This president's column is an unabashed personal testimonial and infomercial on behalf of the Monthly Monetary Support or MMS Program. The timing is no coincidence. I want to give my sales pitch in the issue of "The Braille Forum" most everyone will read just prior to our 47th annual convention in Louisville, Ky.
For those of you who are relatively new to ACB, or have been on safari or otherwise out of touch for awhile, here is how the MMS Program works. Each month, on either the 10th or the 22nd (you choose), a specified amount is deducted from your checking account or credit card and automatically transferred to ACB. You may designate the entire amount to ACB or authorize up to 50 percent of your contribution to go to the state or special-interest affiliate of your choice. A contribution of as little as $5 a month can be processed. If personal circumstances change, you may cancel or (we hope) increase your contribution at any time.
So, why -- aside from leading this wonderful organization -- do I believe in the MMS Program? Because of my notion of commitment. To me, commitment has to do with the extent one is willing to give to a particular cause. Being truly committed to something goes far beyond mere belief in that cause. It means making a contribution in physical and/or mental energy expended, time devoted to, or money given toward whatever it is about which you feel strongly.
Let me relate a favorite parable which should illustrate -- if nothing else -- my own level of dedication to ACB. A pig and a hen were strolling down a country road one morning when they spied a very poor village. It was obvious from the emaciated faces and bloated stomachs of the villagers that they were starving. The hen stopped, and, turning to the pig, she suggested that they make a ham-and-egg breakfast for the people of the village. A very shocked pig responded to his companion: "Do you realize what you are asking? For you, contributing eggs is mere involvement; for me, providing ham is total commitment."
I'm absolutely convinced that we have reached the stage in the history of the American Council of the Blind when something more than mere involvement is required of each and every member in order to fulfill the vision of our founders: that all blind and visually impaired men and women achieve equal status in society with our sighted peers. Such equality will not happen passively, or without significant effort on everyone's part. In order to accomplish this vision, the aforementioned energy, time and money are crucial to our success.
Because Donna and I feel so strongly about putting our money where our mouths are, we joined very early. According to figures through April, we are one of only 146 individual contributors to the MMS Program. While I want to personally express my gratitude to those who have already made a financial commitment to ACB, we can and must do far better! If we ourselves aren't willing to make this commitment, we can't very well ask or expect others to make it, can we? ACB's new development director, Dena Wilson, will shortly be contacting corporations, foundations and individuals to do just that: make a contribution to ACB. Her job will be far easier if she can demonstrate that a significant number of our members are committed, at least monetarily, to the organization.
So, what am I asking everyone to do at this summer's national convention? For starters, even before arriving in Louisville, take a few moments and consider your level of commitment to the American Council of the Blind. What impact does ACB have on your life and the lives of other blind and visually impaired people? Is advocating in the halls of Congress and the courts for accessible currency, credit reports and cell phones important to you? What about video description on television, or letters and other material from Social Security in the format of your choice?
If any of these things mean something to you, then when you get to the convention, take the time -- either while registering or during the week -- to sign up. It requires perhaps 15 minutes to complete the necessary form, whether you are having the deduction taken from your checking account or credit card. If you wish the deduction taken from your checking account, be sure you have a check with you, because we will need your bank routing number to process the paperwork. It is my hope to see the number of ACB members who contribute to the Monthly Monetary Support Program double during our upcoming convention. Please help make this hope a reality.
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