. The partial sight she was born with has diminished over time. Married and a mother of two, Wendy was introduced to Guiding Eyes by her mobility instructor ten years ago after which her life changed substantially. A housewife for 20 years, Wendy is currently employed full-time by Western Union. She has written satirical poetry, having published four books in the genre. Self-described as being outgoing and sensitive but a bit brusque, she says that Emery is a perfect match. He will meet Shamus, his predecessor, when they arrive home. Wendy shares, “I love the innovative expansion of the premises here as well as the new commands. The staff is whole-heartedly dedicated to one common goal: the success of your new partnership.”