CVVICS Team Members

Meet the CVVICS Team

Our group of dedicated people who make up the CVVICS team all has one goal: To ensure the well-being of the Coachella Valley’s visually impaired/blind community.

Barbara Hanson Foyil, Ph.D. – President

Barbara is the founding president of Coachella Valley Visually Impaired Community Services.

She has been an educator for the past twenty years, following a career of assisting her husband in his international consulting business.

The Foyils have lived in several countries including England, China, Mexico, and Spain.

During her busy working life, she found time to preside over the Millville, New Jersey Hospital Foundation, held multiple offices in the Millville Woman’s Club, been a founding member of the Barcelona Women’s Federated Network, and completed two master’s degrees, one in Educational Technology and the other in Rehabilitation Counseling, and a Ph.D. in Adult Learning Theory.

Not to forget the family she and her husband have between them six children, fourteen grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.

Barbara at 34 was diagnosed with early onset glaucoma and now possesses a companion guide dog, Kinsey, from The Guide Dogs of the Desert.

Lisa Meade – Vice President/ Secretary

Lisa worked in the healthcare industry as a nurse for over 30 years before a back ailment derailed her career.

Undaunted, Lisa searched for a worthy cause that she could volunteer her services. Lisa found it in working with the impaired vision community.

Thus far Lisa has dedicated many hours to volunteering to help clients in various activities, as well as assisting CVVICS President Barbara Foyil in the formation and organization of this endeavor.

Lisa was married for 15 years. Between she and her husband, they have four children and eight grandchildren.

Jack Foyil – Treasurer

Jack is from Pasadena, Ca. and received his degree in Marine Engineering from the California Maritime Academy, Graduate Studies at San Francisco State, and his MBA from Cal State San Bernardino.

He has worked for large domestic and international firms and held various management positions, including Plant Manager, Vice President, and President.

Jack formed his own International Consulting Company specializing in plant construction, modernization, and management for an international clientele.

He has lived and worked in Mexico, England, China, and Spain with projects including working in Moldova, Russia, Ukraine, India, Iraq, Italy, and Germany.

After retiring and returning to the U.S. from Spain, Jack took on a second career as a University of Phoenix professor teaching Economics, Finance, and Management courses. Now, after a second retirement, he is working with his wife Barbara as a volunteer in the newly formed Coachella Valley Visually Impaired Community Services.

Jack lives with his wife Barbara, in Palm Desert, and they have a combined family of six children. fourteen grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.

Lester Scott – Client Chair

Lester is a client as well as a team member.

Six years ago, Lester was diagnosed with PCA (Posterior Cortical Atrophy) in which the brain can no longer interpret and process the information received from the person’s healthy eyes.

Lester does not allow this impairment to slow him down in any way. Lester worked for 20 years in the science and laboratory industry, and another 16 years in realty and trust as well.

In addition, Lester has freelanced for many years as a voiceover specialist for commercial dialogue, and he continues to coach people in that field.

His goal is to “give back and continue to support the low vision community. People like me give people something to do, and it’s about having fun and enjoying themselves.”

David Yerks-Young

Social Events DirectorDavid is new to our group and is considered our “Social Events Director”.

Diagnosed with R.P. (Retinitis Pigmentosa) in or about 2015 he decided he wasn’t going to allow that to define who he is or what he can do.

He continued working as a hairdresser until Covid-19 forced non-essential businesses to close….twice. It was at this time David decided to close the salon and retire.

As he was trying to reach out to our local visually impaired/blind community, it was suggested he contact our group. From there, he found his purpose.

Realizing there is plenty of activities to do in our area,  there are limitations for our visually impaired/blind community.

There are tour groups who have experience with our community, but some are too expensive considering most of the visually impaired/blind community are on fixed incomes such as Social Security or Disability.

With that in mind, David reached out to the Palm Springs Visitors Center and Mizell Center to find out what is available. To his surprise neither had anything, but, are now working with David to include our visually impaired /blind community.

If you want to know more about David, visit his website; https://www.blindeyeonthedesert.social

 

Robert Gamberg – Vice President Human Resources

Robert has instructed and adapted courses for the visually impaired/blind for over 11 years and has lifelong experience living with a visual impairment. Robert has myopia and optic nerve atrophy due to a subdural hematoma from birth.

Robert graduated from Cal State San Bernardino with a Bachelor’s degree in psychology and discovered his passion for working with a visually impaired community shortly after.

He began by facilitating support groups and branched out to instruct a variety of courses encompassing physical and mental health, cognitive strengthening, living with vision loss, music, and assistive technologies.

Robert now serves as the volunteer coordinator and class instructor for CVVICS while continuing to be an advocate for the visually impaired community.

Robert strongly believes in the importance of “community” as a whole.

Sharon Hestdalen – Team Member at Large

Sharon grew up in Washington state and graduated from Western Washington University to become a teacher.

After working in the private sector for several years, Sharon reached her goal, of teaching in Washington public schools for 18 years. Along the way, Sharon received her master’s degree in specific language learning disabilities.

Sharon was diagnosed with macular degeneration at the age of 38, and the disease progressed steadily over the next 30 years.

Sharon now uses her disability to educate others with low vision issues. Being the educator that she is, she wants people to understand what life with low vision is like the adjustments in life they need to make and to continue working with people in the visually impaired community.

Melinda Davies - Music History Coordinator

Melinda guides our group through the history and back-story of the songs we love. From the music of our youth to the music of today.

Each week Melinda announces the theme of the music grouping. Often surprising us with how many songs there are with a common theme.