March 2020 Chronicle

March 2020 Chronicle

LETTER FROM THE EDITOR

By Deanna Quiet Water Noriega

Smoke signal sent from Quiet Water.  One of the things I value about the Missouri Council of the Blind is the support we give each other. We truly are a family. We work together to make Missouri a better place for all visually impaired people to live and prosper. I want to extend my thanks to my local chapter, Tiger Council of the Blind for all the support they have given my husband and I as we struggle with one health disaster after another. I feel that I have left those of you who eagerly await the appearance of the Chronicle down. I have been struggling with uncooperative computers, and repeated illnesses on the part of my husband Curtis. He’s been hospitalized once and endured the discomfort and frustration of three bladder infections since the beginning of the year. My laptop computer has had a hard drive crash, and my desktop is ancient and cranky. It has been without speech as I tried to prepare this newsletter. Despite all my efforts, I have been unable to complete this issue without the wonderful support of the MCB office staff. Thank you everyone for being there for me, for Curtis, and for each other.

President’s Report

By Naomi Soule, President

I hope your year is going well.  This year is starting out to be a busy one.  On January 21 Chris and I met with the National Park Service and their contractors regarding Braille signage that will be placed on the Arch Park grounds.  We discussed Braille labelling errors and raised line changes to the map.  We will be meeting again when the corrected map is completed. 

On January 27, Chris, Chip and I went to Jefferson City to attend the hearing for Bill 1270 which has to do with eliminating the certified mail requirement for Blind Pension letters.  I spoke about why this is a big inconvenience for Blind Pension recipients.  The bill has been given a do pass.

On January 28 Chris and I met with Laura Park Leech, the new Executive Director at the Society for the blind.  She plans on making some positive changes and we look forward to working with her. 

Chris and I went on a tour of the Saint Louis Aquarium, which opened on Christmas Day.  I have been to a few meetings regarding accommodations that needed to be made.  Unfortunately, there is a long way to go regarding accessibility for all. 

I added my comments to a document Colleen Starkloff is submitting to the aquarium.  We have a long way to go.

MCB is hosting a table at the Mind’s Eye Soiree this Friday night.  This event is their major fundraiser for the year.  Chris will be receiving an award from Mind’s Eye.

Chris and I will be meeting with the Saint Louis Lighthouse for the Blind employees regarding their continuing frustration with Call-A-Ride.  We are collecting ADA violation examples that you are experiencing with paratransit.  Please send them to Chris Gray.

Chip Hailey, Chris and I will be going to Washington, DC to attending ACB's Leadership and Legislative Meeting February 22 through the 25th.  We will go to Capitol Hill on Tuesday, February 25th to meet with our representatives.

I will be presenting awards at Agape's annual Black History Month Event on February 29th.

In closing, we are looking to the MCB Auction in April.  Please send your auction items to the MCB Office.  We thank those of you who have already contributed items, look forward to receiving your affiliate's contribution.

INTRODUCING THE 2020 CENSUS

By Christopher Gray

When I think back, decade by decade, (2010, 2000, 1990 etc.), something conspicuously lacking in my memories of those years is the U.S. Census.  Each decade the census has come and gone and for whatever reason, I've been completely oblivious of it.  I'm really not sure how this has happened because I do recognize the value of our census.  As a graduate student working in the field of statistics, I routinely relied on census data to test statistical computer routines and to do simple forms of research to help me learn how to manipulate data.  Also, I was an avid reader of Theodore White's books, “The Making of the President" for several election cycles and he relied heavily on census data to provide analysis of what and who we were as a country and a people during those political eras.  Today, it perplexes me a bit that I cannot recall ever filling out a census form or knowing anybody ever filling one out on my behalf or for themselves either for that matter.  But, that's the reality for me of those years.

Things are changing though in 2020.  And believe it or not, it is mostly because of MCB! 

In late summer of 2019, I was contacted by the Director, David Neuberger, St. Louis Mayor's Office on Disability with information about a possible grant opportunity.  David, Naomi and I have been involved together in several projects in the past two years and that networking has created some great "wins" for MCB and our whole community. 

David came to us and other members of the disabled community to tell us about a grant from several organizations affiliated with the Missouri Foundation for Health.  These organizations were deeply concerned about Missouri's low participation in the 2010 census and wanted to change this for 2020. 

Why do they want change?  It is important to understand that responding to a few survey questions is by no means what the U.S. census is all about.  It goes much further than that!  Our answers to these questions have direct and significant impact on our State.  As an example, each person counted represents an additional $1,300 per year to the State of Missouri.  (This amount is different in other states.)  The impact of this is huge!  For example, MCB's approximately 700 members, if you all answer the census, represent an addition of $910,000 to our State from Federal revenue each year for the next ten years.  Nobody knows what our low turnout cost financially from 2010-2020, but it is estimated to be in the tens of millions per year.  One cost we do know is that because of our low census turnout, we lost a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.  Wouldn't it be great to get that seat back after 2020?

