From the President's Desk
President's Message, by Kevin Chinn,
The last couple of months have seen much debate and conversation between the American Council of the Blind and its state affiliates and special interest groups. We have seen individuals, both board members and staff members that have been with the ACB for years make a decision to resign. Organizations will go through incredibly turbulent periods, this being one of those times. I guarantee that the ACB will continue to be the great organization it always has been. We may see, and ask for certain changes to occur, but our membership in The American Council of the Blind and the Arizona Council of the Blind will always continue to move forward.
The Arizona Council of the Blind continues to advocate for the rights of us as the blind and visually impaired of Arizona. Currently we along with Guide Dog Users of Arizona have legislation in the house that will bring the white cane law back to its original status.
The bill HB2034 is important to our pedestrian safety, and, we all need to call fax or E-mail our legislators in support of HB2034.
Last year the law ARS11-1024, which included the white cane law, was repealed and rewritten by other than a blind consumer advocacy group, at this time the violation was removed, we believe it was a technical error or basically a mistake. The AzCB along with others is fighting to get the violation back in place.
We have also entered into an advocacy coalition with approximately 18 other disability organizations. This coalition named Arizona disability advocacy coalition, AzDAC, is to help protect the rights of the disabled in our state. There is strength in numbers. Anne Johnson, a council board member and the chair of our advocacy committee represents us in this coalition.
On April 30, May 1st and May 2nd The Arizona Council of the Blind will have our annual state convention. This is a great opportunity for our membership and all interested to talk with the board and get involved in The AzCB and our advocacy efforts. The convention is always full of interesting sessions and a chance to fellowship with members, friends and family of The Arizona Council of the Blind.
I will look forward to seeing you all there, and, please if I don't get a chance to find you, find me and let me hear what you would like to see in the upcoming year in the council.
News from AIB by Dan Martinez
Thomas Hicks has joined the Arizona Industries for the Blind (AIB) management team as coordinator of special projects. Blinded from Retinitis Pigmentosa seven years ago, Tom is especially interested in working with other people who are blind. "I believe everything happens for a reason" says Tom "I know it sounds corny. I believe I am blind so I have a chance to help other people who are blind understand that they are valuable. The quality of people's lives and the good things they have to share with others is not denigrated by blindness."
Dick Monaco, General Manager of AIB welcomes the dynamic Tom brings to his management team. "AIB exists to serve persons who are blind and visually impaired. This is primarily accomplished by providing appropriate work, appropriate pay for work performed, expressing appreciation, providing opportunity for interaction with others and providing opportunity for advancement in the workplace. Tom's positive attitude, education, skills and experience are a real plus for us." Dick said. "We can only realize our mission through Tom and people like Tom." *
Captain Thomas Hicks U.S. Army Retired served with the Special Forces (Airborne). He received his Bachelor of Science in Education from Southern Illinois University and his Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership degree from Chapman University. Tom is a lifetime member of the Disabled American Veterans and the Blinded Veterans of America. He and his dog guide Ethan are enthusiastic members of Guide Dog Users of Arizona.
* Editor's note- Dan Martinez was too humble to state that he also experienced a promotion in AIB. They can't put his new title on his office door unless they use a garage door. It is "Community and Public Relations Specialist; AIB Newsletter Editor; Peer Mentor and Master of Humility". AzCB and the whole blind community are proud of your accomplishments.
As I See It by Dr. Frank Kells, Resident Historian
I am writing my first column since my change of life. Beside marrying Janet (about which fairy tale you already know), I sold my 6 room house and moved into half of a 3 room apartment at the Fountains, a full service retirement community in Tucson, transferred from Maryvale Lions Club to Leones de las Montanas. We meet for breakfast every Wednesday for breakfast at 7:30. I even talked Janet into becoming a Mountain Lion also.
It is now February and we are beginning to feel at home in our new surroundings. I especially enjoy eating two meals a day without any preparation or clean up. There are also no maintenance headaches inside or outside. We have joined Fountains low vision support group with about 20 members (mostly with macular degeneration like Janet). We are taking an 8 week course in adaptive skills run by SAAVI, (Southern Arizona Assn f/t Visually Impaired). I have also put my computer upstairs in the general computer room so it is available to any VI resident. What space is available in our small apartment is taken up by my organ, which I play more than ever. Oh yes, I also found a crossword puzzle buddy to share in an occasional solving spree.
I could go on boring you, but the point of all this is mainly to explain why we have not yet established a Tucson affiliate for AzCB. However we will be attending the AzCB Credit Union Board meeting and likewise the AzCB Board meetings by phone soon. Meanwhile, consider this a postcard from an old friend and his new wife. (We've had our third anniversary - - - months, that is so let's end the Newlywed jokes, OK?)
*Editor's note: As a historian, Frank, Rome wasn't built in a day. It was a gover nment project!
BOBBING ALONG WITH BOB BY Robert Williams
The governing board of the Arizona Council of the Blind is made up of fifteen members, seven officers and eight directors. The term of only one board member is up for election this year and that member will most likely stand for reelection at our upcoming annual state convention in April. This does not mean, however, that the board is not always on the lookout for prospective new board members to fill unexpected and even anticipated vacancies. If you are interested in serving on the board, please contact me immediately by phone at 602-938-7776 for further information concerning the responsibilities of being a board member. The better wisdom is always to have a well qualified reserve of prospective board members from which to draw. On Valentine's Day funeral services were held in Phoenix at Shiloh Baptist Church for Arizona Council's most dedicated board member of former years, Brenda Schropshire was the oldest daughter of another of our list of dedicated board members since 1972, Arie Levels, now Arie Levels Newsom. She had served as president of the Maricopa Club of the Blind. Brenda died peacefully and quietly in her 57th year on February 6, 2004.
