GCB board - taken at the 2018 Convention Conference

GCB Digest Online

GCB Digest Winter 2006 (Text Version)

The GCB Digest A publication of the Georgia Council of the Blind, An affiliate of the American Council of the Blind An organization promoting a hand up, not a hand out! WINTER, 2006 President: Marsha Farrow 102 N. Elizabeth Street Summerville, GA 30767 Toll Free: 877-667-6815 E-Mail, marshafarrow@alltel.net Editor: Ann Sims, 3361 Whitney Avenue Hapeville, GA 30354, 404-767-1792 E-Mail, brlteacher@bellsouth.net Assistant Editor: Jerrie Ricks 1307 Chester Place McDonough, GA 30252 770-898-9036; E-Mail, grangerricks@bellsouth.net TABLE OF CONTENTS PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE: By Marsha Farrow- ------3 Prisoners Providing Braille for School Children: by Don Schanche, Jr.- ------------------------------- 5 Many Thanks and Great Memories: by Peggy Comin------------------------------------------- 11 Blind Legislative Day: by Alice Ritchhart------------ 14 Mountain Retreat: by Valerie Thomas--------------- 16 Blind Students in Perfect Step: by Tammy Lloyd Clabby-------------------------------- 18 River Bridge Run: by Marj Schneider--------------- 20 Diabetes Numbers Escalate: by M.A.J. McKenna-------------------------------------- 24 Chapter News: Submitted by Adam Shapiro----- 26 ANNOUNCEMENTS: --------------------------------- 29 PRESIDENT's MESSAGE For Such a Time as This ... By Marsha Farrow, President First of all I send greetings from my family to yours during this holy season and into the New Year! As we are now experiencing the beginning of 2006, the Georgia Council of the Blind will be celebrating its "Golden Anniversary". As we look forward to many challenges, we can also look back and recall many of our accomplishments. This GCB Digest that you are now reading in braille, large print, via e-mail, or on cassette has been produced throughout the years with care by many of our outstanding members like our former president, Jack Lewis, and presently Ann Sims and Jerrie Ricks who work so faithfully to bring us news from all around our state. We have provided thousands of dollars in scholarship money to aspiring students who are now lawyers, teachers, social workers, computer specialists, vendors, just to name a few. We have assisted financially in the adoption of visually impaired children from India. We have played an active role in the ongoing state-wide coalition on blindness that has served the blind and deaf-blind and has evolved into a strong mechanism for change at the local and state levels. Alice Ritchhart, 2005 legislative chair, participated with other members of the coalition to have Blind Recognition Day and a march at the State Capitol that protested the changes in the national structure of rehabilitation for the visually impaired. Linda Cox, youth awareness committee chair, and many others enabled several youth from around the state to attend our annual 2005 convention to learn invaluable lessons from presentations and from observing other youth regarding success in life goals and in overcoming challenges presented by loss of vision. The new year of 2006 will not only bring our golden anniversary but will also offer hope and promises for challenges and changes to better the lives of all of us who have lost our sight and not our vision. However, there is no doubt that blind individuals face some of the most critical challenges ever! Two of these major problems could be the loss of such programs as the Business Enterprise Program and the Georgia Industries for the Blind. Moreover, Social Security Program rules and regulations for the blind are being rewritten and may be detrimental to children and adults with loss of sight. Transportation has remained a major obstacle, and the need for dependable transportation hinders employment for many people who are visually impaired. What can we do? We must make every effort to be knowledgeable of the current issues and willing to write letters and make phone calls to inform our political leaders of the negative effects these changes will have on people who live and work with the barriers brought about by loss of sight. Our governmental leaders must be told that the lack of transportation forces individuals who are blind to depend on the "government to keep us up". Why are you here on this planet as a visually impaired person or family member or friend of a visually impaired person? For such a time as this, you have been placed here to be either a part of the solution or a part of the problem. Of which do you choose to be a part? EDITOR’S NOTE: January 4 was Louis Braille’s birthday, and we thought it appropriate to include this next article in this issue of our magazine. We thank Dale Albritton for bringing it to our attention and Anne Dilley for sending it to us via the Internet. Prisoners Providing Braille Textbooks for School Children By Don Schanche Jr. Macon Telegraph Staff Writer. 