So, I applied in October for the Missouri Foundation for Health grant because it is believed that the disabled community is significantly lower than average in its participation in the census.  For us as blind and visually impaired people, we may not see our census questionnaire in the mail.  We may not have somebody to help us fill it out.  We may not understand the point of some of the questions or may have questions about the privacy of the information we reveal to the Census Bureau.  The grant for which I applied and which MCB later was awarded can answer such questions and greatly assist with the completion of the blind and visually impaired of their census survey.  During the first quarter of 2020, I have been organizing meetings in the St. Louis area using each MCB affiliate as our base.  At the time of this writing, I have already met with UWB, and have plans to meet with RITE, St. Louis County Council, Sight and Sound Impaired (SASSI), and St. Charles County Council.  Technically, our grant funding only applies to St. Louis and seven surrounding Missouri counties.  However, MCB is reaching out throughout the state with the Chronicle, and we will be holding some conference calls to assist any visually impaired Missourian in filling out their census form throughout the state. 

Two additional articles are being included in this issue of the Chronicle.  They are both about the census and I hope you will read them carefully.  Then, try to watch for or have your family and/or friends watch for a letter from the Census Bureau.  It includes your household's collective census identifying number.  This number is important and you need it if at all possible.  If you use this number when filling out your census form, then nobody will call or visit you later because they will know you are already counted.

       In 2020, two new ways of completing your census form are being made available.  First, you can go online and provide your information at my2020census.gov.  Second, you can call 844-330-2020 for the same purpose.  Each of these will be particularly helpful to our community.

April 3 is an important date to keep in mind.  On that day, MCB and MindsEye Radio are hosting a Census mingle at the MCB office in St. Louis.  Any visually impaired person from Missouri is welcome.  We will hold an information sharing session, answer questions, and if you wish, you will receive assistance in filling out your information online or on the phone.  Then, lunch and a social will be provided by the St. Louis Snow Cone Company including hot dogs and all the fixings, several flavors of snow cones of course, and flavored sodas.  It will be a very worthwhile and fun activity.  The event will be held from 11:00 A.M. to 2:00 P.m.  There is a limit of 40 people for this event.  If we get a lot of additional interest, we will schedule a second similar event. 

       Even if you are like me and forgot several decades of the census, you won't forget this one; I promise you!  Let's all work together and make the 2020 Census a great event for Missouri!  Let's increase our Federal revenue, let's get our seat back in the House of Representatives, and let's have some fun doing it!  MCB is here to help you do that in the next few months.

 

 

Affiliates Reporting

Blind of Central Missouri

By Marilyn Harding

November was a busy month.  We received a listing of upcoming events for the United Way in Pettis County.  Rodney Thomas was named member of the month for October.  We finalized arrangements for the Christmas dinner party.

We approved expenditure of gratuities to WILS and the Celebration Center which is where our monthly meetings are held.  We also contributed to the "Community Santa" program.  Arrangements were made to pay Country Kitchen for providing the meeting place and food for our party.  It was a delightful evening with approximately 60 people (members and families) attending.

In January, it was back to business as usual.  Courtlin Gerken was named member of the month for January 2020.  We have some wonderful junior members that are also eligible for this award.  Thank you, Trudy Avants, for calling our member every month.  Joe Morgan, Secretary for the MCB Board gave a report of the activity in St. Louis and Springfield.  Take heart!  Spring is coming soon.

Joplin Service Club of the Blind

By Gail Vaughan

The Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays are passed and it’s a New Year.  It’s hard to believe that 2020 is already a couple of months behind us.

The Service Club of Joplin is fortunate to be able to meet on Tuesdays every week for lunch and a time of socializing.  We enjoy the times we have to spend encouraging one another and just visiting. 

Once a month we have a Support Group that meets with a representative from Missouri Rehabilitation for the Blind moderating.  We have found that we can learn from one another in finding ways to cope with our disability and know that we aren’t alone in our daily struggles. 

In December, we were very sad to lose one of our dear members, Robert Goheen.  Robert was a past Vice President of the Service Club and a strong supporter of our group.  He had a quick smile and a manner of teasing that brightened the day of those coming in contact with him.  On a happy note, we have been able to add one new member, Frances Comacho.

Our meeting place is supplied by Joplin Association for the Blind and we are happy to be able to provide support for this great organization that is an asset to our community.  The Association provides transportation to our meetings and trips and takes good care of all of us.  It is our pleasure to support the Association with money we gather during the year in a penny jar and raffle.  During the year 2019 we were able to collect over $1200 to donate towards gas and maintenance of the vans.  We are also excited to be able to donate towards the purchase of Silent Auction items for the Spring Fundraiser coming up in April. 

Wishing everyone a happy Spring and looking forward to better weather!

SCCCB 2020

By Margy Petrofsky

I hope everybody had a nice holiday season.  We went to Bandannas for dinner in November.  Bandanas is the place to go for amazing barbecue.  Afterwards we went bowling at Cave Springs bowling alley.  We bowled one game that took about an hour and a half and it took three hours to set up the bowling rail.  We had bumpers and bowled in two teams.  The problem with the bumpers is that you can't make a gutter ball.  That is my specialty.  People don't realize how much skill it takes to make a perfect gutter ball.

Our annual Christmas party was held at Trailhead for the second year in a row.  We played games, had a great meal, opened gifts to a game and of course, we had our cookie exchange.  Johanna and Kim out did themselves again.

We went Christmas caroling again in December.  We went to the home of Bill and Betty Sass, Delmar Gardens, O'Fallon and a senior apartment complex on Milpond in O'Fallon.  Linda, one of our new members, told us that there are some residents at the complex who never have visitors.  One lady cried when we sang and thanked us.  It makes you realize how fortunate you are if you have family or people who love you and you love them.  We sang an assortment of Christmas songs including, 'We Wish You a Merry Christmas”.  The song refers to figgy pudding.  The term comes from the middle ages when they used figs to make cakes or other desserts that were sweet.  After caroling, we went to the wreck room for pizza and side dishes, we were all asked to bring a dessert to finish off a great meal.  We did not have figgy pudding.

