Una Jenkyns – forever in our hearts
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Una and Art Jenkyns at the Taj Mahal in India.

This past weekend, we Canadians gathered around the Thanksgiving dinner table and gave thanks for the many wonderful people in our lives. At Operation Eyesight, we gave thanks for our dedicated donors who’ve supported our sight-saving work for more than 53 years. We also reflected on the life of our biggest supporter, Una Jenkyns.

Una, wife of our founder Art Jenkyns, passed away in May at age 98. For staff and volunteers, donors, and Una’s family and friends, it was an occasion of great sadness but also of celebration of the life of an incredible woman. It’s because of Una’s dedication to Art’s work that Operation Eyesight grew to be the organization it is today.

Una supported Art’s decision to leave his job at an insurance brokerage to became the first president of Operation Eyesight, allowing him to fully commit to the organization. It was a bold move, given that they had five children and were sacrificing their only source of guaranteed income, but Una placed her trust in Art and did everything she could to help him get the charity going.

“She was behind him all the way,” says Sylvia Constable, a long-time friend of the Jenkyns family. “They were a true team.”

When Art travelled for work, Una carried the responsibilities at home, taking care of their children and Art’s administrative work. Like her husband, she had a lot of integrity in her personal life and in the business world, and Art was quick to give her credit for Operation Eyesight’s success.

“She was a woman of substance,” says Sylvia. “She was a role model for her children, and for everyone else, too.”

Even in her final years, when she was faced with the challenges of dementia, Una remained the woman her family knew and loved, steady in her faith. The work started by her beloved husband always had a special place in her heart, which she demonstrated by leaving a thoughtful gift to Operation Eyesight in her will.

Una’s kindness will be felt for generations to come as we continue the work she and Art began 53 years ago. Her legacy will live on through Operation Eyesight, her children, and those she inspired. “She really tried to be the best that she could be,” says Sylvia. “And she succeeded.”

We’d like to extend our deepest condolences to the Jenkyns family on the loss of their grandmother and mother. We’d also like to thank the Jenkyns family for their steadfast support of our work to eliminate avoidable blindness. Thank you!