New picture of officers. ***Description: GCB officers Betsy Grenevitch (At Large Representative), Marsha Farrow (Treasurer), Cecily Laney Nipper (President), Kathy Morris (Secretary). Not pictured: Marj Schneider (First Vice President), Judy Presley (Second Vice President).

GCB Digest Online

GCB Digest GCB Digest Summer 2008 (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! SUMMER, 2008 President: Alice Ritchhart 125 Willow Pond Way Brunswick, GA 31525 912-261-9833, Toll Free: 877-667-6815 E-Mail: Editor: Ann Sims, 3361 Whitney Avenue Hapeville, GA 30354, 404-767-1792 E-Mail, Assistant Editor: Jerrie Ricks, 1307 Chester Place McDonough, GA 30252, 770-898-9036; E-Mail, GCB Webmaster: Steven Longmire Sunbright Consulting at TABLE OF CONTENTS Upcoming GCB Convention News: Submitted by the Convention Committee -------------------------------------- 3 President’s Message: by Alice Ritchhart -------------- 3 GCB Awards, Committees and Guidelines ---------- 6 From the Lions Den, Georgia Council of Blind Lions ---------------------------------------------------------- 9 MARTA General Manager Meets with Disability Activists: Submitted by Adam Shapiro --- 12 Highlights of the ACB Convention: -------------------- 14 Report from the GCB Nominating Committee: ----- 14 GCB Chapter News: ------------------------------------ 15 Announcements: ---------------------------------------- 18 Convention Letter: Submitted by Convention Committee -------------------------------- 20 Upcoming GCB Convention News Submitted by Convention Committee Attention GCB members: In this issue of The GCB Digest you will find the guidelines for all the awards we usually present at our state conventions along with the committees. Please read over these guidelines and send your nominations to the appropriate committee for consideration. The deadline for sending the nominations is September 1, 2008. The registration letter is provided at the end of this publication and gives more details of the convention. In this mailing, but separate from the magazine, is the Registration Form. Also enclosed is a pre-addressed envelope to return your completed form and check. The theme for the convention this year is ACHIEVING GREATER HEIGHTS OF VISION IN 2008. PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE A Serious Challenge By Alice Ritchhart Recently I have found myself thinking about my days attending a school for the blind. I realize how lucky I was and how grateful I am to my parents for their insistence in sending me there. At the time I resented it and often stated that I would never send any child of mine to a school for the blind. I believed that by not attending a public school I was missing out on a lot of things that my sighted peers were doing. Today I know differently. I would have never been able to have taken part in all the extra curricular activities such as track, swimming, speech or drama in a public school system. Nor would I have received the in depth adjustment to blindness training skills which I learned there and which continues to help me in my everyday life now. What I value most though is the peer support and organizational affiliations which were begun during that important time. It has been through those relationships that I have been able to advocate and be a strong voice to effect change for the blind and visually impaired so we can be an integral part of the communities where we live. In fact, the Georgia Council of the Blind came about because many of you who are alumni members of the Academy saw a need for such an organization based on the training and other learning experiences encountered at your school. We can be grateful for this. Here we are today. As we grow older, however, we lose members; so if we want to see GCB continue to be strong and carry on our mission, we need to reach out to the young people and get them involved in our great organization. It is up to each one of us to assist the younger people who are blind and visually impaired. They need the Georgia Council of the Blind even more than we do. The young people today are not as blessed as we have been. Many of them who are now attending public schools are not privileged to have the same opportunities we have had. Many times they may be the only child who is blind in their school system and therefore feel lost and unsure of what the future holds for them. Because they are spread out, and there is such a shortage of teachers for the visually impaired students, the young people do not get the same in depth adjustment to blindness training that we were privileged to have. Also they miss out on the chance to take part in extra curricular activities and the opportunity to be part of a peer support group. In fact many young people today who are blind or visually impaired are not aware of the Georgia Council of the Blind or other services and groups that are available to them. We often state that the National Federation of the Blind is why we are not making progress for ourselves, but I say it is only because we are not doing all that we can to make a change. That is not to say that we will always be in agreement with the NFB, but instead of worrying about what they are doing or not doing, let us, metaphorically speaking, work with them to insure that the young people today are prepared and able to succeed us in the