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Missouri Chronicle

June, 2020 Edition

LETTER FROM THE NEW EDITOR

By Wilma Chestnut-House

I am honored to be the new editor for the Chronicle.  I will do what I always do and that is to put my all into this new job.  Even though there is no pay, I still consider this a job and will treat it as such.  I will announce at least two weeks in advance when it is time for the affiliates to send in articles. It is important that your articles or announcements are sent in on time so that Virginia can get them out to you.  If we all work together, everything will be fine.

Thank you.

PRESIDENT'S REPORT

By Naomi Soule, President

Hello Everyone, by this time, all of us have survived the Stay-At-Home orders in our communities.  As of this writing, St. Louis city and county are still on lockdown. 

The last few months have been pretty quiet.  We started an open chat which takes place on Thursday afternoons at 4 PM.  Many of you keep the conversation lively.  Not only do we have MCB members, we also have people from Illinois and Washington state participating.  All are welcome.  Call 480 297 0773 pass code 3453307# to participate.

A lot of time was spent getting ready for the first MCB Auction held on Sunday April 19.  I want to thank the Auction Committee and Chris Gray for all their hard work planning and organizing the auction. We raised over 2600 dollars.  Those of you who contributed items, a big thank you!!

By now, you know that Our Executive Director, Chris Gray will be retiring.  His last day will be June 30.  I want to thank Chris for his many years of work improving the lives of our members and the blind of Missouri. Have a great summer everyone.

ANNOUNCING MY RETIREMENT

By Christopher Gray

Hi to All MCB Members and Friends.  I am announcing today, May 1, 2020 my intention to retire as Executive Director from the Missouri Council of the Blind.  Though it should go without saying, my retirement is strictly voluntary.  Quite honestly, I considered retiring on my 66th birthday last November.  Yes, I am 66 and eligible for full Social Security Retirement.  That may surprise some, but it's the case.  I was asked though to remain onboard for the 2020 legislative session and to work with MCB on the 2020 U.S. census. I have been very happy to do both of these things. 

I am honored to have been a part of the Missouri Council of the Blind these past many years.  How much we have been through together!  We almost lost Medicaid for recipients of blind pension, but we didn't!  We languished nearly 15 years to win the back payments for blind pension recipients.  But, again we, MCB, prevailed in the end.  We remain strong and steadfast in our resolve to improve the lives of the blind of Missouri.  We remain committed to the principles of Democracy and freedom of choice of the American Council of the Blind.  We remain committed to the philosophy that blindness with its many challenges can be overcome and need not be a negative force in our lives. 

Please don't imagine that I am abandoning MCB today with my announcement to retire.  I will remain in your service through June 30, 2020.  This should allow ample time to complete projects and finalize work to serve our members, particularly those with whom I am working on Blind Pension and Social Security issues. 

I will take with me for the rest of my life the many relationships forged during my time in Missouri.  While I do not know yet all that my future may hold, I know it is fuller and stronger based on the years I have spent with all of you.  I thank you for the opportunity to have worked with you and socialized with you.  Together, we have strengthened MCB and hopefully placed it closer to a path of success in the decades to come.  I thank you for your fellowship and comradeship these many years.  Let us all dream for a bright future and many successes to come. 

CANDIDATES CORNER

Wilma Chestnut-House

I would like to announce my candidacy for MCB President.  My intentions were to visit with each affiliate until the convention and elections, but the Covid-19 happened.  Therefore, if the president or secretary of each affiliate could call me and set up a time when your usual affiliate meeting is held, I could still speak with your members.  The members at large can get on the call at the time of the affiliate in your area.  My number is (314)873-9022.  I will give you my conference call number and we can have a discussion. This is something that is very important to me.  If I don’t hear from some of the affiliates, I will contact the secretary.  I would like to speak with everyone!

AFFILIATES REPORTING

AGAPE Council of the Blind Report

By Wilma Chestnut-House

AGAPE members hope that everyone is staying safe during the Covid-19 virus situation.  We did get the opportunity to host our Ninth Black History Program on February 29 before the “Stay-at-home” ruling started.

On February 28, 2020, we lost one of our members, Mrs. Bessie Reece.  She had been ill for a very long time. She lost the love of her life, husband Thomas Reece Sr. and grandson. Larry L. Parker Jr., in a matter of one month of each other in 2018. 

