GCB Digest Spring 2005 (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!
Spring, 2005 Edition
President, Marsha Farrow
102 N. Elizabeth Street, Summerville, GA 30747
Toll free, 877-667-6815; Home, 706-857-2968
Editor, Ann Sims
3361 Whitney Avenue
Hapeville, GA 30354
404-767-1792; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
REMEMBERING A DEDICATED FRIEND OF GCB,
By Marsha Farrow
On Thursday March 24, 2005, our dear friend, Carolyn Witcher, passed on to her eternal home. Our dedicated editor of the GCB Digest, Ann Sims, and East Georgia Chapter president, Anne Wheeler, phoned me early that morning to inform me of that most unexpected news. My first thoughts questioned how GCB would ever fill her "great big shoes". Carolyn had been like a stick of dynamite in GCB! She had spent a small number of years in GCB, as compared to some, but she had made a "big bang" during those years.
At the time of her death she was diligently planning for our 2005 state convention and also for our very special 2006 50th anniversary convention. These conventions included events for our Youth Awareness Program (YAP) participants, and Carolyn had great passion for these young individuals to be welcome in GCB. Patricia Cox felt her compassion and experienced a "miracle" of vision restoration in conjunction with Carolyn's departure from this earth. Dora, her beloved dog guide, will spend the remainder of her life with the Cox family, and I know Carolyn is very pleased with Dora's new home and Patricia's blessing of now being able to see the beauty of God's wondrous creation.
Thank you, Granger Ricks, for representing GCB's executive board at the funeral services and acknowledging Carolyn’s value in so many areas. We all appreciate you, Carolyn, for all you gave to GCB and Georgia Guide Dog Users.
In January, Peggy Chavis, Bob Farrow, and I attended ACB's mid-year convention in Los Vegas. Since I had never been to Los Vegas I did not know what to expect. I have never gambled and did not gamble while I was there, believe it or not. Moreover, I was amazed with the friendliness of the people and never felt uncomfortable outside the hotel. The ACB board meeting was informative, and networking with our national leaders was found to be very positive. I look forward to attending our ACB convention, and hopefully many of our GCB members will be able to attend.
In February, Peggy Chavis, Judy Presley, Valerie Thomas, Alice Ritchhart, and I represented GCB in Washington, D.C. at our ACB legislative seminar. Michael Benson, a member of ACB and of the Business Enterprise Program (BEP) who is a vendor and the "better half” of Alice Ritchhart provided first-hand knowledge of the BEP program to the legislators visited by the Georgia contingency. Each member of Georgia's participants gave outstanding presentations to our legislators. Also a beautiful memorial service was held for Jim Olsen, ACB's financial manager for many years.
In March I had the privilege of being asked by Kay McGill, statewide coordinator for rehab services to the blind, to participate in the meeting of the project directors of the Older Blind Project. The meeting was held in Alexandria, Virginia which is a beautiful city rich in history. I met Suzanne Mitchell who is the acting director of rehabilitation services at the federal level and found her to be very personable. The respect and camaraderie among the highly accomplished attendees was outstanding. Dr. Elton Moore and Alberta Orr are two of my favorite journal authors, and I was excited to speak to them in person. Although I was a first-time attendee, I was made to feel very welcomed by all.
In closing and in reflection, this year has shown us both deep sorrow and sincere enthusiasm. The tears that flowed with the passing of these very devoted individuals, Carolyn Witcher and Jim Olsen, remind me of the necessary work ahead to continue the passion for enhancing the lives of individuals with vision loss. Our former ACB president, Paul Edwards, lost his wife, Gail, who died several weeks ago. She too worked faithfully for ACB and her local affiliate in Florida. there could be no better way to honor the memory of these individuals than to strive even harder to make sure that their dreams for ACB and GCB live on in each of us.
AND WE LAUGHED……
By Anne and Don Dilley
As we worked, played, traveled, told stories, and rested--you name it--there was always something to laugh about. But that's how things were when you were around Carolyn. Believe me, you were always busy because as Carolyn always said, she was a doer, not a sit-and-waiter. We printed, collated, and stapled our way through a ton of paper and countless ink cartridges and wore out two staplers and more fingers than you could count along the way--and laughed about it.
We played and told jokes and stories as we worked and as we traveled. We covered the state of Georgia more times than I can count. One week we might be in Norcross, the next in Bainbridge, and a couple of weeks later in Augusta or Summerville going to endless meetings for GCB, GGDU, LIONS--you name it.
If you needed someone to show up to represent you, someone who would leave a lasting impression no matter where she went, you called Carolyn. We even laughed our way across five states and back when we took Carolyn to see her six-month-old granddaughter for the first time. Texas and Mississippi didn't know what hit them on that trip.
Carolyn could tell stories with the best of them. It didn't matter if they were about someone else or about herself. The end result was the same--we laughed, sometimes until it hurt--and then we laughed some more.
Occasionally Carolyn would decide that she needed some time to rest. This didn't usually last too long because she would get restless, and if she didn't have another project lined up she would find something else to do. The outcomes of these "something to do" missions very often caused one reaction: We laughed.