'Hardwick. Hen, a blind student touches a braille textbook in a Georgia public school. There's a good chance the book was produced at Men's State Prison. Surrounded by concrete walls, 11 prison inmates labor daily in a converted classroom they call "The Braille Cell." They transcribe written text into the raised dots that can be recognized by braille readers. Wearing tattoos and blue-striped, white prison uniforms, they sit at computers and churn out educational material. Currently they're working on a high school literature text and a fifth-grade history of Georgia. The men are serving long sentences for serious crimes, including murder, rape, kidnapping and child molestation. By producing a much-needed product for visually impaired students, they are turning their punishment into something useful. "I've been here 15 years. This is one of the best things I've seen," said Ricky Siniard, 50. "Being in prison is one thing. Sitting here idle and not able to do anything, it was hard to do time that way." Siniard, serving 60 years for kidnapping, rape and robbery, was one of the first to join the program. It began, said fellow inmate Shawn Greiner, in 1997. The prison got a new teacher to work with deaf and blind inmates. Men's State Prison, which houses elderly and disabled prisoners, usually has some who are blind or deaf. A handful of sighted prisoners volunteered to learn braille and help teach it to those who couldn't see. Their job quickly turned to writing braille. In the beginning, the volunteers transcribed prison rules and regulations. They had an old Perkins Brailler, a seven-key typewriter that produces the six-dot matrix familiar to braille readers. They scrounged up some surplus computers, too. Inmate Jack Pendleton recalled that some were held together with duct tape. Greiner said they came without manuals, so the prisoners had to figure out how to use them. In 2001, they began work on a National Library of Congress braille transcription course. By 2003, four inmates had received Library of Congress certification. At about the same time, the Georgia Instructional Materials Center--a special project of the state Department of Education--contracted with the prison system to provide braille textbooks for the primary and secondary grades. Now "The Braille Cell" is crowded with better computers and prison-built computer desks supplied by the state. Last year the prisoners produced 4,147 pages of braille and "tactile graphics", pictures rendered in raised dots. "That was a major accomplishment for us," said program supervisor Jimmy Futrell. But this year they will more than double that number, producing more than 10,000 pages. Even at that rate, they are not able to keep up with the demand. "The men at the prison now are beginning to fill a major gap that's existed in the past in acquiring textbooks," said Jim Downs, a technical services specialist with the Georgia Instructional Materials Center. "We didn't have the capacity to go out and do any textbooks on our own." Downs said his agency provides between 800 and 1,000 braille textbooks in any given year. Many of them are already published and can simply be purchased. But Downs said each year there's a need for as many as 200 new ones. "To get a new title done in braille is extremely time-consuming. It's very exacting. It may take six months to a year to get a textbook done," he said. HUGE NEED: Nancy Lacewell is director of government and community affairs for the American Printing House for the Blind in Louisville, Ky. It bills itself as the oldest and largest organization providing specialized materials, products and services for visually impaired people in the United States. Lacewell said modern education policies have created a huge unfilled need for braille textbooks. Decades ago, she said, blind students mostly went to boarding schools. With all the students in one place and taking the same courses, only a few textbooks were needed. Now, as blind students are mainstreamed, they're in a host of public schools in their home communities. And each school system has its own preferred textbooks. "You've got all this site-based decision making and school councils that get to choose their own books, which has caused complete bedlam for blind kids," Lacewell said. "There's no way we can keep up with the current transcribers, with the need for textbooks." Lacewell said out of 3,000 textbooks that are published each year in the United States, no more than 250 or 300 are transcribed into braille. "Nobody sees any end in sight for the need," she said. In years past, she said, braille transcribers tended to be stay-at-home mothers who had enough time and motivation to turn out braille textbooks for their children. It was volunteer work. As the need increased, braille transcription became a paid occupation. And it became a desirable job for