In the last edition, I wrote on the topic of changes. Some changes I like and some changes I do not like.
One of my duties is to talk to people about joining the American Council of the Blind and the Arizona Council of the Blind. I talk about what I have learned and what I believe. I tell them about our vision for equal rights and equal access to a better quality of life for all people who are blind or visually impaired. I mention a little bit of our philosophy. I say that it is okay to be blind. You have done nothing wrong and it does not define you or diminish you. All blind people are not alike. Just as there is a difference in abilities, there is a difference in disabilities. We value diversity and differences. We find that through cooperation we promote winning relationships. Members can think and say their own opinions. We are a grass roots membership organization; ideas start at the bottom and work their way up to the top.
Then I explain why they should join ACB and AzCB. I tell them that blindness is a low occurrence disability. It may feel like 100% to them, but actually only .5% of the population is blind.
Blindness issues can be lost with other disability concerns. By joining our consumer group, they empower themselves to have a say in those changes. They have an opportunity to meet mentors, gain support, make friends, and socialize with other people who are blind or have other vision problems.
I let them know what we do. We work together, we advocate changing laws to benefit people who are blind or have low vision. We support other blindness organizations. We plan activities that educate the public about the capabilities of blind people. We award scholarships and grants for assistive technology or items to help people maintain their independence. Of course, we need to raise funds to do some of these things.
I tell them about the advocacy issues that we have accomplished and the ones we are currently following. Finally, I ask them to join and tell them how they can do that.
Saying all that, why is membership not increasing? Yes, I know members have gotten sick, older, and have died. Is society changing? Are there less people who are blind?
In the past, we advertised and spent more money on our annual membership convention in the hopes of gaining more members. We started local chapters to focus on local problems and to have the opportunity to socialize more. We are updating our website and learning about Twitter and Face Book, and still people are not joining or renewing their membership.
Here are some of the excuses I hear: I work full time. It is just a clique. Those people scare me. It is just a group for old people. I don't have time. Those people don't do anything. I am not interested in organizing a chapter. There is nothing in it for me. I'm not interested in being an officer. I have other things to do.
And the Number One excuse for not joining is, "No one ever asked me!" So I, Barbara Ann McDonald, President of AzCB, am asking you to renew your membership. I am asking you to suggest to someone else who is blind, visually impaired, or even sighted to join. I want the things that people before me worked so hard to accomplish to continue, and I want people to step up with new ideas which will benefit all of us. I am challenging you to forget your excuse. I am daring you to be different.
You can join by going to our website, (www.azcb.org) click on membership, complete and submit the form. To pay, you can use Pay Pal or send a check to our office. You can call our office number at 602-273-1510 or the toll free number at 1-888-273-1510 and someone will call you back to help you.
This year, we are having a one day conference in Phoenix. Read the article in this newsletter to get more details. Come to the conference and get to know us. Don't let an excuse get in the way for you to make a change in your life and our organization. Don't let excuses be the winner and ACB and AzCB be the losers. Let's have positive changes for our organization!
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In 1964 two sisters in Tucson started a social club for visually impaired people – the Tucson Association for the Blind (TAB). It has evolved into the Southern Arizona Association for the Visually Impaired – an outstanding agency serving blind/visually impaired people statewide, from teens through seniors. We have offices in Tucson, Yuma and Phoenix; in addition, some instructors travel throughout the state to serve individuals.
We offer a vast array of services, such as Counseling for assistance with Adjustment to vision loss; Orientation and Mobility – for traveling safely; Tech training; Activities of Daily Living – for alternative methods to increase safety and efficiency; Career Exploration, Job Readiness, Job Development, and Work Site evaluations; GED Prep; College Prep; Supported Education (for College students); Health and Wellness classes; Adaptive Sports; field trips; and much more! In Tucson we have a residential program called Steppin’ out, for transitioning teens, and an adult residential program. There is also a youth summer camp. Tucson and Yuma also offer Independent Living Services, whereas at present the Phoenix location serves only VR clients, who are job or college bound. For more information, visit– www.saavi.us – or call 520-795-1331 or 602-795-0195.
Expect More, Achieve More, Become More – Get SAAVI!
