The Michigan Council of the blind and Visually Impaired unites people: to promote cultural, social, and personal growth, as well as understanding toward progress, dignity, equality in issues regarding blindness and visual impairment.
President: Michael Geno
Editor: Donna Rose
The MCBVI News is published quarterly in Braille, large print, on audio cassette and sent via email to its membership.
Contact the editor via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 517-333-9117
General Inquiries regarding the activities of MCBVI may be made by calling toll-free 1-888 956-2284
We can be contacted by e-mail at:email@example.com
EDITOR'S NOTE: In order to conserve space the contact information for executive board members and committee chairpersons is only included once per year following elections of officers in the October edition.
From The President's Desk
By Michael Geno
"Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue." That is what women entering into their new life as a bride are told before the wedding ceremony. Each passing of Christmas,and beginning of a new year, also represents for me, a time of reflection on the past, and questions about the future. These thoughts represent the "something old, something new." The time I have at present to choose what to do or say, I suppose is borrowed because I have learned not to assume that my energy is without limits, or my time endless. The beautiful blue of the lake and sky in our scenic area, as reflected in the name of our local MCBVI chapter, can perhaps, satisfy the "something blue."
You may ask, "Why does this have meaning?" The answer lies in the excitement and anticipation I have for a new level of success for our organization, and for me as well. 2005 represents a year of growth, and great improvement for MCBVI, and our Leadership Team. Each of you are to be congratulated for what we achieved this past year. Because of good planning, communication, and collective decision making, some fantastic opportunities are coming into reality for us this year. We have benefitted from our time and growth in leadership skills as a result of our training efforts during a week end last March, and convention programs. We have united some very gifted and dedicated people to work together on historic projects that include, establishing internet communications, and web page resources, public education and sensitivity campaigns, and another Braille production service capability benefiting our Lansing chapter and community. We were blessed to receive a five thousand dollar grant to launch this service last December. The positive influence of these activities, will spread and open opportunities for blind participants and their communities in the central Michigan area. We have also established improved relations and communications with the Commission For The blind, and other disability consumer groups. This quarterly news letter has continued to shine with much hard work and contributions from leaders around the state. The resulting respect, success, and bright prospects for the future, have not come with out struggle, and sacrifice. Each member of MCBVI involved, knows that our achievements so far, do not, just happen. Nor will they continue with out continued effort, involvement, and dedication of individuals who step forward to fill leadership roles, and time consuming jobs. My heart goes out to each of you who have set such a great example of selfless giving, and concern for others. You maintain a high standard for me and others to learn and grow by.
It is an exciting time, and a challenging time for blind citizens of this nation, and members of our organization. We face serious losses in education, services, employment, and civil rights if our voices are not heard, and our concerns
not considered. The challenges looming before us will require that more of us look deep within ourselves for continued contributions of time and effort necessary to forge a brighter future for later generations of the blind. If we do not succeed now, and stand together against the tide of ignorance continuing to surface in this country, more than visual darkness will settle over the lives of vision impaired persons for years to come. This organization must nurture understanding of our collective minority identity. We need to unite with one voice with courage and solidarity. Each of us will be called upon to leave the comfort of our personal interests and homes, and fight against social ignorance, prejudice, and poor decisions. Your contributions of time, effort, and skill will never be too small or meaningless. Do what you can, and don't worry about it being acceptable or good enough. History has taught us in military campaigns, that each job back home done well and reliably, is equally important to the outcomes on the front line.
Which brings me to my own challenge involving our success, and the hope for our collective future. I am used to drawing upon many blessings God has allowed me to apply toward my interests and goals. Among these many blessings I have all too often abused and taken for granted, is time, energy, and relatively pain free strength and health. I have relied upon these blessings to stand on the front lines of any task I felt was important. The past several months have opened a new life of understanding for me, that will be significantly different from the life I have enjoyed up to now. Much like the new life a married couple experiences after the wedding, full of change, withdrawal from the past and familiar, and hopeful with expectation, I now face a new life. Perhaps the most difficult for me, is the letting go of those things I expected to do, and shaping a different vision of my involvement in the greater scheme of things. Last Fall, I sensed this change coming, as my energy each day, decreased, while pain increased. Near the end of the year, biopsies and other tests revealed that cancer has been growing in my body. What I have learned since then, others have already faced, and survived. But each individual's battle requires focus, time, and energy, along with faith in God and His answers. This change and challenge has also revealed the love and wonderful relationships Jeanette and I have been upheld with among you as friends. Just the thought of each of you, and your expressions of concern and prayers, fills me with warmth, and counting riches beyond value. You have shown growth, dignity, and character to us and each other, and that makes me even more dedicated to survive this, and join you again at the front lines of our important causes.