Mrs. Reece received her G.E.D. from Hadley School for the Blind and went on to receive her PhD in theology from Lael College and Graduate School. She was a very strong advocate for the blind and visually impaired. She walked the halls of the Capital Building in Jefferson City and in Washington, D.C. religiously.  In her last years as a member of Missouri Council, she was extremely saddened because she could not attend Legislative Days or conventions.  Mrs. Reece will be truly missed as a mother, friend, a member of AGAPE Council of the Blind and MCB.

Black History Program

On February 29, 2020, AGAPE Council held our Ninth Black History program.  It was entitled “St. Louis Legends”.  We gave out certificates from AGAPE and Proclamations from the St. Louis City Mayer.

The MCB President did the honors of presenting awards to five of our MCB members or representatives.  These members were Bessie and Thomas Reece, Odell Hollins, Joe Powell, and Carl Mack.  Other honorees were Betty Thompson, John Bass, Senator William Lacey Clay Jr. and his father.  We also honored Lou “Fatha” Thymes along with Anthony Shahid and Percy Green.  We had a full house and a great time.  Part of our proceeds will go to a St. Louis foundation for diabetes which is one of the causes of blindness.  We would like to thank all that attended and will keep you posted on our next event.

In March, our president, Elizabeth Brown, Peggy Hurt, and I attended Legislative Day in Jefferson City.  We had the opportunity to speak to everyone that we needed to see.  With that being said, we had a very productive day.  Chip does a great job of planning this important event along with the office staff and his committee.  Thanks!

Delta Area Report

By Wanda Matlock

Hello to everyone from Delta Area!  On March 4th, Mr. Jim Taul and I were invited to visit with Mr. Cravens, who is our New Madrid County Clerk.  I had spoken with Mr. Cravens about having trouble with the assessable voting machine at my polling place in the past.  Mr. Cravens had an assessable voting machine set up and allowed me to vote with the machine to make sure that it was working properly.  He also answered our questions and assured us that the person in charge of the operation of the machine would be properly trained before our next election.

Mr. Jim Taul and LaWana Copeland traveled to Jefferson City for legislative days on March 10th and 11th.  They always look forward to meeting with our state representatives.  We had to cancel our March meeting because of everything going on with the Corona virus.  We definitely want to keep all our members safe and healthy.

At a previous meeting, the Delta Area members voted to collect glasses for the Lions Club.  We are happy to say that we collected 33 pairs of glasses. On April 8th, we added a new member to Delta Area.  Her name is Misty Houston and she lives in Sikeston.  Welcome Misty!

Our April 28th meeting was held via conference call.  Thanks to Darrel Vickers for allowing us to use his conference call line.  We had many items to discuss such as the MCB Auction. There were several Delta Area members that participated in the auction and thought that the amount that was made was great.  Hopefully we can have the auction again next year and it will be bigger and better.  We also discussed the Lola B. Garner Scholarship.  This scholarship is awarded each year to a student who resides in Southeast Missouri and who is blind, visually impaired or has special needs who is seeking a college degree or seeking training through a vocational or technical school. We also discussed Summer Camp.  Several of our members are getting excited about going to camp in July and others are getting geared up for the September weekend.  We are so blessed to have this opportunity for a great vacation with our friends all across the state of Missouri.  If we can meet in person in May, our members are planning to do something special.  I will let you know what that something special was in my next chronicle report.  From our affiliate to yours, have a very safe and happy Summer!

St. Charles County Council of the Blind

By Marjorie Petrofsky

February 20 was our monthly affiliate meeting.  We had a special guest, Jim, from True Fitness to talk about adapting exercise equipment to fit the needs of the blind and visually impaired.  Since the pandemic I have adapted my own exercise routine.  To exercise my legs, I periodically get off the recliner and stand.  I exercise my fingers and hands by pressing my TV remote control buttons and my arms get a workout by opening and closing the refrigerator.  Who says you can't be active while staying at home? 

We had our annual soup and chili dinner on February 28th at Dana and Lyle’s house.  Besides soup, there were several kinds of bread, macaroni and cheese and several desserts.  Afterwards we played a game called fact or fiction.  Someone tells a story and the rest have to figure out if it was true or fiction.  Denny told a story about waiting for a cab in Cleveland, Ohio one very cold frigid winter day when a lady pulled up, took him to her house, made him dinner then took him to his hotel room.  The story was partly true, a lady did come by and took him to his hotel but not to her house. 