another group with time on its hands: prisoners. The American Printing House for the Blind's Web site lists prison braille transcription programs in three federal prisons and 19 state prison systems. Men's State Prison, just south of Milledgeville, is the only Georgia correctional institution producing braille. Georgia authorities hope eventually to expand the program to other prisons. Lacewell said trained, certified braille transcriptionists can work at home under contract with publishers, making it an ideal "cottage industry" for a former prison inmate who might meet obstacles in finding a more conventional job. In the past two or three years, Lacewell said, she has heard of at least a dozen ex-prisoners who have gone into full-time transcription, "producing braille and doing a great job of it, making a decent living." Getting into the braille program at the Hardwick prison is competitive. Inmates must pass an aptitude test and have a clean disciplinary record. Currently there are eight certified transcriptionists and three prisoners getting on-the-job training through Middle Georgia Technical College. Even though they now use computers that translate text to braille, the inmates must learn to read and understand braille for themselves to ensure that it is formatted properly on the page. The work is edited after it is produced, to check for accuracy and appropriateness. The prisoners are not paid, but they come to the work eagerly. Futrell, an educator with 31 years of experience teaching special populations, said he has supervised free-world employees whose work ethic isn't as good. "These inmates just jump at the chance to do work," he said. Recently, the prisoners were visited by a group of state officials and volunteers from a regional committee on blindness. With them was Bernace Murray, a DeKalb County resident who lost his sight as an adult. He eagerly told the prisoners how much it means to him and other blind people to find written material in braille. It often isn't easy to find, he said. "I do without a lot in my life when it comes to printed material," he said. Murray had high praise for the work the prisoners are doing. "The job that you're doing is paramount, and it's going to make a difference in the blind community," he said. "A push has got to go out and encourage more things to be written in braille. ... I salute you for what you do." To contact Don Schanche Jr., call 744-4395 or e-mail dschanche@macontel.com. EDITOR’S NOTE: The next article was written by Ms. Peggy Comin. She lives in Cobb County and is a rehabilitation counselor in Atlanta. She is married and has two children, a daughter soon to graduate from college and a son soon to graduate from high school. Many Thanks and Great Memories by Peggy Comin When I received my invitation to attend a retreat for "Just Us Blind Girls" at Camp Willaway, I knew I was in for something special. The invitation said that this year's theme was "pamper yourself." "Just Us Blind Girls" is an organization founded by Virginia Gray and Magnolia Lyons five years ago. Any blind woman, regardless of age, can join. We have no dues. The purpose of our group is to support blind women in the quest to deal successfully with the disability and its related issues. The Atlanta Junior League made a very generous donation this year so that 50 blind women and 10 sighted volunteers could spend two days and a night at Camp willaway near Winder. We send our heartfelt thanks to the Junior League. Early one September morning we boarded a chartered bus at the Center for the Visually Impaired. We were asked not to bring any electronic devices, so we enjoyed visiting with our seatmates. My seatmate had lost her vision 20 years ago at the age of 30. She experienced several stages of grief. Now she has adjusted. Among other things, she walks with a white cane, reads in braille, and uses talking software on her computer. This software reads the computer screen out loud so that blind people can hear every letter, every word, every sentence or every paragraph as we wish. We arrived at camp, and our wonderful sighted guides escorted us to our cabins. I was surprised to find out that the cabins were round. The camp was designed for people in wheelchairs, and circular buildings work well for them. However, blind people are challenged in orienting themselves in a building without corners. Actually, I had fun locating my bed in the circle of beds. All the sleeping bags spread on the beds felt similar. The women with seeing eye dogs had an advantage in that dogs take their owners do doors. With my cane, I found myself searching for a way out of the round cabin. Both blind people and wheelchair bound people have difficulty with steps. The camp has no steps at all. We had a variety of activities at camp including massages. Chairs were brought in, and we each had a "mini" massage. We learned "pilates" which are