Whether you talked with Carolyn on the telephone, or spent time in her company, you always came away feeling better than when you started. We could go out for lunch, or go shopping, or do any number of things, and the end result was always a giggle or a hearty laugh at something she would relate. Carolyn will be missed around our place, not only for the laughter and joy she provided, but for the hand of deep friendship she extended.
And we laughed……!
GCB AWARDS GUIDELINES AND COMMITTEES
Awards Committee Chair: Judy Presley,
706-878-2962, P.O. Box 231, Helen, GA 30545;
Don Dilly, cell: 404-213-0584, Home: 770-931-3113, EX 1507; E-Mail, email@example.com
June Willis Guiding Eyes Award: Chair, Al Camp, 706-886-3894; Jerry Orr, Ann Sims
Rhoda W. Walker Award: Chair, Anne Wheeler, 770-786-5778;
Barbara Graham, Heather Lopez
Walter R. McDonald Award: Chair, Bob McGarry, 770-983-9396; E-Mail, firstname.lastname@example.org t; Wyndy Orr, Charles Stubblefield
Gerald Pye Community Service Award:
Chair, Crawford Pike 706-327-2058
Patricia Fitts, Peter Tolly
GCB 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 June 15.
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 committee members.
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.
GGDU sponsors an award in the memory of Julie Aichroth. Although 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 that has made an outstanding achievement or contribution to the visually impaired community, especially dog guide users.
The Julie Aichroth Award Committee
Chair: Dana Gantt: 678-423-9865
Stanley Lopez, Ann Sims
The contact person this year for the loving cups & presidents' certificates of appreciation is Don Dilley. The loving cups are $17.94 for each, and the certificates are $5 each. The deadline for all orders is June 15. If you have questions, contact Don by phone at 404-213-0584, or e-mail: email@example.com. Send your order and payment to p.o. Box 134, Grayson, GA 30017.
Please study all the guidelines and awards and nominate the persons you feel deserve to be recognized. Remember to check the particular committee for each award, and contact the chair of that committee if you have any questions. Be sure to get your nomination in by June 15, 2005.
Scholarship Awards: Chair, Debbie Williams, 770-443-8249; E-Mail, firstname.lastname@example.org;
Bill Holley, Bernace Murray,
Granger Ricks, Tom Ridgeway
Applications for the 2005-2006 school year are available. Deadline for submission is no later than June 15. Please call or request by mail for your application to Debbie Williams, Scholarship Committee Chair, phone: 770-443-8249;
Address: 1477 Nebo Road, Dallas, GA 30157
CHILD’S LETTER TO GOD:
Dear God, thank you for the baby brother, but what I asked for was a puppy. I never asked for anything before. You can look it up. Joyce
A TRIBUTE TO MRS. AUTHERINE LEE
By Jimmie R. Burkes
Autherine died on October 11, 2004 at her home. She was an outstanding individual who was always willing to lend a helping hand. I met Autherine more than twenty years ago after she had lost her sight due to lupus. She was a military wife, mother, a registered nurse, and a graduate of Albany State University's Nursing Program. She was fearful, depressed, and frustrated of the unknown, and she didn't know what she was going to do because of the drastic change in her life. She didn't remain in this state long for which we are all grateful.
She hit the ground running and kept going until she couldn't go any longer. She was co-founder of the Columbus Metro Black Nurses Association, founder of the Columbus, Georgia Lupus Society, past chairman of the Mayor's Committee for Persons with Disabilities, and one of the organizers of the Greater Columbus Chapter of GCB. Autherine was dedicated and worked diligently in each of these organizations. She refused to allow any of her medical or other problems to keep her down, even though she suffered from fatigue due to lupus. These problems would have stopped many others from participating in everyday activities, but she kept going in spite of them. She founded these organizations to obtain all of the information she could because she wanted to continue to live her life to the fullest. At the time, I am sure she didn't realize the impact she would have on others and the service she would render them just by organizing these support groups. These groups would not be in existence without her persistence and hard work.
Autherine was a very caring individual. I know that the majority of the visually impaired people in Columbus knew her because when they lost their sight or had a problem, they were referred to Autherine. She would do everything she could to help by referring them to the proper authorities for their particular needs, and she would take the time to listen to them because she was concerned about their welfare.
She was always trying to recruit new members for our chapter. I once talked to her about one former member who had joined another organization of the blind, and she said she would like to talk to the person about the philosophy of ACB since she thought it was more beneficial to the visually impaired. Autherine showed how much she cared by participating in all of our activities. She even wanted to make a call about two weeks before her death trying to obtain some food items for our forum. She was always willing to do whatever was necessary to make our chapter the best that ACB had to offer. Autherine was tenacious and enthusiastic. She was very excited when she started working at a home health care company after being unemployed for more than twenty years. She was also happy when she was able to send her first e-mail.
I admired her most of all for her faith in God. She was an active member of the Wynnton Road Church of God and Christ where she served as a mother of the church and had once served as youth director. The pastor talked, in his eulogy, about how much the children loved her. She even told me once how much she loved Sunday School. I think the reason why she was so compassionate was because of her faith in God. She abided by this scripture: “But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased.” Hebrews 13:16. I believe God was well pleased with her because she served Him and her fellow man which is what God commanded us to do. I know she knew God was with her, and He gave her the strength to accomplish all of these wonderful deeds.
