by Allen J. Casey
Most of us remember our first involvement in ACB or one of its affiliates. We could not know then where this experience would lead us. We could not visualize the opportunities for participation and learning that we would encounter. We could not predict the challenges that lay before us. And yet, with so much uncertainty, we survived!
Over the past 18 years, approximately 34 ACB members experienced these uncertainties as they approached their initial ACB national conference and convention as Durward K. McDaniel First-Timers. Today, many of these first-timers hold leadership positions in ACB and its state and special-interest affiliates. Kenneth Semien Sr., for example, a 2010 DKM First-Timer in Phoenix, is president of ACB of Texas and ACB Lions; a member of the membership committee and the DKM (McDaniel Fund) Committee; president of the Beaumont Area Council of the Blind; and chair of the Disability Section of the Regional Council on Aging and Disability. Kenneth describes his first conference and convention as an "exploration" and an "adventure." He was impressed by the opportunities to learn, to make new friends and to grow as a leader. Cindy LaBon, a 2012 DKM First-Timer in Louisville, is vice president of ACB of Maryland; president of the National Capital Area chapter; a member of the ACB Store-Mini Mall Committee and the DKM (McDaniel Fund) Committee; and vice president of her local DAR chapter. Cindy came to Louisville with much apprehension about her ability to negotiate a large, unfamiliar hotel. She followed the lead of hundreds of her fellow ACB members, threw herself into convention activities and even ventured into one of the hotel's kitchens. Both she and Kenneth have participated in every subsequent ACB convention.
How does one share the experiences of Kenneth and Cindy? First, satisfy the DKM program qualifications — age 18 or older; blind or visually impaired; member in good standing of ACB; never attended a previous national conference and convention. Second, submit two letters to the DKM committee — a personal narrative of your background, participation in and contributions to ACB and your affiliate, including a statement of the importance of selection to your affiliate and your community; and a letter of recommendation from the president of your state or special-interest affiliate. It is essential that each applicant provide complete contact information; i.e., mailing address, telephone number and e-mail address. The deadline for receipt of all application materials is April 1.
Applications should be forwarded to Francine Patterson in the ACB national office, firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions should be directed to DKM chair Allen Casey, email@example.com.