exercises that both strengthen and stretch the body. The first afternoon some of us went for a walk. Each of us blind women held onto the arm of a "sighted guide" volunteer. It was hot. A tornado had cut a path through camp knocking over many trees. When we returned to the dining hall, the air conditioning felt refreshing. That night we had a talent show. Gorgeous voices filled the dining hall. I have always wondered how I can be blind and not have a great singing voice. Some of us just recited funny poems or told jokes about blind people. After the talent show we listened to an audio described movie called Ransom starring Mel Gibson. Audiodescribed movies have a narrator who fills in moments when nothing is being said. For example, "He is kissing her." Mentorship happens constantly at camp. Those of us who are old pros with the disability mentor newly-blinded women of all ages. Some women new to blindness came on this retreat. The tie of visual impairment that binds us altogether feels powerful. A number of women attending camp were drawing social security for disability. For some it is choice. Others lack skills to enter the competitive work force. Other blind women are unemployed because of discrimination. In our "Just Us Blind Girls" group, we do have a lawyer, a vocational rehab counselor, a braille teacher, a manager of a program which helps blind children adjust and experience life more fully and other state and Federal workers. On our second day, we had Mary Kay reps who taught us foot and hand care and the art of makeup. We also went on tandem bike rides. Most exciting of all, we rode on the back of motorcycles. Hats off to Magnolia Lyons, our president, and Annie Maxwell, our vice-president, for organizing this outing. Many thanks to the Atlanta Junior League for donating funds that made it all possible. Blind Legislative Day at the Capitol Submitted by Alice Ritchhart, Legislative Chair Happy New Year to all, and I hope you had a safe and joyous Christmas. Now that we are in the New Year, I know you have all made resolutions you hope to keep. Well, I have made a New Year's Resolution, and I need the help of every GCB member to carry it out. I want to see that all blind people in Georgia, including our deaf-blind friends, have equal access to our communities. It has been 16 years since the Americans With Disabilities Act was passed, and today there are still so many areas in which we as blind individuals do not have access. I am talking about access to jobs, access to information from TV and movie theaters, access to learn Braille for our young children, access to public conveyances and public buildings for our dog guide users, and even access problems for the deaf-blind. It is a known fact that most blind people, when denied access to services or goods, do not file complaints to the Department of Justice. One reason is that the process can be hard for someone who is blind because it means getting someone to help fill out a long print complaint form, but our lack of filing complaints only has made our access to remain unchanged. For this reason, I make a challenge to all of you. Make it a point this year to take action when you find yourself discriminated against. You ask how? Well, take the following steps, and I believe then maybe we can make a difference. First, if you find yourself being denied access, try to educate the person discriminating against you. Second, be sure to file a complaint with the Department of Justice. As part of your complaint do not fail to keep written documentation of the details of the incident and what was done. For example, you may have contacted the media. Attach any such documentation with your complaint. Finally, the way you can make a difference is to plan to attend the Blind Day at the Capitol on February 9, 2006. We will have many issues for you to discuss with your legislators, and we will also have some training sessions on how the whole process works in making a law and getting it enforced. We will be asking you to invite your legislators to join us that morning for a breakfast, and then you will be given time to go and talk with them about the issues we want to see them address during this year's session. The only way to make a difference is for many of us to show up. So mark your calendars, and plan to join us in Atlanta on February 9, 2006. We will be meeting in the education building across from the Capitol. I will be getting out more information to you once it is available. Be sure to ask your presidents to keep you informed, or feel free to contact me at (912) 996-7223 for more details. Make your New Year's resolution to be more active in making a change in access for the blind and be at the Capitol so we can show we are a significant force with a determined purpose. Mountain Retreat By Valerie Thomas On the second weekend in April GCB will be hosting a mountain retreat at Unicoi