Elaine Edwards serves as the president of The Envision Foundation. In addition to the many duties this position demands, she is a full-time homemaker, a recent empty nester, and an enthusiastic first time grandmother.
Before starting a family, Mrs. Edwards worked as a licensed independent insurance agent. She has been married to her husband, Bill, for 36 years and has two grown children.
Her daughter, Abby, was diagnosed with Familial Vitreoretinopathy, part of a rare genetic order called Osteoporosis Pseudoglioma Syndrome at six weeks of age. While Abby had ambulatory vision at birth, she lost vision in one eye at age 6 and the other at 13. Despite her vision loss Abby recently earned a masters degree with honors and enjoys a career in social work.
In her free time Elaine enjoys hiking, kayaking, and traveling. She has been part of Envision for approximately 12 years. When asked why she supports the mission of our foundation she says, “I support the mission of The Envision Foundation because I have seen how my daughter was able to succeed beyond what I could ever have imagined. I truly believe that it takes a village to raise a child, and that applies even more so in the case of a child with special needs. This foundation, along with the adaptive equipment she has received, helped her to complete the educational requirements through graduate school. My goal is to be part of someone else’s village to help them realize for their child what one day I could only imagine”.
Kurtis Van Buren
Kurtis Van Buren holds a degree in electromechanical engineering and robotic automation. Twenty-four years ago, he founded Combined Technologies Group (CTG), a systems integrator and builder of robotic systems.
He has been married to his wife, Tina, since 1990, and is the father of one daughter and two sons. Jacob works alongside his father as a sales associate for CTG. Zechariah, who graduated as the valedictorian of his Ohio Technical College class in 2021, is currently starting his own Power Sports Service Center. Daughter Abigail, also worked for Combined Technologies Group and recently gave birth to Kurt and Tina‘s fifth grandchild.
Both of Kurt’s sons have been diagnosed with Stargardt‘s disease, which affects their central vision. Kurt stresses, however, that their family has been determined not to let vision loss interfere with any of their favorite activities, which include fishing,camping, hunting, skiing, four wheeling, snorkeling, scuba diving, and many other outdoor activities.
Kurt has been a member of Envision Foundation for nearly 20 years as a parent and board member. He says, “The foundation has meant a great deal to our family and has been a place where we have been able to meet other parents of vision impaired children and gain support and education about vision loss and blindness. It is a place where our children can grow and be with their peers. I serve as Vice President so I can help Envision Foundation continue to grow and thrive. “
Carolyn James is a Certified Orton Gillingham Reading Intervention Specialist and educational consultant. Carolyn’s 40 years of teaching experience includes classroom instruction, elementary school administration, homeschool cooperative administration, and educational mentoring as an Association of Christian Schools (ACSI) conference speaker. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Early Childhood Education and a Master of Science, Reading Specialist.
She has been married to her best friend, Terry, for nearly 35 years and has one son, Nathan, who recently earned a degree in Informatics Healthcare. Nathan was born more than 5 months prematurely and developed Retinopathy of Prematurity. In this disease, abnormal blood vessel growth in the retina of premature babies, generally those whose birthweight is less than two pounds, scars the retina and causes it to detach. As a result, Nathan is blind in one eye and legally blind in the other.
When she can find the time, Carolyn enjoys entertaining, baking, camping, reading, scrapbooking, and creating thrifted home decor projects.
Carolyn discovered The Envision Foundation in 2007, during a routine doctor’s appointment and soon joined the group. She has served as a board member and secretary of the foundation for over ten years.
Her passion for the Foundation stems from the support it provides to parents of blind and vision impaired children. She explains, “When Nathan was four months old we first learned that the best we could probably hope for was ambulatory vision and that he would be legally blind. We’d just spent four months praying that our son would live; now we prayed that his would be a life worth living. Spending time with other parents who’d walked the same road during monthly Envision support meetings and seeing their children succeed and thrive gave us one of the greatest gifts we have ever received…hope. It’s a gift I want to give again and again through The Envision Foundation”.
