by Charles S.P. Hodge

At its most recent national convention, held in Birmingham, Ala., the American Council of the Blind had the pleasure of welcoming and honoring 18 new life members. In welcoming these new members, ACB surpassed the 200 life member milestone, ending up with 215.

One-half of these new members were committed, dedicated ACB members and friends who stepped up to the plate and purchased their own life memberships. This dedicated group of individuals included: Richard W. Bleecker, Jersey City, N.J.; Patricia Blum of Honolulu, Hawaii; Josephine Carpignano of Millbrae, Calif.; Susie Davis of Raleigh, N.C.; Carol Edwards of Conroe, Tex.; Janelle Edwards of Manhattan, Kan.; Carol Ewing of Las Vegas, Nev.; Robert A. Jones of Jacksonville, Fla.; and Julie Lynch of Lacey, Wash.

The other half of the 2004 class was composed of long-time constructive contributors and leaders who were honored by their state or special-interest affiliate or local chapter. For example, in order to honor the memory of her late husband, Wayne Yelton, who died suddenly and very unexpectedly while attending the "Sagebrush" National Blind Vendors Training Conference in Las Vegas in February 2004, and who had been an active officer and leader in both the North Carolina Council of the Blind and the Randolph- Sheppard Vendors of America, the Tennessee Council purchased a life membership for Wayne's widow, Pat Yelton of Mebane, N.C.

Not to be outdone, the Virginia Association of the Blind continued its traditional practice of purchasing life memberships to honor three of its leaders: James "Hurricane" Edwards of Portsmouth; Rosa Hamilton of Chesapeake, VAB's current president; and Charles Lydon Harrell of Virginia Beach. Mississippi honored its current president, Rebecca Floyd of Madison, by purchasing an ACB life membership on her behalf. Similarly, the Alaska Independent Blind purchased a life membership for its current president, Jim Swartz of Anchorage.

RSVA followed suit by purchasing a life membership for its current president, Richard Bird of Parma Heights, Ohio. The Missouri Council of the Blind purchased a life membership to honor longtime member, contributor and outgoing ACB board member Jerry Annunzio of Kansas City. Last but not least, the Aid Association for the Blind purchased a life membership to honor its longtime volunteer and contributing worker Maryan Harrison of St. Louis, Mo.

I urge all of you dedicated and committed ACB members and friends to follow the examples established by those individuals who stepped forward and purchased their own life memberships. I also request that affiliates and their local chapters seriously consider honoring in a very special way those individuals in your chapters who warrant special recognition for their ongoing positive contributions to your respective organizations' endeavors by purchasing ACB life memberships for them. The life membership program presents affiliates and local chapters an opportunity for positive publicity and public relations on the national stage purchase a life membership for an individual now, and he/she will receive the plaque at the convention in Las Vegas. I am looking forward to an even larger delegation of new life members in Las Vegas.

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