GCB Digest Fall 2019 (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 and not a handout
GCB officers for 2018-2020:
Alice Ritchhart, President, 912-996-4213, firstname.lastname@example.org
Philip Jones, First Vice-President, 770-713-3306, email@example.com
/Jamaica Miller, Second Vice-President, 706-316-9766, firstname.lastname@example.org
Betsy Grenevitch, Secretary, 678-862-3876, email@example.com
Marsha Farrow, Treasurer, 706-859-2624, firstname.lastname@example.org
Valerie Hester, Member at Large Representative, 912-398-9985, email@example.com
Amanda Wilson, Digest Editor, 770-547-4700, firstname.lastname@example.org
Janet Parmerter, Assistant Editor, 678-407-9787, Janet@ParmerTours.com
*****Table of Contents:
From Your Editor, by Amanda Wilson
Presidential Message, by Alice Ritchhart
Board Meeting Minutes January 2019, by Betsy Grenevitch
Board Meeting Minutes May 2019, by Betsy Grenevitch
Member profile: Alice Ritchhart
GCB Chapter News
Georgia Guide Dog Users News, by Betsy Grenevitch
In Memory Of: Harvey Roberts
Experiences at the 2019 American Council of the Blind Conference and Convention
By Cecily Nipper, Jr., Cecily Nipper, SR., and Phil Jones
Georgia Lions Camp for the Blind 2019 update, by Ron Worley
Sun, Sand, and Surf without Sight, by Janet Parmerter
Update from Timothy Jones
Update from Thomas Woodyard
Post, by Rodrick parker
Summer Camp at Sloppy Floyd Park
*****From Your Editor, by Amanda Wilson
Hello GCB Family. We thank everyone who submitted articles in this issue of our magazine. If you have any change of address, telephone number, email address, or desire a change of format, please inform our GCB treasurer. Thanks to everyone who makes our GCB Digest such a big success. I particularly want to thank Janet Parmerter, assistant editor, for the many hours she has worked on the magazine and for her editing skills. I would also like to thank our president, Alice Ritchhart, for her presidential message with information about important events, legislation and projects. I also appreciate the contributions from our new GCB digest committee and how each member contributes articles and offers suggestions.
In that regard, we have two important notes. First, from this point forward, please send any comments, articles or messages to the GCB Digest editor in Font: Arial; Font Style: Bold; Font Size: 16 point; Font Heading Size: 20 point and please underline the Heading. This will make things more consistent for reading and for Braille.
Second, to easily navigate between articles, as the ACB National Newsletter, each new topic will have asterisks to divide the subject and topic. We will now place five asterisks at the beginning of each new heading title.
*****GCB Presidential Message
By Alice Ritchhart
As I write this message, summer is winding down and hopefully, you all found some time to relax and have a little summer.
Though I kept busy doing a little work for GCB, most of my summer was spent traveling and hanging out with friends. Now it is time to get back to work and focus on issues that can, and will have an impact on blind and low vision Georgians.
First of all, our students are returning to school for another year, which can prove to be a challenge not only for those who are blind or visually impaired, but also for their parents. Some parents, who have already contacted me, are struggling to receive needed services for their children to have a successful school year. The other issue facing us, which may be a problem as we start gearing up to go to the voting polls, is that Georgia has decided on new voting machines which may or may not be a good thing for us. When it is time to cast our ballot, Will we have a private and independent ballot? In addition, we learned there are a couple of pieces of legislation at the national level which could have an impact on us. This bill is, HR 4129. The Medicare Demonstration of Coverage of Low Vision Devices Act, and the U.S. Senate, has introduced the Exercise and Fitness for All bills which would make equipment accessible.
Finally, Georgia Vocational Services (GVS) is going through changes, and as we know the last time major changes took place at GVS it was not good for those of us with sensory disabilities. So, with the state legislation session about to get into full swing, we need to be ready.