future. If you truly want to see the Georgia Council of the Blind remain the largest blind consumer group in Georgia, I adamantly challenge you today to fervently reach out to a young blind or visually impaired student. If we hope for GCB to be around tomorrow we must teach the young people how to become leaders and get involved today. GCB Awards, Committees and Guidelines Awards Committee Chairs Judy Presley, 706-878-2962 Marsha Farrow, 1-877-667-6815 (June Willis Guiding Eyes) Chair, Alfred Camp, 706-886-3894 6972 Alfred Camp Road, Toccoa, GA 30506 Richard Bagley and Ann Sims (Gerald Pye Community Service Award) Chair, Kaye Hall, 478-788-5277 5475 Bloomfield Road Macon, GA 31206 Genie Rae O’Kelly and Milton Brown (Rhoda W. Walker) Chair, Anne Wheeler, 770-786-5778 2199 Floyd Street, Covington, GA 30014 Barbara Graham and Heather Lopez (Walter R. McDonald) Chair, Valerie Leighton, 770-561-6218 1030 Shawnee Road, Apt. F-7 Savannah, GA 31419 Kim Harrison and Charles Stubblefield Awards Guidelines 1. All awards committees shall be appointed at the January board meeting. 2. Nominations for all awards shall be submitted to the respective award committee chairpersons in writing (including e-mail) no later than September 1, 2008. 3. Nominations shall include the name of the candidate, plus the reason the candidate deserves the award. 4. Each award committee chairperson shall read to his/her committee members all award nominations. 5. The decision for selecting the award recipient shall be made by all members of that committee. 6. Criteria for the Rhoda Walker Award, suggested by Rhoda's sister, Helen Wasileski: The recipient can be a blind or sighted individual. Services rendered must be of non-paying status. Services may be any endeavor in the field of teaching, service, and betterment of life for the blind. The recipient must provide public awareness through speaking, seminars, and/or demonstration. There must be involvement of the educational field/teaching braille. The recipient must push any innovation involving blindness or blind people. 7. The committee for selecting the recipient of the June Willis Guiding Eyes Award shall be legally blind. 8. The sighted recipient of the June Willis Guiding Eyes Award (who must be a GCB member) shall be known to GCB members through attendance at GCB state activities, and through his/her willing assistance and service to the blind and visually impaired. 9. The Walter R. McDonald Award shall be presented to an outstanding visually impaired individual who has, through his/her leadership and service, contributed significantly to the betterment of the blind and visually impaired community, and who has demonstrated by deeds and achievements his/her dedication to the principles incident to blindness espoused and practiced by the late Walter R. McDonald. The recipient may or may not be a member of the Georgia Council of the Blind. 10. The recipient of The Gerald Pye Community Service Award must be an active legally blind member in good standing of GCB. He or she must have demonstrated superior service to his or her community in a number of ways that exemplify the work of Gerald Pye. The candidate must be nominated in writing by a GCB member who knows first hand of the candidate's community services. Examples of this service must be included in the written recommendation. 11. All GCB awards shall be presented periodically at a GCB state convention. Georgia Guide Dog Users (GGDU): GGDU sponsors an award in the memory of Julie Aichroth, an outstanding instructor and the former outreach director in Georgia for the Southeastern Guide Dog School. Although this is not a GCB award, it is given during the GCB state convention. The recipient of this award does not have to be visually impaired; nor use a dog guide; nor be a member of GGDU, GDUI, GCB, or ACB; but must be someone who has made an outstanding achievement or contribution to the visually impaired community, especially to dog guide users. The Julie Aichroth Award Committee Chair: Ann Sims, 404-767-1792 3361 N. Whitney Avenue, Hapeville, GA 30354 E-Mail: Committee Members: Diane Healy and Alice Ritchhart FROM THE LIONS DEN Georgia Council of Blind Lions, GCBL Lion Robin Oliver was elected president of her Athens Heritage Lions Club and is forging ahead with wonderful plans for her club’s growth as well as her contributions to the Georgia Council of Blind Lions (GCBL), and to Georgia Council of the Blind GCB). Lion Barbara Graham and Lion Peter Tolly were inducted into the District 18-A Hapeville Lions Club and are also active members of the GCBL. Congratulations, Lion Barbara and Lion Peter! At the 2008 Lions state convention in Marietta, Lion Anne Wheeler was inducted into District 18-F Hall of Fame. Lion Anne joined the Covington Lions Club in 1997. She served as the club’s vice president the following year. After attending the Lions Leadership Conference, Anne was the first elected female president to serve the Covington Lions Club. Anne served as Zone Chairman for District 18-F, Region 1, Zone 1 for two years. Anne was elected Lion of the Year by her club in 1998 and has been recognized twice by receiving two separate International President’s Achievement Awards. Anne has served as Sight Conservation Chairman for the Covington club for 5 years. One of Anne’s contributions to the Lions Club