Linda told a story where she spotted a squirrel and she got a little too close.  She was wearing loose fitting pants and the squirrel ran up them but did eventually come out.  This story was true.  Our March meeting was on March 2nd where we all met at Spencer Library and it was the last time we were together.  Denny's granddaughter, Eryn Dilks, from “The Clever Dog Company,” where they train service dogs.  She said when you see one it is very important not to pet it, something I am very guilty and bad about.  She gave the definition of a service dog as a dog who is specifically trained to work with a person with a specific disability. We weren't able to have our installation dinner in April at Duchane High School, so we weren't able to celebrate Kim Reese's 39th birthday again.  We did elect our new officers who are Kim Reese as President, Linda Musgrove as 2nd Vice President.  Johanna will continue as 1st Vice President and Allen will continue as out Secretary.   Dana will take over as our new Treasurer.  Beverly and Denny will get a much needed and well-deserved rest. Denny recently had surgery to remove part of his lung and a cancerous tumor.  His recovery was fast, and he is as good as new.  I guess there is something to that old adage, “you can't keep a good man down.”  Everybody stay safe and healthy, like Denny says, “Better to be six feet away than six feet under.”

Blind of Central Missouri

By Marilyn Harding

February was a wash.  Our meeting was canceled due to weather.  We spent are March meeting eating pizza and filling out camp applications and then the Corona Virus hit.  Our April meeting was canceled so there is little to report.  Please stay in and stay well.  We will weather this!

Greetings from Queen City Council of the Blind

By Marilyn Tuso

It’s been a while since you have heard from us.  Hopefully, we will keep you better updated.  Here are our current elected officers.  President Jesse Robinson, Vice President Mary Muller, Recording Secretary Daniel Lagoo, Corresponding Secretary Nancy Hodson, and Treasurer Vicki Maples.

We hope everyone was able to stay clear from the Corona Virus and were able to stay safe and well. In March, 13 of our members went out to eat at Norma’s Carriage House and had a very enjoyable time.  On Thursday afternoon, MCB has a coffee break conference call, where different MCB members moderate the call.  It’s a time in which people can talk about how they have been able to stay busy during the Covid-19 Virus.  A lot of valuable information is also shared by many of our members on the call.  Hope everyone has a wonderful summer and will see you in September.

Missouri Guide Dog Users (MGDU)

By Judy Burch

First and foremost, congratulations are in order to our new Chronicle editor, Wilma Chestnut-House!  MGDU members know you’ll do a great job, Wilma!

To answer Wilma’s questions which were posted on the chat list as to how we have been handling the virus with meetings, how we have been keeping safe and how we have been keeping busy, we have been doing quite well.  MGDU has been holding its meetings via phone conference calls. 

Membership meetings are generally held on the second Monday of each even-numbered month.  So, for example, our most recent meeting was held on April 13, 2020 and our next membership meeting will be held on June 8, 2020.  Our board meetings are generally held on the second Monday of each odd-numbered month, unless there is business that needs to be addressed by the board before or after.  As for keeping safe, I think we’re all doing what we can by staying home as much as possible and practicing social distancing while trying to get as many safe walks in with our guide dogs as we can.  In order to be as social as we can be under the current circumstances, we have begun to meet every third Tuesday at 6:00 p.m. for a Happy (or is it “Yappy) hour?  This meeting is also held by conference call.  Folks can come in and chat about anything related to their guide dogs or for that matter anything else.  We recently had our first one and it was a great success!

       And keeping busy?  We are definitely keeping very busy!  As some already know, MGDU will be hosting the Top Dog 2021 conference to be held here in St. Louis at the Westport Plaza Lakeside Chalet hotel.  The dates for the conference are May 20-23, 2021.  We will be sure to keep all informed as things progress.  In addition, we are making plans for our annual MGDU meeting to be held in Springfield in October.

Another way that we have been keeping very busy is with the development of a brand new MGDU website!  Our new site can be found at www.mgdu.org and we invite you all to check it out.  A number of members have contributed suggestions and ideas as the site has progressed, and our website developer, Cheryl Gadjadhar has worked with us to build it.  It is very accessible.  We are very proud of our website.  While on mgdu.org you can navigate to a number of links, among them links to a Top Dog 2021 Twitter feed, a Top Dog Facebook page, and soon we will have a Top Dog 2021 page.  In addition, Sarah has created a Top Dog email list.  Feel free to let us know what you think. 

