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December 2019
Board Member Spotlight

Meet Flory Hoving

Flory Hoving has been the quintessential Donka volunteer for more than 15 years. Not only does she serve on the board, she also works every fundraising event and helps out with various administrative tasks that pop up during the year. Joyce Van Der Molen, Donka’s past board president, asked Flory to join the board. But Flory has a lifelong personal connection to Donka’s work through our Executive Director, Leanne Stavenger Vos. Leanne is a childhood Elmhurst friend, as is Joyce’s daughter, Beth. We recently asked Flory a few questions about Donka.

How has Donka changed since you first became involved? Donka's technology has changed…as it has to continually change to keep up with all the technological updates and programs that keep changing over the years. When I first started as a board member, we did not have remote classes, or a smart board, tablets, or classes for college students to educate them, to be able to teach people with disabilities.

Is there a particular incident or occurrence at Donka that has left a lasting impression on you? The impression that is first and foremost in my mind when I think of Donka's training, is watching Willie [one of Donka’s first students wearing a head mouse, and being able to work on the computer. Also, Anne Byrne give a demonstration of a lesson, was mind-blowing. I was amazed at how she could know what was on each screen, when she could not see it, and more amazed that she is able to pass on that knowledge to other sight-impaired students.

What do you wish more people knew about Donka? I wish people knew that it is important to support Donka's mission, because the small one-on-one, or one-on-two training is really needed as these students really have very individual needs and skills.

When people ask you about Donka, what is the first thing you tell them? I tell people that Donka helps connect people to the world with technology. They can be part of the world, even if they are limited by their physical mobility or (lack of) sight. They can look things up, keep in touch with friends and family, or use the technology for employment.

Is there a particular AT that Donka teaches that you use in your daily life? I do not really use any AT, as I am somewhat technologically challenged myself. (I should use the zoom on the Microsoft program)…That being said, I am amazed at what even I can do on the computer with the tools accessible to me. And I am glad that that is available to many students because of Donka, Inc.

What is your favorite app that you use on your smart phone? 'What's app' is the app I enjoy the most, even if I don't use it much. I can connect to my relatives miles away and get an answer very quickly from them.

Finally, when you are working or volunteering for Donka, what do you like to do in your down time? In my downtime, I like to garden, bake, or travel.

Flory is a lifelong Elmhurst resident and lives there with her husband, Bill. Together they have three adult children, Calvin, Val, and Jeremy. Thank you for your service, Flory! We appreciate you!

Assistive Technology Corner

Enable Viacam

This is a free download for a “head mouse” that reads the user’s head movements via the computer’s webcam. This is especially useful for persons with paralysis or fine-motor skills challenges.

According the website, installation is simple and easy. The interface works via a wireless set up – no cables or additional hardware is required! Additionally, there are customizable features to fit the user’s comfort needs, i.e., adjustments for pointer speed and motion acceleration.

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SmartNav 4

Like Viacam, SmartNav is a hands-free mouse that works by tracking the user’s head movements. A Donka visitor recently conducted a PowerPoint presentation for our staff meeting using the device!

Unlike Viacam, SmartNav is a more sophisticated device that mounts on top of your monitor, laptop or tablet. The device boasts greater speed, a high resolution, and better performance in various lighting situations. The cost is $499.

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weWALK: One Smart Cane!

Developments in technology continue to astound us in the best way and the weWalk “smart cane” is no exception. Developed by Kursat Ceylan, a Turkish designer who is also blind, the cane uses smart technology aims to help visually-impaired people navigate their surroundings.

The weWALK device is a “cane-topper” handle that is equipped with built-in speakers, smartphone integration, and sensors that send vibrations to the handle to warn users of surrounding obstacles. It is currently $500 – and is updatable per the scheduled release of new features.

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Volunteer Spotlight

“I chose Donka because I wanted to gain experience working with the elderly. During my time here, I got a real sense of community every time I entered the building. The residents are friendly and talking to them is always a great time. I have enjoyed my time here and the residents have left an impression on me that will last forever. I hope to take my experienes here and apply them to my occupation in the medical field.”

Carlos Armendariaz, COD Service Learning Volunteer

Donka 2019 Volunteers

Donka is fortunate to have a dedicated group of community volunteers who help us increase the impact of our programs and keep the organization operating smoothly. Volunteers serve on Donka’s Board of Directors and board committees, help with fundraising activities – such as our recent Race for Abilities – and assist Donka graduates with various issues in the computer lab during open hours. Below is a list of our current lab volunteers and their years of service to Donka.

Endre Agocs, Lombard - 25 years
Joyce Rabas, Wheaton - 21 years
Bill Neurauter, Lombard - 14 years
Lee Johnson, Downers Grove -11 years
Ritu Singh, Palatine - 7 years
Phyllis Hart, Wheaton - 3 years
Bill Paschke, Winfield - 2 years
Jared Crimmins, Lombard - 3 years
Carlos Armendariaz - 6 months via COD’s Service Learning Program
Tori Mason - 6 months via COD’s Service Learning Program
Jessica Oliveros, Woodridge - 6 months via COD’s Service Learning Program
Amanda Shea - 6 months via COD’s Service Learning Program

Donor Spotlight

Giving Tuesday a Huge Success!

In case you haven’t heard, Donka’s Donka’s 2019 #GIVINGTUESDAY Campaign was a phenomenal success!   Thank you so much to all who gave during the campaign and helped Donka raise more than $26,000 during #GIVINGTUESDAY this year.  With your support, Donka exceeded our campaign goal of $7,000.

Donka “empowers the abilities” of our students by teaching them to use assistive technology to access a computer on their own. Since 1987, over 1,000 persons with disabilities have graduated from Donka’s training and use their technology skills to get jobs, go to college, and enrich their personal lives.

Brian D., a 2019 graduate, says, “Over the past decade or so, I have been someone who has found it difficult to find a job. This situation has led to countless difficulties throughout my life, and with the help of Donka, Inc. I was able to obtain gainful employment at a job I enjoy…Donka, Inc.’s one-on-one approach is unique in a sense that it allows students to learn at their own pace, regardless of skill or ability level. That very method helped me as I progressed through my training, and I earned a Microsoft Office Certification for my hard work over the several months my instructor tutored me. I would like to thank Donka, Inc.’s donors for their investment in my future, as they allowed me to gain skills I otherwise would not have been able to.”

On behalf of Brian – and all of our past and future students – Donka sends out a very special thank you to the Naperville Noon Lions and The Coleman Foundation for their matching grants to benefit Giving Tuesday. This is the third year each organization has provided funds to double our donors’ gifts.

As a former Board Member of Donka, I continue to support Donka because it offers a unique and valuable service to the community. I have seen how this computer program for people with disabilities has given them opportunities to succeed and enrich their lives.

Joyce Van Der Molen

Happy Holidays, From all of us at Donka.

Copyright © 2019 Donka Inc., All rights reserved.

Our mailing address is:
400 N. County Farm Rd.
Wheaton, IL 60187
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