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Fore~Sight

Newsletter of the Arizona Council of the Blind Winter 2014

President's Report by Barbara McDonald

 

It is time for my article for our newsletter.  Even though I have written more than one article, I am never sure what I should report to the members I represent.

 

I take my job as AzCB President seriously.  Some people have told me that I am too serious and too responsible.  Part of my responsibility is attending several meetings a month.  Meetings include the American Council of the Blind (ACB) teleconferences, and the Arizona Council of the Blind (AzCB) board and committee meetings.  The AzCB has three positions on the Governor's Council on Blindness and Visual Impairment (GCBVI), one position on the Arizona Disability and Advocacy Coalition (AZDAC), and one position on the Vision Rehabilitation and Assistive Technology Expo (VRATE).  You will usually find me at those meetings either by phone or in person.

 

In October and November, I had the opportunity to attend several events.  October 15, 2013 was White Cane Safety Day.  In the morning, I participated at the White Cane Day Celebration for blinded veterans.  Daniel Martinez and Carlos Paraskevas also participated.  Dan presented on the AzCB and GCBVI.  Other speakers spoke about programs they have for blinded veterans at the Carl Hayden VA Hospital.  My favorite presentation was the music program.  We all received tiny instruments and we learned how to make percussion music.  I enjoyed myself making drumming noises on the table.

 

At about 11:30, my sighted guide Jim Pearson, who volunteers for Arizona Bridge to Independent Living (ABIL), and I jumped in a Dial-a-Ride van and headed for the Herberger Theater for the White Cane Day Walk demonstration.  We arrived just in time for lunch and the presentations.  Ted Chittenden was one of the speakers for AzCB.  Afterwards, we walked around the Arizona Center until it was time to go home.  Both events were informative, and even the weather cooperated.

 

Two more events were held on November 16th.  In the morning, I participated in a Shopping with a Sighted Guide event.  AzCB Member Janice Williams, the widow of former AzCB President Kevin Chinn, had arranged for volunteers from her church to be sighted guides for Christmas shopping.  I had a wonderful guide, Jennifer, who drove me to Target and Kohl’s.  Driving was much easier for me because the mall is spread out.  I came with my list and Jennifer found the items I wanted.  Some of these were on sale.  The stores were not busy and the employees directed us to the right locations.  With two bags full, I was successful in getting a head start on my Christmas shopping.  We were back at the Paradise Bakery in time to travel to the next event.

 

My next destination was the Burton Barr Library for the Guide Dog Users of Arizona's Conference.  Again, I arrived just in time for lunch.  Jim Pearson was waiting, and summarized the morning’s events.  Ron Brooks gave me a few minutes to talk about AzCB before the next speaker.  I won a candle and a ceramic bird in their raffle.  I left at 3:35, got home, and took a power nap.

 

Currently, we are working on renewing memberships and gaining new members.  When I say that we could use more resources, I don't just mean money, but people willing to give a few hours a month to work on a committee or a project.

 

 

On December 13th, I hope you had a moment to stop by the AzCB booth at VRATE to say "Hello" and renew your membership.  We were event co-sponsors along with the Mayor's Commission on Disabilities Issues (MCDI).

 

I have a lot to do and I have not found a way to clone myself.  My husband, Richard, is always there to help.  However, I would not be able to do all the things that I do without the help of my board and committee members. 

 

It is the beginning of a new year.  I hope you achieve and receive all you desire.  Have a Happy and Healthy New Year!

 


Summary of GDUA’s Annual Meeting by Ron Brooks

 

GDUA’s theme for the 2013 meeting held at the Phoenix central library was “Building Our Base”, and in keeping with the theme, the entire focus of the program was on getting GDUA’s membership more excited and involved about what GDUA can and should be doing here in Arizona. After a quick breakfast and welcoming remarks by President Connie Jacomini, Vice-President, yours truly, opened the meeting with an icebreaker exercise designed to get the group talking and to begin the process of deepening friendships and enhancing group cohesiveness. The exercise got everyone talking and laughing, which provided a good foundation for the discussions that followed.

 

The first items of business were brief reports from President Connie Jacomini, Secretary Lisa Brooks and Treasurer Jacque Olson. The group stressed that although 2013 had not been a wildly successful year for GDUA, it was a good year. Membership is stable, and the treasury is in good shape.

 

In addition, the group participated in the Vision Rehabilitation and Training Exposition (VRATE) and held several social events throughout the year, including GDUA’s very popular Diving with Dog Guides Pool Party. All agreed that GDUA should continue and expand these activities in the future.

 

The group then discussed its affiliation with Guide Dog Users, Inc. GDUI has undergone tremendous leadership challenges, and the consensus was that GDUI is currently weak and offers no real value for GDUA. However, most GDUA members believe that it is important to remain affiliated with GDUI and to work for positive change. GDUI will hold its elections in May of 2014, and the group expressed a desire to see whether or not elections will result in real change for the organization. If not, the affiliation issue will be revisited next year.

 

After discussing GDUI, the group held annual elections for all Board positions. The following GDUA members were elected for the upcoming year.

