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
President: Michael Geno
Editor: Donna Rose
General Inquiries regarding the activities of MCBVI may be made by calling toll-free 1-888 956-2284, or we can be contacted by email at, firstname.lastname@example.org
Editor's Note: A contact list of our executive board and committee chairpersons will be included with your next newsletter. Also, please advise all new 2008 members they will begin to receive their MCBVI News starting with the next issue.
From The President's Desk
By Michael Geno
"Have you seen me" they cry from their pictures on Milk cartons. They are lost children separated from their families, and relationships. These children are not the only lost in our society today. There are blind adults being robbed of their free life adventure. Who are they? How can they be recognized? Compare the following profile of an adult blind dependant to someone you might know and consider what we can do to help.
Do you know of a visually impaired man or woman between 20 and 45, or older, living at home with one or both of their parents? They might have earned a high school diploma but never seem to seriously struggle to earn an independent living. The thrill and trepidation of moving into their own apartment, starting the first day on a job, or freely considering who to date is unknown to them.
Far too many of these adult children will never even consider the every day challenges and options other adults their own age take for granted. When asked they often say that they are waiting to get some gadget or expensive technology. How they intend to use it on a job does not seem to be clear to them. In general they are totally dependant upon family members they are living with. He or she seldom goes out with out their caretakers to participate in society as an equally independent adult.
These dependant adults are more like children and seldom talk about buying a home or assuming responsibilities like getting married, or having their own children. They and their parents have all kinds of excuses ready to explain why they must remain at home and can't do what others their own age are doing. Tragically all involved seemed to be content with these restrictions. The opinions and decisions expressed by the blind in these situations ultimately support what their parents have programmed them to accept and say. Should they ever risk voicing an opinion of their own, they might secretly fear conflict with their controlling caretakers who seem to have power to impose penalties on their adult child. Some parents even pursue legal guardianship, dimming any hope of their blind adult exercising equal rights. Such individuals are trapped like a bird in their protective parent's gilded cage, never to fly free and independent as they can and should.
There are also sighted dependant adults like this in our society, but it is alarming for me to witness how many can be recognized among our visually impaired population. These adult blind dependents that fit this description are more spectator than fully involved participants in every day life. They seldom challenge their guardians about making important decisions for them. But are they really content with others deciding where and how they live, or who they might love or marry? I wonder if they are really happy?
Is there a dependant blind adult you know who has revealed a secret desire to move out into their own apartment or home, plan their own meals, get a paying job, or raise a family? Is he or she free to reveal feelings about the contrast their sheltered lives have with sighted and blind peers who are free to make choices and mature from the free adventure of their own lives?
If you don't believe such lost children exist, take a closer look in your own community, or perhaps your own family. Is there a disabled adult living with a family member that fits this description? How will they know that there is so much more to life than listening to the radio, TV, or talking books? Who will ever tell them about the world outside their cage. Can we as their blind brothers and sisters model for them that blind adults can and should want to fly free and independent? Unless we convince their parents to let go, these adult children may never grow up to be their own guardian.
These households sometimes reflect even a darker motive for keeping their son or daughter at home. Controlling parents may have also become co-dependant on their adult child's government financial benefits. Parents who control and spend these benefits argue that no one can care for their child better than they can. All their conclusions come from the false premise that their blind adult child is not able to fully care for them self. They invent plausible excuses why their child can not work, independently participate in social events or organizational activities, and even limit their involvement with household tasks such as cooking, laundry, or arranging for their own appointments or transportation.
All of these things their parents keep doing for them to maintain such control restricts even what their adult son or daughter verbally reveals to outsiders concerning their personal desires. Co-dependencies like these often settle into decades of behavior patterns that seem to strangle any hope for freedom and self esteem for these adult blind. Those of us who are blind and matured beyond the protective custody of our nurturing families, enjoy our equal freedom to savor the full flavor of life's risks, struggles, failures, and successes. As we soar free and independent to decide for ourselves among so many choices these caged birds never seem to consider, we grieve their loss.