No matter what each of us is able to do, or not do, our part in the universe is important, and recognized. Not even 2 sparrows sold for a penny go unnoticed. We are of so much more value in God's eyes. So, the new life for me is to learn my changing role to help and support each of you, and this organization during my own battle with cancer. It may seem limited, and not as important. But, I know what each of us can do, is sufficient, if that is all we have to give. The options are worthy to consider. Instead of traveling to meetings, I can attend by phone or internet connections. I can pray, instead of running meetings, or making presentations. I may be able to write more, and encourage on a one to one basis. What ever I am allowed to do, I intend to continue in our unified struggles and efforts. If it is God's will that I return to some level of physical health, I know I will cherish it, and what I can do with it, all the more. I am also learning that health is measured by much more than physical standards. Our relationships with each other, our personal character, integrity, and spirit remain very healthy and important. I am proud to share this journey with such good people. We have much to celebrate, and hope for because of that health. Be encouraged by the countless blessings we often take for granted. Celebrate each day, and each other. Hope, as I do, for a bright future filled with a greater appreciation of our blessings of time and love together.
MCBVI Establishes New Transportation Committee
By Donna Rose
MCBVI is lucky to have Casey Dutmer appointed to our new transportation committee. Casey is currently co-chair of Concerned Citizens for Improved Transportation in Grand Rapids. He has worked on behalf of those who use public transportation for many years by advocating for public transportation through his involvement in meetings and with letter writing campaigns.
Casey was recently disappointed when Governor Granholm vetoed a proposal that would bring more than $14 million in public transit funding for metro Grand Rapids. He says that since 2000, the State has used funds originally meant for public transportation to balance the State's budget instead. There are many bad decisions being made about public transit by our State and federal legislators and it is time we begin to make it clear that good public transportation can only help our State economically.
It would be beneficial if we could get a person from each chapter to join this committee and work closely with Casey to improve transportation around our entire state. If you would like to join Casey on this committee please contact him at (616) 530-0558 or by e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org
How Do You Read Your Medication Labels?
By John Mc Mahon
There is a lot of interest by drug companies and pharmacies as to how to make their printed medication information accessible to those of us who are blind. In fact, some pharmacies, such as Walgreen’s, are now making prescription medicine labels available in large print. The problem with this is, nobody has yet asked us how we are currently able to read this and other printed information about our prescription medications.
There is currently a research project being undertaken by a doctoral student at Western Michigan University to gather the information needed to help answer this question, “How do you read your printed information that comes with your medicine?” The researcher is planning to mail a very short survey to members of various organizations, such as MCBVI, that will give us information about what blind people do to read such information. The survey, which will be sent to you later this winter, will come to you in lternative media (Braille, cassette, large print, or electronic) one of which you are currently reading this newsletter.
Please take a few minutes to read the information and complete the brief survey when it arrives, and return it in the pre- addressed, postage paid envelopes that will be included with the information packet. Thank you so much for lending your voice to this issue.
The MCB Consumer Involvement Council (CIC)
By Casey Dutmer
The Consumer Involvement Council (CIC) was established in the early 1980's to provide formal consumer input to the Commission for the Blind Board. Both the Rehabilitation Act and the current “State Plan” which outlines the operation of the Commission call for significant and formal consumer input.
The current CIC is made up of 12 members who meet three times per year. MCBVI is granted three representatives on the CIC and we currently are in need of one other member. Please contact MCBVI President Michael Geno at (810) 982-0717 if you would be interested in serving on this council for MCBVI.