Hello to Everyone from Delta Area!

By Wanda Matlock

On November 19th, we had our Christmas party at the China King Buffet restaurant in Sikeston.  We had several special guests including members from River City Workers for the Blind and SEMO United Blind Club.  After the great meal, everyone enjoyed participating in the games and several people sang songs.  We always look forward to this get-together each year.

On December 5th, several of our members went to the Service Club for the Blind in St. Louis for a day of shopping and of course for lunch.  The ladies at the Service Club are always very helpful to our members and we would like to say thank you to them for helping us shop.

Our members were back to business on January 28, 2020.  Many items were discussed such as Legislative day on March11th and the MCB auction on April 19th.  Mr. Jim Taul will be representing our affiliate at the capitol this year.  Several of our members are interested in donating items for the MCB auction.  We hope that it is a great success!

Our members also voted to collect eyeglasses to donate to the Lions Club of Sikeston, Missouri. 

Elections were held at this meeting and the results are as follows: Wanda Matlock, President; Craig Ancell, Vice President/MCB Board Alternate; Darrel Vickers, MCB Board Representative; Belinda Turner, Secretary; Denise Reed, Alternate Secretary; LaWana Copeland, Treasurer; and Jim Taul, Education & Advocacy Representative.

Happy Spring to everyone from Delta Area for the Blind!

Committees Reporting

Convention Report

By Debra Whitt, Host Affiliate President

Well, it is that time again!  It is time to start thinking about the state convention and all the fun and excitement you will have this year! The 64th annual convention for the Missouri Council of the Blind will be hosted by the Springfield Service Club of the Blind, and held in Springfield, Missouri. The dates for the 2020 convention are Thursday, October 8th through Sunday, October 11th. This year’s convention will be held at the Doubletree Hotel at 2431 North Glenstone Ave. Phone number: 417.831.3131. Rooms are $99 plus tax per night.

The Doubletree Hotel is located in the northeast area of Springfield and has a variety of restaurants within a mile radius, as well as an Aldi’s grocery store behind the hotel, and a Walmart Supercenter within walking distance across from the hotel. The Doubletree offers dining options at Gracie’s and Houlihan’s restaurants located in the lobby. 

Gracie’s is strictly breakfast and operates Monday-Friday from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 7:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. You can order off the menu or enjoy a full breakfast buffet for $12.95 plus tax. There is also a continental style breakfast for $8.95 plus tax.  Beverages are not included.

Houlihan’s serves lunch and dinner and is opened from 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Monday to Friday, as well as Saturday and Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to midnight. Last call is around 11:45 p.m. 

The Friday night hospitality room will offer a sit-down plated meal and entertainment (TBA).  For $15, the meal will include honey-glazed chicken, potatoes, a vegetable medley, rolls with butter, iced tea, and dessert. Vegetarian lasagna will be offered for a vegetarian option.

The Friday night hospitality evening should be loads of fun.  Details will follow but plan to come and be prepared for lots of fun and surprises!

So, come join the fun and camaraderie while challenging yourself to explore and create your own crystal vision of life.

Important Bylaws/Resolutions Reminder

By Janelle Edwards, Bylaws/Resolutions Committee Chair

To have a representative on the Bylaws/Resolutions Committee, if a regular affiliate is not currently represented, or the representative has changed, by September 1, regular affiliate presidents must notify the office which member will represent their affiliate. The representative may be changed later in some circumstances.

Proposed bylaw amendments, or resolutions, must be submitted to me by July 15 by either two members, or an MCB committee, or a regular affiliate, or a special interest affiliate.

If you have questions, my contact information is in the Chronicle insert.

Summer Camp Report

By Beverly Kaskadden, Chair

I am sending Spring greetings to our readers even though the weather has been nasty.  Schools are closed again!  I have had thoughts of spending time at Cobblestone with much warmer temperatures.  I am so looking forward to attending Summer camp at Cobblestone with so many friends.

The 2020 camp dates are as follows:  May 31 – June 7, July 26 – August 02, and September 10 – 13.

Applications and guidelines will be sent out to Affiliate Presidents before you receive this newsletter.  Please use these applications or the one on the website since they have been updated.  Also, please read the Guidelines carefully.  If there are any questions, contact me anytime, and I will be happy to answer any questions.  We must have the applications in by May 1st so we can give Cobblestone Lodge our reservations.

Your Summer Camp Committee with the Cobblestone staff are always open to fresh ideas for your entertainment.  I love hearing everyone's ideas.

We still have funds in the Otella Robeson Grant. If you have any questions about this grant, the Guidelines are available on the MCB website.  Also, I can answer your questions.

Here is what I recommend.  First, read the Guidelines, fill out your applications, and get them sent in to the MCB office. Second, be planning your talent for the famous Cobblestone Talent Show.  Third, start packing, and lastly, imagine sitting on the Cobblestone porch with dear friends.  I love uniting with good friends and making new friends.  Start packing!  You can contact me by email at bkaskadden@centurytel.net or by phone (636) 561-6947 or my cell is (636) 541-2503.

