The contents of this column reflect the letters we had received by the time we went to press, Oct. 16, 2006. Letters are limited to 300 words or fewer. All submissions must include the author's name and location. Opinions expressed are those of the authors.

Regarding A Previous Letter to the Editor

I would like to respond to Larry Johnson's comments about the articles by Ed and Toni Eames. It is certainly remarkable that this couple is thought of so highly for their obvious manipulation of people (volunteers) and their reluctance to pay for any services. But it is even more surprising to have Mr. Johnson suggest that this attitude and behavior should be imitated and taught to other blind people. Perhaps I missed something somewhere, but I thought ACB and most of the organized blind movement stood, among other things, for encouraging independence and self- reliance as much as possible. It seems to me that no rehab agency should deliberately reward such abject dependence on the good will of others.

-- Keith Black, Lakewood, Calif.

The author's response:

"No man is an island," and no person can live life totally independent of others. We need each other. Independence is a myth. The nature of our society is interdependent. Just as blind people sometimes need the help of sighted people, so sighted people sometimes need help.

There is nothing to be ashamed of in asking for or accepting help. I have benefitted immensely from the help of volunteers all of my life. During my school years, I received thousands of hours of volunteer reading service from fellow students and from community volunteer organizations.

As an adult, I continue to receive invaluable assistance from volunteers helping with such things as transportation, recreation, shopping, reading printed material, or serving as sighted guides. I have also been a volunteer, serving my community as a member and/or officer with more than two dozen committees, commissions and organizations. Those who serve as volunteers often benefit from assistance of other volunteers.

Volunteers account for hundreds of thousands of hours of valuable service each year to their communities. Volunteers offer time, talent, energy and experience. Where would ACB be without volunteers -- our officers, directors, committee members, convention helpers (sighted and visually impaired)? Are we guilty of manipulating them and taking advantage of their good will? I don't think so. The vast majority of volunteers are interested, concerned individuals who want to lend a hand, offer their talent and time to help their neighbor. Our response should be to show them recognition and express our appreciation.

I am grateful for the volunteers who have come to my assistance when I have needed it, and equally grateful for the opportunities which I have had to be a volunteer and give something back to my community. Volunteerism is, without a doubt, a vital component to the economic life and social welfare of our society.

-- Larry Johnson, San Antonio, Tex.

Seeking Assistance to Attend Convention

I ask "Braille Forum" readers to help me. I want a well-wisher to take me to the 2007 ACB annual convention. I would very much like to attend the convention because it would help me as one of the Malawian blind seniors to inform my fellow blind Malawians about the needs and the education for the blind on an international basis. Anyone interested in helping me should write to me in braille and print at Mtengapo Mini Market, PO Box 224, Kasungu, Malawi. Remember that God blesses giving hands, so he will bless you for whatever you do for one of his people.

-- Fatsani Nderema Bandah, Kasungu, Malawi, Central Africa

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