National Mentoring Day—Celebrating the Contributions of VisionAware Peers

National Mentoring Day

National Mentoring Day was launched, “to recognize and celebrate the benefits of mentoring and takes place on October 27th each year with a key focus on recognizing excellence and raising awareness on the significant benefits of mentoring to encourage more people to get involved in mentoring.”  

Taking place on the 27th October each year, the day encourages events to take place throughout the World, including a National Mentoring Day Summit and awards. 

APH and VisionAware want to take this opportunity to acknowledge and honor the VisionAware peers, all of whom are blind or visually impaired with eye conditions such as retinitis pigmentosaglaucoma, and diabetes

These excellent volunteers write the Visually Impaired Now What Blog and provide support and encouragement for people dealing with vision loss. We call this group “PALS,” short for Peer Advisors Life Support. PALS are the heart and soul of VisionAware. 

The peers will celebrate their 10th anniversary with VisionAware in the spring of 2022. They have a wide variety of careers and interests including certified vision rehabilitation, low vision, assistive technology specialists, book authors, nursing, physical therapy, mental health counseling, teaching—from the college level to English as a Second Language, runners, cooks, artists, massage therapist, crafters, public speakers, and many other talents much too numerous to catalog! I encourage you to read their bios and their posts, on a variety of subjects mirroring everyday life. Let me introduce you to our current peers and link you to their bios.  

Introduction of Peers 

Becky AndrewsLCMHC, Licensed Clinical Mental Health Counselor and owner of Resilient Solutions, Inc. 

Trina Bassak, DPT (Doctor of Physical Therapy), a home health Physical Therapist. 

James Boehm, business owner of who designs and personalizes mobility canes, dog harnesses, and other accessories to sell on

Elizabeth Bottner, a certified Assistive Technology Instructional Specialist (CATIS) and Certified Vision Rehabilitation Therapist (CVRT).  

Amy Bovaird, an author, experienced world traveler, and specialist in second language acquisition for 30 years.  

Mariagrazia Buttita, a National Certified Counselor (NCC) and certified mental health counselor, and author. 

Sandra Burgess, MSW, LCSW, retired from volunteer coordination and community mental health work. 

Audrey Demmitt, R.N., retired nurse, health education writer, and support group leader. 

Lenore Dillon, CVRT, retired with over 30 years of experience in all aspects of vision rehabilitation therapy.  

Linda Fugate, CVRT, EdD in counseling and psychology and retired vision rehabilitation therapist and college professor. 

Becky Horter, a Christian blogger and former devotions editor. 

Maxwell Ivey, son of a carnival owner, blogger, and podcaster. 

Jeannie Johnson, MA, retired TVI, volunteer, and cook extraordinaire. 

Lynda Jones, CVRT, retired college professor. 

Steve Kelley, MA in Rehabilitation of the Blind and in Rehabilitation Counseling, CVRT, CATIS, works with Hadley School and is an AccessWorld contributor. 

Dayle Kane, retired licensed massage therapist and volunteer. 

Lynda Lambert, retired college professor, artist, and author. 

Sue Wiygul Martin, CVRT and Low Vision Therapist (LVT), works with the Office of Organization Development and Engagement within the Veterans Affairs Office of Information and Technology. 

Deanna Noriega, retired independent living specialist, poet, and writer.  

Melanie Peskoe, MA in Public Health, works at the American Foundation for the Blind as the Public Policy and Research Institute Coordinator. 

Elizabeth Sammons, MA, international journalist and author, retired program administrator, Opportunities for Ohioans with Disabilities.

Cindy Schaffner, Board Certified Music Therapist and host of “Seeing Blind, ” a You Tube channel. 

Maribel Steel, certified vocational trainer, podcaster, public speaker, life coach, and author. 

Empish Thomas, freelance writer, editor, blogger, and public speaker.  

Marana Vradenburg, certified personal trainer and nutrition specialist. 

Steven Wilson, currently working on master’s degree in counseling. 

In addition to this group of active peers, we have a list of peers from the past, many of whose excellent contributions are still on the site. 

Selected Categories of Posts 

ADA Archives – VisionAware 

Arts and Leisure Archives – VisionAware 

Assistive Technology Archives – VisionAware 

Caregiving Archives – VisionAware 

Cooking with Confidence Archives – VisionAware 

Employment Archives – VisionAware 

Getting Around Archives – VisionAware 

Independence Archives – VisionAware 

Reading Archives – VisionAware 

Self-Advocacy Archives – VisionAware 

Social Life and Recreation Archives – VisionAware 

Support Groups Archives – VisionAware