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.

For MCB members, MCB will match dollar for dollar for most types of adaptive technology with a $3000 limit over any five-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.

The Adaptive Technology Grant Program budget for 2019-2020 has been approved by the Board for $30,000. We began accepting applications on November 1st.  As of this writing, February 1, we have used approximately 50% of our funds.  If this program can help you, I would encourage you to apply. We generally run out of money by the summer.

The MCB technology grant is a matching grant to help Missouri blind and low vision persons obtain all types of adaptive technology. 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.

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 this program.  If you have any questions about the program, please contact me by email at darrel@ww4b.org or call 636-667-3176.

Youth Services and Youth Camp

By the Youth Services Committee

It is already the second half of the school year.  If you have found that your student needs an educational item, please let us know. In the spring of the year most schools have the IEP meeting with the teacher and parent to get ready for next year.  As soon as you know what the child needs, please let us know.  I know it is still cold outside, but it time to start looking at which camp your child would like to attend this summer.  As soon as you know, please send in your application to the office.  We want to make your school year and summer camp more enjoyable, so let us know how we can help. We want to make sure your child has everything they need for a great school year and camp.

THE VALUE OF INCLUSION

By Therese Antonini

Therese Antonini talks with June Lenk of River Blenders Chorus.  Meet June Lenk. June joined Sweet Adeline’s in 1991 and has been singing with River Blenders Chorus in Spirit of the Midwest Region 5 since 1997. June has performed in various symphony choral groups and musical ensembles, but she has a real passion for barbershop. June is blessed with a wide vocal range and, between chorus and quartet performances, has sung all four parts! By profession, she is a special education teacher.

I have had the pleasure of watching June perform, most recently at the 2016 Harmony Classic competition, where the River Blenders took top spot! June's joy radiates off the stage, and in 2018 she brought her passion and joy to the Diversity Café in St. Louis, at which I served as facilitator. June has a personal story that is an excellent illustration of how diversity enriches our organization.

June, who is African American and vision-impaired, joined Sweet Adelines for the same core reasons we all did: the love of performing music in the unique barbershop style. Like her fellow chorus members, she works to maintain the high level of performance required in the River Blenders. Mastering choreography via visual methods during weekly rehearsals can present a challenge, so June arranges one-on-one sessions with other chorus members to learn the intricate hand and body angles she is unable to see from the risers.

Because of her experiences, June knows firsthand the importance of openness in a chorus culture. Her perspective of inclusivity is one of moving beyond first impressions, uneducated assumptions, and the fear of what might be considered "not the way it usually looks, is presented, or performed."

She spoke with me about her passion and beliefs regarding acceptance and diversity in Sweet Adelines.

"I've worked many years perfecting the craft of this wonderful art of singing and hope to one day fulfill my dream of quartet singing on a competition stage," she said. "The River Blenders certainly recognize my musical abilities, and I enjoy a genuine spirit of camaraderie in the chorus, but at times my vision impairment presents a challenge when volunteering for administrative duties or committee assignments."

While many choruses' diversity and inclusion plans focus on the musical and performance parts of chorus membership, June says chorus leaders need to remember to include discussions about leadership and administrative positions in their plans as well. "These duties, I feel, are privileges and are a part of the responsibility of each chorus member in good standing, and if necessary, adaptations should be made, allowing her the opportunity to use her skills in the most efficient manner possible," said June. "Recognizing and utilizing the vocal and intellectual abilities of each member can bring out an untapped essence and beauty which we all strive to achieve in a Sweet Adelines chorus."

June said that sometimes being inclusive is as simple as clearly communicating the tasks involved in a role or duty so people can individually determine what adaptations they might need to be successful. She said speaking honestly, one-on-one, about needed adaptations and accommodations can alleviate fears and lead to better understanding all around. As an example, June states that when participating in chorus projects, she often enlarges documents, uses magnification devices or converts materials into Braille format.

In an effort to help choruses develop cultures of genuine inclusivity, the Sweet Adelines International Diversity Task Force is developing a chorus toolkit with resources (which will be regularly updated) that address relevant topics. (See the story on the Diversity and Inclusion Task Force update on the previous page for more.) June says the toolkit can be a good start.

June believes that Sweet Adelines have the potential to make a real difference when it comes to inclusion, if they are willing to take chances and make changes.

June states that "rather than shy away from an individual, especially a sister Adeline who we feel might have a difference which may not be accepted by peers or society, we should reach out to incorporate the attributes she possesses."

"When we speak of full inclusion," June says, "We can certainly 'talk the talk.' We will 'walk the walk' when we truly focus on our mission statement and embrace, accept and celebrate the gifts and talents each member brings to this awesome organization."

Therese Antonini (North Metro Chorus, #16) serves on the Sweet Adelines International Board of Directors (IBOD), where she is Secretary of the Executive Committee, among many other roles.  She is chair of the Diversity and Inclusivity Task Force.

The 2020 Census is Accessible for Everyone.

We’re making sure that however you choose to respond—online, by phone, or by mail—that the census is accessible. You’ll receive an invitation to respond beginning in mid-March. You choose how you want to respond.