State Park, located two miles north of Helen, Georgia. The retreat will start on Thursday, April 6, 2006 and will end Sunday, April 9, 2006. We will be staying at the lodge at Unicoi all three nights. The rooms at the lodge are set up similar to a hotel room. The cost for two persons per room Thursday night will be $69 and Friday through Sunday will cost $79 per night. Each additional person is $10 per night. There is a restaurant located at Unicoi. It serves an all-you-can-eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner buffet. The cost for the breakfast buffet is $6.95, the lunch buffet is $7.95, and the dinner buffet is $10.95. There are several activities at Unicoi that you can do on your own or with a group. Some of the activities that you can do on your own are walking the nature trails, fishing at the lake, or just sitting back in a swing, relaxing and soaking up the sights and sounds of nature. Group activities are being planned including a campfire, hayride, and several crafts. The cost per person will be two dollars for each activity chosen. Also being planned is a trip to Helen to do a little shopping and/or a possible trip/picnic to Anna Ruby Falls. The closest bus station is located in Gainesville, Georgia which is forty-five minutes to an hour from Unicoi. We are currently working on having those individuals needing transportation to meet at CVI in Atlanta in order to travel to Unicoi. The purpose of the retreat is to be able to relax, socialize, and let new members get to know their fellow members. I am a new member and attended the state convention in Cobb County. I felt there wasn't enough time to get to know people because of all of the meetings we had to attend. I thought that if we were able to be in a more relaxed setting we could get to know each other better. If you are interested or know that you would like to attend, please contact me by January 21, 2006 at: Valerie Thomas, 4307 Holly Springs Road, Gillsville, GA 30543, phone: 770-718-0583; e-mail: valbeepbaseball@yahoo.com. EDITOR's NOTE: The two students in the following article are two of the CVI STARS students, and the female is one of our senior YAPPERS. We are excited that this teacher gave her blind students such an opportunity to demonstrate their independence in a public setting. We need more teachers like her to exhibit their faith in other visually impaired students. CONGRATULATIONS to Grecia Ramirez and Wilkens Eugene for having the courage and perseverance to see your dreams come true! Blind Students in Perfect Step By Tammy Lloyd Clabby Journal-Constitution Friday, October 14, 2005 The three saxophonists march together, elbow-to-elbow for a quick turn right, then, with backs erect and a snappy left turn, they separate in perfect step. Down the line are two trumpeters, one tall and one petite with a ponytail swinging at the waist, touching elbows and forearms together as they spin amid the flourishes of brass and drummers pounding out Earth, Wind and Fire's "Let's Groove Tonight" for football fans at Campbell High School in Smyrna. The 70-member, high-stepping Spartans provide the rhythm for Friday night football, but two band members face a distinct challenge as they march in halftime shows--they are blind. Freshman Grecia Ramirez, 14, blind since birth, plays trumpet. Sophomore Wilkens Eugene, 17, blind since age 8 after two failed surgeries, plays alto saxophone. "It's been a learning experience for all of us," Campbell band director Cathy Asher said. "We'll try something, and maybe go through some stumbling. But it's good for all the kids." The band has worked out a special "buddy system" that lets the two blind students march during halftime performances. Matthew Smith, 15, who buddies with Wilkins on sax, is amazed by his partner's abilities as a musician--and a marcher. "We have to know all the songs by heart. The first time I played 18;The Star-Spangled Bannerea0' he played it right back after me," Smith said. "I didn't know in the beginning if he could do the whole show [on the field], but now he sometimes guides me to our spot." In class, Ramirez, a native of Mexico who grew up in Cobb, and Wilkens, who left his homeland of Haiti four years ago, use braille computers to take notes, but neither uses it for music. They often learn songs through tapes made by fellow students. And while Wilkins can pick up a tune just by hearing it, Ramirez prefers to have someone sing the notes to help her learn her part. She has one other hurdle--she marches with Hillary White, 17, who stands 5 inches taller. "It's her left elbow to my right elbow," Ramirez said. "The only real problem is, she is much taller, so my elbow is slightly up. And at times, we change on the field and I go with someone else. "It's not like we are stuck together, it's just a slight touch." Asher, a teacher for 24 years, learned last spring that the two blind students