In addition to meetings and website developing, we are engaged in fundraising activities, and we always welcome participation.  You can check some of our fundraising activities out on our website.  We have a Top Dog 2021 Planning Committee which meets frequently as we move forward with plans for Top Dog, and we have some great folks working on this committee.  Also, there is a Google number that can be used to contact any of our board members.

We always welcome new members to MGDU.  Please feel free to contact our treasurer, Sarah Calhoun at (636) 942-5956 if you are interested in joining.  We currently have 36 members. Our board members are Paul Mimms, President; Kim Hallows, Vice-President; Sarah Calhoun, Treasurer; Judy Burch, Secretary; Kay Malmquist, Board Member-at-Large; and Diana Dawne, Board Member-at-Large.   Until next time, everyone keep healthy and stay safe. 

COMMITTEES REPORTING

Summer Camp Report

By Beverly Kaskadden, Summer Camp Chair

Normally, I do not have any problem writing this report, but today it is difficult.  The COVID -19 Virus has changed our lives this year.  As many of you know, on April 2nd, the MCB Board voted to cancel the first week of Camp.  I have notified those who were registered.  Now here it is the end of April, and the fate of the July 26 week is undetermined.  It seems that we are all living one day at a time.  Since this publication is delayed from the time of writing, I should have more answers for you.  Please contact me with your questions. 

I can say that if we do attend, we must use common sense and try your best to keep your distance from each other, and here is the hard part, no hugs!  I for one, am really missing hugs. 

I will add the letter that I received from Cobblestone at the end of this message.  Keep in mind that I received it on April 6, but not sure when it was written. Also, it is intended to address guest other than MCB members.  I believe we are so blessed to have a wonderful working relationship with the Layton’s at Cobblestone.  Of course, it is their business, but they also have our best interest in mind. 

I know how much Cobblestone means to each one of you, and I will do my best to care for each one of you.  Whatever happens, let’s stay in touch and have those beach towels ready!  From your camp committee, Beverly, Celita and Sam.  Contact 636-561-6947, or 636-541-2503 or by email at bkaskadden@centurytel.net

Letter from Cobblestone Lodge

By Lee Layton Jr.

Dear Guests,

We have been thinking about all of our Cobblestone friends and families. We are hopeful that everyone is in good health in these difficult, uncertain, and unpredictable times. The economic impact of COVID-19 will certainly be felt by most of us, nevertheless, we are more concerned with the health and well-being of everyone, especially our guests. We know many that are in particularly heavily impacted areas. You are all in our thoughts every single day.

Our family has been completely isolated for about 18 days now. We are already anxiously anticipating the day we can all be together and enjoy each other’s company, especially after an undetermined period of social distancing and in many cases isolation. We have made some additional changes to policies surrounding new and existing reservations. I know the first question that is probably on everyone’s mind, “will we be open? The honest answer is that we don’t know. The various county mandates, state orders, and the simple fact that we don’t want anyone visiting to be at risk makes it impossible to make a prediction. Therefore, we have modified the way we are handling reservations for this season. Most importantly, no-one will lose a deposit for any reservation during the 2020 season. We will send an email to everyone with a reservation during a period that we know we will have to remain closed. This notification will be sent as early as possible prior to your stay.

We made the decision to institute a temporary closure for all events and reservations planned before May 28, 2020. We will be following all state orders, county mandates, and CDC guidelines and recommendations. We are a small family owned and operated business with economic concerns, just like anyone else. Our guests, our staff, and our family’s health and well-being are more important than any amount of money.

Please take care of yourselves, your family, and your friends. Support your small businesses as much as you can during this time. Remember, after this long evening of despair will come the welcome dawn. We will be here, eager to hear your stories, shake your hands, laugh and love… as this will all be but a memory.

When you are open will you be taking any additional precautions or measures to minimize risk of COVID-19? Absolutely! We will taking precautions like strict hygiene practices for all of our staff members, close monitoring and screening of our staff, disinfectant cleaning practices in all facilities and areas, contact avoidance, and any other criteria and guidance recommended from our local health department, the CDC and the W.H.O. We will continue these additional sanitization practices until any risk of COVID-19 is no longer a concern.