In conclusion, we will always remember Autherine for her efforts, active participation, and contributions to the Greater Columbus Chapter. We realize that God doesn't call the equipped, rather He equips the called. This is true because she gave us her all, and we will be eternally grateful to her and the service she gave to us. We intend to continue to work for the same goals in the future. We also hope to start a scholarship in the Greater Columbus Chapter for a visually impaired student in memory of Mrs. Autherine Lee.
Greater Columbus Chapter:
Last fall, the Greater Columbus Chapter members held an awareness forum with the main emphasis on teaching members how to use the new voting machine. Below is the story:
A forum, sponsored by the Greater Columbus Chapter of the Georgia Council of the Blind (GCB), was held at the W.C. Bradley Memorial Library on a Saturday before the November elections with about 20 members of the Greater Columbus Chapter in attendance. The all-day forum included information about the Metro Dial-a-Ride system, the Enrichment Service program, the Lower Chattahoochee Agency on Aging, and Special Security. Jimmie Burkes, the former president of the Greater Columbus Chapter, taught a session on "The 10 Commandments of Etiquette for Communicating with Persons with Disabilities." The pointers included speaking directly to the person with disability and not speaking louder. "It is just very common-sense things," Burkes said.
Clifford Jones, a visually impaired member of the Greater Columbus Chapter of GCB, feels a little better now about using a specially designed voting machine to cast a ballot.
"It's easy," Jones said. "What I like about it is that it's like a telephone keypad which everyone uses."
Deputy Registrar, Raymond E. Shepherd of the Board of Elections and Registrations, spent an hour on that day demonstrating a specially designed voting machine that visually impaired people can use.
In Muscogee County, Shepherd said that there is a specially designed and easy-to-use voting machine for every 200 visually impaired voters in each district. "The voting machines have been available since the 2000 presidential election, and have been used five times this year already," he explained. Others from the board of elections have been visiting churches and civic organizations, teaching people how to use the machine.
Ann "Mother Love" Flournoy, one of the chapter members, also tested the voter ballots for the blind. She said she loved the new voting machine. "I used to stand in line one or two hours before voting. They would have to find someone to help me. This new machine will save time."
"I think it's awesome," said another chapter member, Barbara Foster. "It is very easy to use. All you have to do is follow the prompt."
Crawford Pike, new president of the Greater Columbus Chapter of GCB, who has very limited vision, has absentee ballots mailed to his house so he can vote. He liked the new machines, too. "I think it's a wonderful thing and I would go to vote if it weren't for the transportation issue," He said, "but I have faith that nobody tampers with my absentee ballot."
"The best thing about the voting machine is that it makes you feel like a person who is in control," Jones said. "Just getting about among people any time you feel independent makes a difference in a person's life."
Pike agrees, "This makes you feel as close to ‘normal’ and the same as the general population. I think it's great."
Stephens County Chapter:
In case you haven't heard, President Al Camp and his members put on one of the most successful bluegrass and gospel fundraisers ever for the GCB scholarship program, raising over $2,000! They donated $1200 matched by Wal-Mart for another $1,000. Great work, Al and Stephens County Chapter members. Next time you will have to find a larger facility to hold this wonderful event because it is growing every year!
Stephens County Chapter sweetheart is the very gracious and charming Cora Camp! Congratulations, Ms. Cora. You are certainly deserving of this honor not only as its sweetheart but as the First Lady of the Stephens County Chapter!
This is a tribute to a founding member of the Macon Chapter submitted by its president, Carolyn Carr:
Elizabeth Bickel is a charter member of the Macon Chapter of GCB. She was born in Spartenburg, South Carolina in 1917. She moved to Macon in 1952. She attended the first meeting held at the Dempsey Hotel and has not missed many meetings since. She says she has not missed more than three or four state conventions. She looks forward to attending the 50th convention in 2006.
One of her hobbies is crocheting. She is active in her church group. She visits the nursing homes every Tuesday night. We appreciate her faithfulness to GCB and the Macon Chapter for the last 50 years.
South Metro Council:
Adam Shapiro, president of the South Metro Council, has been busy working on transportation issues, the Yappers' program, and other items such as the upcoming state convention in August which is hosted by Atlanta Chapter, East Georgia Chapter, and his own South Metro Council.
Recently, the chapter recognized its own Barbara Graham, a founding member, as the chapter sweetheart. Barbara was awarded the loving cup last summer at the state convention in Bainbridge, and she continues to exemplify all the lovely and outstanding characteristics of a true "sweetheart” of the chapter.
The STARS program at the Center for the Visually Impaired provides the opportunity for blind and visually impaired youth to be mentored by blind and visually impaired adults, and this chapter is very involved in the program. Barbara Graham and Frances Sweet are signing up to be mentors for a STARS youth each, and will soon attend a training session in this regard. Lori Cseh, chapter treasurer and "adopted daughter" of Frances, has agreed to do the driving, a very important and needed aspect of the mentor/mentee program. Ann Sims and Robin Oliver have been spending time with their STARS mentees, and they thought you might enjoy hearing a little more about them:
Ann's mentee recently traveled with her family to New Jersey to play in a goal ball tournament, and Ann asked her to write about her experience there. Amanda is eleven years old and is a very good player. Here is her story:
"Hi everyone. I am Amanda Dennis. I competed in the U.S.A. B.A. youth tournament, and I played on W.M.U. West Michigan team. I made three friends while there: first Dunsey, then Cery, and then Company. The first game was with Colorado. This team threw so hard they gave me a ‘shiner’. It is off now. We lost the match though. We did our best in the second game when we played Illinois. I played center. Well, we lost, but I was a very good defence. We lost all our six games, but we had fun anyway."
