Our team is committed to empower our clients who are blind and visually impaired to be independent through experiences, education and socialization, leading to an enhanced quality of life for them and their families.
Scott joined Lighthouse of Collier after completing a successful career in the Senior Living Industry. He spent 23 years with The Eddy Senior Living Communities in upstate New York. The Eddy is a comprehensive continuum of healthcare, supportive housing and community services that reaches 22 counties and serves more than 40,000 people yearly in the capital region of New York. Eddy services help maximize independence, quality of life and dignity of individuals, and help prevent the premature institutionalization of chronically ill, frail or disabled seniors.
Since moving to Naples, Florida in January 2015, Scott has been very involved in the Southwest Florida community. He completed the Bonita Leadership program and was a board member of the Bonita Springs Area Chamber of Commerce.
Scott has a passion for giving back to those less fortunate than him. He was very involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Southern Adirondacks for 10 years. He was a volunteer for Big Brothers Big Sisters twice as a “Big Brother” and also as a board member and board President.
Scott received his Bachelor degree in Business/Accounting from George Washington University and his Master of Science degree in Hospitality Management from the University of Massachusetts.
He is currently on the board of the Florida Agencies Serving the Blind which is a provider network of comprehensive rehabilitation services for Floridians living with blindness and visual impairments.
Wendy Olson is a Certified Vision Rehabilitation Therapist (CVRT) and Certified Orientation and Mobility Specialist (COMS). She brings more than 20 years’ experience in the field of education and rehabilitation for persons with low vision and blindness. Wendy has worked with individuals of all ages, abilities/disabilities and cultural backgrounds. Her experience includes working as a: part-time Parent Advisor for blind/visually impaired babies/toddlers, a Teacher of the Visually Impaired in the various school districts, an Assistive Technology Specialist (performing AT Assessments and training on screen readers, notetakers and screen magnification programs), an Orientation and Mobility Specialist (babies to seniors) and a VR College Counselor. Wendy’s passion for travel and cultural exploration brought her to China, the Navajo Indian Reservation (in Arizona) and Ghana, West Africa, where she also worked as a TVI/COMS. Ms. Olson holds a Master’s Degree in Rehabilitation Teaching for The Blind/VI and a graduate certificate in Orientation and Mobility from San Francisco State University. She is also certified in the State of Florida as a TVI.
At the Lighthouse, Wendy is currently responsible for teaching independent living, orientation and mobility and braille skills to adults. She also organizes various recreation and leisure events, such as the Out and About monthly mobility group and the Unique Skills in Vision workshops. Wendy finds great satisfaction in having the opportunity to participate in her clients’ journey towards gaining hope and independence, while adjusting to their vision loss.
Aria is a Certified Vision Rehabilitation Therapist through the Academy for Certification of Vision Rehabilitation & Education Professionals. After receiving her Bachelor of Science in Rehabilitation, she went on to receive her Master’s in Vision Science degree with a concentration in Vision Rehabilitation Therapy from University of Montreal. Her passion is for empowering children and early intervention, resulting in her position working with those age groups.
Aria joined the Lighthouse of Collier team in August of 2022. Her favorite part of the job has been coordinating the outings which have included going to a pottery studio, “make your own pizza” at a restaurant, mini golfing, and more events in the community.
Rick joined the Lighthouse of Collier in February 2015. Helping people who are blind or visually impaired is Rick’s passion. He knows firsthand what it is like to live with vision loss as he was diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa at age eight. He knows how difficult it can be to get along in a sighted world.
Rick holds a Master of Arts in Community Agency Counseling from Saint Xavier University (Chicago, Illinois). He is certified to teach screen reading and magnification software through the Florida Division of Blind Services. He also facilitates the support groups and provides individual peer counseling. His aim is to help clients (of all ages) gain confidence and skills needed to adjust to living with vision loss. Rick’s overall goal is to help clients enhance their quality of life by teaching adaptive skills which enable clients to continue to be productive and self-reliant.
Nicole is an Accountant who believes in the power to serve others. She began her journey in finance at a young age, and now dreams of being the best version of herself, professionally and personally.
She was educated at the La Salle University with a bachelor’s in Actuarial Science. She’s worked as an Accountant at companies in Mexico and in Naples. Nicole also has a bachelor’s in Classical Dance by the National Institute of Fine Arts in Mexico City. She loves the culture and believes in the importance of the arts for the creativity of each person.