Too many trapped adult blind children are just as tragic as the lost children on those milk cartons. They are imprisoned from their own lives, loves, and dignity. They may never fully be respected for who they are, and what they can do. Until their parents learn to let them go they are not truly demonstrating love and respect for them. We who are free may be driven off by over protective guardians, from suggesting to these trapped children that there is a door they have the power to open and fly free from their familiar cage. Over protective parents might seek to isolate us from them, and secure that door with more restrictions or penalties for any responses to get out and independently do more.
leaving the analogy of caged birds, can you think of anyone involved with vision loss, who fits this scenario? Independent blind adults know the truth about what they are missing. Especially the rehabilitated employed blind no better and need to assume some responsibility. The challenges before us are many. We need to continue to educate parents who also may feel trapped in their guardianship role. We need to develop strategies with government and rehabilitation programs that reveal and rescue blind adults from co-dependant restrictions. This perhaps is the biggest challenge of all. These blind people are adults. They have the freedom to remain trapped, and comfortable in the bondage of their caretakers. How may we lead them from such slavery to freedom if they express no desire to go? All of us need to encourage these adult children to adventure beyond their comfort zone. We must not abandon them or forget that they are trapped. By involving all family members, perhaps by witnessing our example we can prompt them to believe that blind adults can earn a living and lead a fully independent life. To accept every individual's rights, regardless of vision loss, to choose where to live, own a home, fall in love, raise children, and pursue their personal goals even when others disagree. It is up to all of us to share their burden of slavery with the same courage and determination demonstrated by those in the 1960's civil rights movement. Who will be our Martin Luther King Jr. and lead these lost to the promised land? Will it be you? It's up to each of us to choose, and
history to record.
Consumer Survey to Help Direct
Future Radio Accessibility
By Kim Walsh, Director,
Detroit Radio Information Service(DRIS radio for the Blind and Print-Impaired, WDET-FM/Wayne State University
Ever wish you could play back that Kroger or Sears ad to hear those great prices again or store the reading of today's Detroit Free Press for later? These features may be coming to a radio near you. And your input can help guide the process! The design of a Personal Audio Information Service (PAIS) is underway thanks to a multi-year grant from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research. The International Association of Audio Information Services (IAAIS) is a partner along with National Public Radio, Dr. Ellyn Sheffield of Towson University and others. The collaboration is one in a series of projects going back several years that are leading the way to greater accessibility in digital audio technology for people with sensory disabilities, including those who are deaf, blind and visually-impaired.
A first step is to gather consumer information. I hope you will take the opportunity to share your experiences with media devices by completing a consumer-focused survey. NPR's Daniel Schwab is the contact at 1-800-329-4274 and you can do it over the phone.
Also, if you would kindly pass it along to others you know who may have an interest, that would be great. I am also excited to forward a link for I-CART, (International Center for Accessible Radio Technology), a new allegiance announced at this year's Consumer Electronic Show, last month: http://www.i-cart.net/
Economic Stimulus Payments
Free Tax Help Is Available! Individuals who need to file a return this year to receive an "Economic Stimulus" payment may be able to take advantage of thousands of free tax preparation sites nationwide for low-income and elderly taxpayers. Many individuals and families will receive checks from the government in May, but you need to file your 2007 federal tax return in order to receive a payment. If you are eligible, individual payments will range from $300 - $600.
The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program provides help to low-and moderate-income taxpayers. Call 1-800 906-9887 to locate the nearest VITA site.
The Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) Program provides free tax help to people age 60 and older. As part of the IRS- sponsored TCE Program, AARP offers the Tax-Aide counseling program at more than 7,000 sites nationwide during the filing season. To find an AARP Tax Aide site call 1-888 227- 7669.
Reminder: MCBVI Grants Available
By Rosemarie Facilla, Grant Committee Chairperson
The Grant Committee wants to remind blind and visually impaired individuals grants are available to aid in purchasing products for the blind. These may range from talking clocks to computer software. Amounts of the grants are awarded according to available income, as well as available funds to be granted. An applicant may or may not receive the full amount of the grant requested, depending upon the information presented in the application. The committee may request clarification or more information regarding the request. It is important to fill out the application completely. The decision to disburse funds is made by the committee and an applicant can be assured they will receive a response in 4-6 weeks after the application is received. Make inquiries for application to:
2088 Parslow Dr. #133
Muskegon, MI 49441
When e-mailing, please be sure to put grant request in the subject line.
Fall Convention Was Full Of Tons of Fun and Info
By Sherry Gordon,
2007 Convention Co-Chair
On November 2-4, the 34th annual MCBVI fall convention was held at the Holiday Inn West in Kalamazoo. Almost 100 persons attended this year's convention.