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Gail Wilt gave a few of us a tour of the new SAAVI (Southern Arizona Association of the Visually Impaired) facilities in Phoenix and we were very impressed with their spanking new offices on Thomas Road near 42nd Street. They've already had to expand to a second suite there. Gail will be helping EMVIA out in the Valley of the Sun when EMVIA expands to that area.
One new thing EMVIA will be doing starting this summer is to put their weekly event reminder calendars up on a toll free phone system and they'll be asking people in all the various branches of AzCB to help test it out and so be sure it is easy and sensible to use. They'll be asking permission to make the audio issues of Foresight available on the service as well. It will have to wait, however, for their major fundraiser, the Arizona Brew-Ha-Ha to be over. That's a beer tasting and stand-up comedy event happening on the Saturday of the Memorial Day weekend.
SAZCB is still looking for more folks to get involved with the monthly book club meetings, which can be done either in person or over the phone. The April book is The Joy Luck Club, (BARD DB 29021), a novel by Amy Tan read by Yvonne Fair Tessler in 16 hours.
The book takes place in San Francisco in 1949 where four women founded the Joy Luck Club to meet, play mah jong and tell stories. Forty years later one of the women dies, her daughter takes her place at the club, and a secret is revealed that unleashes in each person the need to reach back and remember.
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Twelve members of the Arizona Council of the Blind have served the IRS-exempt general membership organization as president since its incorporation on July 1, 1971. This article shares sketches of Kevin Michael Chinn who served as tenth president from 2003 to 2005. For health reasons Kevin chose not to be considered for a second-two year term.
Kevin was born November 29, 1959, in Waukegan, Illinois. He was the youngest of seven siblings, four brothers and three sisters. He worked in the family’s construction business after graduation from high school and from 1980 to 1986 for the Pinkerton Company in downtown Phoenix, AZ. Juvenile diabetes resulted in his return to Illinois in 1986. He lost his eyesight in 1987.
In 1987 Kevin enrolled in the Chicago Residential Illinois Visually Handicapped Rehabilitation Institute where he met another enrollee, Janice Williams. They were married on September 10, 1988 and relocated to Phoenix in 1990.
Kevin worked as an agent for Allstate Insurance from 1994 to 2002. In 1996 he suffered his first heart attack. Kevin and Janice joined the AzCB in the early 1990’s and Kevin joined the governing board as a director in December 2001. Less than two years later he was elevated to the presidency.
He served on the boards of Guide Dog Users of Arizona and the Arizona Governor’s Council on Blindness and Visual Impairment. Kevin was a strong advocate of legislation for guide dog users and encouraged members of the AzCB to contact their state legislators for support in advocating for blind and visually impaired Arizonans.
PRESIDENTIAL TERM HIGHLIGHTS * 2003, Board strategic plan initiative document developed with the General Manager of Arizona Industries for the Blind as facilitator of board workshop sessions. The following plan goals were initiated: worked to maximize resources other than AzCB, developed and implemented appropriate roles for AzCB, reorganized AzCB’s structure and functions to assure its capabilities to achieve the first two goals. *2003, First of six consecutive holiday season luncheons held involving about fifty invited guests and blindness-related organizations in Phoenix area and members of AzCB and members of community organizations. Presented ten certificates of recognition for volunteer services including two to organizations and eight to individuals. *2004, Testified before House committee on health, AZ state legislature, in support of bill reinstating penalty statutes for any driver who violates the right of way of any blind or visually impaired pedestrian in a crosswalk who is using either a cane, guide dog or sighted guide. The bill was signed into law by Governor Janet Napolitano in August.
Represented AzCB as chief delegate in 2004 ACB national conference and convention in Birmingham, AL.
Presided during 2004 and 2005 state conventions both in Phoenix at Sunshine Hotel and Resort. *Registration of about 100 persons at each convention. *2004, attended first Four Corners Conference put on by American Council of the Blind affiliates from Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah accompanied by chairperson Ann Johnson of AzCB advocacy committee. Conference purpose: to provide the four state affiliates an opportunity to gather and share ideas beneficial to each. Worked with a coalition of seventeen other disability organizations to help pass other legislation in Arizona important to all members. Represented AZCB at annual President’s Meeting and Legislative Seminar in Washington D. C. and visited with office staff of AZ Senator John McCain. Learned much and shared concerning matters of interest to blind and visually impaired Arizonans.