    • You can respond online in English or in 12 additional languages. The online questionnaire is accessible, following the latest web accessibility guidelines. We’ll also have a video in American Sign Language available to guide you through responding online.
    • You can respond by phone in English or in 12 additional languages. You can also respond in English by TDD at 844-467-2020.
    • By mid-April, we’ll mail a paper questionnaire to every household that hasn’t already responded. (Some households will receive a paper questionnaire along with the first invitation in March.)
    • We’ll have braille and large print guides available online to assist you with completing the paper questionnaire.
    • If necessary, you can respond in person beginning in mid-May. Census takers will visit all households that have not yet responded.
    • We’ll have census takers available who can communicate in American Sign Language and additional languages. When the census taker visits to help you respond, you can request that another census taker who communicates in American Sign Language returns, if you prefer.
    • If you prefer, you may also choose to have another member of your household interact with the census taker.

Responding is important. A complete count helps ensure that services like Medicare, Medicaid, social security, and public transportation can support those who need them.

Responding is safe. All of the information you share with us is protected by law and cannot be used against you.

Responding is accessible. We’re doing everything we can to ensure the ways to respond are accessible for everyone.

Any questions? Please visit 2020census.gov. This website is 508 compliant and accessible to people of all abilities.

2020 Census Information

The Basics

Self -response from mid-March thru April 30.  Non-response follow-up from May thru July 2020.

The Census Bureau will assign one unique ID to each household (defined by mailing address or physical location). 

Household – group of people, comprised of family/ies and/or non-relatives, who occupy a single living quarter and consider themselves a unit within that space.

One person fills out a form and includes every person who is part of that household unit.

Types of Outreach

Approximately 90 percent of households will receive instructions in the mail from Census Bureau about how to respond.  Some households will have paper forms dropped off by the Census Bureau.  Some households will be directly asked to respond by a Census Bureau enumerator.  Households can respond to census online or by telephone without a unique identification number.  Paper questionnaires have a barcode on every page that tie them to specific addresses.  You cannot call to get a paper form.

How to Verify a Census Worker?

Check for valid ID Badge. Photograph, US Department of Commerce watermark, and expiration date.  Official bag with Census Bureau logo or a laptop.  Letter on official letterhead stating why they are visiting your residence, or ask for supervisor’s contact information and/or phone number for your Census Bureau Regional Office.

Avoid Scam or Fraud

The Census Bureau will never ask for social security number, bank account or credit card numbers, money or donations, or political party.

The Census Bureau will not email or text people!  Visit the 2020 Census Website for more information.  If you suspect Fraud, report it at 800-923-8282.

THE MISSOURI COUNCIL OF THE BLIND 2020 ONLINE AND TELEPHONE AUCTION

When: April 19, 2020, from 4-7 pm.

With: President Naomi Soule and Executive Director Chris Gray as your Auctioneers.

How: Call in and place bids by phone or online directly through the ZOOM platform.

Who: Our entire blindness community throughout the US are invited to participate. Tell your friends and family, and let's make this a great success!

2020 Auction Description and Rules

Registering: If you plan to bid, you must register with MCB either with the online registration form, by calling either Virginia or Eleanor at the MCB office (314) 832-7172, or by email at clerk@moblind.org.  You will need to provide the following information: your name; telephone number; email address if applicable, and the city and state where you live. Please also include the best way to contact you so we can reach out to the top early bidders for each item prior to the day of the actual auction. Registration will begin on Friday, February 7 and continue through Thursday April 15. Early bidding begins on Monday April 13.

Bidding: Pre-bids will be taken starting on Monday April 13 and continue through Friday at noon on April 17.  The items for sale in the auction will be circulated on the MCB website at www.moblind.org, and listserves and other listserves as appropriate. Each auction item will have its own number.

Two Ways to Submit Early Bids

Email your bids to the MCB office to clerk@moblind.org; include your Name, Bidder number, Item number on which you are bidding, your bid amount, and the best way to contact you. Put the word auction in the subject line of any email sent to the MCB office related to the auction. You will receive an email acknowledgement of your bid.

Submit bids to either Eleanor or Virginia between the hours of 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM Central, by providing your name and bidder number provided with registration. Whether you submit your bid by telephone or email, Eleanor or Virginia will inform you of the high bid if your bid has already been exceeded.  Occasional updates of the high bids for each item will be placed on the lists during the early bidding phase, thereby allowing early bidders to be aware of high bids and submit additional bids. While Eleanor or Virginia can tell you the current high bid on an item, or email you an auction list upon request, we’re sorry but they cannot read you the auction list or call you if a higher bid comes on your items.

Live Auction

You must register in order to bid. Register any time throughout the entire auction by calling (314) 832-7172

Join Zoom by dialing in through your landline or mobile device or by using a link through your computer or smartphone. This information will be provided closer to the time of the actual auction day.  Beginning at 4:00 PM until 7:00 PM, or until all items are sold.

The Auction Process

All participants will be automatically muted when you enter the call.

Raise your hand to join the queue to be recognized: From your land line phone, press *9; press alt y on your PC or command y on your Mac, and on your smart phone, locate the More button at the bottom right of the screen and double-tap. There are four buttons displayed. The second button from the left is the raise hand button, double-tap and your hand will be raised.

Placing a bid: We will unmute you and ask for your bid when it is your turn, then we will lower your hand. To bid again, raise your hand again, just as you did before, wait to be called upon, and state your bid. We will again repeat your bid, lower your hand, and place you on mute. 