is one in which she has actively sought to connect the Lions organization to the Georgia Council of the Blind. Her local club has become very aware of GCB and has financially supported the computer project sponsored by the East Georgia Chapter of GCB. Also, as Zone Chairman, Anne made other clubs aware of GCB. Because of Anne’s advocacy, the Madison Lions Club has made three donations to the East Georgia Chapter’s computer project. Anne is currently serving as president of the newly formed Georgia Council of Blind Lions (GCBL). We deeply appreciate your dedication and hard work, Lion Anne, and congratulate you for all your accomplishments and honors! It is obvious that you have a heart for the visually impaired people in Georgia. Lion J. C. Coefield, a member of the Centerville Lions Club in District 18-F, was awarded an International President’s Certificate of Appreciation. It is the fourth highest international award in lionism. J. C. has been a Lion for 14 years. At club level he has been president, membership chairman and White Cane chairman. At District level he has served as Zone and Region chairman, Lighthouse trustee, Lighthouse vice president and White Cane chairman. At state level he has been White Cane chairperson and Sight Conservation and Work with the Blind chairperson. He presently serves as the vice president of our Georgia Council of Blind Lions (GCBL). Thank you, Lion J. C., for your contributions to your local club, GCBL and GCB and for the leadership you exhibit. Lion Ann Sims received the Outstanding Blind Lion of Georgia State Award at the 2008 State Convention. She is a member of the Hapeville Lions Club, District 18-A, where she has served as director and is currently its tail twister. She is also secretary-treasurer of the Georgia Council of Blind Lions and vice president of Georgia Guide Dog Users. She is an active member of the Metro Atlanta Chapter of GCB and is editor of The GCB Digest. Lion Bob Robinson sent a letter to all the members of Georgia Lions clubs to try and encourage them to invite blind and visually impaired people to join their clubs and participate in all the activities. Hopefully, this letter will interest Lions members, and they will be inviting you to visit their clubs so you can decide if you want to join them. MARTA General Manager Meets with Disability Activists Submitted by Adam Shapiro On May 10, the members of CTREA (Concerned Paratransit Riders for Equal Access), held their monthly meeting. It was held on the 2nd floor of the Georgia State University Student Center. The guest speaker was Dr. Beverly Scott, the new general manager for MARTA (Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority). No MARTA chief executive had ever spoken before a CTREA gathering. The leadership knew that this meeting would need to be carefully planned. A list of concerns, dealing primarily with paratransit, now called MARTA Mobility, was submitted to Dr. Scott in advance. Members and friends of CTREA were notified about the meeting by e-mail and telephone. Other communication outlets were also used. This outreach effort paid off. Approximately fifty people attended. Many were not CTREA members. After introductions, Dr. Scott delivered a presentation that lasted almost forty minutes. She said that MARTA had failed to keep up with the demand for more public transportation. What is needed now, she said, is a regional transportation system that will be coordinated by MARTA. Better roads and sidewalks are also needed. No fare increase will be proposed for the coming year but one will be proposed for the next year because of the economic downturn. Surprisingly, this news provoked no response from the audience. Dr. Scott's candor, her sense of humor, and her ability to use inspirational language had turned the small meeting room into an amen corner by the time her presentation was completed. This was no small accomplishment. There had never been any love lost between MARTA and CTREA. Many in the audience had taken legal action against MARTA, only to find that services were still not what they felt they should be. The subject of paratransit dominated the discussion that followed. There were reports of radios and lifts that were not working, dirty seat belts, poor on-time performance, and insensitive dispatchers. Throughout the discussion, Dr. Scott took extensive notes. Everyone left the meeting, having received something they wanted. Dr. Scott had the opportunity to promote the MARTA agenda. The membership got the opportunity to have its collective voice heard where it counted. The success of the May 10 meeting has opened up the possibility of an alliance between the two organizations. If this happens, CTREA will influence MARTA in ways that it could not have done when it was using a strategy of confrontation. The transit authority will have the support of a strong group of activists who believe in the MARTA agenda and finally, MARTA's disabled ridership should receive the services for which it has been waiting so very long. Highlights of the ACB Convention The ACB convention was held in Louisville, Kentucky this year with a large attendance estimated at probably around two thousand. One of the main topics of interest was the currency appeal. There was also a demonstration of the hybrid automobile. One of the largest proceeds ever was taken