Monthly Donations Make a Difference

When their granddaughter, Abby, was born without eyes in December 2005, Jon and Mary Fisher weren’t sure what to do. A friend of a friend, who has a son who is blind, recommended The Chicago Lighthouse’s Birth-to-Three Program as a resource for guidance and support.

GramMary & Abby
Mary Fisher smiles with her granddaughter, who received support through our Birth-to-Three Program.

As soon as the family contacted The Lighthouse, Birth-to-Three Early Intervention Program Director Marla Garstka began to reassure them. Our Program had successfully helped hundreds of infants and toddlers since 1974, teaching them how to navigate a world for the sighted, she said. Abby would be in good hands.

“Once we were reassured that others had done this successfully, we began to feel better,” Mary says. Marla began to work with Abby, teaching her how to reach for objects even though she could not see them and working toward important early childhood developmental milestones. “I don’t know what life would be like without The Lighthouse,” Mary says.

As a way to pay things forward, Mary and Jon arranged to make a recurring monthly donation to The Chicago Lighthouse, and have continued that regular contribution monthly since 2006. They wanted to be sure other children had the same opportunities as their granddaughter. “It started out as pure gratitude to pay back what they had done for us,” Mary says. “I want The Lighthouse to always be there. I don’t know what kids like Abby would do without its programs.”

In addition to helping fund our Birth-to-Three Early Intervention Program, the Fishers in recent years have dedicated some of their contribution to our Preschool. (In appreciation for their ongoing support, we have installed a plaque identifying an area in our school as “Abby’s Place.”) Thanks to their unwavering support over the past nearly 15 years, we have been able to help hundreds of children who are blind or visually impaired throughout the Chicago area.

gold plaque that reads: abby's place. Dedicated to all of the Abbys that The Lighthouse helps every day!Plaque for Abby’s Place, dedicated by the Fishers to The Lighthouse’s Preschool Programs.

Today, Abby is a thriving high-school freshman, who takes piano lessons, animatedly discusses politics and current events with her grandmother, and, like pretty much every teenager these days, is obsessed with the musical Hamilton. As she turns 15 later this year, Abby may participate in our Youth Transition Program, where she can learn even more new skills and meet other teens who share her disability.

Abby’s development is a testament to The Chicago Lighthouse’s dedication to ensuring children who are blind or visually impaired get the support they need to thrive, Mary says. It is also why she and her family have continued to support The Lighthouse throughout the years. “I know every penny I give to The Lighthouse is going to help a kid like Abby,” she says.

We cannot thank Mary and Jon enough for their generosity over the years. If you would like to set up a monthly giving donation, please contact Jen Miller at (312) 997-3643 or

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