Meet the CVVICS Team
Our group of dedicated volunteers who make up the CVVICS team all have 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 late husband Jack Foyil 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 – 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 her and her husband, they have four children and eight grandchildren.
Lester Scott – Client Chair
Lester is a client as well as a team member.
In 2014, 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.”
Peter has joined our team to host a one-hour audio presentation on
Fridays from 3-4 p.m. Titled: News, Views and More, Peter presents a the segment on “This Day In History” followed by current news from the
Desert Sun our local newspaper. The hour is concluded with a reading from a popular book such as “Tuesdays With Morrie”. Previously, Peter held a similar class once a week with the Braille Institute. When they changed their format and moved to smaller neighborhood quarters, elective programs like this were no longer available.
A University of Denver graduate in Communications, Peter has worked in both radio and television and, after serving in the Marine Corps returned to become a news anchor on ABC-TV in Denver. He later became involved as a Marketing Director for two major shopping malls in the Denver area then opened his own advertising/public relations agency which he operated successfully for some 12 years.
Peter moved to Palm Springs in 1985 and was involved in various enterprises but always had time for volunteer work such as reading to 4th and 5th graders for 9 years and bringing news and views to assisted living folks. For the past 15 years. Peter has been involved as a volunteer with Desert Regional Medical Center and now serves as a Chaplain there as well as President of the hospital auxiliary.
Peter has been married to wife his Alice for 47 years and has three daughters, four grandchildren, four great-grandchildren, and one great-great-grandson. “It is an honor to serve my sight-impaired friends and others where my talents can make a difference” said Peter.
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.
Jack Foyil - In Memoriam
August 19, 1932, to September 30, 2022
Beloved husband of Dr. Barbara Hanson Foyil with whom he helped create Coachella Valley Visually Impaired Community Services.
We take this moment to remember Jack not only as a successful businessman but as a beloved husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, great-great-grandfather, and a great beloved friend to all who knew him.
We shall miss you, Jack.