in at the ACB auction, and everyone seemed to enjoy that event. Our president was actively working with the Guide Dog Users, Inc. (GDUI), to try and help rectify the error made by the board to amend its Constitution before the national convention. This problem is still not resolved, but hopefully it will be before too much longer. Marsha Farrow and Tim Kelly represented Georgia in the ACB Lions meetings where a new slate of officers was elected. The most outstanding news for those of us in Georgia is that our own Marsha Farrow was unanimously elected to the ACB board. We congratulate you, Marsha, and pledge you our full support. Next year, the ACB convention will be in Orlando, Florida from July 4 through July 11. More details will be available in the next Braille Forum. Report from the GCB Nominating Committee By Ann Sims, Chairperson, There will be an election of officers during the business meeting at the GCB state convention. The following GCB members are on the slate of officers: Alice Ritchhart, President Bill Holley, First Vice President Keith Morris, Second Vice President Robin Oliver, Secretary Jerrie Toney, Treasurer Debbie Williams, Member at Large Representative If you are interested, you are encouraged to consider running for any of these offices by setting forth your campaign and being nominated from the floor during the GCB State Convention in Columbus in November. I would like to thank the members of my committee for serving with me and for helping us with this process: Tim Kelly from Macon Chapter, Keith Morris from Augusta Chapter, and Judy Presley from the Greater Hall County Chapter. GCB Chapter News From Tim Barrett, president of the Northwest Chapter of GCB: The Northwest Chapter has been busy the last few weeks. Charles Stubblefield and I, accompanied by Penn (my dog guide) have spoken to 7 libraries to help kick off their summer reading program. We will be on tv again this month, and we are having a movie day at the library. Metro Atlanta Chapter of GCB: The South Metro Council and the Atlanta Chapter have combined names and members and are now Metro Atlanta Chapter of GCB. Diane Healy, as president, has many exciting plans and goals, and for the first time ever, the chapter is meeting throughout the summer. Come join and enjoy the chapter’s activities, programs, good food and fellowship on the third Friday evening of the month at Maritza and Frank’s Restaurant in Hapeville. For details and directions, please contact president Diane Healy at 770-935-4082. One of the newest members, Chester Thrash, attended the Georgia Lions Camp for the Blind in Waycross and has shared his experiences this time in the paragraph below. From Chester Thrash: At the Georgia Lions Camp for the Blind, I really had a great time. I was able to do most everything independently. I was able to get around camp using my cane. I did a lot of swimming, performing arts, and games. We also went to the mall and I was able to walk with the camp program director, Eddie English, with whom I used to have problems. I used to hold onto people's arms a few years ago but have overcome this insecurity. On Thursday night, I won an award for being Mr. Independent. Eddie English presented it to me. All the people were proud of me. I made a whole lot of friends there last week. It was the best camp ever. I can't wait until I go again. From the Stephens County Chapter: Ms. Cora Camp has been ill for the past few weeks, but is doing better now. She and Mr. Al thank everyone for their prayers, calls and concern. From Jimmie Burkes, The Greater Columbus Chapter: Our chapter sponsored a picnic On Saturday, May 24, 2008. Everyone had a good time. We also had our annual gospel benefit concert on June 1, 2008. One of our members, Mr. Willie Beauford passed on May 25 and his funeral was held on May 31, 2008. we will miss him and we are asking everyone to keep his family in their prayers. From Chattooga County: Marsha Farrow reports that two Fundraisers are Coming Up. The first is scheduled for August 30, 2008 at 6:30 PM. This is the Red Hat Ladies Musical Show, at the Senior Recreation Centre, 1325 Kingston Road, Rome, Georgia 30161. The second one is scheduled for October 18, 2008, at 5:00 PM, at the Sublingna Community Center, Gore-Sublingna Road, between Rome and Summerville. This is a Gospel Bluegrass Musical Fund Raiser for the upcoming GCB convention. For more information, please contact Marsha Farrow at 706-857-2968. From Greater Hall County: There is a fundraiser planned for the Youth Awareness Program, YAP. The program will be: "A Gospel Fun Time Fund Raiser", Friday, September 26, from 7:00 PM until 9:00 PM at "The Porch" in Cleveland, GA. It will feature three different gospel groups plus anyone from GCB who would like to join in the line up. We want this to be a fun time for all! For more details, please call Judy Presley at 706-878-2962. ANNOUNCEMENTS Legislative Breakfast: Georgia Council of the Blind Invites You to Participate in its Legislative Breakfast/Candidates Forum From 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, September 13, 2008, at the Center for the Visually Impaired, 739 West Peachtree Street, N.W., Atlanta, GA 30308. Please RSVP by Friday, August 29, 2008 to Alice Richhart at 912-996-4213 or 877-677-6815. Coalition Meeting: The fall 2008 Statewide Coalition on