“Sight loss is a very difficult and hard pill to swallow. Support group shows one that you’re not alone,” says Bridgette Suttle, one of CVI’s newest board members. Bridgette speaks from experience.

Her journey began in early 2011 when she was referred to the Center for the Visually Impaired by her ophthalmologist. Bridgette was not only dealing with vision loss. As a type two diabetic, she had lost her right foot and was using a wheelchair.  CVI worked with her to tailor a program to fit her individual needs.  She learned to take care of herself with the vision she had, while her Orientation and Mobility Instructor, Ernest Burton, helped her to walk with a new prosthetic foot and a white cane.

“The whole experience totally changed my life,”says Bridgette. “I started as a scared blind woman in a wheelchair and ended as a confident woman with a visual impairment.”

Bridgette wanted to help others and became more involved with CVI a volunteer to help others going through the same experiences. She volunteered for a few events in the beginning, and then took on a leadership role in CVI’s Women’s Support Group.  

“As the support group facilitator, I get to share the hope of recovery,” says Bridgette. “I get to let them know that after completing my blind services training, that yes, my site is extremely bad yet my vision is crystal clear.”

The Women’s Support Group is an important outlet and a resource for clients. Bridgette points out that participants face many of the same challenges that all women face, but they are facing them while also dealing with vision loss. “Imagine raising your children, preparing their food, even reading them a bedtime story. Being in this peer lead support group gives us the opportunity to readjust and express our feelings regarding the new adjustments. What we figure out is we already possess the skill. This new life however dictates that we learn to do it differently. With the help of group. we generally find ourselves to be successful. I believe that’s a win-win for everyone involved.” Bridgette recently joined CVI’s Operating Board, where she can play a greater leadership role in CVI’s future and help tailor programs to the needs of clients and families.