William Edwards is Senior Manager, Collaborative Robotics at Yaskawa America Inc. He has 31 years of experience in Engineering Management, Project Management, and Industrial Control Systems application, programming and design. Mr. Edwards also serves as a voting member of various ISO and and ANSI industrial robot safety committees, and is a US Navy veteran. He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Engineering Management as well as an associates degree in Electro-mechanical Engineering.
He has been married to his lovely wife, Elaine, for 36 years, with whom he shares two children: Abby, a social worker, and Alex, an elementary school teacher. The couple recently welcomed their first grandson.
His daughter, Abby, is now completely blind due to Familial Exudative Vitreoretinopathy. This condition affects the light sensitive tissue that lines the back of the eye by preventing blood vessels from forming at the edges of the retina. This reduces the blood supply and leads to retinal detachment and vision loss.
Bill has been a member of The Envision Foundation for 12 years. When Asked why he volunteers time to the foundation, he replied, “Simple, to give back to the greater Dayton community by helping children with visual impairments succeed in their educational endeavors by providing adaptive educational equipment and support”.
Joseph Chaffin serves as the Campus Manager at Crossview Christian Church in Waynesville, Ohio. He previously worked as Facilities Manager for 37 years for a water/waste water facility. Additionally, Joe has more than 30 years of home remodeling experience.
He shares six children and eight grandchildren with Andrea, his wife of 25 years. In his free time, Joe enjoys playing the guitar, baseball, and home repair projects. His daughter, Aleea, was diagnosed with Aniridia at four months of age. In this condition, the iris of the eye is partially or completely absent. This results in an abnormally large pupil and can affect other structures of the eye. Aleea, though legally blind, recently graduated from high school, landed her first job, and is enrolled in college.
Joe has been affiliated with The Envision Foundation for nine years, serving as a board member and trustee. His goal is to, “Insure that children with vision loss have the same access to all activities and opportunities enjoyed by their sighted peers”.
Terry James recently retired from a long career in the Commercial Heating and Air Conditioning business. Prior to that time, he worked in the Elevator Construction and Automobile Industries.
These days, his primary activity is completing home improvement projects. His wife of more than 34 years, Carolyn, is thrilled to see her “honey-do” list shrinking so quickly! Terry enjoys the extra time he now has to spend with his son, Nathan, who was diagnosed with Retinopathy of Prematurity in infancy, and is legally blind.
His interests include camping, woodworking, football, motor sports, and listening to classic rock from the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s.
Terry has been an Envision member for 17 years, completing many hands on projects for the foundation, while providing encouragement and support to parents who have just begun the adventure of raising a special needs child. He serves as a trustee because he has seen the impact that the technology and support provided by the foundation has had on his own son’s life. His goal is to guard and grow Envision’s investments, so that the foundation can continue to meet the needs of vision impaired children in the generations ahead.
Tina Van Buren
Tina Van Buren holds an Associates degree in Applied
Science, and is the office manager and co-owner of Combined Technologies Group, a robotics company that she and her husband Kurt founded in 1997 on what she calls, “a crazy idea and a prayer”. She enjoys scrapbooking, traveling, and spending time with her three children and five grandchildren.
Her oldest son, Jacob, was diagnosed with Stargardt’s disease at the age of eight, after more than two years of searching for a diagnosis. She and her husband, Kurt, noticed that Jacob held things very close to his face, could only see some things when they were moved, and sometimes mistook similar foods like mashed potatoes for butter. Her younger son, Zechariah, was later diagnosed with the same eye condition. Stargardt’s affects central vision, leaving a dark or fuzzy spots in the middle of one’s field of view. It also has a significant effect on depth perception.
When Jacob was first diagnosed with Stargardt’s, Tina had never heard of the condition and was worried to learn that her son was legally blind. She is grateful to have found The Envision Foundation where she learned that she and her husband Kurt were not alone on their journey…that there were other families who could share information about vision loss and blindness and support them along the way.
Today, Tina serves on the board and keeps track of financial records for the organization due the gratitude she feels for the equipment and support her family has received. She says, “My sons have learned that vision loss is not a limiting disability, just an obstacle that must be overcome each day. I continue to work on behalf of The Envision Foundation to help spread the word about the wonderful things it can do for other families. I want them to be able to find us and not have to wonder and worry about what the future holds for their vision impaired children “.