(NOTE: The next part was published in the STARS Spring 2005 Newsletter and was written by Penny Zibula, STARS mentor and public education coordinator at the Center for the Visually Impaired.)
Mentor Robin Oliver and Mentee Ashley Robinson are a "perfect match". Robin Oliver decided to become a mentor because, as a STARS volunteer, she really enjoys the students and wants to see them grow up and do well. When she began mentoring 11-year-old Ashley Robinson in October, 2004, she wanted to inspire her mentee. But according to Robin, the inspiration is flowing both ways.
"I'm amazed at how Ashley is able to get around and get oriented to a location right away," she says. "She's really changed me by making me want to try new things and get over some of my fears. Ashley wants to go horseback riding and swimming, and these are things I was afraid to try. But I plan to get my courage up, because Ashley is eager to try them."
One of the things that Robin Particularly enjoys about Ashley is her inquisitive nature.
"She asks a lot of questions, but I like that," Robin says. She also feels that Ashley has become more outgoing and cooperative with other children since she's been her mentor.
Ashley's mother, Sonya Copeland agrees with Robin's assessment of her daughter. "I've seen a lot of positive changes in Ashley," Sonya says. "She opens up to Robin and Robin always answers her many questions. I've seen my daughter mature since Robin has come into her life. As a parent, I think it's good to have another adult to look out for Ashley and be there for her."
As for Ashley, she thinks her mentor is "Awesome!" She talks about how much she likes learning braille from Robin, going together on the STARS retreat, and having fun together.
Robin is planning a Six Flags outing with Ashley in the near future. But a by-product of the mentor/mentee relationship that Robin never anticipated is that, thanks to Ashley's boundless energy, she says she expects to lose about 20 pounds just trying to keep up with her mentee. In this case, it could be said that the partnership is a win, win, lose situation, with everyone coming out ahead.
East Georgia Chapter:
President Anne Wheeler sent the following information about some of their members they wanted to remember.
“In Memory” by Anne Wheeler: The East Georgia Chapter reflects on the passing of several of its supporters and members. The death of Carolyn Witcher was deeply felt. She has left an indelible mark on our chapter, but there are others who have done so, too. We give tribute to these four individuals.
Gwen Revis: We met Gwen when she and her husband, Gary, moved to Georgia in March of 2002. Gwen had lost her sight to diabetes in 1982, but had lived a very full life in spite of it. She graduated from Shelby State Community College in Memphis, Tennessee, earning the distinction of being that school’s first blind graduate.
While living in Memphis, Gwen was very active in ACB, serving as the treasurer, and worked with the organization to get the first two talking stoplights installed in Memphis. When she and Gary moved to Cleveland, Ohio, Gwen continued to be active. She joined the local LIONS Club and had perfect attendance for 5 years.
Gwen attended the Cleveland Sight Center. She served on the advisory board for Lake Tran in East Lake, Ohio, and advocated for good transportation for the blind. In fact, one of her greatest concerns about moving to Georgia was our lack of good transportation in the rural areas and had already begun to search for solutions. Gwen passed away in September of 2002. We had only known her for a short time and we will always regret losing her and the potential she brought to our chapter. Since her death, Gary has continued to play an active role in the East Georgia Chapter and has generously given of his time and money in Gwen’s memory.
Conrad Rawlins: William Conrad Rawlins died November 2001 at the age of 67. At the age of 17 he was diagnosed with Juvenile Diabetes. During the last 21 years of his life, he had both legs amputated, kidney failure, dialysis for five years, and was legally blind. But he lived a full life. He loved square dancing, listening to music, reading books on tape, and playing games on the computer. Thanks to Zoom-Text He learned to send E-Mails and enjoyed his nephew’s sermons on the internet. He looked forward to the meetings of the East Georgia Chapter and enjoyed meeting other people. Conrad was one of the first recipients of the chapter's computers, and his wife, Dot Rawlins Bates, continues to be affiliated with the chapter.
Jane Hickok Reid: Jane Reid died in October of 1998, just before the first regular meeting of the East Georgia Chapter. She and her daughter, Anne Reid Dilley, had been instrumental in getting the East Georgia Chapter chartered just weeks prior to her death. Anne writes fondly of her mother in the following memorial.
“Jane was an accomplished equestrienne, clarinetist, and artist. She married a native Georgian and they had 3 children. She became a wonderful country cook. Jane became legally blind in 1989 and her sight decreased each year after that until she was almost totally blind. Even before her vision loss she had an ear for voices and dialects- this skill only intensified as her vision declined. She was able to identify a person by his or her voice. In the last years of her life as her health declined and she spent a lot of time in and out of the hospital, the doctors, nurses and techs just couldn’t understand how she knew who they were without being able to see them. They also couldn’t understand how someone who was so ill was always laughing and cracking jokes. She had always been like that and she never lost that spark, not even at the end of her life.
