Affiliate News

** Mississippi Convention

The Mississippi Council of the Blind convention will be held April 20-22 at the Regency Hotel and Convention Center located at 400 Greymont Ave. in Jackson.  Please note: Anyone under the age of 21 will NOT be allowed in the wet hospitality room.  Registration received after April 1 costs $75 per person. For more information, call the Mississippi Council of the Blind office at (601) 982-1718, or e-mail mcb@netdoor.com.

** FIA Calls for Art

Friends-in-Art will host a visual arts contest and exhibition at the ACB national convention in Louisville, Ky., a cultural center supportive of blind artists.  Do you have artwork ready for exhibit?  The exhibit will run July 7-14. You can contact Amy Monthei, amymonthei@yahoo.com, or Elsie Monthei, (515) 277-0442 or 1304 39th St., Des Moines, IA 50311, for more details and an application to participate.  We hope to see many of you in July.

** News from ACB Diabetics in Action

This short note is to inform you all that Carol Edwards has resigned from the presidency of the Diabetics in Action group due to personal reasons. I, as vice president, am now the president; Dee Clayton is my appointed vice president.

As the new president, I want to continue our work to not only enlarge our membership, but to continue our work encouraging the American Diabetes Association (ADA) to make their print materials more accessible.  Also, we will continue to push for accessibility with the glucose meter companies, pump companies and the newer continuous monitoring of glucose meters' companies.  Our listserv will continue, as will our quarterly newsletter.

We encourage all diabetics, type 1 and 2, to join our group. The dues are only $10 per year and can be paid at any time to: Alice Ritchhart, 139 Altama Connector #188, Brunswick, GA 31525.

If you have further questions, please contact Pat Wolf at either (626) 279-2954 or via e-mail, plawolf@earthlink.net.

** Celebrating 100 Years of Service to the Blind

(Editor's Note: The history excerpted below was originally written by Xena Johnson.  It has been updated by John Weidlich and Beverly Shockley.)

The United Workers for the Blind of Missouri will gather in St. Louis on May 5 to celebrate 100 years of service. 

The United Workers for the Blind of Missouri was formally organized in 1912 and received its state charter in 1914.  The charter stated that the purpose of the organization was "improving the condition of the blind, by interesting and educating the public in the needs and welfare of the blind as a class; by the organization and association of blind persons for their mutual protection, and education and training in useful arts and sciences; by acquiring and holding such property as may be necessary and incidental for the accomplishment of the purposes above set forth."

The primary objective of this small, dedicated group of blind people was to secure a pension for the blind of Missouri. After many years of intense effort, they finally succeeded.  Twice they had to campaign throughout the state before gaining the adoption of the constitutional amendment which levied a special tax to pay for the pension. In order to do this, a lobbyist had to be maintained in Jefferson City and money had to be raised to defray his expenses. The first funds were raised by conducting a raffle; each member did his share in selling tickets. As time went by, the organization grew, and its treasury grew, too, by gifts, concerts given by its members and a minstrel show given by blind people. A blind person was sent to each session of the legislature to present our program and to talk individually and personally to each member of the legislature.

Eventually a bill was passed to grant a pension of $25 per month to the blind of the state. But the governor vetoed this bill, as there were no funds available with which to pay the pension.

The group then launched a campaign to amend the state constitution to levy a special property tax to provide specific funds for our goal. This required hard work, great expense and much individual effort. Then the amendment failed. Undaunted, the UWB set out to do a bigger and better job, and the bill passed, was signed by the governor and put into effect in 1921.

That bill was amended in 1923. The original pension of $25 per month was paid quarterly; slow increases over the years have brought it to its present level of $707 per month. In 1962, under the guidance of Sen. Tom Eagleton, the dual system (Blind Pension and Aid to the Blind) was enacted into law by Congress.

UWB has many other accomplishments of which it is proud. It was the first organization of the blind in Missouri. In 1940, we sent representatives to Pennsylvania to help form the National Federation of the Blind. We were also the dominant force in organizing the Missouri Federation of the Blind, now known as the Missouri Council of the Blind.

Another project dear to the hearts of our founders was housing for the blind. After years of hard work, UWB purchased an apartment building in 1974, which it maintained for the next 30 years.

Education of the blind has also been important to our members, and we have provided scholarships and Christmas gifts to needy blind students.  Over the years, members have taken part in projects to promote braille instruction.