Therefore, as members of the Georgia Council of the Blind what can we do to help move along our mission? First, I would suggest your chapters reach out to blind and low vision students and their parents to help mentor them during the school year. Maybe doing volunteer work in the school system where your chapter meets would assist these students. Try starting a parental support group which could help guide them through the Individualized Education Plan (IEP) and school process. Second, since we did not really get a say in the choice of what type of voting machine the state purchased, we can still make sure before election time, we are certain to be able to have a private and independent experience at the polls. Each chapter and member should contact your election board, and find out when the state will be training them on the new machines. I would suggest you ask to attend the training so you can learn right along with your election board how the accessibility features work. Also, I would suggest you invite them to attend a chapter meeting with the new machine so your members and all individuals who are blind or low vision can have hands on experience before it is actually time to vote. Third, we need to contact our congress members and ask them to sign on as sponsors of HR 4129 the Medicare Demonstration of Coverage Low Vision Devices Act. Then, contact our U.S. Senators and as them to sign on as sponsors of the exercise Fitness for All bill. Finally how you can help to make sure that VRS starts to meet the needs of all Georgians who are blind, visually impaired, or deaf blind. The Georgia Vision Alliance has been formed to work to make sure that the services that are so desperately needed for those of us with sensory disabilities are provided. So if we are to be successful in this effort we must fight for a Commission for the Blind. Therefore, you need to get involved with the Georgia Vision Alliance. You must reach out to your legislators by phone, e- mail, or visit them on the hill. Tell your stories, and explain why separate services are necessary. No matter how you get involved to fight for change in VRS we must all be united as blind and low vision and deaf blind individuals. We must stand together and as one, and this means all consumer organizations, all services providers, all BEP venders, and GIB. Being a small group the only way to make things better is to stick together. So get involved, and follow the mission of GCB to ensure a better future for those in Georgia who want to be an active member in their community.
*****Georgia Council of the Blind Board Meeting minutes, by Betsy Grenevitch
Georgia council of the Blind Board Meeting
January 19, 2019
Call to Order:
President Alice Ritchhart called the meeting to order at 10:00 AM.
Invocation, Fred McDade:
Fred gave the invocation.
Roll Call, Betsy Grenevitch:
Those present were Alice Ritchhart, President; Phil Jones, First Vice-President; Jamaica Miller, Second Vice-President; Betsy Grenevitch, Secretary; Marsha Farrow, Treasurer; Valerie Hester, GCB Member-at-Large Representative; Keith Morris, GCB Past President; Ernest Bowles-Dean, Athens; Deborah Lovell, Augusta; Patricia Ganger, East Georgia—by phone; Brent Reynolds, South Atlanta; Dianne Roberts, Greater Hall County; Bronwyn Rumery, North Central Georgia; Fred McDade, Northwest; Tonia Clayton, Rome/Floyd County; Teresa Brenner, Savannah; DJ McIntyre, GGDU; Roderick Parker, Parliamentarian; Amanda Wilson, Digest Editor; and Steve Longmire, Webmaster. Other members present were: Tiyah Fowlkes-Mensah, Jerrie Toney, Sam Howard, and Rosetta Brown—by phone, Cecily Nipper Jr., Cecily Nipper Sr., Todd Turansky, Harvey Roberts, Lana Carder, Roy Carder, Ken Mitchell, Bethany Kinsey-Leigh, Charles Stubblefield, Sharon Nichols, Rebecca Verhine, Joe James, and Kathy Morris.
Swearing in of New Officers, Betsy Grenevitch:
Betsy swore in the new officers on the board. The new officers were Patricia Ganger, Brent Reynolds, Fred McDade and Ernest Bowles-Dean.
President’s Report, Alice Ritchhart:
Alice Ritchhart told us that she receives a lot of calls from people who are seeking services and seeking help from Vocational Rehab. In November when the Northwest Georgia chapter was having difficulty with their elections, Roderick and Keith went to their chapter meeting to help with their elections. Roderick gave them some advice about what to do until their constitution and bylaws are completed.
The Secretary of State’s office has decided to purchase new voting machines. According to what Alice has read they are touch screen and have a paper ballot. She has tried to contact the Secretary of State’s office to find out about the machine, but still has not received an answer from them. Democracy Live now has software so that you can vote with an absentee ballot as a visually impaired voter. She has tested the ballot and it is very accessible. The company is trying to get the State of Georgia to purchase this software. She has been trying to find out the status about this, but still has no answer. Once we find out what machine is going to be used, we will contact the manufacturer ourselves to see if the machine is accessible.
Secretary’s Report, Betsy Grenevitch:
Betsy asked for a motion to approve the minutes from the October 20, 2018 minutes as they were sent out. Deborah Lovell made the motion and it was seconded by Phil Jones. The motion was approved unanimously. Betsy asked for a motion to approve the minutes for November 19, 2018 as they were sent out. Deborah Lovell made the motion and it was seconded by Jamaica Miller. The motion was approved unanimously.
