compiled by Ardis Bazyn

The quarterly membership focus call held in November again generated many good comments. We are looking forward to more ideas from the next scheduled call on the second Monday evening in April. After Sue Ammeter invited all participants to introduce themselves, she opened the conversation by asking what type of events different affiliates have arranged to gain publicity and members.

Dolly Sowder from Indiana told about two activities this past fall. They were both eye screenings. General Motors had an outdoor car show. Another event was a craft and health fair. Prevent Blindness of Indiana sent their van down and trained members of the local Lions Clubs to do eye screenings. The Lions Clubs did the same type of screening. The adults stood 20 feet and the children 10 feet from the chart. For the little ones who did not know letters, they had a chart with animal pictures. They also had two machines there to check visual acuity and depth perception. One-fourth of those screened were given a paper with their results and were recommended to see their eye doctors. There was no charge at either event.

The Indiana affiliate gave out mints and brochures on ACB of Indiana along with information about local chapters and a resource list with information on the state library talking book program, the local libraries, the school for the blind, vocational rehabilitation offices, the license branch for ID and handicapped parking permit, the auditor's office for mortgage exemption, free matter mailing, guide dog info, how to apply for free telephone information (411), free Bible on tape, DVS info, audio description for plays, listing of catalogs for the blind and visually impaired, stores that sell toys for blind and visually impaired children, listing of eye care centers for folks with low vision, list of places to buy magnification devices, listing of places that sell software and computers with speech, the American Diabetes Association, Hadley School for the Blind, American Printing House for the Blind, Books Aloud for the Lions International newsletter and other books in special formats, AFB, ACB, and contact information to receive more details from us regarding membership.

Several members discussed holding walk-a-thons to get media attention and publicity. The New Mexico affiliate and a Georgia chapter both had successful walks. Tennessee had a well-attended health fair. This affiliate also had an awards event, which included recognition awards for educator of the year, legislator of the year, volunteer of the year, and employer of the year. These were in conjunction with disability month in October.

Pennsylvania increased publicity this year for White Cane Safety Day. There was TV and radio coverage on speakers for pedestrians with white canes and guide dogs. The Lions and the Pennsylvania affiliate worked together at various grocery stores.

M.J. Schmitt said Illinois is working on getting white cane legislation enacted. PSAs are set to run on White Cane Safety Day. Michigan has Lions Clubs getting attention on White Cane Day. White Cane pins are being sold. Police are now charging drivers for breaking the white cane law. The Indiana affiliate has been working on disaster drills and advocacy for people with white canes and guide dogs.

The focus then turned to helping affiliates to get their dues in on time. Affiliates are encouraged to send notices to members as soon as possible. Catching members at the annual Christmas parties to pay dues would help.

Affiliates are also urged to arrange different forms of transportation to get more members to attend state conventions. Mentoring more members should be encouraged to create new chapters and elect officers and write bylaws. Washington state gives new chapters $100 for a beginning treasury. Members should work with local colleges to find blind students.

We need to continue to lobby for necessary services. National parks have a gold pass for disabled people that includes discounts for camping. Many states have free fishing licenses for blind people. We need to educate our members on services that are already available. This is a membership benefit. Our quarterly membership focus was again very inspiring and we welcome all participants. We truly enjoy hearing about your membership activities!

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