by Terry Pacheco

Are you honing your leadership skills through your local ACB affiliate? Do you want to enhance those skills and bring even greater successes to your advocacy efforts? Are you ready to take the next steps? Have you wished you could attend an ACB national convention where these opportunities abound, but it always seemed out of your reach? If you have answered "yes" to all of these questions, then read on. The Durward K. McDaniel Committee may be looking for YOU!

Each year the McDaniel Fund Committee selects two ACB members who are interested in broadening their involvement in our community as first-timers to the upcoming national convention. The 2009 convention will be held in Orlando, Fla. July 4-11.

Travel, lodging, registration administrative fee, tickets to select events, and a stipend for meals and incidental expenses are paid for two people who have never attended an ACB national convention before. These two special guests to the convention have the chance to experience all that the convention has to offer -- exhibits, speaker's receptions with world- renowned leaders in the areas of most interest to them, committee meetings, seminars, and so much more!

Who? What? When? Where? Why? Read on!

Who can apply? Any member who has never attended an ACB national convention and is active in a state or special-interest affiliate is eligible.

What do I need to do? Talk to your state or special-interest affiliate president. He/she can answer any questions you may have, and must give you a letter of recommendation to include with your application packet. Packets should include your name, day and evening contact information, a letter telling the committee about yourself and your involvement in ACB, and a letter of recommendation from your affiliate president. Only one recommendation will be considered for each applicant.

When is the deadline? This is a change this year. All packets (include your letter of interest and your president's letter of recommendation) must be postmarked by February 28, 2009.

Where do I send my completed packet? All packets should be sent to: DKM First-Timers' Committee, c/o American Council of the Blind, 1155 15th St. NW, Suite 1004, Washington, DC 20005. Applications may be e-mailed to [email protected].

Why is this program available? The Durward K. McDaniel Fund First- Timers' Program has brought many future ACB leaders to conventions in memory of the community outreach and mentoring efforts Durward was so well-known for.

The committee sponsors a fund-raising event at each national convention to help defray its expenses. Orlando will be no exception. It is always a fun time for a good cause. Be sure to watch for more details in future editions of "The Braille Forum."

You may also choose to support the work of the committee by purchasing a special cassette version of "People of Vision," the history of the American Council of the Blind. This special edition includes a cassette recording of a brief history of our organization in Durward's own voice. Call the national office at 1-800-424-8666 or (202) 467-5081 to order your copy.

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