Education and Advocacy

By Chip Hailey, MCB Education and Advocacy Chair

Hello MCB legislative advocates.  As the COVID-19 virus continues to dominate tv, radio, and newspaper headlines, it remains at the center of many of our thoughts and conversations.  These are certainly challenging times for all of us. As I write this report, there have been 6,997 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the state of Missouri with 274 deaths.

I am proud of the unified way our communities have responded to this pandemic, and I continue to remain hopeful for a quick resolution to this ongoing challenge.

On March 10th, MCB legislative advocates met at the Capitol Plaza Hotel to once again go over our legislative imperatives that we would be taking to our state legislators.

We would be once again be working in conjunction with Disability Rights Legislative Day (DRLD).  This year’s theme was “We Belong in the Classroom, the Workplace, and the Community.”  The three legislative imperatives taken to our legislators were as follows:

HB1270, sponsor Representative Sarah Unsicker, modifies provisions relating to blind pensions.

HB1276, sponsor Representative Sarah Unsicker, requires state agencies to support competitive integrated employment for persons with disabilities.

SB595, sponsor Senator Lincoln Hough, modifies provisions relating to personal care assistance services.

HB1270, last action on 3/19/2020 - Perfected by Consent - Pursuant to House Rules.

HB1276 received a second read on January 9th but no further action was taken.

SB595 was reported Do Pass by Committee on 3/2/2020 and was placed on the Senate Formal Calendar for perfection on 3/26/2020.

My thanks to all of you who made the long trip to Jefferson City to present our issues to our state policy makers.  Your presence at the Capitol helps us to strengthen our relationships with our legislators and gives us the opportunity to personally interact with them regarding our issues.

I would also like to extend a big shout out to the MCB Office for all of the hard work they do in making our MCB Legislative Days run smoothly.  Virginia and Eleanor always go above and beyond the call of duty by making room reservations, printing our legislative materials, assigning legislative visits, and doing so much more.

On February 25th, MCB President, Naomi Soule, and MCB Executive Director, Chris Gray, as well as myself, met with our Congressional leaders on Capitol Hill to present them with the following ACB legislative imperatives:

Imperative 1: Autonomous Vehicles

Numerous automobile and technology projects are beginning to develop and test the use of autonomous vehicles. This may provide significant opportunities to the blind community. However, Congress must first address the questions that may arise from the new industry. The AV START Act was introduced in the former, 115th Congressional Session. The law would play a role in making autonomous vehicles safer for both passengers and pedestrians. Although the former bill did not pass, similar legislation continues to be discussed. A bicameral, bipartisan committee has worked with several disability advocacy groups, including ACB, to draft language for a similar bill to the AV Start Act. ACB is optimistic that this new bill will soon be introduced to Congress in 2020.

Attendees of the 2020 ACB Legislative Seminar were encouraged to discuss the bill with their representatives and senators to stress the positive impact autonomous vehicles will have on the blind community.

Imperative 2: The Surface Transportation Bill

By the fall of 2020, Congress must reauthorize the Fast Act Surface Transportation bill. With this reauthorization, ACB hopes to include several key elements to improve transportation safety and access for blind and visually impaired Americans. These provisions will include measures to improve pedestrian safety and environmental access, as well as improve the timeliness, reliability and functionality of para transit service.

Attendees were recommended to share personal anecdotes about how pedestrian safety and transportation reforms will improve security, independence, and quality of life for all Americans living with vision loss.

Imperative 3: Low Vision Aid Exclusion

In November of 2008, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) promulgated a regulation that has had a detrimental impact on the lives of countless individuals who are blind or visually impaired. To the dismay of the blind community, the Durable Medical Equipment, Prosthetics, Orthotics, and Supplies (DMEPOS) Competitive Acquisition Rule contains a provision entitled "Low Vision Aid Exclusion" which states that all devices, "irrespective of their size, form, or technological features that use one or more lens to aid vision or provide magnification of images for impaired vision" are excluded from Medicare coverage based on the statutory "eyeglass" exclusion. ACB is well aware that this extremely restrictive reading of the "eyeglass" exclusion has resulted in the denial of vital assistive devices for seniors and other Medicare beneficiaries who may have disabilities. The expansion of the eyeglass exclusion has prevented access to devices such as handheld magnifiers, video monitors, and other technologies that utilize lenses to enhance vision.