“Jane had become a member of GCB in 1989 and loved the interaction with other people. She loved going to chapter meetings and to the annual state conventions. She became so involved she even served as president of the Atlanta chapter one year.”
The East Georgia Chapter is still reaping the benefits of her legacy, however, through the work now being done by daughter Anne Dilley in her memory.
Carl E. Brooks: The East Georgia Chapter is blessed to have a special member, Patricia Cox, and blessed to have her entire family working hard to help the blind. Patricia’s mother, Linda Cox, writes this memorial for her father.
“Carl E. Brooks was a very devoted grandfather. He understood Patricia with an innate ability to see the truth when others could not. For instance, when Patricia was first born, he was the first person to say to my mother, ‘something is wrong with Patricia’s eyes.’ The doctors at the time continually told me nothing was wrong with her eyes. Patricia struggled to survive as a newborn due to intestinal problems. It was not until many years later that I realized they told me nothing was wrong with her eyes because they were trying to save her life. I was alone with Patricia at the hospital the day the doctors told me Patricia was blind. My dad was the first person I saw running up the escalator to see Patricia and to calm me down! From that moment on he was truly fascinated by Patricia and her vision. He knew before the doctors that Patricia could see a very small amount, and he also knew before the doctors that she could not see anything out of her left eye. He only had two years with Patricia before he passed away. He enjoyed every moment he had with her.
“He would be very proud to know about the organizations like the Center for the Visually Impaired and the Georgia Council of the Blind in which Patricia is involved.
“We miss you, Papa.”
The East Georgia Chapter gladly gives GCB our donation of money in memory of these individuals, and we offer the following quote in their memory:
“It is impossible to win the race unless you venture to run; impossible to win the victory unless you dare to battle.” (Richard M. Devoe)
ACB 2005 LEGISLATIVE SEMINAR IN
By Valerie Thomas
This February I had an unexpected opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C. I accompanied Judy Presley, a member of The Greater Hall County Area Chapter of GCB, to the American Council of the Blind legislative seminar. Our trip began by attending the Georgia Guide Dog Users workshop in Atlanta on February 19th. After attending the workshop we headed to the airport to catch our flight to Washington, D.C. We did not arrive at the hotel until late Saturday night. Shortly after arriving at the hotel we discovered that our rooms had already been given to someone else. We were upgraded to a very nice suite because of the mistake.
We had made plans that evening to get up early Sunday morning and do a little sight seeing, but due to getting in so late we over slept. The seminar didn't start until one p.m., so we decided to go to the Smithsonian's Natural Science and History Museum. We had about an hour to look around, buy souvenirs, and go to one or two exhibits we really wanted to see. I was able to see the hope diamond which I have always wanted to see. On the way back to the hotel I was able to view the Washington Monument up close instead of seeing it on a postcard or television.
We returned to the hotel, grabbed a bite to eat, and attended the seminar. The seminar was from one to five o'clock. The topics for the first day were Legislative Updates, Overview of Seminar, and Lobbying Logistics. The first day was fairly short with simple topics. I can not say the same thing for Monday.
After the seminar was over we decided that we really needed to rest up for the next day, so we went to eat next door at the Holiday Inn instead of going out with friends. When we finished with dinner, we returned to our room and went to bed early.
Monday started fairly early for Judy and me. We decided that since the hotel restaurant would be busy, we would head over to the Holiday Inn and have breakfast there. We returned to the hotel shortly before nine o'clock and met up with the other members from the GCB. The seminar went from nine o'clock in the morning until five o'clock in the afternoon. There were six topics that we went over throughout the day. These six topics were Social Security, Medicaid, Video Description Restoration Act, Highways and Transportation, Rehabilitation Re-authorization, and the Randolph-Sheppard Act.
The first topic on the agenda that was discussed was Social Security. The issue concerning ACB is that there has been discussion about changing Social Security, but very little discussion about persons with disabilities and what impact those changes to Social Security will have on their lives. ACB’s proposed action is that it encourages an impact study on its effect on the disabled.
ACB is concerned with possible changes to Medicaid funding. In order to make those changes, entitlement caps, block grants, and wavers may be implemented. ACB is against all of these measures.
The issue with the Video Description Restoration is that people who are visually impaired or blind are denied access to emergency weather advisories, important telephone numbers, and significant portions of programming on television that are portrayed visually. ACB supports and urges Congress to restore the Video Description Act.
There are several issues concerning ACB about Highway Reauthorization and Transportation. ACB feels that "it is critical that transportation legislation ensures that people with disabilities have safe, affordable and accessible transportation to fully participate in community life.” As a rule, individuals with visual impairments are more reliant on walking and public transportation than the general public. Federal funding for those programs, most relied upon by the disabled, is insufficient to adequately provide for the current population. ACB believes that the current funding proposed, $91 million for Section 5310, is grossly insufficient to meet current demand for the critical transportation services for people with disabilities and senior citizens and asks Congress to consider increasing that amount. Also, ACB believes it is imperative that individuals with disabilities are included in all aspects of transportation planning and project discourse (ACB 2005 Legislative Imperatives pg. 3-5).
The issue with the Re-authorization of the Rehab Act is that there is talk of giving states the option to consolidate the funding for the rehab act programs into larger funding streams for employment programs in general. ACB is against the language in HR27 that allows the consolidation of funds and urges Congress to keep the commissioner of RSA.