Blindness will be held at the Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute for Rehabilitation in Warm Springs, GA. 31830 on Saturday, September 27th. Hotel accommodations will be at the Best Western White House Inn. The rate is $65.00 per night, plus tax. Rooms will be held until August 15th. To reserve, phone 706-655-2750 and tell them you are with the Coalition on Blindness group to receive the $65.00 rate. Registration for the Coalition will be $10.00 cash only. No checks, credit cards, debit cards etc. accepted. Just plain ol' cash! The agenda and other details will be sent out shortly. Thank you to Danny Yates of Warm Springs for making all the arrangements. Touch the Future Conference: For the first time, two important conferences related to serving persons with disabilities will be held simultaneously. SERID (Southeast Regional Institute on Deafness) focuses on educational and professional development for individuals who work with consumers who are deaf, hard of hearing, deaf-blind, and late-deafened. Touch the Future/Transition Conference focuses on issues surrounding assistive technology and education for people with disabilities. The combined conference takes place in Atlanta on October 22-23, 2008. At its heart, the joint venture acknowledges that all people are unique individuals and encourages them to celebrate their similarities and differences. The conference is designed to allow participants to explore state-of-the-art tools, techniques, principles, strategies, and innovative technologies that will help individuals with disabilities participate in their community and prepare for success. For more information, go to: Brailler Repair: Frank Levine, Georgia's very own Brailler Repair Specialist, is located at Blind and Low Vision Services of North Georgia. You may contact him directly at this email address: Thanks for your time and business. From the Center for the Visually Impaired (CVI): CVI is accepting applications for a Public Education and Referral Specialist. The ideal candidate will have a college degree, knowledge of blindness and/or vision impairment, exceptional customer service and computer skills, and excellent presentation and public speaking abilities. Responsibilities include the production of InfoLink, the coordination of CVI's Speakers Bureau, agency tours and the fielding of information and referral calls to CVI. This is a 30 hour per week position that includes full benefits. To apply, please submit a cover letter and resume to Liz Hayes at or fax to 404-607-0062. Applicants who do not submit a cover letter will not be considered for the position. No phone calls please. GCB State Convention Letter The following is a letter from the 2008 GCB convention committee. The Registration Form is included in this mailing, but separate, and is to be filled out and returned in the pre-addressed envelope provided. Georgia Council of the Blind 850 Gaines School Road Athens, GA 30605 706-857-4221 912-996-4213 “Giving Voice to Our Vision” 2008 Convention Committee REGISTRATION INFORMATION WHEN: Friday, November 7, 2008 to Sunday November 9, 2008 WHERE: Holiday Inn North, 2800 Manchester Expressway, Columbus Georgia, 31904. Hotel reservations can be made now by calling either (706) 324-0231, or toll free (800) 465-4329. Be sure to tell them you are with the Georgia Council of the Blind to get the $96.70 (taxes included) per night. The hotel rate will allow up to 4 people per room. Check-in time at the hotel is 4:00pm and the check-out time is 1:00pm. THE DEADLINE TO MAKE HOTEL RESERVATIONS IS OCTOBER 8, 2008. REGISTRATION INFORMATION: Included separately in this mailing, please find the Registration Form and a return pre-addressed envelope. Please mark all of the events that you will be attending. The registration fee this year is $30.00. This includes your registration fee, coffee and snacks for break out sessions, welcome reception, dinner provided by Country’s Barbecue and a welcome package. The cost of the banquet this year is $22.00. You will be able to select your meal preference on the enclosed registration form. In order to reserve a banquet meal, you must register before October 27 2008. After you have made all of your choices, total them up and put the total on the form. Make your check payable to: Georgia Council of the Blind. Again, there is a pre-addressed envelope for your convenience. You may also register for the convention on-line. For more information, go to: Overview of Convention Schedule This is a general overview of the convention schedule. You will have a more complete program in your registration packet when you come to the convention. Friday, 11-07-08 8:00AM – 5:00PM, Registration, Hotel Lobby 9:00am - 5:00pm, Exhibitor Room Open, Azalea B 9:00am – 12:00pmEducation Session for Yappers, Dogwood Room 1:00pm – 5:00pm, Tours 6:00pm - 7:30pm, Welcome Reception, Azalea A Room 7:30pm - 10:00pm, GCB Auction, Dogwood Room Saturday, 11-08-08 7:00am - 9:00am, Lions Breakfast, Azalea A 9am - 12pm, General Sessions, Dogwood Room 1pm - 5pm, GCB Business Meeting, Dogwood Room 6:30pm - 8:30pm, GCB Banquet, Azalea A 8:45pm - 11pm, Talent Show, Dogwood Room Sunday, 11-09-08 8:00am - 9:30am, Farewell Breakfast (church service and memorial) Azalea A 10am - 12pm Final Business Session and Board Meeting, Dogwood Room Hospitality Room, Azalea B