While she was studying, she volunteered in some orphanages and skilled nursing facilities providing them with food, clothes and entertainment.
She moved to Naples a couple years ago from Mexico and she is very grateful to all the people who have supported her. That is why she decided to join Lighthouse of Collier to continue to support people with needs.
Cindy Bello received a Graduate Certificate in Low Vision Rehabilitation from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and enjoys working with children of all ages at the Lighthouse. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Susquehanna University and a Master of Arts in Occupational Therapy from Tufts University. Cindy began her career in pediatrics, providing early intervention occupational therapy services to children from birth to three. Over the course of her year career as an OT, Cindy has served individuals of all ages in a variety of settings, including outpatient rehab, acute care hospital, school, and home health. Her experience at the Lighthouse began with volunteering at the Children’s Summer Camp and assisting adults with Activities of Daily Living Classes. Currently, Cindy works with the children and is committed every day to helping them reach their full potential through activities that are meaningful to them.
Misty is visually impaired, but nothing stops her from learning and assisting others. She has joined the team at Lighthouse of Collier to instruct clients with assistive technology. She is certified in JAWS (Job Access With Speech) software and has her Magnification Endorsement from Florida Division of Blind Services.
Stephany prides herself on having excellent interpersonal communication skills. She is bilingual and enjoys living in Naples. Stephany began working at Lighthouse of Collier in Spring 2019 as a Receptionist and was later promoted to Intake Specialist. She is passionate about assisting clients in receiving services in order to help them become independent. Stephany is a Junior at Florida Gulf Coast University, pursuing a major in Psychology. When meeting with new clients, Stephany lends an ear and provides comfort. Clients come to Lighthouse afraid of the unknown while trying to grasp the situation. She finds it rewarding when client’s leave with a smile on their faces and feeling more confident.
Maggie has been a Lighthouse client for almost three years. She suffers from glaucoma and damaged corneas, causing a great deal of pain and extreme light sensitivity. She administers eye drops multiple times a day and attends frequent eye appointments. Compounding these challenges, Maggie was recently let go from her job due to COVID-19.
Despite her circumstances, Maggie always sees the glass half full and never seems defeated. She shows up with a smile and a “can do” attitude. Maggie frequently networks with other Lighthouse clients to help them cope with their vision loss. She leads by example by lending a hand to those in need.
Maggie started as a volunteer at the Front Desk to learn and hopefully become a Receptionist. Maggie’s determination made her a strong candidate thereby earning a part-time position as receptionist. Maggie brings sunshine to the office and is a wonderful icon showing others how hard work and perseverance pays off. As she often says, “This is my new normal, so I’m going to have to figure out how to get it all done, but in a new way!”
Jack is a long time client of the Lighthouse of Collier. He came to the Lighthouse looking for guidance after having had a stroke and losing most of his vision. He also lost the majority of the functioning of the left side of his body.
During the first meeting with the instructor, Jack expressed his deep grief over the trauma of losing his eyesight and functioning of the left side of his body. The first sessions were spent allowing Jack to express his feelings and talking about the phases of the psychosocial adjustment to blindness. Jack understood the process of adjustment to blindness, but he could not accept his losses.
After much discussion, Jack mentioned that he had once owned a restaurant and that he loved to cook. He missed being able to cook for himself. Cooking became his primary goal.
The instructor researched cooking tools that Jack could use that would help him adapt to cooking with his vision loss and only being able to use one hand. The items were ordered and delivered to Jack.
The first foray into cooking involved Pizzelle cookies. It was a complete disaster. The instructor was sure that Jack would never try cooking again. It took some coaxing, but Jack agreed to try again.
He wanted to use his air fryer. It was a digital screen. After some experimentation between the instructor and Jack, tactile markings were placed on the screen that allowed Jack to use the fryer. The first meal was breaded chicken fingers. Jack did all the preparation and cooking on his own. He poured the breading into a Ziploc bag and placed a chicken strip into the bag. He then placed the chicken into the fryer and set the time and temperature. Once he was done, he served dinner.
Since then, Jack has been using the air fryer almost every day and has made French fries, vegetables, and a blooming onion.
Jack has some normalcy back into his life. He has been smiling more, laughing more, and opening up to new challenges. Some challenges will be met with the instructor and other challenges will be met with other professionals in his life.
Clients often come to the Lighthouse of Collier with many issues to overcome. It is our job to find answers or participate in collaboration with other professionals when necessary. The goal is independence.