Get Rid of Junk Mail
By Donna Rose
If you are like me, you get tired of having to read through mountains of junk mail with a reader. The US postal service recommends that if you want to get rid of junk mail that you register with the Mail Preference Service. Send your name and mailing address to:
Mail Preference Service
Direct Marketing Association
P.O. Box 643
Carmel, NY 10512
Or you can register online at: www.dmaconsumers.org/consumerassistance.html
Scholarships & Awards Now Available
Submitted by Frank Cunningham
The American Council of the Blind will present more than two dozen scholarships and awards to outstanding blind students in 2006. All legally blind, full-time students admitted to academic and vocational training programs at the post-secondary level for the 2006-07 school year are encouraged to apply for one of these scholarships. Part-time students who are working full-time are also invited to apply for the John Hebner Memorial Scholarship. A cumulative grade point average of 3.3 is generally required, but extenuating circumstances may be considered for certain scholarships. Applicants must be legally blind in both eyes. Applications may be completed on line, but supporting documentation must be submitted in hard copy print, post-marked by March 1, 2006, and sent to:
American Council of the Blind
Scholarship Program ICO Terry Pacheco
1155 15th St., NW
Washington, DC 20005
Please note: We will determine for which scholarships you qualify based on the information you provide on your application. It is not necessary to submit more than one application. Visit our web site at www.acb.org. for additional information and to complete the online application. If you have additional questions or wish to request a hard copy of the application package, please call (202) 467- 5081 ext. 20.
The Benjamin A. Gilman
International Scholarship Program
The Institute of International Education is pleased to announce that the Gilman International Scholarship Program has received an increase of $1,112,000 in funding for the 2006-2007 academic year for a total budget of $3,712,000.
The increase will enable the Gilman Program to award over 700 scholarships to U.S. undergraduates for study abroad, The largest increase the program has seen to date. Founded under the International Academic Opportunity Act of
2000, the Gilman International Scholarship Program is a congressionally-funded program sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and administered by the Institute of International
Education. The Gilman Scholarship provides awards of up to $5,000 for U.S. citizen undergraduate students at two- and four-year institutions to participate in study abroad programs of up to one academic year.
The scholarship is offered to students with high financial need, community college students, students in under-represented fields such as the sciences and engineering, students with diverse ethnic backgrounds, and students with disabilities. The program seeks to assist students from a diverse range and type of two-year and four-year public and private institutions from all fifty states. To be eligible, students must be receiving a Federal Pell Grant at the time of application and cannot be studying abroad in a country currently under a U.S. Department of State Travel Warning or in Cuba. For more information, full eligibility criteria and the online application please visit the Gilman Program
website at: www.iie.org/gilman
Or contact the program by email at: email@example.com
Phone 713-621-6300 ext. 12
The Michigan Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired offers a scholarship and a grant program. For more information or to receive an application please contact Rosemarie Facilla via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at
RFB&D Offers Applications For National Achievement Awards
Applications are now available for RFB&D's 2006 National Achievement Awards (NAA) program, an annual competition for college seniors with visual impairments and high school seniors with learning disabilities. RFB&D's Mary P. Oenslager Scholastic Achievement Awards (SAA) are given annually to nine members who are college seniors and blind or visually impaired. The Marion Huber Learning Through Listening (LTL®) awards are presented annually to six members who are high school seniors with learning disabilities. Awards total more than $50,000. The top three winners in each category are recognized at an annual RFB&D celebratory event, and some previous winners have also been honored at the White House. The application deadline is March 1, 2006. For more information or to receive an application go to www.rfbd.org or call them at 800-221-4792.
Bits & Bytes
The following web sites are for entertainment purposes only and are not necessarily endorsed by MCBVI.
Need a talking thermostat? Mention you are an ACB member and receive free shipping for the new VIP thermostat. Visit www.talkingthermostats.com for this and other useful products.
Need a talking blood pressure monitor, but can't pay a lot for one? Check out a $60 model at www.safetyandsecuritysource.com.
Did you know that AFB has a great technology newsletter called Access World? To read it go to www.afb.org/Ac cessWorld.
Are you a student who is blind or visually impaired? You might want to check out the National Alliance of Blind Students, an ACB affiliate at www.blindstudents.org.
Need to stretch those dollars? Check out WWW.thedollarstretcher.com
Need to get organized? Go to www.organizeeverything.com.
