by Carol Ann Ewing

Once again we are promoting the dynamic program begun by Durward K. McDaniel to assist our folks to attend, participate and enjoy the education of the ACB national convention. Participating in the goings-on, daily business and gatherings will enable lots of personal growth and give you the chance to be of service to your peers.

The Durward K. McDaniel First-Timers' Program was created to introduce newcomers to the American Council of the Blind on a national scale. How well I remember my first ACB convention, Phoenix in 1992! I had only recently been declared legally blind when I went; I attended and I felt it was OK to be blind. Afterwards, I knew it was OK to be blind. The confidence I received by being among other blind adults, rubbing shoulders with them, and understanding business on a national scale gave me a new lease on life. I am ever thankful to a friend who said, "Carol, we need to go to this convention. I can't imagine a convention lasting for seven days, so let's go for four days." We did, and we were amazed at all the activity for, of and about the blind. I have never cut short my stay at an ACB convention since. But my point is, my independent travel to ACB would have been overwhelming; how thankful I was to have a sighted friend encourage me.

It is that encouragement and assistance that the DKM First-Timers' Program is offering to others. Again this year, the committee will select two first-timers to attend the convention. Once again, the Mississippi River will be the dividing line. We are looking for first-timers from both east and west of the Mississippi. To apply, write an essay that includes (1) a detailed self-introduction, i.e., name, address, phone, ACB affiliation, visual status, etc.; (2) your expectations from attending the ACB convention; and (3) what the ACB can expect of you if you are the winner. Applications must be accompanied by a reference letter from the applicant's state affiliate president, and must arrive in the ACB national office by April 15, 2006.

I am sure I don't have to tell you the benefits this program has given to ACB and its members in service to the blindness community. We have future leaders waiting to be welcomed and introduced to an organization that stands high on the list in the efforts to make the world a better place. This year the DKM Committee is asking for a donation from everyone to support this program. Please send your donations to: Durward K. McDaniel First Timers, c/o Carol Ann Ewing, Nevada Council of the Blind, P.O. Box 364496, North Las Vegas, NV 89036-8496. Got questions? E-mail [email protected] or call (702) 383-0600.

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