 

President – Ron Brooks, Phoenix

Vice-President – Liz Whitlock, Chandler

Secretary – Mardi Hadfield, Tucson

Treasurer – Jacque Olson, Mesa

Director – Rachel Krieg, Tucson

 

After a break for lunch, the group heard from AzCB President Barbara McDonald who gave a comprehensive report of AzCB and local chapter activities and plans. Barbara also discussed several ongoing ACB fundraising programs, including the Monthly Monetary Support (MMS) Program and two ACB shopping opportunities, the Holiday Auction and the ACB MiniMall. Barbara closed her remarks by encouraging GDUA members to get involved in other AzCB chapters and in the state organization.

 

After Barbara’s presentation, the group spent time learning and practicing dog massage techniques, which were demonstrated by Ms. Valerie Ryan, who is a professional dog massage and therapy specialist. Massaging one’s guide dog offers many benefits for both dog and handler, including reduced stress, improved health and mobility, and a deeper bond between dog and handler. This was the second time GDUA conducted this session, and it has proved to be very popular for the handlers, and although it’s pure speculation, we believe the dogs like it as well.

 

The GDUA Annual Meeting wrapped up with a presentation from Lisa Brooks on products and services which are available through home delivery for most GDUA members. These include dog food and other supplements, vet and grooming care, and much more. Several GDUA members would like to see information of this nature on the GDUA website.

 

The final discussions of the day focused on plans for the upcoming year. One concrete idea that the group would like to tackle is the creation of a Speaker’s Bureau. The group would also like to continue and expand parties and other social activities.

 

GDUA is seeking new members. For the price of one GDUA membership, an individual will gain membership in GDUA, AzCB, GDUI and the ACB. Annual dues are $20, and the 2014 membership application will shortly be accessible from GDUA’s website, http://www.gduaz.org.

 

I want to close by taking a minute to acknowledge and thank GDUA’s outgoing Board members Connie Jacomini, Lisa Brooks and Cindy Rogers for their tremendous help and support during the past couple of years.

 

As Lisa mentioned in a prior post, Connie and Cindy, along with our Treasurer Jacque Olson, pulled together most of the food and all of the door prizes for our meeting.  And, in addition to serving as Secretary last year, Lisa has served, and will continue to serve, as our GDUA Webmaster. We are so fortunate to have people like Connie, Cindy, Lisa and Jacque in our organization, and now, we are lucky to add the energy and talent of two new Board members, Secretary Marti Hadfield and Director Rachel Krieg. These two women will bring a fresh perspective and new ideas to our Board, and I know they will be a great addition to our small but growing organization.

 

That’s it for now. I’m excited to be given the opportunity to serve as GDUA’s next President, and I look forward to working with our new Board and with all of you to build a strong, vital and fun GDUA organization.

 

I would like to thank everyone who attended. There were several new attendees as well as a number of old friends, and although attendance was down from 2012, I think those who attended had a good time; I know I did.

 

The Maricopa County Club By Barbara McDonald

 

Even though the club has been around for about 60 years and an affiliate of the Arizona Council of the Blind since 1971, I reported in a previous issue that there has been a decline in Maricopa County Club of the Blind (MCCB) membership.

 

Three months ago, we invited people to come to the MCCB Chapter meeting.  And, they came.  They came to gain greater mutual peer support, to get information on products and services that might help them in their daily lives, and they came just to have fun.  Since then, we have gained ten new members.

 

Part of the agenda for the November 13th meeting was to have everyone introduce themselves, tell what they are thankful for, and share what they thought the focus of MCCB should be.  People said that they enjoyed the support and friendship they received from group members and would like to have social get-togethers.  Others wanted to advertise the Arizona Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired (ACBVI) so that more people could benefit from services at the center.

 

As a club project, members decided to duplicate an ACBVI information card that members can give to people that they encounter that may benefit from ACBVI participation.  Additionally, a group of members will be put together to be “buddies” to new ACBVI students when the next semester starts in January.  Buddies will partner with new students and help them become familiar with the facility and help them understand center procedures. Someone will gather information on how to donate to ACBVI, which can be passed along to family and friends.  An advocacy committee will work on suggestions on how to improve community transportation services for people with eyesight disabilities.

 

For the December meeting, it was suggested that we get down to the business of nominating and voting for new officers.  Members showed their enthusiasm with their spirited discussion.

 

The Maricopa County Club for the Blind meets on the second Wednesday of the month from 1:30 to 3:00 in the afternoon at the Arizona Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired, located at 3100 East Roosevelt in Phoenix.  We meet in the multi-purpose room.  You are welcome to attend and share in the group's passion and commitment.  If you have any questions, you can call Barbara at 602-285-0269 or email her at mrsmcdee@q.com.

Shopping with a Sighted Guide By Janice Williams

 

On the 16th of November, almost a dozen volunteers from my church teamed up with six blind shoppers to hit the stores at the Desert Ridge Marketplace located just north of the Loop 101 on Tatum Boulevard in Phoenix.  We all met up at Paradise Bakery for coffee and muffins at 8:00, and headed out to shop with our sighted guides about an hour later.