hoped to join the marching band in the fall. "I had never done this before," Asher said. "The teachers who work with visually impaired kids in school came to me with ideas, and over the summer, I talked to people who had done it." Cecil Wilder, executive director of the Georgia Music Educators Association, which oversees band and chorus events and competitions in schools, is not aware of any other visually impaired students playing in high school bands in Georgia. "There was a blind girl who played in Blue Ridge several years ago, and a blind student who auditioned for the elite All State Band," Wilder recalled. At a recent Campbell band rehearsal in a parking lot at the school in south Cobb County, White said it was cool that Asher asked her to march with Ramirez. "It's a challenge at first. I was nervous, especially when the color guard would march in between us," she said. "I decided it was best to keep her right with me." Nearby, Wilkens, who also plays in the school's concert band, was practicing with Smith and Aaron Bennett, 15, another saxophonist. Like Ramirez, Wilkens touches elbows to get onto the field, but he often separates and marches alone--although always near his buddies. "I can't explain it myself," Wilkens said. "I just go through the steps." River Bridge Run Monday, December 5, 2005 Submitted by Marj Schneider It was 32 degrees when we got up Saturday morning making it hard to decide just how warmly to dress. I opted for something less than a sweatshirt, and my husband, Don, went for the warmth of more than one light layer. By the time we arrived in front of the courthouse for the start of the 10K, the sun was up in a cloudless sky and the wind was down taking the chill out of the air. I was nervous this third time walking in the Savannah River Bridge Run. Had I gotten too out of condition from having to walk slower on Savannah's lousy sidewalks? Could I even hope to come in ahead of last year's time of one hour, thirty minutes? If I did some jogging, I knew I could shave off some minutes, but would I lose stamina to keep up the necessary fast pace the rest of the time? But I was ready with new running shoes, and I caught the enthusiasm of the crowd of runners, this year over 2500. We seemed to be making each mile at around 14 minutes, or so we were told by the people standing at most of the mile markers. This gave me confidence that jogging a bit here and there would better our time still further. The pace was no stretch for dog guide, Manda, and of course not for Don. Manda doesn't work at these races; guiding in the street is counter to her training, and she would be too confused to move fast enough. But on leash she accompanies us quite happily and could certainly turn around to do another 10-K. Don used to run regularly and still practices wind sprints in our neighborhood. He could make a far better time just walking on his own, but since I registered for the race, I was the one with the chip attached to my shoe, and he slowed down for me. So we did jog before we reached the bridge and on the down-hill portions of that 5.5% grade. 5.5% may not sound like much, but try running it, especially if you aren't used to hills. It's even hard on many of the walkers. But I love walking that bridge, some 190 feet over the river, in full sun with an easterly breeze. It's the only time each year when pedestrians are allowed. Don always manages to snap a few pictures as we pass (last year of my sister, Sharon, as she was running back toward town and the finish). As we jogged through the finish line, there were cheers from bystanders who dutifully cheer everyone as they come in, from the winner's thirty-one minutes, nine seconds all the way to our one hour, twenty-six minutes and twenty-eight seconds. Our time was nearly four minutes faster than last year’s--a decent improvement, and we were not nearly the last finishers which the newspaper showed was over one hour and fifty-four minutes. My stamina held for the race, and I was gratified that I could jog and walk those 6.2 miles. We were refreshed with water and a bowl of Brunswick stew while listening to announcements of the winners in various categories. We had our picture taken with Sponge Bob and some guy in a rubber starfish outfit. We marveled at some of the other costumed participants. One woman ran with several large stuffed brown bears roped to her shirt, and there was a couple who ran in tandem because they were costumed as a miniature Tallmadge bridge. Not yet worn out, we walked over to the monthly crafts fair on River Street and finally returned home after a lengthy search for our car. That was a lot of walking, and I started feeling the effects soon afterwards. I made it through the day but wasn't good for much. It seemed all I could do was think about the long tub soak I was going to take that night with Epson salts and lavender oil. Maybe it was that bath as