The Randolph-Sheppard Act was enacted in 1936, and since 1974, blind and visually impaired businessmen and businesswomen have had priority in contractual bids at federal government buildings and military facilities. ACB is concerned with potential amendments that have been proposed by interest groups, such as the National Industries for the Severely Handicapped, to remove the Randolph-Sheppard priority. "ACB urges Congress to protect the priority granted by the Randolph-Sheppard Act for Blind vendors on federal property, including military dining facilities (ACB 2005 Legislative imperatives pg. 7)"
After each topic there was a question and answer session, which I found very informative and helpful. Also, during lunch we had the opportunity to role-play in order to give those people that have never been to Capitol Hill before to get a feel of how things will go. I was glad that they had the role-playing because it gave me an idea of what to expect and how to act. I hope they continue the role-playing session because it is so helpful.
After the seminar was over the members from GCB headed out to dinner all together. After returning to the hotel everyone met in Alice Ritchhart's room to go over briefly again what the issues were and to figure out what topics we personally would be discussing. We went back to our room hoping to get to bed early. We had to be at Johnny Isakson's office at 8:30 in the morning. Unfortunately I did not get to bed until after one o'clock in the morning.
Judy and I got up at five o'clock Tuesday morning. We met everyone in the hotel lobby, grabbed a cab, and headed to Capitol Hill. We were on the Hill from 8:15 a.m. until after 3:30 p.m. By the time we got to sit down for lunch, it was time to jump back up and head off to our next meeting. Our last meeting was with Charlie Norwood's aid. After our meeting we headed to the hotel, grabbed our bags and jumped back into our cab and headed to the airport.
I was glad to finally be at the airport because it meant that I was able to rest and finish my lunch. Although Tuesday on the Hill was very busy, I enjoyed it immensely. The whole entire trip was fun, exciting, and informative. I plan to attend next time, and I would encourage other GCB members to attend. I also would like to thank Judy Presley and GCB for inviting me and allowing me to attend the seminar.
By Anne Wheeler
In 1989, Lynn Chiu had a problem, but being the creative thinker she was, the solution became her challenge and focus for the rest of her life.
The problem? Her daughter, Sandy, then just seven years old and having been born with cerebral palsy, needed toys adapted to her needs. Lynn was also interested in having Sandy learn to use a computer, but very few companies were making appropriate adaptive key guards. Also, many of the agencies Lynn could find to help were not conveniently located in her community. The solution? Start an agency of her own and not only help herself and her daughter, but help others as well. That is how Tech-Able was born.
The first place for Lynn’s endeavor was her garage, and she began as a lone adventurer into this world of assistive technology and adaptive equipment; but as fate would have it, Bernie Bourdon, a retired Florida resident, moved into the Conyers area and heard of Lynn’s mission. He volunteered his efforts and together, Lynn and Bernie made Tech-Able a place where parents of disabled children could find toys adapted to the child’s abilities and Bernie began making key guards for the computer key boards. Just a few years later, Tech-Able merged into Tools for Life. Today, numerous volunteers and three staff members along with the Tech-Able board of directors run Tech-Able in its current location on Brett Drive in Conyers, Georgia. The workers are still involved in adapting toys, but they do much more. Any person with a disability can come to Tech-Able and learn about the technology available. A full-time staff member, Joe Tedesco, is a certified assistive technology practitioner. He works with schools and vocational rehabilitation services as well as individuals. Tech-Able supports itself through an annual fund raising golf tournament, through charitable contributions, and by some federal funds. They make and sell key guards as well. These sources of income help make it possible for Tech-Able to offer services free of charge.
Tech-Able also serves as a “lending library” so that a person can take an item out on loan for a short period of time to determine whether it would fit the needs of that person. Then a more informed decision can be made in purchasing and owning that item.
There is so much more that could be written about Tech-Able and what it does. If anyone has questions, please feel free to call or talk to the staff at Tech-Able. Director, Carolyn McConogil, or administrative assistant, Pat Hanus, would be glad to answer questions. Anne Wheeler can clarify how Tech-Able can help. She volunteers every Thursday to help the blind and visually impaired. She says, “I counsel with those who are newly blinded by various diseases, and they are astounded to find out about computers that talk, and CCTV’s, and even talking watches and calculators. My role at Tech-Able is as varied as the needs that might arise. One of those chance opportunities for me to be of help to the blind community came recently from a call to me from the Georgia LIONS Lighthouse. They had inherited, through a contribution, a large number of braille books. They knew that I read braille and had contacts for others who also were braille literate. The books came from a school in Michigan and include a variety of titles. Tech-Able agreed to house these books until we find homes for them. I will be glad to ship these to anyone interested.”
The list of titles follows this article. For questions, call Anne Wheeler at Tech-Able: 770-922-6768 or e-mail at: email@example.com.
Tech-Able: Books in Braille
(Ask Anne Wheeler for a more detailed list.)