Treasurer’s Report, Marsha Farrow:
The report was sent out prior to the meeting, but she went over some of the main points. PayPal Account: $322.31
This money comes mainly from chapter dues and other payments from chapters. Main checking account: $7774.93
In this account we currently have $650 from the Martha Craig Memorial Fund for the Deaf-Blind. The Senior Support Fund: $4274.14
This total is also included in the amount listed in the main checking account. Operating Expenses: $1980.69
This is the amount we have in the main checking account for operating expenses.
Conference Account: $1378.77. Al and Cora Camp Scholarship Fund: $6735.83
$575 of this amount was donated in memory of Dolores Rutenber. The majority of the money in this account is interest from our long-term investment account. GCB Long-term Investment: Originally, we invested $17 thousand in this account when Marsha became treasurer. Now we have $18,221.32. We received $357.22 from interest in 2018. Money Market Account: $5741.87
This is an account that we have in case of an emergency. We received $.60 in interest for 2018. Evan Barnard CD: This account has been closed and the money returned to Evan. Evan plans to start a website for his Nature for All work that he is doing. The way Financial Investment Account:
This account has lost several thousand dollars. Jeff Hanna, who works for the company, is going to give us an overall report about this account. Marsha recommended that we ask that the interest money stay in this account, so that it draws interest and that when we need the money, we contact them and they will either deposit what we ask or they can send us a check for a specific amount. Deborah wanted to know if there was a penalty for withdrawal, but Marsha explained that every month they have already been withdrawing the interest and putting it into the scholarship account. Dianne made the motion that we keep the interest from the Way Financial account in the account until it is needed, so we can earn more interest on the account. Deborah seconded the motion. Brent wanted to know why the scholarship account was not already an interest bearing account. Marsha explained that there was only around $1 thousand in that account when she took over as treasurer and we were usually zeroing out the account each year. She said that we could look at the possibility of moving it to an interest bearing account. Dianne wanted to know how often we take out money. Alice explained that is about to change because of the first-timers, Leadership and Education scholarships. Money could be taken out of this account a couple of times a year with these scholarships. He motion passed unanimously. The monthly balances for the past three months are:
Marsha recommended that we make the money market account a long-term investment account. Alice recommended that the finance committee come back with a recommendation concerning this account.
Finance committee, Jerrie Toney:
The committee met and sent out a revised budget for 2018. They also set a budget for 2019. The only difference is that the awards amount is changed from $200 to $150. Dianne Roberts made the motion to approve the 2019 budget report as sent out by Jerrie Toney. Bowles-Dean seconded the motion. The motion was approved unanimously. Marsha recommended that the senior device fund be put in a separate account. This recommendation was referred back to the finance committee to bring before the next board meeting.
Conference and Convention, Betsy Grenevitch:
Betsy said that the conference and convention will be held at Philadelphia Baptist Church in Rutledge, Georgia, on May 2-4, 2019. The building used to be a school, so there is a lot of space that we can use. It has a college-sized gymnasium.
Different speakers have already been contacted and confirmed to speak for us. Jerrie is already working on contacting exhibitors. We have a large kitchen to use. The meals include: a reception Thursday night, lunch on Friday, a Lions banquet on Friday, and lunch on Saturday. This year we will be having a Kids Zone. We have 26 acres on this property so are able to offer something for the children on Saturday. Cecily is working on this program. The hotel is The Days Inn in Madison, Georgia. The cost is $63 per night plus tax. Ray and Caryn Campbell are coming as our ACB representatives. Dede DeMarks will be representing the Lions at our Lions Banquet. Our theme this year for the conference and convention is “Courage to empower your dream”. This theme was submitted by the Athens chapter.
Membership, Amanda Wilson:
We have 175 members this year. She has received all chapter rosters, but is still waiting on some money. All chapters are doing fund raising and recruiting members. She has sent out the Membership Form for approval. Deborah made a motion to approve the membership form as emailed out by Amanda. Dianne seconded the motion. Phil brought up the concern that Georgia Blind Lions is not a part of GCB so it should be taken off the form. Deborah amended the motion to accept the membership form as emailed out by Amanda with the revision that the reference to the Georgia Blind Lions be removed. Dianne seconded the motion and it was approved unanimously.