well as those new shoes, but I didn't wake with much soreness on Sunday. Still, I didn't much feel like a long walk Sunday. I'm so appreciative that pledges are still coming in to support the Savannah Council of the Blind. I'm not sure I'd have participated in the run this year had it not been for the important work I know SCB has planned for the coming year. The issues we tackle require persistence and energy similar to the drive needed for the bridge run. We also need funds for travel to Atlanta on trips to talk to legislators. If you've already given me your pledge, thank you so much. If you haven't, there's still time this month. Make out any checks to Savannah Council of the Blind, not to me, and mail to: Marj Schneider 212 Oxford Drive Savannah, GA 31405-5427. DIABETES NUMBERS ESCALATE Condition Rises 14% Since 2003 By M.A.J. McKenna: Staff Writer Journal-Constitution Thursday, October 27, 2005 Diabetes in the United States has increased by 14 percent in just two years and now affects 7 percent of the population, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Wednesday. And almost one-third of the 20.8 million Americans with diabetes have no idea they have developed the disease, putting them at particularly high risk for developing its most serious consequences: blindness, heart disease, limb amputations and kidney failure. The startling statistics--which reflect both the increased age and weight of the average American--come from the National Diabetes Fact Sheet 2005, published Wednesday by the CDC. When the last fact sheet was released in 2003, the number of Americans with diabetes was 18.2 million. "The curve is going upward," said Dr. Michael Engelgau, associate director of the CDC's division of diabetes translation. "It paints a very sobering picture." Diabetes is the umbrella term for several related conditions in which the body loses the ability to either make or use insulin, a hormone essential for converting starches and sugars into energy. It can be genetic or arise from an autoimmune disorder, but is closely linked to overweight and increased age: One of every five Americans develops diabetes after turning 60, according to the CDC. And it is more common among people of color: Rates of diabetes among Hispanics and African-Americans can be twice as high as among American whites. Because the rate of diabetes is rising so rapidly, the CDC estimates that one out of every three Americans born in 2000 will develop the disease, including two out of every five African-Americans and one out of every two Hispanic females born that year. The sharp increase is not limited to the United States. A World Health Organization report published October 5 warns that chronic diseases, led by diabetes, are a worldwide problem whose occurrence, death rates and economic costs far outweigh better-known infectious diseases such as tuberculosis and AIDS. Diabetes cases worldwide will double by 2030 to 366 million, the WHO estimates, raising the disease from the 11th to the sixth leading cause of death worldwide. Diabetes not only causes early death, the CDC and WHO both cautioned, it also causes significant disability: In the United States, it is the leading cause of blindness among working-age adults, the leading cause of kidney failure, and a major cause of heart attack and stroke. The cost of caring for the ill, and their lost work time and income, depresses national economies, the WHO said--and the burden falls most heavily on low-income countries, where 80 percent of chronic disease cases such as diabetes occur. The annual cost of diabetes in the United States, the CDC said, is $132 billion. UNHEALTHY TREND. Number of Americans with diabetes: 2003: 18.2 million 2005: 20.8 million Source: CDC. CHAPTER NEWS Submitted by Adam Shapiro Atlanta Chapter: The new officers of the Atlanta Chapter are: Kim Carmichael for president, Brent Reynolds for first vice president, Sam Howard for second vice president, Tracy George for secretary, and Wade Norton for treasurer. Kim and Tracy are brand new members. Bainbridge Chapter: The Bainbridge Chapter has had a lot on its plate during the last few months. In September, the chapter held a successful fundraising barbecue. The chapter also participated in the homecoming parade for the high school football team and the Christmas parade. The members also did caroling at three nursing homes and delivered fruit baskets. Chattooga County Chapter: The chapter hosted community officials at its annual Christmas party. An award was presented to Judy Brewster, a local vision teacher. East Georgia Chapter: When the organized blind movement and service providers come together, it is the blind people who benefit. This is what happened when 18-year-old Juanita Woodcock received a computer at the chapter Christmas party. The computer is equipped with JAWS (Job Access With Speech) and Windows. This gift was provided by