Learning the Nemeth Braille Code
Patterns, Patterns, Patterns (a Braille Learning series for young children)
The Animal Family
Fitness and Your Muscles
How Animals Learn
Where We Live
My Five Senses
Solids, Liquids, and Gases
The Eye of the Needle
Working With Sounds
Louis Braille, The Boy Who Invented Books for the Blind
Louis Braille Windows for the Blind
Spelling Brown Level
Spelling Plum Level
Volcano, The Eruption and Healing of Mt. St. Helens
Heath Mathematics Connection 4
English Grade 4
All About Volcano and Earth Quakes
Friends in the City
Down in the City
I Can Read About Eskimos
Heath Passport to Algebra and Geomotry, An Integrated Approach
The Trumpet of the Swan
Are you There God, It’s Me, Margaret
The Long Winter
The Distant Promise and Other Short Stories for Young Adults
Don’t Forget to Fly
Catch a Sun Flake
Sing It To The Sea
Beat the Story Drum
Exploring the Moon
The Time Machine
The House on the Cliff
The Secret of Wildcat Swamp
Wings to Adventure
The First Book of Ancient Egypt
Gregory, the Terrible Eater
Alexander and the Wind-Up Mouse
The Runaway Bunny
Got a Job to do? Rent a Third Grader
Henry and Midge, the First Book
The Snowy Day
The Monster Under My Bed
Peter and the North Wind
The Big Sale
The Apples Up on Top
The Puppy Who wanted a Boy
The Littlest Angel
Kristen’s Surprise, A Christmas Story
“The Black Cat”
“The Catbird Seat”
The Big book of Jokes
Laughable Limericks, The Big Book of Jokes
The Ten Commandments for Children
MORE TO YAP ABOUT!
As most of you know, the Georgia Council of the Blind will be holding its state convention this year at the Marriott Atlanta Northwest, and will again be hosting the YAPPERS in its newly organized Youth Awareness Program. The GCB members are busy selling tickets for a fund raiser to provide financial assistance for the YAPPERS to attend at least two or three days of the convention. The tickets for the fundraiser are $25 each, and the winning ticket, which will be the last one drawn at the GCB banquet on Saturday night, August 7, will be worth $2,500! The chapter or member-at-large who sells the winning ticket will win $500, so it is really worth your efforts to try and help us sell only 400 tickets by June 1, 2005. If you need a form, either contact your chapter president or Linda Cox, at 770-972-2231, or via e-mail, firstname.lastname@example.org. You will then fill out the form and send it back with your check, made payable to GCB, covering the tickets bought. Linda will promptly send you a ticket stub for each ticket you purchase.
Plans are under way to have the same kind of contest as last year with the speak-off first in the local chapters. Then there will be another Speak-Off on the state level with one sighted and one visually impaired finalist chosen. Prizes and awards will be presented to the winners. The YAPPERS must be between the ages of 13 and 18 and be in junior high or high school to qualify.
If your chapter needs youth to represent your group, please contact Ann Sims who can find some of the STARS youth to be sponsored by you. If you are interested in learning more details or in participating again or for the first time, please contact Mr. James Sparks via e-mail at email@example.com or Ms. Ann Sims, at 404-767-1792, or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
STATE CONVENTION NEWS
This year the state convention will be held August 4-7, 2005, at the Marriott Atlanta Northwest, 7000 Interstate North Parkway, Atlanta, Georgia 30339. , To take advantage of the $69.00 rate per night (valid for up to four people per room) make your reservations before July 15th. You can call 800-228-9240 to make your reservations, but this is a nationwide number. So, in order to get the correct room rates, be sure you specify Marriott Atlanta Northwest and that you are with GCB. Or you may call locally, 770-952-7900.
Here is a tentative and general overview of the programs and events planned for the convention:
The registration will begin on Thursday at 12:00. Also planned that day is a beep ball game, and in the evening, there will be the welcome reception, followed by the talent show.
Friday will include a vendors’ breakfast, then the opening session and welcome. The first program will be about eye research at Emory University. Following this will be a session on public speaking. This course will be done by professionals from Georgia Perimeter College, Gwinnett County Schools, and local theaters.
From 12:00 to 1:45 will be the GCB awards and appreciation luncheon. Between 2:00 and 6:30 will be the hodge podge of activities from swimming to shopping and much more.
Friday night dinner might be more choices including a descriptive movie during dinner. Then the night will end with the all-famous GCB auction.
On Saturday, things get going with the LIONS’ breakfast. Next, plans are to have a program on the cane vs. guide dog. After the break, we will have the exciting YAP Speak-Off followed by the YAP lunch.
More exciting plans during Saturday afternoon are not yet finalized, but we can assure you things will be interesting. That evening, there will be an awards banquet with a sock-hop dance to follow.
Sunday morning will begin with the devotional, then the GCB business meeting, and ending with the board meeting.
There should be something planned for each one’s taste, education, and enjoyment; so make your plans now to attend and participate.
Remember to sell as many raffle tickets as you can for a grand prize of $500! The chapter who sells the winning raffle ticket gets $100 as well.
Following are the GCB State Convention 2005 Committees:
Convention committee: Alice Ritchhart, James Dickerson, Linda Cox, J.C. Coefield, Carle Cox, Peggy Chavis, Brent Reynolds of Atlanta Chapter, Anne Wheeler of East Georgia Chapter, and Adam Shapiro of South Metro Council.