IMPORTANT: The “raise hand” command is a toggle. If you enter the command a second time, you will lower your hand. We will always lower your hand for you.  Please do not, under any circumstances, mute and unmute yourself. This will interfere with other bidders and will make it necessary for us to drop you from the call.

Each item is scheduled for about five minutes. We will announce when an item is about to close. All winners will be announced on the call.

Getting Help prior to the auction: If you are uncertain how to use the zoom client and need help prior to the auction day, contact Auction Co-Chair Denny Huff for assistance.

Getting Help during the auction: If you just aren’t being recognized, call (314) 832-7172 and your bid will be forwarded to the auctioneers. If yours is in fact the high bid, you will be acknowledged even if bidding has closed.

Auction Etiquette

Because bidders will be participating in the live broadcast of the auction, some rules must be followed in order for the event to be pleasant for everyone. Anyone not following these rules will be dropped from the bidding line and could be blocked from re-entering the call and participating in the auction.

Do not mute and unmute yourself. Doing so will interfere with others on the call.

b. Foul language, broadcast of inappropriate video etc. will not be tolerated. Any individual engaging in such behaviors will be immediately blocked from the auction.

c. Raise your hand only when you wish to bid. Wait for your turn to bid; we will call on you in the order hands are raised. Do not raise your hand just to ask a question.

d. While your hand is raised and you are waiting to bid, make sure your surroundings are quiet. Turn down the radio; ask others in the room to please stop talking; stop rattling paper, washing dishes, setting the microwave etc. Remember that background noise is amplified when you are on the air, and it is irritating to others.

Paying for Items

Placing a bid is a commitment on your part to pay for that item, should you be the winner. All items are sold as is, and all sales are final.  Payment must be made by credit card using VISA, MasterCard, Discover or American Express; no checks accepted.

Within two to three days following the auction, the MCB office will begin contacting winners to obtain credit card and mailing information. This process may take several days. If a winner defaults on a bid, the runner-up will be contacted concerning the item.

Shipping

Shipping charges are the responsibility of the buyer and will be added to the final sale price. If you purchase multiple items, shipping will be combined whenever possible. Sorry, but we cannot offer international shipping. For more information, or if you have questions, please contact the Auction Committee at (314) 832-7172.

The Auction Committee wishes to extend our sincere thanks to all who have worked hard to make this a fun and profitable event.

State of Missouri

Governor’s Proclamation

WHEREAS, Missouri values all of its citizens living safe, healthy, and productive lives as members of our state and our communities; and

WHEREAS, Missouri empowers individuals who are blind or visually impaired to engage in meaningful, sustainable, competitive, and integrated employment; economic self-sufficiency; independence; and inclusion in the community and economic life of Missouri; and

WHEREAS, Missouri values a workforce that reflects the rich diversity of the citizens of the State; and

WHEREAS, the Department of Social Services, Family Support Division, Rehabilitation Services for the Blind, a partner of the Missouri Workforce Development System, provides Vocational Rehabilitation services to individuals who are blind or visually impaired so that they may obtain and engage in competitive integrated employment consistent with their unique strengths, talents, abilities, capabilities, and interests; and

WHEREAS, in Federal Program Year 2018, the national employment retention rate, six months after case closure, for individuals successfully employed after receiving vocational rehabilitation services is 38.8 percent for blind agencies and 49.2 percent for general agencies including blind services; and

WHEREAS, the U.S. Department of Education, Rehabilitation Services Administration recognized Rehabilitation Services for the Blind as the top performing blind agency in Federal Program Year 2018 with a 68.5 percent employment retention rate six months after case closure; and

WHEREAS, program achievements of excellence are recognized and federal recognition exemplifies the ultimate accomplishment.

NOW THEREFORE, I, Michael L. Parson, GOVERNOR OF THE STATE OF MISSOURI, Do Hereby Recognize Missouri Department of Social Services, Family Support Division, Rehabilitation Services for the Blind for being the nation’s top performing blind agency and leading the nation in individual employment retention rates for Federal Program Year 2018.

IN TESTIMONY WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and caused to be affixed the Great Seal of the State of Missouri, in the City of Jefferson, this 6th day of January, 2020.

mcb board MINUTES

April 25, 2019

       The meeting was called to order at 4:01 PM by President Naomi Soule.

       Joe Morgan said a prayer.

       Recording Secretary Joe Morgan called the roll. All officers were in attendance. Affiliates not represented were Queen City Council of the Blind and Southeast Missouri United Blind Club.

       Naomi welcomed Executive Director, Chris Gray and online listeners.

       The Minutes for December 12, 2019 were approved.

Summer Camp Funds

       Summer Camp Chair Beverly Kaskadden asked for camp money that cannot be refunded be put into the Otella Robeson fund rather than the general fund. Linda Gerken made this into a motion and the motion was adopted.

       The agenda was approved with two additions, the Children's Summit Donation and the St. Louis Firing Squad donation.

President's Report

       Naomi has been quite busy.  She has visited seven affiliates. She talked to Coleen Starkloff about fundraising and Colleen has offered to help.  She and Chris attended an arts and cultural accessibility program at Paraquad. Paraquad will be having meetings with different organizations in St. Louis that are interested in making places accessible such as the zoo, courthouse, etc. 

She and Chris attended Governor Mike Parsons’ presentation about jobs. He is very adamant about state jobs being offered to people with disabilities. She spoke to MSB students about her career and MCB. She attended the mid-year ACB meetings in Washington, DC. She also attended Legislative Day in Jefferson City and an aquarium accessibility meeting at Union Station in St. Louis.