Participants arrived in Kalamazoo at Western Michigan University for the beginning of activities on Friday afternoon. Scott Norris, Michigan Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, provided great information about the upcoming digital recorder, expected to begin distribution late in 2008. Scott brought a demonstration model to show and it was very impressive. Dr. Paul Ponchillia, emeritus Western Michigan University Department of Blindness and Low Vision Studies and Scott Norris did a presentation on two different types of GPSs (global positioning systems). This presentation was also very interesting and informative. These presentations were followed by a goalball demonstration by WMU students. Goalball is a fast paced sport which was developed shortly after World War I-so that the veterans who had lost their sight would have a physical activity to do.
That evening, the Mayor of Kalamazoo, Hannah McKinney, welcomed everyone to Kalamazoo and told everyone to have a great time! Following opening ceremonies, our annual benefit auction was held. This year, our auctioneer was radio personality Karl Guenther. We raised $1066 for the MCBVI treasury! Following auction activities the hospitality room was open!
Saturday's activities began at 9:00 a.m. with a welcome from convention co-chairs Lisa Kisiel and Sherry Gordon. Resolutions were read by Chris Schumacher. Dr. Robert Unser, Low Vision Specialist from the Western Michigan University Low Vision Clinic spoke about different vision conditions and answered many questions. Next, representatives from the Michigan Commission for the Blind, lead by Director Patrick Cannon, spoke about news and updates from the MCB. Following lunch, elections were held for MCBVI Board positions. Ron Lambe, from Portage, spoke to us about how he had started a support group and how he continues to maintain that support group. Ron gave us some very interesting information. Next was an update from the MCBVI Executive Committee. Michael Geno played some "lost tapes" which allowed us to listen to some voices from MCBVI's past. This really brought back some fond memories for many folks.
During the afternoon hours of the convention, the vendor room was open. This year the vendor room highlighted vendors who are blind or visually impaired. It was great to go shopping for nick knacks, for jewelry and for snacks both for people and for dogs! The vendor room was a big hit!
Saturday evening featured a wonderful banquet dinner. Dr. Paul Ponchillia was our keynote speaker. Paul spoke about the past, present and future of technologies for persons who are blind or visually impaired. Paul was also presented with a beautiful plaque for his many years of service to persons who are blind or visually impaired. Following the banquet ceremonies, the hospitality room was again open!
Sunday morning was the annual business meeting. Faith Meadows and George Illingworth presented a beautiful memorial service for those MCBVI folks who had passed away over the last year. President Michael Geno concluded the business meeting and everyone helped themselves to gourds-which were table decorations. The 2007 convention received many compliments and we cannot wait to see where the 2008 convention site will be!
Save the Date
By Joe Sibley,
Convention Committee Chairperson
The 35th annual convention of the Michigan Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired (MCBVI) will be held September 25-28, 2008. This year the convention returns to Grand Rapids, and to a familiar location the Howard Johnson Plaza Hotel! Room rates this year are only $75 per night plus tax, single or double!
Planning for the program is underway, and there will be a large representation of technology as Mike Ellis returns bringing vendors, information and much more!
The Howard Johnson Plaza hotel is located at:
255 28th street
Wyoming MI 49548
You can reserve your rooms right now by contacting the hotel directly at (616) 241-6444. Be sure to specify the MCBVI convention to get the discounted rate. Learn more about the hotel at www.hojogr.com. More details will be coming out soon, but put September 25-28 on your calendar and get your rooms reserved! This will be a great weekend of fun, fellowship, and information for everybody!
Facial Vision Show To Open
In Bay City Michigan
By Donna Rose
Capital Area chapter member Suellen Hozman's show "Facial Vision" continues to travel with its next opening at Studio 23, 901 N. Water Street, Bay City, MI 48708. The opening reception will be on April 17th from 7 PM - 9 PM.
The show will run from April 17th until May 4th.
For those who haven't experienced this one of a kind photography show, here is a short explanation. Suellen Hozman is a Lansing area photographer. She uses black and white film. She has traveled around Michigan taking pictures of people who are blind or visually impaired with the goal of producing these photographs in a tactile form so people without sight can enjoy them too. Her show highlights these photographs along with tactile representations using several different types of reproduction. I had the opportunity to go to the first opening of her show in Lansing in the summer of 2006. It was fun to touch the representations of my friend's photographs. I learned a lot about what these people looked like, for example one of my friends wears dark glasses and I didn't know that until I touched his tactile picture. If you live near Bay City I would urge you to make a point of attending the opening On April 17th!