GCB Digest, Amanda Wilson:
She thanked Betsy for embossing and recording the digest. She said that the committee is working well together. There are members from all over the state on the committee.
Technology, Steve Longmire:
The committee is going to be updating the website with the new logo and the new membership form. The membership form will be downloadable in various formats or possible to fill out online. Online registration for the upcoming conference and convention will also be available on the website. You will be able to either print out the registration form or fill it out and pay online. They are going to check out the possibility of being able to swipe a credit card with the IPhone and/or have a card reader that can be used. At their recent technology meeting they discussed useful apps for daily living. Anyone is invited to join the technology committee meetings which meet once a quarter rights before each board meeting.
Fundraising, Valerie Hester:
The current fundraisers are:
Kroger community Rewards—5% of your total goes to GCB once you have designated this on your Kroger card. Amazon Smile—you designate GCB as the charity you want to donate to at smile.amazon.com.
Any time you purchase something a certain percentage goes to GCB. 50/50 Raffles at Meetings: We sell raffle tickets and 50% goes to the winner and 50% to GCB. MMS Program: You set this up with the finance office at ACB in Minnesota. You can designate how much goes to ACB and to GCB. Auction at GCB Conference and Convention: This year for the auction we would like the items to be technology related for the blind and visually impaired. They are asking each chapter to donate an item, as well as asking companies to donate. Once you have your item, please let DJ know the name of the item as well as the retail price. The auction will be held on Friday night of the conference and convention.
Volunteers needed for the 50/50 Raffle: they are looking for volunteers to sell raffle tickets during any board meeting and during the upcoming conference and convention. We would also like to sell tickets at the exhibit hall and during hospitality room hours. We will work out a schedule when we get closer to the conference and convention dates.
Smoothie Sales during the Upcoming Conference and Convention: There will be three flavors of smoothies this year. They will be sold whenever the hospitality room is open and during sessions.
Braille Rally: Vivian is working with a car club concerning holding the Braille Rally.
GCB Gear: They have chosen three items they would like to sell with the new GCB logo on them. They are a universal charger, a water bottle, and an RFID case. The set-up for the logo for the RFID case is free. The price for the charger is $11.95 and we have to order 25. The cost of the water bottle is $1, and we have to order 20to 25. The cost for the RFID case is $3.89 and we have to order 100. Marsha wanted to know where the funds would come from for these items, because this would need to be in the new budget. Marsha made a motion that we accept the fundraising ideas brought forth by Valerie, which are the universal charger, water bottle, and the RFID case. The motion was seconded by Jerrie Toney. The motion passed unanimously.
Mini Mall at our Conference and Convention: We would have companies that pay for booths to sell their items to the attendees.
Great Harvest Bread: This is the company where we are purchasing our Friday lunch for the upcoming conference and convention. Once a month, they choose a charity to donate. They choose a special menu item for that month. The profit for that item goes to the charity. Deborah made a motion that we accept the offer from Great Harvest Bread and give the money to the scholarship fund. Marsha explained that the scholarship fund was well funded, so the motion was rescinded. Jamaica made a motion that we accept the offer from Great Harvest Bread and Bronwyn seconded the motion. The motion passed unanimously. The Thrift and Wine Fashion Show in the Dark: You would wear the cheapest outfit that you can find at a thrift shop to the show. More details will follow at a later time.
Scholarship, Marj Schneider:
Betsy read the report in her absence. Marj was under the understanding that the money was only allocated for the first-timer scholarship to the GCB conference and convention but not for the leadership or academic scholarships. She wanted to know if these scholarships should be included in the budget. Marsha reminded us that we have $6735.83 in the scholarship account. She explained that the scholarship fund is to be used as the scholarship committee sees fit. This means that these scholarships are included in this account. Jerrie explained that the money for the First-timers scholarship, $312 and some change—is currently in the conference and convention account because it was collected at the conference and convention. Marsha made a motion that the leadership scholarship be based on the needs of the individual applicant. Betsy seconded the motion. It was approved with one “nay”
Legislative, Teresa Brenner:
There was not a report.
Transportation, Phil Jones:
He wants to set up a conference call before the next board meeting. He would like to talk about each chapter starting their own transportation system in their local areas. He would like to have all of the chapter presidents on this call. He is also open to suggestions and ideas as to how to handle the transportation situation.