Upon their arrival in Arizona, Kevin and Janice became members of the First Baptist Church of Glendale. Kevin took delight in playing his guitar and was a lover of all kinds of music. He suffered a fatal heart attack on August 15, 2009, at age 49.
Presidents eleven and twelve, Barbara McDonald and Ron Brooks, will be highlighted in upcoming editions of Foresight.
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As of this writing, it looks like the Federal budget beginning on Friday, March 1, will undergo major cuts. Many government programs, including those that support the blind and disabled populations, will have major cuts as a result of the inability of the U.S. President and Congress to come to agreement on budget cuts and increased taxes per the 2011 deal between Mr. Obama and Mr. Boehner that is now law.
There is one piece of good news about the Federal sequestration: it does not apply to recipients of Social Security, including those who receive Social Security Disability Income (SSDI)—you will still get your monthly checks.
But that is all the good news there is to this. Funding for Vocational rehabilitation will be cut, and that will affect those of you who are 1) currently receiving state rehabilitation services; and 2) those who are trying to get vocational rehabilitation services. As of this writing, it is not known how much will be cut from programs serving the blind and disabled populations, but there will be cuts. Poverty-assistance programs such as Aid to Families with Dependent Children and SNAP (Federal food assistance) will also be seeing cuts.
What we can, and must, do, therefore, is to pressure our elected national representatives to come to terms with the U.S. President for the Federal budget for this year and the remaining years the President is in office. In addition, because some are arguing that the effects of the across-the-board budget cuts are going to be “no big deal”, we must counter that by publicly telling our stories of how the budget cuts have affected us. Hopefully, if we get the word out, the Federal sequestration and its effects will be short-lived.
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Our book for March was JUDGMENT CALL, by J.A. Jance. Thanks to our former member, April Martin who has moved to Michigan, but who still calls in for the book club part of our meetings, Ms. Jance agreed to meet with our members during her appearance for the Festival of Books held on the University of Arizona campus Saturday and Sunday, March 9th and 10th.
Sixteen of us met with Ms. Jance at 1 P.M. She was so gracious to answer our many questions, autograph the books we presented as well as autograph book marks she had brought to promote her next j. P. Beaumont book, SECOND WATCH, which will be out in September. This book means a lot to her because much of its content is true. She said she felt a book honoring the servicemen from the Viet Nam war was way past due. We had group pictures taken with Ms. Jance and even April's dog, Soldier, got to sit on a chair so he would be included in the pictures.
Our April book for discussion is THE JOY LUCK CLUB by Amy Tan. Our next meeting will be the second Saturday in April and will be centered around discussing more ways to reach and encourage current members, and to recruit new members.
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May 3, 2013
Disability Empowerment Center
5025 East Washington Street
Phoenix, AZ 85034
8:00 AM Check in Desk opens: Come to the Check-in Table to pick up your convention packet
8:00 AM – 9:00 AM Complimentary continental type breakfast available for all convention attendees
8:30 AM – 9:00 AM – AzCB pre-convention business meeting
9:00 AM – 9:30 AM – Convention opens with a welcome and overview from the AzCB President and a welcome from Arizona Bridge to Independent Living (ABIL).
9:30 AM – 10:25 AM Next Level Assistive Technology presents innovative technology solutions for those with visual impairments and learning disabilities.
10:25 – 10:35 Break
10:35 AM – 11:30 AM Southern Arizona Association for the Visually Impaired (SAAVI) discusses tools and strategies for self-advocacy and success in transition and in life.
11:30 AM – 12:00 Noon Jay Taska speaks on attitude as a key factor in success.
12:00 – 12:30 PM Break and lunch setup
12:30 PM – 2:00 PM Scholarship and awards luncheon with Guest Speaker
2:00 -2:15 Break
2:15 PM – 3:00 PM The Governor’s Council on Blindness and Visual Impairment invites attendees to a Town Hall meeting to share their opinions on issues affecting people with eyesight disabilities.
3:00 PM – 5:00 PM Convention Business Meeting: Reports, resolutions, bylaw changes, and elections
5:00 PM Adjournment
END OF NEWSLETTER
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