 

The idea to organize a shopping trip for people who are blind or visually impaired started when a friend of mine told me about a Lion’s Club event held about 20 years ago.  Apparently Lion’s Club members helped blind people shop at a local Target store.  I expanded on the idea and submitted a request to the Highlands Church in Scottsdale, where I am a member, for volunteers to act as sighted guides.  They agreed and the ball got rolling.

 

A few days before the event, I gave a short presentation to the church volunteers on sighted guide technique and proper etiquette.  I also provided information via email to those volunteers who wanted more information.  The training seemed to help everyone feel more comfortable.

 

The feedback I received after the event has been positive.  The volunteers were very enthusiastic about doing it again and some of them even exchanged phone numbers with the people they assisted.  The best things that volunteers said were that it didn’t require a lot of training and that they had fun.

 

Overall, the location worked well because it was in Phoenix.  There were also a wide variety of stores to choose from and everyone enjoyed the outdoor venue.  There were a few kinks to work out for next time though.  For example, I would coordinate with Dial-A-Ride so that everyone would get dropped off at the same location.

 

We were to meet at Paradise Bakery. One person was told she would be dropped off at Target and another at the AMC movie theaters.  I would also try to arrange for a room with management and have the bakery cater there.  It was very noisy that morning and I had a hard time communicating with everyone.

 

Finally, I wrote a thank you note to our group at church that went out to a lot more people than just Saturday’s volunteers.  I think more people learned about our excursion and will ask questions.  I may try to plan something for early spring before it gets too hot.  If you are interested in joining us for our next trip, please drop me a note at janicewilliams1275@gmail.com. 

 

 


SOUTHERN ARIZONA CHAPTER By Sharon Booker

 

On November 23rd, SAZCB held its meeting at The Hungry Fox Restaurant to discuss membership and hold board elections. Mitzi Tharin will be the new president. Lindsey McHugh and Sharon Booker will be co-secretaries and Thom booker has agreed to continue as treasurer.

 

December activities included a Friday night bowling meeting on the 6th and our Christmas party at Mitzi's home on the 21st.  Our first official meeting of the New Year will be at the Wilmont Public Library on January 16th, from 1PM to 3PM.

 

Our AZCB book club meetings are held on the second Wednesday of each month at 6 PM.  You can participate by calling 1-218-548-3992 with the pin of 6320547. January's book is THE FLOOD by Michael McDowell.  Hope to have a lot of participants


 

AzCB Membership by Dan Martinez

 

Ideas have consequences.  The concept that change can only occur when people change the way they think, is profoundly correct.  As long as the general population thinks, believes, and perceives that people who are blind are helpless and incapable of self-determination, we will continue to be treated that way and face social barriers that limit our full participation.

 

How do we change the way people think?  We do it in two ways.

 

First, we take personal responsibility and demonstrate are capabilities and require that others treat us honestly and fairly.  We become self-advocates and accept the rewards and consequences of our own actions.

 

Next, we join together and bring our issues forward for consideration within the public policy deliberation process.  And, we educate the public on the capabilities of people who are blind. In this role we are advisors and advocates.

 

It is in this joining together that your membership in the Arizona Council of the Blind (AzCB) is so critical.  Please take the time to renew your membership today.  You can renew online at www.azcb.org.  That’s an easy way to do it.  You can fill out the application that is included with this newsletter and mail it in.  If you’re a chapter member, renew with your chapter.  If you need assistance with your application, call the AzCB phone line at 602-273-1510.  Leave a message with a callback phone number and someone will return your call.

 

You cannot make a difference if you are not there to make a difference.  Be there by renewing your membership in the AzCB.  Ask your family and friends to join too.

Gifts of Gratitude By Barbara McDonald

 

In the winter newsletter, I usually remind you about needed donations.  With so many worthy groups asking for support, it can be very difficult deciding on which to donate to.  All of them are definitely worthy of help.  With so many abused or abandoned children and so many homeless and hungry people needing help, donations to blindness organizations that provide training and other services may be put lower on people’s list this year.  To me, that means that we who are blind or visually impaired will be called upon to dig a little deeper to deliver greater supports to help other blind people and blindness organizations.

 

While you are weighing all your donation options, please consider that the ACB and AzCB need your help. The Arizona Council of the Blind is the Arizona statewide affiliate of the American Council of the Blind with local chapters.  Those much needed and appreciated tax deductible contributions can be sent to:  Treasurer, Arizona Council of the Blind, 3124 East Roosevelt, Suite 4, Phoenix, AZ  85008. If you are considering including the AzCB in your last will and testament, please inform us of your intention by leaving a message with your name and phone number at 602-273-1510 and someone will contact you.

 

The ACB and AzCB also have a Monthly Monetary Support fund that you can join for as little as $10.00 a month.  In addition, you can donate your unwanted car.  It’s easy.  Just call 800-320-3746. And it’s convenient. The transportation company comes to your home or office to remove the donated vehicle. Get rid of that unwanted car, van, RV, truck, plane, or boat and enjoy a tax deduction, if you itemize, for the fair market value of your vehicle. 

 

All donations will be acknowledged with heartfelt gratitude.