Should you have any questions or would like additional information regarding any of the above legislative issues, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me.  You can reach me at: chiphailey@cableone.net or by calling 417-540-9703.

I would like to conclude my report by expressing my deep gratitude to our MCB State president for allowing me the opportunity to continue serving MCB in this important capacity.

Stay safe and well everyone and have a fun-filled summer.

Adaptive Technology Grant Committee

By Darrel Vickers, Chairman

Hi Everyone, I want to take a minute to give you an update on our technology grants and provide an overview of this great program for those of you who might not be aware of it and how it works.  Missouri Council knows how life changing, certain types of technology can be to a blind person. We are also aware the cost of this type of technology can be expensive and may be out of reach for some people.  Therefore, MCB provides the adaptive technology grant.  Each year MCB sets aside moneys for technology that blind persons of Missouri can apply for, to help offset the cost of adaptive technology.

How it works:  For MCB members, MCB will match dollar for dollar for most types of adaptive technology with a $3000 limit over any five (5) year period. Any blind resident of Missouri who is not a member of MCB can also receive a grant, but we will match 25% of the total cost with the same $3000 limit.

2019-2020 Funding: The adaptive technology grant program budget was approved by the board for $30,000.

We began accepting applications on November 1st.

As of this writing, May 1, 2020, we approved 25 grants and have used approximately $19,000 of our funds.

If this program can help you I would encourage you to apply. We generally run out of money by the summer.

Purpose: The MCB technology grant is a matching grant to help Missouri blind and low vision persons obtain all types of adaptive technology. The Missouri Council of the Blind (MCB) created this Adaptive Technology Grants Program to help fulfill its mission of enriching the lives of legally blind Missourians. Adaptive technology can be very expensive so MCB understands why many legally blind Missourians are not benefiting from its use. For the purpose of this grant program, adaptive technology is considered hardware, software, electronics, equipment, etc. that is standalone or works in conjunction with a computer that makes it possible for blind people to do things that sighted people can already do without using adaptive technology.

Coverage:  The Adaptive Technology Grants Program widely covers both hardware and software based adaptive technology, including upgrades and maintenance agreements, and narrowly covers computer systems as required by or used in conjunction with accompanying adaptive technology, such as screen magnification software, screen reader software, or a scanning system. Purchase of a computer along with or for use with accompanying adaptive technology is only eligible for up to a $400 matching funds grant. Only new adaptive technology and computers are covered, including adaptive technology upgrades to newer versions; used or previously owned adaptive technology and computers are not covered.

A full copy of the grant guidelines as well as an application can be found on our web site at: http://moblind.org/programs/ or by contacting the MCB office at (314) 832-7172. You can also contact me anytime. This is a wonderful program and I encourage you to take advantage of it if you need to.  The Adaptive Technology Committee is made up of four members: Darrel Vickers, Kim Vaughn, Brian Hallows and Donna Giger.  If you have any questions about the program please contact me by email at darrel@ww4b.org or by phone at 636-667-3176.  Until next time, take Care.

Missouri Council of the Blind Listserves

By Chip Hailey

Missouri-l: an open list designed to provide timely information to blind and visually impaired persons and other interested parties. To subscribe, send a blank e-mail to missouri-l+subscribe@groups.io.

MCB Chat List: an open list designed to interact with listers on topics of interest to the blind community. To subscribe send a blank e-mail to: chat-mcb+subscribe@groups.io.

MCB ATI List: an open list designed to provide information on technology for the blind and visually impaired and is also open to other interested parties.  To subscribe send a blank e-mail to: ati-mcb+subscribe@groups.io.

MCB Education & Advocacy List: an open list designed to provide information regarding state and national legislation impacting persons who are blind or visually impaired. To subscribe send a blank e-mail to: edu-mcb+subscribe@groups.io.

MCB Board List: a closed list designed for MCB officers, Board of Directors, and MCB affiliate Board representatives to provide information and discussion on the business of MCB.