Submitted By Donna Rose
I received this story via e-mail, but I thought it was particularly complimentary to our president's message. Please forgive me for reprinting it here. If you read the front page story of the SF Chronicle, you would have read about a female humpback whale who had become entangled in a spider web of crab traps and lines. She was weighted down by hundreds of pounds of traps that caused her to struggle to stay afloat. She also had hundreds of yards of line rope wrapped around her body, her tail, her torso, a line tugging in her mouth. A fisherman spotted her just east of the Farralone Islands (outside the Golden Gate) and radioed an environmental group for help.
Within a few hours, the rescue team arrived and determined that she was so bad off, the only way to save her was to dive in and untangle her .....a very dangerous proposition. One slap of the tail could kill a rescuer.
They worked for hours with curved knives and eventually freed her. When she was free, the divers say she swam in what seemed like joyous circles. She then came back to each and every diver, one at a time, and nudged them,
pushed gently around - she thanked them. Some said it was the most incredibly beautiful experience of their lives. The guy who cut the rope out of her mouth said her eye was following him the whole time, and he will never be the same. May you, and all those you love, be so blessed and fortunate...to be surrounded by people who will help you get untangled from the things that are binding you. And, may you always know the joy of giving and receiving gratitude.
MCBVI Offers Two Scholarships in 2008
This year MCBVI will be awarding two scholarships to blind or visually impaired students totaling $500 or more as funds allow. The Roy and Ethel Peterson Scholarship will be offered to those students residing in Muskegon County first, then all of West Michigan. There is also an MCBVI scholarship available to college and university students from throughout the state. To receive an application for either scholarship please contact:
Rosemarie Facilla, MCBVI Scholarship Chair
2088 Parslow Dr. #133
Muskegon, MI 49441
(Please do not submit applications via email.)
Chicago Access Guide Now Available
By Donna Rose
Chicago is only a train or bus ride away for many citizens in Michigan. So I thought you might find the following guide to be helpful when planning your trip. Chicago is offering a new free guide for visitors with disabilities called "Easy Access Chicago." The guide outlines accessibility features at many tourist attractions, explains how to get free tours through the Chicago Visitors Program, where to find Accessible Accommodations and more.
To receive your copy you may call the Illinois Bureau of Tourism at (800) 226-6632 or by visiting www.enjoyillinois.com.
MCBVI 2007 Resolutions
By Chris Schumacher, Chairperson
The following resolutions were adopted at our 2007 convention:
whereas, MANY BLIND AND VISUALLY IMPAIRED citizens are active users and shoppers on many web sites; and WHEREAS, security is becoming a major concern for all web site developers; and
WHEREAS, more and more web site designers are responding to these concerns with the use of CAPTCHAs; and
WHEREAS, the image displayed cannot be deciphered by the screen readers used by the blind and visually impaired;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Michigan Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired in convention assembled at the holiday Inn West Hotel in Kalamazoo, Michigan, on Sunday, November 4, 2007, that developers be encouraged to implement accessible universal design approaches in addressing security concerns regarding CAPTCHAs.
WHEREAS, the planning an implementation of a convention is a challenging and time-consuming task; and
WHEREAS, the hotel staff, volunteers and Convention Committee have provided outstanding service to our organization;
NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED by the Michigan Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired in convention assembled at the Holiday Inn West Hotel in Kalamazoo, Michigan, on Sunday, November 4, 2007, that we wholeheartedly express our sincere appreciation to all those who worked so diligently to make our convention a success.
By Donna Rose, Co-Chairperson
Many of you know our treasurer and membership committee co- chairperson, John McMahon, has moved from Michigan's upper peninsula to Maine where he has taken the position of Executive Director of services for the blind there. He is still our acting treasurer. Some people have called me confused as to why they are sending their membership checks to Maine and this is why. Please be advised you cannot use your membership dues as a tax deduction due to the fact you are receiving membership and other benefits related to membership for your dues, such as the newsletter.
Our committee hasn't met because I just received the paid member lists today, following some computer problems including the crashing of my wireless network. Since the list is due in to ACB by March 15, I will probably submit it myself and get the committee members involved in preparing mailing labels for our next newsletter at a later date. Remember that new members can join at any time up until August 31, 2008, but their memberships won't give us more votes at the national convention if submitted after the March deadline.