Executive Director's Report

Chris Gray was part of a panel at the ACB Legislative Seminar discussing durable medical equipment, which is a fancy term for medical technology that we use at home. ACB is taking seriously the needs of people with diabetes and working hard on three fronts to make this equipment more accessible; administrative, legislative and legal. He has been contacted by the Department of Natural Resources. They want MCB’s help and consultation to make some public buildings in Jefferson City more accessible. This speaks a lot about this organization to know that people are coming to us for information because they know we are the go-to people to make it happen. He had lunch a few weeks ago in St. Louis with a civil rights enforcement agency; they had a great talk about some initiatives they might take on our behalf particularly with regard to housing and job discrimination for people who are blind and helping MCB be better in touch with similar entities around the state of Missouri.

Strategic Planning Matters

MCB is going full speed ahead on various fundraising projects.  We have some support for the ACB Walk but we need more support from everyone. Anyone going to Rochester and can help, please contact Chris. MCB gets 50% of donations. Convention sponsorship packages should go out in May.  He is working on a project similar to the thrift store's Go Fund Me project.  The idea is to use the Go Fund me platform and Facebook to create a fundraising campaign.

The Strategic Planning Committee has decided to participate in the ACB Monthly Monetary Support (MMS) program as another way to raise money. MCB will get half the proceeds.  Another area of the strategic plan asks that more attention be focused on providing Board packets for new Board members to be more effective Board members.  This includes bylaws, budget, committees, etc. 

He talked about the office printer which was purchased in 2007.  The technology has improved and changed significantly in these past 12 years.  He offered three bids and recommended GFI Digital.  The purchase price for the printer is $10,595.00, payable in monthly payments over 5 years. It has folding capability and includes maintenance, parts, labor, and toner.

Blind Pension Issues

Chris has had a series of conversations with the Family Support Division that have been frustrating and don't seem to be getting anywhere. One is providing Blind Pension materials in the accessible format of one's choice.  He sees no progress in that area. He said we should threaten to litigate this matter or we have no reason to believe anything will change. He asked the Board to make a motion to create an action plan to force the state to provide this material just as ACB did with social security.

Paul Mimms’ moved that MCB, with the authority of this Board, move forward to create a plan with legal recourse to settle this issue with FSD; the plan would be submitted to the Board for final approval.  A vote was taken and the motion was adopted.

The second issue affects a small number of blind pension recipients but it is a point that has come up many times in the past years having to do with people in the system who are working or have a working spouse and have retirement plans.      He asked the Board to consider allocating $2,000 from our legal services budget to assist blind pension recipients with retirement plan issues. Paul Mimms moved that the Board authorize the allocation and the motion was adopted by a 12-9 vote.

Thrift Store Report

Denny Huff reported that the thrift store is still keeping its head above water. The new store is helping the previous thrift store financially. Because of the triple net, the original store is still struggling.  Our 5-year lease will be up in November.  Next month, they will try to negotiate with the landlord to get a completely different lease. The current lease is $8,500 a month but the triple net can be up to $50,000 per year, adding $4000 to the monthly payment.  If they are unable to renegotiate a decent lease, they will move that store to another location. Jeff and Rick, the store managers, have been making public appearances and fundraisers. They are trying to get volunteers to cut down on expenses. The first anniversary at the south location will be May 4th. They will have a lot of different events. They will have a farmer’s market in the parking lot to get exposure.

The north location was a good location until the homeless moved into the area.  Also, a Goodwill store was built about 2 blocks away.  They hope to start sending money to MCB once they get the old lease revised.

Donation Requests

       Children's Summit:  Denny Huff moved that the Board donate $2,250 to the Children's Summit in November. The motion was adopted.

       Saint Louis Firing Squad Beep Ball:  Wilma Chestnut-House moved that $750 be donated to the StL Firing Squad. The motion was adopted.

Treasurer's Report

       The checking account balance is $21,573.05.  The Raymond James balance is $2,933,398.73 and the US Bank balance is $539,539.36 making our investment total $3,472,938.09.

       Darrel Vickers moved that we go into closed session where staff reviews and a membership appeal were discussed.

The meeting was adjourned at 6:28 PM.

September 12, 2019

The meeting was called to order by president Naomi Soule at 7:01 PM.

Joe Morgan said a prayer.

Recording Secretary Joe Morgan called the roll.

All officers were in attendance except Director Linda Gerken.

Ozark Association of the Blind had no representative.

Naomi welcomed Executive Director Chris Gray and everyone listening on ACB Radio.

The Minutes for October 4, 2018 were approved.

The Minutes for April 25, 2019 were approved with one correction Queen City Council was represented.

The agenda was approved with one addition; Board of Directors Policy was added.

Presidents Report

Naomi gave a commencement speech to the graduates of the Missouri School for the Blind. In June she met with those who are building the aquarium at Union Station in St. Louis and will be on this committee.  She did some work at the St. Louis art museum listening to verbal descriptions of paintings. She spoke to the SOAR Group students at Webster University which has had this program for a long time.  It is a three-week program collaborating in mobility, daily living skills etc. She attended the River City workers picnic with her husband Terry. She also attended the Blind of Central Missouri picnic. She went to Cobblestone lodge at the end of July and met with the camp owners and put together the contract for next year. She did a video at MCB concerning patients with disabilities and barriers they face. She and Chris met with the new family support director.

