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Current Newsletter – Spring 2018

Sometimes, All You Need is a Nudge

Tom Patton was frustrated, but his wife was having none of it. “I’m tired of this,” he said. “No, you’re not,” Amy responded. “You’re not giving up!”

There had been many times in his life when Tom just needed a nudge to meet a challenge he was facing as glaucoma gradually took away his vision. Now, he’s learned to live by the motto: “Pick yourself up. Dust yourself off. Start all over again!”

When Tom still had some usable vision, he was grateful to be able to borrow a video magnifier from the Earle Baum Center. But after a second corneal transplant failed to slow his fading vision, he returned the magnifier to EBC, sadly telling former CEO Allan Brenner, “I can’t see to use it anymore.” Allen took him aside and gave him something to think about. “He made me realize what my life would be like if I decided to just give up and rely on other people,” Tom said. “I went home upset, and thought about it for a week. Then I realized he knew what he was talking about, because he was living it. It was exactly what I needed to hear at the time.”

“Admitting that I was blind and I needed help was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done,” Tom said. EBC could offer him the right kind of help. He signed up for training in the use of the white cane. “I was scared to death. I was worried about it, and looking for a way to get out of it; I was so nervous.” But his Orientation and Mobility Instructor, Leslie Bailiff, nudged him with humor. “Come on,” she said. “I brought the nitro – you’ll do fine!”

“Before, when my wife and I were out somewhere and she’d leave my side to go check something out, I’d immediately feel anxious and claustrophobic. But now, I have the tools I need. The cane gives me a sense of security,” he said.

He gained confidence. He jokingly named his cane Mr. Sticky, and soon, he and his wife were hiking regularly. When he reached 1,000 miles with Mr. Sticky, he asked Leslie to autograph it, and she did.

All-in-all, Tom feels lucky to have lived a good life. He’s had a variety of jobs: heading a shipping and receiving department for a sheet metal manufacturing plant, running a sandwich shop, and flying as a fire spotter when his vision was still good. “I’m in charge of laundry now,” he jokes. “I turned over the lawn mowing to Amy.”

He and Amy are ham radio operators and enjoy talking to people all over the world. Tom is a CAL FIRE volunteer, a communication liaison for mobile fire patrols. He also teaches Smokey Bear Programs in schools, and specially designed programs for youths that set fires. He’s making a valuable contribution to the safety of the community.

And he’s glad to share his story to help EBC. “Feeling sorry for yourself isn’t good for you or anybody else. EBC gives you the tools. They nudge you in a nice way. They’re upbeat, and they get you laughing. They bring life back to you.”

The Power of Community

We are in a new year! Last year had many challenges. Those challenges proved we are part of a strong and caring community. We are interconnected, and we each have a role. Most people with sight loss need to have their confidence, joy, and independence restored. Our staff and volunteers have the honor of providing that healing through training, activities, or encouragement. Some get to increase their legacy of kindness through donating time, equipment, or funds to enable services. All of these roles help change lives for the better. Let’s move boldly into 2018 by playing our roles well.

Our lead story is about Tom Patton. Tom has been continually adjusting to his changing vision throughout his life. EBC helped him find the tools to be independent. Tom gives back to the community as a ham radio operator and CAL Fire volunteer.

Lesley Ann Gibbons of Sterling Adaptives takes her company’s mission of helping people with vision loss one step further by partnering with EBC as a corporate sponsor. Lesley Ann and her team model how businesses can go above and beyond to make a difference in our community.

And finally, you’ll read about Cindy Bishop and her late mother Betty Levin. Through EBC, Cindy received the support she needed in helping her mother adjust to losing her vision. Betty paid it forward, helping her neighbors adjust to vision loss by including EBC in her estate plans.

What are your roles? We need great corporate sponsors, donors, teachers, managers, and volunteers to help fulfill our mission of providing opportunities for people with sight loss to improve their social, economic, and personal lives.

Thank you for caring. Thank you for helping. Helping others makes you feel good. Help us today and feel good about your role bettering the lives of your neighbors, friends, or family with sight loss.


Dan Needham

Tree of Life

Contact us at: 707-523-3222 or for more information.

Why We Give: Lesley Ann Gibbons

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” – Helen Keller

“When the fires hit, I ended up having 8 people, 4 dogs, and a cat living with us,” said Lesley Ann Gibbons, who runs Sterling Adaptives with her husband Mark and a small staff. But she wanted to do more. “I kept thinking: I’ve got to find something positive to do to help people.”

The family-owned business sells adaptive and ergonomic technology products for people who are blind, have a visual impairment, or other disability. Lesley Ann decided to see if she could get help in the way of donated gift cards and replacing adaptive equipment that people lost in the fires by leveraging some of her professional relationships with product manufacturers. “I called them up and said, ‘Now’s your chance to truly support something that you believe in. What can you donate?’ The thing is, even small stuff — like a mobility cane — is a really important piece of technology for someone who uses it. We had products and gift cards coming in from all over — even Europe! It was great to have the opportunity to do something very unique, and so very much needed. In fact, we just delivered another box over to the Earle Baum Center.”

There are many giving options to explore. You might enjoy the convenience of setting up automatic monthly donations. You may realize tax savings by giving to EBC through IRA disbursements, or from the sale of appreciated stocks or securities. Consider leaving a legacy of kindness and light for someone in need of our training and care by including EBC in your estate plans.

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