MCB presidents List: a closed list for MCB affiliate and special interest affiliate presidents to discuss and share ideas

MCB Strategic Planning list: a closed list for the MCB Strategic Planning Committee to create and oversee the strategic plan of the organization

Missouri Guide Dog Users list (showmepaws): an open list for persons interested in service dogs. For information on the list contact Paul Mimms by email at paul8655@gmail.com or by phone at (816) 718-2792.

MCB Youth Conference List: not sure whether this list is still active.  It was a list designed years ago to put together a youth conference.

If I've unintentionally omitted any other MCB lists please feel free to share.

HAVE YOU COMPLETED THE 2020 CENSUS?

Everyone counts.  The goal of the census is to count every living person in the U.S. once, only once, and in the right place.  We need your help to make sure everyone in your community gets counted. The U.S. Constitution requires a census every 10 years.  The results are used to determine the number of seats each state has in Congress, draw boundaries for voting districts, and determine how more than $675 billion in federal funding is spent in communities each year.  Have you completed the 2020 Census? 

LEADER DOGS SUMMER EXPERIENCE CAMP 2020 IS GOING VIRTUAL!

By Rachelle, Director of Communications & Marketing

A Free Program at Leader Dogs for the Blind.  We are going virtual with our free camp experience this summer! With camper safety in mind, we have cancelled our traditional Summer Experience Camp for 2020. Going virtual allows us to open camp to teens 14 and 15 years old in addition to our standard ages of 16 and 17 years old. Many aspects of our camp adapt well to this platform, including exploring mobility options like guide dog travel, building leadership skills and relationships with peers. Camp dates are expected to be confirmed soon. To receive updated information about Summer Experience Camp as it becomes available, please fill out the form on our website.  Leader Dogs for the Blind, 1039 S. Rochester Rd., Rochester Hills, MI 48307-3115.

Call 248-659-5013 or Toll Free 888-777-5332 to learn more about our programs and services or visit LeaderDog.org.

We are always in need of volunteers to raise our puppies. Learn more at LeaderDog.org/puppy.  Our mission is to empower people who are blind or visually impaired with lifelong skills for safe and independent daily travel.

BE MY EYES

As of April 22, 2020, we are pleased to be bringing ACB onto the Be My Eyes platform as a “Specialized Help” provider. This means that anyone in the US who needs to communicate with an ACB expert can now initiate a video call directly through the Be My Eyes app and have their call routed simultaneously to our team.

This amazing tech is not only going to boost our efficiency in supporting members and prospective members (being able to solve problems faster, in many cases, by looking at them), but also allows us to ensure that calls are answered promptly in all cases.

Be My Eyes has a massive global platform and will be communicating our partnership far and wide, so, as one of only a few blindness orgs on the platform, we are leading the way for others. Currently their partners include big names like Google, Microsoft and P&G so we are in good company on the Specialized Help provider list (only visible in the US) and will be visible under the “Blindness Organizations” category on the Specialized Help screen.

I hope Missouri Council of the Blind can help us spread the word, both internally and to those in your external network. We are thrilled to be signing on and hope that not only will this increased connectivity be of great benefit during this difficult remote period, but will go on to show its value in the future as well!

To read the press release about this partnership on our website, visit: https://acb.org/acb-announces-partnership-be-my-eyes.

UPDATE FROM SOCIETY FOR THE BLIND & VISUALLY IMPAIRED

By Christy McCutcheon

We want to thank the blindness and low vision community for all the support and well wishes during the COVID-19 crisis.  Society staff have been busy working from home and making sure that client’s needs are continuing to be met.  I wanted to make sure that you know the staff is regularly monitoring the news about reopen dates for St. Louis County and St. Louis city.  We will reopen when the Stay-At-Home is lifted in St. Louis County.  Rest assured that there are staff available to you by phone and mail until we are able to reopen our doors to the public.  We take your health and safety very seriously!  When we reopen, staff, clients and visitors will be asked to wear masks to protect each other from potential infection.  Everyone will be screened prior to coming to the agency and upon arrival.  In addition, we will be cleaning the building throughout the day and in the evenings to create a safe environment for everyone.  We will also limit the density of people in the facility at any given time so that we can keep a safe distance. 