For those who like to cook. How about www.pillsbury.com, www.bisquick.com or www.diabeticrecipes.com.
Michigan Ski for Light
By Sherry Gordon
The 30th annual Michigan Ski for Light (MSFL) program was held January 20-22 at the Ralph McMullen conference center at Higgins Lake. Approximately 80 persons, including individuals who are blind, visually impaired or mobility impaired, plus their guides, converged at the conference center for a weekend filled with cross country skiing, snow shoeing and other winter fun. The MSFL is a great program and this year's snow was especially timely. Friday evening this year it snowed 6 inches! Participants gathered Friday evening and began the event with a bonfire at the shores of Higgins Lake. skiing and snow shoeing was available all day Saturday and a competition race was held Sunday morning for those interested in competing. Saturday evening activities included a dance and other social events. Sunday following lunch an awards ceremony was held.
The MSFL is a very fun program and everyone is encouraged to visit the MSFL web site at: www.msfl.org to learn more. Members of the MSFL also sponsor an event, called "Kayaking for Light". This event is held at Ramona Park in Portage, just south of Kalamazoo. This year's event will take place July 8, 2006, and again promises to be a lot of fun! Come out and try kayaking! Further information on the Kayaking for Light program is also available on the MSFL web site. You may also contact Sherry Gordon, Kalamazoo Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired member at: (269) 383-4144 or e-mail: email@example.com
Donna Rose, Chairperson
Since our last newsletter contacts have been made with our US senators and representatives offices regarding extending the bill that allows low income Medicare beneficiaries to have their monthly premiums and deductibles paid for by the federal government. This program was extended for another year; however a permanent fix is in order so that this problem doesn't resurface every year. All offices contacted said that to permanently solve the problem would cost a lot of money, and thus the extension.
If you tried to figure out how to pick a Medicare Part D prescription plan and found it confusing, you are not alone! People who are blind and visually impaired have had an extra tough time because it is unlikely that they could receive information from the plan providers in alternative formats. A letter has been drafted and will be sent to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMMS) with copies to the director of Health and Human Services and to our US senators and representatives. Other agencies, and the ACB national office, will also receive a copy of this letter. It is interesting that every company I contacted had information available in Spanish.
This year we are hoping to vote at accessible polling places. The Secretary of State's office is working to achieve this goal. We may have more to share about this in the next MCBVI News.
Donna Rose, Co-Chair
John Mc Mahon, Co-Chair
It is a busy time for the membership committee. We need your dues in to us as soon as possible. The American Council of the Blind (ACB) needs to receive our final list and dues in soon so that we can have the proper number of votes during the national convention in Florida this summer. Also we need to create this year's membership list so that we can prepare mailing labels for your upcoming newsletters. In order to keep receiving your quarterly MCBVI News, you need to pay your dues for 2006. Otherwise, your name will be removed from the membership list and you will not receive future newsletters. If you belong to a chapter your local treasurer will collect your dues and mail them, along with a list to our state treasurer John Mc Mahon, who will then forward the list to me once he verifies that all the dues are paid for your chapter. If you don't belong to a chapter you can still join for $10 as a member at large. Dues can be mailed to”
Please remember to let us know in what format you would like your newsletter. We now have an e-mail option. I hope to see you all once again on this year's membership list.
Donna Rose, Chairperson
Our newsletter is available in large print, Braille, on cassette tape, and via email. When submitting articles, please be aware that we do not reprint articles from other sources. From time to time I have been able to paraphrase to get information out to our readers. When I receive information via email between newsletters that may be interesting to our readers, I keep it in a newsletter file for possible publication later. Original pieces should be no longer than 300 words. I regret that I cannot publish everything that I receive. I can be e-mailed at: firstname.lastname@example.org or you may contact me via phone at (517) 333-9117.
Chris Schumacher, Chairperson
Our committee has not met since the convention. However, it is not too soon to start thinking about what resolutions you would like to have presented at our next convention.
As you can see from the complexity of those we had last year, it takes a lot of time and effort to write them. So the sooner we have them, the better. If you do not want to write one yourself, jot down your ideas and send them to me in Braille, on tape, by E-mail or on a computer disk. Our deadline is September 1, 2006. Let's hear from you so we can get our work started.
