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Man looking out the window

You can make a difference with a contribution to help us continue to support those in need

Message from David Barnwell, Executive Director of The Iris Network
I understand you may be feeling uncertain or worried about the status of the COVID-19 situation. What happens in the next few weeks may be out of our control, but one thing you can do is to support a vulnerable population through gifts to The Iris Network. Right now, your financial support is needed to help us to meet the urgent needs of people who are blind and visually impaired in our communities. 

As of April 3rd, 2020, our community and center-based staff will continue to serve clients, but under modified conditions: using technology while following CDC guidelines to continue to serve our clients in their homes throughout Maine. These technologies allow us keep in touch, visit (virtually), and continue to help them perform daily tasks and hobbies they enjoy–to continue to help them be independent in their homes


Couple reading a book

Vision loss can lead to damaging social invisibility and isolation. As one can imagine, life becomes a lot more difficult when you can't read the newspaper, see a computer monitor, drive, or walk up the stairs. This is a reality for one out of three seniors over the age of 70 with common eye conditions (such as age-related macular degeneration). Compounded with sheltering-in-place, social distancing, and quarantining to protect our elders and other vulnerable populations from the Coronavirus, it can leave many feeling depressed and lonely as well. 

We know these are difficult and uncertain times, but your donation will allow us to continue to support the most vulnerable populations. We strive to keep our employees actively working and continue to help folks who are blind or visually impaired that still need our help. Donate online at:

Thank you for your care, concern, and compassion. Together, we will ensure that people of all ages and all stages of vision loss have the support they need to stay safe and healthy through this crisis. Thank you. 

 Certified staff with consumer at the White Cane Walk for Independence

Certified staff with consumer at the White Cane Walk for Independence 

Click Here for more information on the 2020 White Cane Walk for Independence


YOUR CONTRIBUTION MAY BE TAX DEDUCTIBLE NOW! While so many nonprofits have been impacted by the Covid-19 emergency – and will continue to be for some time – there is some good news. In 2020, for those who have contributed or plan to contribute to The Iris Network, you can now get greater tax benefits from your giving. The new stimulus bill includes the following changes to charitable giving:

  • If you do not itemize your deductions, and give up to $300 to charity in a year, you can add up to $300 to the standard deduction. This is an above-the-line deduction, which means it has the added bonus of decreasing your adjusted gross income so you could qualify for other tax breaks. In order to qualify, you have to give to a qualified charity (such as The Iris Network), which does not include a donor advised charitable fund. This covers all of 2020 and the years to come. Section 2204.
  • If you itemize your deductions, for 2020 you can now deduct 100% of your charitable contributions from your adjusted gross income (up from the previous 50% cap). If you have a business, the 10% limit has been increased to 25%. This only applies to cash gifts to public charities and is not applicable to private foundations or donor advised funds. Section 2204. 


Your gift helps individuals and families handle the challenges of blindness or visual impairment. 

Each of us wants to be able to do things for ourselves, make our own choices, and set our own goals. We want to be in charge of our lives. We want to maintain a positive, hopeful outlook. And when we are connected to our families and communities, everyone benefits. With your support, The Iris Network can help.

Macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma are the leading causes of vision loss
. They can make it hard for someone to read, drive a car, recognize faces, follow instructions on their prescription medication, pay bills, or see other fine objects. And because our population is aging, more and more families will be affected by vision loss, which may be accompanied by hearing loss and other disabilities. 

But thanks to the generosity of people like you, The Iris Network is able to offer solutions that improve the quality of life for those experiencing vision loss. People with low vision or blindness learn new ways to do activities of daily living so they can remain in their homes and avoid unnecessary and costly nursing home care. They are introduced to magnifiers, Braille and labeling techniques, and devices that turn text into audible speech.

People with visual impairment or blindness learn relevant job skills using adaptive technology and techniques. We also assist employers in making appropriate accommodations such as screen reading or magnification computer software, lighting modifications, and glare reduction. We have a Low Vision Clinic in Portland that serves the community. 