In his stirring eulogy of Brenda, Reverend John Newson, Brenda's former pastor, put her life in perspective when he stated that Brenda lived her life successfully and victoriously one day at a time. "Whenever I visited Brenda at the Life Care Center of North Glendale, her encouraging words always lifted me and I came away much better for having visited her," Newson said.
Brenda served on the AzCB Board of Directors for more than eight years until declining health forced her to step down in 1995. She also served on the Governor's Council on Blindness and Visual Impairment from 1991 until 1995. An inspiring highlight of my own tenure as AzCB from 1989 to 1993 occurred in 1992 when our state affiliate hosted the annual convention of the American Council of the Blind in downtown Phoenix. Even then Brenda was not in the best of health due to diabetes and its devastating complications. Her efforts in securing much needed food and other donations from merchants in the downtown area in support of the convention was truly inspiring. Brenda truly lived out her faith one day at a time. May she truly rest in Heavenly peace.
ADVOCACY UPDATE BY Anne Johnson
The transportation bill on the Maricopa County half cent sales tax passed both houses of the state capitol, and was signed by the governor on February 5, 2004. It will be on the November ballot. Unfortunately, there is strong opposition to expansion of mass transit in the valley, coming from the utility companies and car dealers, especially Earnhardt Ford. Anyone interested in joining a citizens group to plan strategy in preparation for November's vote, contact Mary Hartle-Smith at 480-733-5266 or via email: email@example.com .
ACCESSIBLE INFORMATION .
The bill on accessible information, which requires that textbooks and other educational material be available in alternate format for blind and sight impaired students in primary and secondary schools, House Bill 2352, is working its way through the House of Representatives. It passed the Education Committee with amendments, passed theCaucus and Committee of the Whole (COW) and is headed for its third reading. The Senate version, SB 1351, passed the Committee on Government and is headed for the Appropriations Committee. -
WHITE CANE LAW ..
Thursday, February 26, 2004, I testified in the Health Committee regarding House Bill 2034, the White Cane Law. This bill reinstates the penalty statute for any driver who violates the right of way of blind or sight impaired pedestrians, in a crosswalk, who are using a white cane, guide dog, or sighted guide. Fortunately, this bill was second on the agenda, so testimony was heard very soon after my arrival. An integral part of my testimony, was demonstrating how a blind individual such as myself, uses a white cane to locate curbs and crosswalks, and how we signal drivers using the technique called 'clearing the cane'. I was informed by staff that this was helpful and informative to representatives. As I was leaving hearing room four, the vote was taken. The result was a unanimous DO PASS! Since then, House Bill 2034 has cleared Caucus and COW. Now, it goes for a third reading, and if passed by the House, continues on to the Senate. The experience of testifying in committee was interesting, exciting, andvery enjoyable. Every staff member I had contact with was friendly, helpful, and glad to see me- a member of the public, a person with a disability, and a representative of the AzCB. I was treated with consideration, respect and warmth without patronization. I felt welcome. Others who were there to testify or conduct presentations came to me and asked questions about my concerns, interests and reasons for attending. Before the Health Committee hearing, Mark Thompson, who sponsored House Bill 2034, came up to me and introduced himself. His wife, and Representative Phil Henson, one of my District 9 representatives, also introduced themselves. I was unable to meet my other District 9 person, Representative Bob Stump, but he was there as committee vice-chair. ..
If these issues are important to you, contact your legislative representatives and tell them to support them by voting yes on these bills in committee. The Arizona Council of the Blind and the Advocacy committee representative, Anne Johnson, will continue watching these bills and will keep everyone informed on their progress. Action on these bills can be watched by connecting to A.L.I.S. at: http://www.azleg.state.az.us/.
MARICOPA CLUB NEWS BY Robert Shelly
We will be having a regular club meeting on Wednesday March 10th, it will start at 3:00 PM and finish at 4:30 PM the meeting will be held at the Urban League Manor, 4343 W. Thomas Road in the second floor lobby. If you have any questions call me at 602-353-6689, there will be someone in the first floor lobby to meet you.
We will be discussing some club business including our tax exempt status, the letter Edwin Druding sent to the ACBVI concerning our use of their facility, among other things. A nice snack will be served and much fun will be had by all. Don't hesitate to bring friends and family we need new members! See you all there, WE NEED EVERYONE TO COME.
Just a few reminders of upcoming events the Maricopa Club is involved: On March 5th the ACB Credit Union will have there annual shareholders dinner.
On March 6th we will be having our first annual yard sale. It will be held at the home of: Kristy and Vern DeWitt, 3857 W. Fallen Leaf Lane, Glendale, AZ If you need more detailed directions email me back and I will send you the directions.
The Maricopa County Club of the Blind web page is located at:
E-mail the club at: Maricopa@azcb.org
NEXT ISSUE OF FORE~SIGHT JUNE 04
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