Blue Water League Of The Blind
by Jeanette Geno, President
Greetings from each of us in the BWL. I pray that you had a happy holiday season. Last November our chapter shared a Thanksgiving dinner together. In December the Port Huron Host Lions club put on a festive Christmas party for us. Lion Michael and I were pretty busy preparing for this annual event. But, it is always nice to watch so many people enjoy them selves and the holiday spirit.
Our chapter next came together January 19th 2006. we held our election of officers. Phyllis Mabganua was chosen as Vice President, Heather Seaman for Chapter Delegate, and Michael Geno was reelected as our Treasurer. Secretary Janet Wisswell and I are looking forward to working with them in 2006. Many thanks to Eugene Pattison for serving as our Vice President for the past several years.
Our next scheduled meetings are, Thursdays February and March 16, at 7 pm. A craft project will add to the fun of our March meeting, and April will again find us celebrating Spring with our annual game night. As president, I invite you to visit our beautiful lake shore community, and join in on our activities and fun. Happy New Year from your friends in the BWL.
Capitol Area Council of the Blind
By Donna Rose, Secretary/treasurer
The Capitol Area council of the Blind is now meeting during the lunch hour on the first Wednesday of each month. Our membership is growing by leaps and bounds! We had a successful Christmas party with the singing of carols in December with many in attendance. Our next meeting will be on April 1, 2006. At our next meeting we will have printed copies of our resource list for people with vision problems ready for distribution, along with business cards for the executive board. Call President Jim Moore for more information at (517) 374-8681
MCBVI President Michael Geno wrote several grants for the organization and the one that was accepted will provide the chapter with a Braille embosser so that we can begin doing Braille projects for money. Not only will we be able to help our community by making it more accessible to those who read Braille, but this project will also be able to support other projects for the blind and visually impaired community. We are thankful to Michael Geno for his thoughtfulness and for writing these grants.
Detroit Council of the Blind
By Regina Wesley
The Detroit Council of the Blind holds meetings monthly on the fourth Friday of the month from 6 – 8 PM at the Detroit Agency for the Blind on Grand River in Detroit. They also host BINGO monthly but the dates change. They have plans to take a bus trip sometime in the future. Call Regina Wesley at 313-460-3200 for more information and for BINGO dates.
Detroit Northwest Chapter
By Chris Schumacher, President
Over the past few months our chapter's activities have consisted of a combination of information, business and fun. In November we had a terrific presentation by Mike Patten, the ADA Coordinator for SMART--our suburban transit system. After an explanation of his duties, the various types of services that SMART provides and the criteria used to determine eligibility for ADA paratransit service, we were able to ask questions and make comments regarding transportation issues. Then in December we had our Christmas luncheon at Richter's, a German restaurant in Dearborn, which included chapter members and guests. January's meeting dealt with chapter business. Our group meets the second Saturday of the month at Brownie's Diner in Wayne. Contact George Illingworth at (313) 937-9687 if you'd like to join us.
Kalamazoo Council of the
Blind and Visually Impaired
By Sherry Gordon
Since the last newsletter, we have had a lot of activities going on. KCBVI sponsored a family for Thanksgiving and Christmas this past year. This "family" had a mom and five children. Members of the KCBVI were very generous in donations of food and money to purchase food for the Thanksgiving basket which was delivered by KCBVI member Michelle Bates. For Christmas, again KCBVI members were very generous; each family member received a gift and the entire family received a wonderful food basket. We feel this program is a very worthwhile cause.
Our annual Christmas party was held on December 8 at the T.G.I. Friday's in Kalamazoo. We had 26 guests in attendance and had a lot of good food! We also play the "gift game". Everyone brought a gift and then draws a number. The person with the number one picks a gift from the pile and opens it, also describing the gift they opened. The person drawing the number two can either "steal" the gift that person number one opened or person number two can choose a gift from the pile and open it. Everyone left the game with a nifty gift to enjoy.
At our January 2006 meeting, Lisa Kisiel arranged for a speaker to present the Medicare part D program. For most of us, the program is very confusing and the information received was greatly appreciated.