Program Selection Committee: Alice Ritchhart, Granger Ricks, Ann Sims
Hospitality Committee: Linda Cox as chair, Peter Tolly, Diane and Leo Healy, other vendors
Publicity Committee: Phil Jones, John Fearon, Stanley Lopez, Dale Albritton
Recreation Committee: Bob McGarry, Patricia Cox, Barry Vaughn, Judy Presley
Exhibits Committee: Peggy Chavis, Anne Dilley, Diane Simms, Janet Barlow
Accessibility Committee: Helen Bartels, Patricia Cox, Phil Jones
Awards Committee: Judy Presley as chair, Don Dilley
Registration Committee: Anne Dilley as chair, Don Dilley, Debbie Williams, Dolores Rutenber, Jennifer Rutenber, Lori Weitzel
Door Prize Committee: Cora Camp, Debbie Williams
Talent Show Committee: Phil Jones, Anne Wheeler, Adam Shapiro
Auction Coordination Committee: Carle Cox as chair, Debbie Williams, Lori Weitzel, Anne Dilley
Volunteer Coordinator: Don Dilley, James Dickerson
Raffle Coordinator: Linda Cox
Transportation Committee: Alice Ritchhart, Phil Jones, Brent Reynolds, Pat Fitts
Blind Women's Group: Adeline Dickerson as chair, Wyndy Orr, Peggy Chavis
LIONS’ Breakfast: J.C. Coefield, Anne Wheeler
Fund Raising: Alice Ritchhart, J.C. Coefield, Linda Cox, Phil Jones
History Committee: Robin Oliver as chair, Sandy Thomas, Elizabeth Bickel
A LITTLE HUMOR
Two men dressed in pilots' uniforms walk up the aisle of the plane. Both are wearing dark glasses, one is using a guide dog, and the other is tapping his way along the aisle with a cane. Nervous laughter spreads through the cabin, but the men enter the cockpit, the door closes, and the engines start up. The passengers begin glancing nervously around, searching for some sign that this is just a little practical joke. None is forthcoming.
The plane moves faster and faster down the runway, and the people sitting in the window seats realize they're headed straight for the water at the edge of the airport territory. As it begins to look as though the plane will plough into the water, panicked screams fill the cabin.
At that moment, the plane lifts smoothly into the air. The passengers relax and laugh a little sheepishly, and soon all retreat into their magazines, secure in the knowledge that the plane is in good hands.
In the cockpit, one of the blind pilots turns to the other and says, "You know, Bob, one of these days, they're gonna scream too late and we're all gonna die."
If you have a change of address, e-mail, telephone number, or any other changes such as a different preferred format, please contact June Willis, at 404-294-5326, or via e-mail at email@example.com.
Thank you to all who contributed to the Spring Issue of The GCB Digest.
We hope you enjoyed this magazine.
Editors: Jerrie Ricks and Ann Sims
GCB OFFICERS AND DIRECTORS
President, Marsha Farrow
102 N. Elizabeth Street, Summerville, GA 30747
Toll free, 877-667-6815; Home, 706-857-2968
First Vice President, Peggy Chavis, 526 Fourth Street, Athens, GA 30601
Second Vice President, Granger Ricks
1305 Chester Place, McDonough, GA 30252;
Secretary, Alice Ritchhart
125 Willow Pond Way, Brunswick, GA 31525
Treasurer, June Willis, 15 Kensington Road, Avondale Estates, GA 30002, 404-294-5326, firstname.lastname@example.org
Director, Dana Gantt, 5 Kingsbrook Circle, Newnan, GA 30265, 678-423-9865, email@example.com
Member-at-large Representative, Sandy Thomas
2522 Meadowbrook Drive, Augusta, GA 30906
GGDU Representative, Diane Healy
4894 Leeds Court, Atlanta, Georgia 30338
Athens Chapter, Bill Holley, 121 Banks Street, Maysville, GA 30558
Atlanta Chapter, Brent Reynolds
2449 East Club Drive, Apt. A-101, Atlanta, GA 30319
Augusta Chapter, Stanley Lopez
3226 Peninsula Drive, Augusta GA 30909
Bainbridge Chapter, Adeline Dickerson,
919 West Street, Apt. 7, Bainbridge, GA 39819
Chattooga County Chapter, Barry Vaughn
103 South Ridge Road, Summerville, GA 30730
East Georgia Chapter, Anne Wheeler
2199 Floyd Street, Covington, GA 30014
East Georgia Chapter, Anne Dilley
p.o. Box 134, Grayson, GA 30017.
Greater Columbus Chapter, Crawford Pike
4408 Chalfonte Drive, Columbus, Georgia 31904
Greater Hall County Chapter, Richard Bagley
5701 Thompson Mill Road, Hoschton, GA 30548
Houston County Chapter, J.C. Coefield
105 Fox Den Court, Warner Robins, GA 31093
Macon Chapter, Carolyn Carr
523 Cherry Street, 922, Macon, GA 31201
Northwest Georgia Chapter, Tim Barrett
P.O. Box 1392, Lafayette, GA 30728
Savannah Chapter, Brian Leighton, 1030 Shawnee Street,
Apt. F-7, Savannah, GA 31410
South Metro Chapter, Adam Shapiro
1050 Ponce de Leon Ave., Apt. 203,
Atlanta, GA 30306
Stephens County Chapter, Alfred Camp
6972 Alfred Camp Road, Toccoa, GA 30557