Tools for Life. Anne Wheeler was reelected president for another term. The other officers are: Betsy Grenevitch for vice president, Christine O'Brien for secretary and Linda Cox for treasurer. Carle Cox, Phil Jones and Janet Hardin were elected to the board of directors. Greater Columbus Chapter: The chapter raised $179 at its hot dog fundraiser in November. An attempt to have Wal-Mart match the money raised was not successful. Three fruit baskets were given out at the Christmas luncheon held at the Bananza Steak House. Greater Hall County Chapter: The newly elected officers of the Hall County Chapter are: Valerie Thomas for president, Phyllis Jehu for secretary and Millie Brackett for treasurer. A wonderful Christmas party was held at Luna’s Restaurant with 46 members and guests attending. Ann Sims was invited to play piano for the occasion, and she and her husband were royally treated with a delicious dinner. Ann expressed that the singing was delightful, and the fellowship was enjoyable, and she and husband, John M., deeply appreciated the invitation. Houston County Chapter: On December 20, chapter member Jan Scott testified before the county commision concerning the need for a dog leash law. She was asked to speak before the commision after her guide dog was attacked. The chapter is working with the Centerville LIONS Club in order to find a CCTV for a visually impaired student. Northwest Chapter: Thanks to the efforts of the Northwest Chapter, two visually impaired persons will receive money so that they can purchase frames and lenses for their glasses. Savannah Chapter: The new officers for the Savannah Chapter are: Brian Leighton for president, Pamela Oglesby for vice president, Jack Lewis for secretary and Kim Brubaker for treasurer. Jan Elders, Theresa Brenner, and Marj Schneider were elected to the board. South Metro Council: The new officers for the South Metro Council are: Frances Sweet for president, Barbara Graham for first vice president, Robin Oliver for second vice president, Christi Baldridge for secretary and Lori Cseh for treasurer. Ann Butler, Maquatia Dutton and Bernace Murray were elected to the board of directors. In October, the chapter remembered Patty Parris who died from complications resulting from a stroke and diabetes. Patty was remembered for her spirituality and her personality. The primary activity at the November chapter meeting was an auction that raised over $250 for the various projects of the chapter. In December the chapter sponsored one eight-year-old blind girl from STARS and one two-year-old blind boy from BEGIN, both programs in the Center for the Visually Impaired. Stephens County Chapter: The new vice president for the Stephens County chapter is Sheila Rousey. Sheila was the first president of the chapter. Plans are being made for the big bluegrass fundraiser. This event will take place on Saturday, February 3. For more information, contact President Al Camp at 706-886-3894. ANNOUNCEMENTS From the Current Events Committee: Send all current events articles to Chair Valerie Thomas. All articles must be dated when published and what news paper. All articles with pictures must have who, what event, when, where, and reason. Address: Valerie Thomas 430 Holly Spring Road Gillsville, Ga 30543 Please send your changes of address (including e-mail) to GCB treasurer, Linda Cox, e-mail: lindabcox@hotmail.com; or fax to 770-972-9840. You may also contact her via telephone at 770-972-2231. The next GCB board meeting will be held in Atlanta at the Center for the Visually Impaired, Saturday, January 21, beginning at 9:00 a.m. There will be a training session on parliamentary procedures led by the ACB parliamentarian. All GCB members are invited to join this open meeting. For directions, to this meeting, please contact John M. or Ann Sims, at 404-767-1792. Secretary Alice Ritchhart will be sending out a notice and the agenda. If you want to include an item for the agenda, please contact president Marsha Farrow. Her contact information is on the cover page of this magazine. Note that our Assistant Editor has a slight change of address found on the cover page of this magazine. Jerrie and Granger Ricks are now in their new home right next door to their daughter, Kathy and her family. CONGRATULATIONS AND BLESSINGS TO THE RICKS IN THEIR NEW HOME!!! ******************************************************** QUESTION: What three words have the same last five letters but start with different beginning letters and are not pronounced alike? The words are two syllables each, and the beginning letters are: M, N, and ST. ANSWER: MATURE, NATURE, and STATURE! ******************************************************** The editors appreciate everyone who contributed and assisted with this issue of The GCB Digest. everyone was helpful in getting the necessary information to us in a timely manner. We hope you enjoyed this issue.