When Society is able to reopen, we will continue to assist individuals of all ages through specialized Vision Rehabilitation and Special Education Services to children, adults and seniors to enhance their physical, psychological, developmental, educational, and socialization opportunities to increase independence and reduce vulnerabilities. Occupational Therapists provide training, tools, and home modifications that enable the senior with low to no vision to do daily living tasks such as kitchen management, clothing care, and house cleaning.  Orientation and Mobility Specialists (O&M) teach clients how to continue to move around safely in their homes and community.  O&M also provides environmental modifications that add to the client’s safety such as marking the edge of a step with a contrasting color.  Low Vision Therapy trains clients to use tools that enhance their ability to read, write, manage glare and complete daily living tasks.

To keep informed on our reopen date, you can visit our website www.slsbvi.org, be sure to follow us on Facebook, STLSocietyfortheBlindandVisuallyImpaired and Instagram @stl_society_for_the_blind.  You can call us with any questions or if you are interested in services 314-968-9000.

MCB BOARD MINUTES

April 2, 2020

The meeting was called to order at 7:00 p.m. by president Naomi Soule.

Joe Morgan said a prayer.

Recording Secretary Joe Morgan called the roll.

All officers & directors were present, and all affiliates were represented. Guest Beverly Kaskadden was also present.

Naomi welcomed Executive Director Chris Gray.

The agenda was approved.

The Minutes for December 11, 2019 were approved.

Executive Director's Report: Chris Gray talked about the MCB auction. There has not been as much publicity about the auction as he would have liked to have due to hard drive problems at his house but he has been working on the new hard drive the last two weeks. There are also a couple of other issues he wanted us to consider. One is whether the auction should be held on April 19th as planned. He felt some might be afraid because of Covid 19 concerns. He wants to see how many people have signed up and how much interest in the auction will be created in the next two weeks. He asked the Board for comments. Chris will be doing a series of podcasts highlighting auction items. Sabrina Fowler made a motion to see how the shopping extravaganza planned for April 4th goes and let the Resource and Development Committee decide when the auction will be held.  The motion was adopted. 

Treasurer's Report: Jack Lenk reported that a Budget and Finance Committee meeting was held on Monday, March 31. The stock market has taken a hit over the last six weeks or so but MCB is still in decent shape especially compared to a year ago. Raymond James Account 1 has $1,280,000; Account 2 has $1,329,000. US Bank has $362,000. US bank was down 10.8 percent from February until March 31. Raymond James was down around 13 to 15 percent. Chris Gray commented that compared to February 2019 we are up 1.5 percent at US bank after withdrawals and 5.75 percent at Raymond James. 

Naomi talked about ACB’s efforts in dealing with the Corona Virus. The ACB Board has chosen to cancel the ACB convention which was scheduled to take place in Schaumburg, Illinois.  They will instead hold a virtual convention. You will be able to access different sessions over Zoom or also on the Amazon Echo. More information will be coming out in the near future. Additionally, ACB is sponsoring a lot of chats which has been really good. The membership and outreach coordinator sends out a list of chats taking place. She is on every week with presidents of state affiliates which has gone very well but there are other chats taking place so watch for those emails. She is doing a Missouri chat every Thursday afternoon at 4:00 p.m. and everyone is welcome. She asked the Board to tell how affiliates have been helping members and checking on them during this time. Chris Gray said while we are working from home in St. Louis the staff members are trading around coming in different days at least part time to the office. All applications for various grants are being processed.  Checks are being done once every other week but rest assured that applications are being taken care of not quite as fast but they are getting them done. 

Camp Committee Chair Beverly Kaskadden was on the conference call. Naomi talked to Beverly last Tuesday about her concerns with camp. She said we do not know where things are going to be and she is concerned for the health and welfare and safety, of all MCB members. As a blind community, we do things differently than the average person does. Social distancing is not always going to happen for a person who is blind as they are unable to keep six feet away from someone. Also we touch much more often than others. She felt we should cancel the June session which would start on May 31st and goes for that week. She doesn't feel we need to make any decisions regarding any other sessions at this time. Beverly spoke about her feelings on this matter. Board members also gave comments. 

Carl Chappell moved that MCB cancel the first week of camp from May 31st to June 7th. The motion was adopted. 

Note: Director Linda Gerken was unable to unmute and could not voice her vote. Naomi said we will meet in May and see how things are going at that time before making a decision about July camp.

The Resource and Development Committee will meet on Tuesday to discuss the MCB auction. The meeting was adjourned at 810 p.m.

Respectfully submitted, Joe Morgan, Recording Secretary.