Jean and John Chiqoine
         Jean and John Chiqoine 

How your donations help families:
Jean and John learned about The Iris Network through a friend. “By the time my husband discovered he had macular degeneration, it was really too late to save his vision,” said Jean. “It was extremely helpful to go to the group workshops to know we weren’t alone. The instructor showed John practical techniques to do everyday tasks. She even came to our home and made safety suggestions. We couldn’t have managed without it.”

As John’s vision continued to deteriorate over the years, a mobility instructor from The Iris Network showed him how to use a white cane so he could navigate his neighborhood safely.

John loved to read. “When the weather was lousy, he’d spend hours listening to books from the talking book library,” she said. He also learned to use screen-reading software on his computer and had an accessible calculator.

“ We are so grateful for the many years of support we received. The Iris Network is a wonderful service,” Jean said.

Your support is very much appreciated!

Here’s how you can help:

Make an online gift:
This is the fastest and easiest way to give, whether a one-time or recurring gift.

Mail a gift:
Send your check to: The Iris Network, c/o Development, 189 Park Avenue, Portland, ME 04102.

Call in your gift:
Call (207) 518-5040 to make a Visa or Master Card contribution. All gifts in any amounts are very helpful and truly appreciated.

Pay tribute in a meaningful way:
Consider a meaningful tribute by making a gift to The Iris Network in honor of a friend or loved one. This method of giving is also very appropriate as a memorial gift rather than sending flowers or other traditional expressions of sympathy. The closest family member will be notified of your very thoughtful gift.

Make a gift of stocks:
The total value of the stock upon transfer is tax deductible and you will not be obligated to pay any capital gains taxes on appreciation.

Matching Gifts:
Many companies offer matching gift programs that will match your gift to The Iris Network. Please inquire with your company and mail your completed matching gift form to the Iris Network.

Designate Your United Way Gift:
If your employer conducts an employee campaign through the United Way of Greater Portland and you participate, you may designate a portion, or all, of your United Way gift to The Iris Network.

Leave a legacy through a planned gift:
A planned gift of any size is a powerful message that conveys generosity as well as a commitment to the mission of The Iris Network. Though a bequest through a will is the most common planned gift, other examples include life insurance, retirement plans, real estate, property or charitable trusts.

Attend or Sponsor our White Cane Walk for Independence, White Cane Walk for Independence

Volunteer with our residents at Iris Park Apartments (non-medical support), Volunteer

Learn to work with people who have dual sensory loss (hearing/vision), Independence Without Fear

What your money can do:
can buy signature guides for the blind

$12 + shipping will buy you a large print calendar

$35 will provide you with a calendar and a donation to The Iris Network

$50 will cover hand held magnifiers for people with low vision

$1,000 will replace a window at our dormitory

$1,800 can be used for a desktop video magnifier for someone with low income

$3,000 will provide a fully functional video magnifier for demonstration and training

$200-$5,000 will sponsor our White Cane Walk for Independence to help with general operating costs

This article answers the following question, many of you may have, “Has my ability to make direct charitable donations from my IRA when I reach the age of 70 1/2 been affected by the new tax law?” — Connie Beroza, 69-year-old retiree, Buffalo, N.Y. 

New tax law favors charitable giving from IRAs 

Jamie Hopkins, associate professor of taxation at the American College of Financial Services, offers guidance
Investment News 

Jan 3, 2018 @ 11:29 am
By Greg Iacurci 

This may not apply to you, but please share with your friends and family, especially for those over age 70! 

If you are interested in learning more about making a charitable donation to The Iris Network, please contact Terri Tomchak at (207) 518-5040 or


189 Park Avenue
Portland, ME 04102
(207) 774-6273

The Iris Network is a community-based, Maine nonprofit 501(c)(3) public benefit corporation. Our vision is to build a world where no person is limited by visual impairment or blindness. The Iris Network is accredited by the National Accreditation Council for Blindness and Low Vision Services.

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