In early January I sent out 33 letters to all current members at large and potential new ones inviting them to return their dues in the self addressed envelope provided.
By Donna Rose, Chairperson
New members will receive the next issue of the MCBVI News. Feel free to share this copy with those who are new while we prepare our 2008 member list and mailing labels. The next deadline for the MCBVI News will be April 28, 2008.
By Donna Rose, Chairperson
Since our last newsletter I have sent the Commission for the Blind approximately 500 MCBVI brochures for packets they put together for the public. I have been in contact with many potential new members at large throughout our state encouraging them to join us.
In February I received a call from the director of Studio 23 in Bay City. Suellen Hozman will hold her show, "Facial Vision" there April 17th through May 4th. The director wanted to teach people about blindness and she had in mind using blindfolds and slates. I advised her to make the teaching part of the show more about the positive ways people who are blind live normal lives with the help of technology, from the simple to the more complicated. I explained to her that blindfolding sighted people without the benefit of rehabilitation can scare people more than it might help them have empathy, especially if it isn't done properly. I encouraged her to invite a vendor of technology for those with visual impairments. I also told her if they do this to widely publicize it so the vendor can sell items to those who are interested. When we finished our call she had a much more positive idea about the capabilities of those who are blind or visually impaired. I am hoping my discussion with her will continue to help breakdown stigma.
Blue Water League of the Blind
(Port Huron Michigan Area)
By Jeanette Geno, President
Hello MCBVI Friends. We pray that everyone had a happy holiday. Each month the BWL plans an activity of interest that new visitors will find helpful and entertaining. As a result six new members have joined our chapter with three more expected in February. Since my last report for our Summer newsletter, We have shared an indoor picnic in September, celebrated the fall in October with a harvest party, and in November, hosted a Thanksgiving dinner for our sister chapter across the river in Canada. We ended the year with a Christmas dinner party with our local area Lions club. Before events like these we make an extra effort to invite visually impaired visitors and their families.
In response to our phone calls last December, more than 60 people enjoyed our holiday food and fun. This past January we held our annual elections.
Congratulations to the following members who were returned to office. Jeanette Geno president, Janet Wisswell secretary, and Michael Geno Treasurer. Our other officers that will end their terms next year are, Phyllis Mabganua vice president, and Heather Seaman chapter delegate. Also at our January meeting we awarded six new members with chapter and state membership pins. We also finalized our plans for 15 members to attend Winter Camp in Battle Creek this year. We have assisted our sub-regional talking book library with the steady growth of a book club that meets about every two months. Members of this club take turns selecting a talking book title to read and discuss over snacks at the next get-together. We concluded our January meeting planning activities for the rest of 2008. We are celebrating Valentines with a dinner dance with MCBVI President Michael Geno serving as DJ. In March we plan to thaw out sitting by a crackling fireplace, telling stories and roasting marshmallows at our local boy scout lodge in the woods. This day trip has been added in March as a separate event from our regular evening business meeting. In April we host our annual adapted games night with everyone bringing a snack and sharing table recreation accessible to all. At our May meeting we will have a kind of show and tell to try out different visual aids and products especially useful to the blind and visually impaired.
WE plan to travel in June on a fun bed and breakfast week end trip featuring a fun theme. We are discussing options like, solving a murder mystery, listening to old time radio or descriptive movies, or pretending to be visiting an interesting time in the past. The BWL holds regular meetings the third Thursday of most months where we also welcome any one to join us. All of our members in the blue water area wish you warmth in Winter and invite you to join us and share our friendship. Please call (810) 982-0717 for more information.
Capital Area Council of the Blind
(Lansing Michigan Area)
By Donna Rose, President
The Capital Area chapter has been busy. For the past year we have been selling Rada products, including knives, quick mixes and more. Perhaps you saw us selling these items at the state convention in Kalamazoo. We raised about $200 for our chapter. In October Donna Rose was elected chapter president, Jo Ann Sheehan vice president, Karen Carter, secretary and Suellen Hozman as treasurer. In December we had a great time at our annual holiday party at the Gone Wired Caf‚ in Lansing, where we exchanged a kitchen gift $5 or less. Everyone seemed to have a great time and some nice gifts were received by everyone. In January we accepted dues and we now have increased our membership to 26. We have four members who still need to pay and of course we will be hunting them down for a total of 30! In January we also invited the Bretton Woods Lion's Club to come and discuss their activities with us and chapter members talked about ways we could do something together, for example a picnic in the summer. We plan to get acquainted with the East Lansing Lion's as well. Chapter president Donna Rose will be attempting to apply for a Capital Area Community Foundation grant to be used for activities during the upcoming year. We meet on the second Wednesday of each month from 11:30 until 2 PM at the Gone Wired Caf‚ in Lansing. For more information contact Donna Rose, (517) 333-9117.