We have recently done a fund raiser with Schwan's. This is a really handy program for many of us since Schwan's delivers your chosen items right to your door! We also did a fund raiser with Old Country Buffet on January 23. Many thanks to Michelle Bates for her organization of these fund raisers and to all the many KCBVI members who contributed some of their very precious time for these fund raisers.
Our next meeting is scheduled for Thursday, February 9. This is our annual Valentine's Day party. We all wear as much red colored clothing items, jewelry, etc. as possible. The male and female wearing the most red each win a prize! It is a very festive event. Contact Lisa Kisiel, KCBVI's secretary, at (269) 552-4082 for more information.
Visually Impaired Persons For Progress
By Deb Wild
At VIPP's November meeting we elected Joe Sibley as Vice President. He and Jackie Boomstra were candidates for the office. We elected Sandi Canen by acclamation for treasurer.
On January 7, 2006 we had a holiday party at Disability Advocates of Kent County. Lisa Webber, one of VIPP's members, was our hostess. Our meal was catered by A&A Catering, and the food was delicious. Several folks brought homemade cookies and other goodies which were passed around for dessert. There was lots of fun and laughter. There was a game involving presents which we could steal from one another before opening, with someone describing what the packages looked like; then we opened them; then we had another opportunity to steal from one another if desired. A & A Catering is a family owned business operated by Deb Attwood and her husband. Deb has been an active part of our MoPix group. Their son Mike is deaf, while Deb is not.
Our January meeting was held at the Grand Villa Restaurant on Chicago Drive. Our next several meetings will be held there as well because the Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired board room is booked. At our January meeting we discussed fund-raising ideas. We decided to have a Tupperware party on Saturday, 02/18/06 at Disability Advocates of Kent County. Work will be done on our bylaws and our brochures.
Summary of January 21, 2006
MCBVI Board Meeting
By Deb Wild
Due to a snowstorm beginning on January 20, we had our Winter 2006 Board meeting by teleconference. We used the conference numbers that the executive committee uses each month. This runs seven cents a minute. It was the usual length meeting, with a 20-minute break at noon. We had excellent participation with at least 20 people present.
Regina Wesley will be assisting with studying options and proposals for our 2007 convention. The Technology Committee will be working on our proposed technology training weekend. We will be exploring hotels. Tentatively we are thinking of a weekend in May, but there is no definite date yet.
The Detroit Council has not changed its name. Tom Lester is president. Regina clarified these things for us. Ann Griffioen will be sending a letter to Deb regarding dissolution of the Kent County Council. Donna encouraged all chapters to get their dues and membership lists to John McMahon by the end of January. (If you haven't done so yet, please do so immediately! His contact information is included in the membership committee report in this newsletter.)
John e-mailed Mike a financial report and a proposed budget. We decided to table approving the financial report until we could have a special meeting with John or Kyle present to answer any questions. We agreed to accept the proposed 2006 budget as written, with the provision that changes could be made by the board in the figures as felt appropriate. One adjustment agreed upon was to decrease the proposed annual amount of the newsletter from $2,000 to $1,500. John will need to add the technology committee costs into a line item in the budget. Discussion took place with Willy Phipps regarding the approximate costs he felt the committee needed to get the web site and listserv up and running, along with other expenditures. It was decided to propose that $1,000.00 be budgeted for the technology committee.
Legislation concerns were discussed, including Medicare Part D and not getting materials from Medicare in accessible formats. Donna wrote a letter addressing this. There is a bill regarding the sale of the School For The Blind's property. There will be a letter sent with our next newsletter written by Mike, which we decided to endorse. There is a bill in our State legislature proposing a penny surcharge be added to everyone's phone bill in Michigan to support the NFB Newsline. This would be a tax rather than voluntary. It was decided that MCBVI should take a stand to oppose this bill because we cannot get solid information about just how the Newsline funds are used or what the real costs are to operate the service. We also believe that Newsline should not be touted as the only method with which people who are blind or visually impaired can read the newspaper. Concerning transportation, governor Granholm vetoed light rail transportation for Grand Rapids. Many cuts are being made on a state level. Casey agreed to be the chair of a new transportation committee.
Mike wrote three grant applications, one of which MCBVI received. This is a $5,000 grant which will enable the Capitol Area chapter to purchase the equipment to do brailing services, as the Blue Water League is currently doing.