Georgia Guide Dog Users, Betsy Grenevitch:
They have a speaker for their meeting on May 2, 2019, at the upcoming conference and convention. The speaker is studying how guide dog harnesses affect physical problems handlers may have because of how they have to hold the harness.
Braille and large print copies of the advocacy toolkit are available that were given out at the advocacy training.
Funding for the Youth Program at the Upcoming Conference and Convention and Future Events, Alice and Marsha:
We would like to begin a youth program again, but need funding. Marsha said that she would like to see money set aside for our children and youth. She would like for us to look at ways to reestablish this program. Marsha made a motion that a task force be formed chaired by Cecily Nipper to look at establishing a children’s and youth program, with funding for this program. Betsy seconded the motion and the motion passed unanimously.
Next Meeting: Our next meeting will be held on Saturday, May 3, 2019 at the conference and convention.
Ken Mitchell, who works at Disability Link, announced that they will have several disability days at the capitol. They are willing to pay some transportation expenses for those who would like to attend. They were also offering some training days to prepare people for these events.
Board Meeting Places: Cecily told us that the Rockdale County Library has a meeting place, but it costs $100.
Constitution and Bylaws, Roderick Parker:
The “constitution and Bylaws” is now usually called “Bylaws” because Bylaws are more easily amended. He encouraged us to know our Bylaws for our chapter, state, and the national organization. There cannot be any conflict of the bylaws for the local chapter with the state or national version of the bylaws. If a chapter does not have its own bylaws yet, members would abide by the state bylaws. When writing chapter bylaws, you can take some things out that are in the state bylaws and make some changes for the chapter’s version, but they cannot conflict with the state or national bylaws. The quorum should be set at a reasonable number of people you would expect to attend a meeting.
Presiding over the Next Board Meeting, Alice Ritchhart:
Alice told Phil that he would be presiding over the next board meeting in May.
We adjourned at 11:55 AM.
Respectfully submitted by
Betsy Grenevitch, Secretary
Georgia Council of the Blind Board Meeting
Philadelphia Baptist Church
4031 Davis Academy Road
Rutledge, GA 30663
May 4, 2019
Call to Order: First Vice-President Phil Jones called the meeting to order at 4:36 PM.
Roll Call, Betsy Grenevitch:
Those present were: Alice Ritchhart, President; Phil Jones, first Vice-President; Jamaica Miller, Second Vice-President; Betsy Grenevitch, Secretary; Marsha Farrow, Treasurer; Valerie Hester, Member-at -Large Representative; Jerrie Toney, Athens;; Patricia Ganger, East Georgia; Fred McDade, Northwest; Tonia Clayton, Rome Floyd; Marj Schneider, Savannah; Teresa Brenner, GGDU; Roderick Parker, Parliamentarian; Amanda Wilson, Digest Editor; and Steve Longmire, Webmaster.
Concerns about the North Central Georgia chapter of GCB, Alice Ritchhart:
Alice explained to us that the North Central Georgia chapter is out of compliance with their charter and the constitution. Alice made a motion to call a revocation hearing concerning this chapter. Teresa Brenner seconded the motion. Roderick Parker, the parliamentarian, explained how to proceed with the revocation hearing. He explained that the purpose of parliamentary procedure is to protect both the majority and the minority. This hearing will give the chapter the option to show that they follow their charter and the constitution. The chapter should forward any documentation to the board before the hearing takes place. The motion passed unanimously.
Installation of Officer, Betsy Grenevitch:
Tonia Clayton was installed as the president of the Rome Floyd County chapter.
Location of Next Board Meeting, Alice Ritchhart:
Alice made a motion that we hold our next board meeting on August 17, 2019 at the Decatur Recreation Center. Teresa Brenner seconded the motion and the motion passed unanimously.
Alice announced that people can still apply to attend the Lions Camp by writing to Ron Worley and letting him know of your interest. She asked each chapter president to take applications back to their members.
Marj Schneider had two tomato plants to give away.
Valerie Hester had extra food and drinks from the hospitality room for anyone to take.
Teresa Brenner had Maxi Aid catalogs for anyone who was interested.
Adjourn: It was moved and seconded to adjourn at 5:05 PM.
Respectfully submitted by
Betsy Grenevitch, Secretary