Detroit Council of the Blind
By Rozella Campbell
The Detroit Council of the Blind continues to have Bingo monthly at the Greater Detroit Agency for the Blind and Visually Impaired, 16625 Grand River (between Greenfield & Southfield) Detroit, MI 48227. Refreshments are served at 6 p.m. and Bingo begins at 6:30 - 8:30 p.m.. Cash and other useable items are given as prizes. During the month of December we had our Annual Christmas Party Bingo, we had plenty of food, and good Christmas Music.
Along with having fun activities we also contribute to other organizations which help other Blind and Physically handicapped individuals. Some of our members participate in the "Seedlings" Tournament to get Braille books for youth. We also send cards or gifts of love to some who are hospitalized or have lost loved ones. We have increased our membership and are striving to get more people involved. We have many fun activities planned for the Spring and Summer months, so those of you who are just sitting around, trying not to become a couch potato, come and join us in fun and fellowship. For more information, please contact: President Thomas Lester (313) 864-0448.
Detroit Northwest Chapter
By Chris Schumacher, President
On October 18th, our chapter represented MCBVI at the Pathways To Possibilities event at the Dearborn Performing Arts Center. We were on hand to answer questions and pass out brochures from our chapter as well as those from MCBVI. Our September and October meetings were primarily focused on organizing for that event as well as for transportation to the MCBVI convention. In November we collected dues and planned our December Christmas lunch. There was no meeting in January. We meet the second Saturday of the month at Brownie's diner in Wayne from 12:30 to 3 p.m. For more information, contact George Illingworth at (734) 326-4770.
Kalamazoo Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired
KCBVI members have been very busy over the past several months. In October, a group of us visited VerHague's Orchard, located on the west side of Kalamazoo. Fresh apples, cider and donuts were very much enjoyed by all who attended! Many thanks to Mike McAbee for being our "driver". The MCBVI fall convention was held in Kalamazoo, November 2-4. Lisa Kisiel and Sherry Gordon were the co-chairs of the convention; much assistance was also provided by Mike McAbee. We had a great turnout of almost 100 persons and were pleased to have been given the opportunity to host the convention. Many, many kudos to Paul Ponchillia, our Saturday banquet speaker!
On December 13, we held our annual Christmas party this year at the Sports Forum-located on the north side of Kalamazoo. The food was delicious, the company was great and the "gift game" was also a great deal of fun! For more information regarding our chapter activities please contact Lisa Kisiel, KCBVI Secretary, at (269) 552-4082.
We hope to have at least 30 members as we pursue renewing KCB memberships.
VIPP (Grand Rapids Area)
Visually Impaired Persons for Progress (VIPP) met On Tuesday, 01-08-08 at the GrandVilla Restaurant in Grandville. The room was packed with people. We are getting 20 plus people per meeting. It is very exciting. We had two delightful guests: A young lady named Jorden and her mother. We sponsored Jorden to go to a Florida goal-ball tournament last summer, and she came to give a presentation. She is 14 years old and has been involved in goal-ball for many years. She read part of her talk in Braille, which truly thrilled us all, because we have heard that fewer and fewer blind and visually impaired persons are learning and using Braille. We encouraged her to keep up the good work with using Braille. We asked her many questions and helped her to relax with us. On February 12 we are going to have a fundraiser where 10% of the proceeds from Applebee's Restaurant are going to VIPP. This happens at a certain time frame during lunch and a certain time frame during supper. One has to present a flier/coupon to participate. Thee fliers/coupons were distributed. We will once again be going to a White Caps baseball game in June. Last November we elected Brenda Berens as treasurer. Lisa Weber continues as our president; Joe Sibley remains our vice president; Casey Dutmer continues as secretary. Casey will be VIPP's delegate at the MCBVI board meetings, and Deb Wild will be the alternate delegate. In early January we had a very enjoyable holiday party at a church. If you have any questions about VIPP, please call either Jan Luurtsema at (616) 531-8072, or Deb Wild at 616-235-8189.