Executive Director's Report

Chris Gray met with the interim director of the family support division. He had a good grasp of many issues but he doesn't know how things will turn out because he is not sure if he will be more than the interim director. It was a good meeting with positive dialogue. He has worked with Robert Vaughn and Jerry Nichols, our accountant on the audit for 2018 and the 990 as well as the 2-month return to get us on track for our new fiscal year. The audit has been finalized and the 990 will be submitted soon. He agreed to serve as an advisor to the Missouri Historical Society.  They work with all facets of Missouri history.  He will be representative on an advisory committee in the area of disabilities.  We are fortunate to have secured Aira to provide free service in our convention hotel.  They will be a cardinal sponsor for our convention. They will also have a booth so people can learn about their services. 

Sponsorships are going a bit slow this year and so far we have no affiliate sponsors.

Treasurer's Report

Checking account balance $79,008.67.  US bank $437,752.68.  Raymond James $3,153,201.58. The total for combined checking and investments is $3,669,962.93.

Proposed 2019-2020 Budget

Item Line 441 contributions/memorials; this past year we received a contribution from the Greiders to help with the blind pension litigation. the amount currently is $208,087.00 and we will not have that amount next year so the board agreed to lower the amount to $10,000.00. the budget was approved with this change by a voice vote.

Policies

There was discussion about the Building Committee Guidelines. Robert Vaughn felt that under the heading of responsibilities that it should say building committee not the executive director. This was considered a motion and the motion was adopted.

Code of Conduct

Joe Morgan moved that the Code of Conduct Guidelines be approved. The motion was adopted.

MCB Directors Responsibilities Guidelines

There was considerable discussion on this matter.  Michael Keller and Darrell Vickers wrote this before Michael passed away and it was not brought to the Board until now. This would inform members-at-large about the convention email lists committee etc. This was a motion brought by the Policy Committee and the guidelines were adopted.

Announcements followed and the meeting was adjourned at 8:10 PM.

From the Lower Left-Hand Drawer

By Christopher Gray

Between Christmas and Spring marks a definite lull in new technology for the blind and visually impaired.  For that reason, our drawer is not too full for this issue of the Chronicle.  However, we do have news for you about some new canes and a recently introduced accessible phone for the blind. 

WeWALK Smart Cane.  The WeWALK smart cane was born from a visually impaired engineer named Kursat Ceylan. He is also the CEO and co-founder of a non-profit called the Young Guru Academy (YGA), the one responsible for making WeWALK come to life. As someone who faces the daily challenges of being blind, Kursat Ceylan knew the limitations of the current technology that people like him have to make do with. Knowing this, he created the WeWALK in hopes of changing the lives of the blind.

This innovative cane includes built-in speakers, voice assistance, Google Maps, a Bluetooth system that makes syncing to other devices possible, and high-end sensors that alert the user through vibrations when above chest level obstacles are within proximity—something a regular cane cannot provide. Google maps helps people with their smart cane.

       "In these days we are talking about flying cars, but these people have been using just a plain stick," he explained to CNN. "As a blind person, when I am at the Metro station I don’t know which is my exit… I don’t know which bus is approaching… which stores are around me. That kind of information can be provided with the WeWalk."

One of Kursat Ceylan’s goals in making the WeWALK is to make the social participation of people like him full, and easier. To him, the WeWALK was made to “support the visually impaired in their full participation into social life.

This device is not completely new, but the fact that he was able to utilize and incorporate existing technologies such as voice assistance, Google Maps, and Bluetooth synchronization, makes it a completely new idea. A lot of people have expressed their joy and excitement for having this kind of device available for the visually impaired.

For more information, visit http://www.wewalk.io or contact the Lighthouse Guild for the Blind, (800) 284-4422.  The current price for the WeWalk cane is $499.99.

Thanks go to Pauline R. of the Positive Outlooks blog for much of this information.

Combo Support/Travel Cane.  About a month ago, MCB received a sample of a newly designed support/travel combination cane.  It comes in a soft cloth bag with a drawstring on the bag.  The cane itself is folding and has three separate sections.   The cane tip itself is a very large roller ball tip.  Weight is approximately 13 oz. and current price is $39.99. 

Along with the cane was a cover letter and its text is as follows:

       We would like to introduce Valor Fall Prevention Products, LLC.  Dr. Marty Osman is the inventor of the Dual Mode White Cane.  This is the first cane of its kind to provide two functionalities for white cane users.  Based on his personal experience of being blind for over 50 years, Dr. Osman wanted a cane that would provide a 1) search mode and also provide 2) physical support mode.  This cane has allowed Dr. Osman and numerous other blind persons more mobility freedom and greatly lessens the fear of falling. The cane has been field tested by an AFTB Vision Aware Peer Advisor.  Her feedback follows: “I have given your canes a thorough workout and am truly impressed with the dual nature of the cane’s functionality.  I had the opportunity to use the cane during our state convention which was located at Fall Creek Falls Tennessee State park.  The terrain was one in which there were many steps as well as changes in surfaces areas.  The walking trails contained many obstacles that were more easily navigated with the ability to move from the sweeping motion used with the marshmallow tip to investigating and navigating with the bump dot tip.”  The website is www.dualmodewhitecane.com or call Michele Tatum, Director of Sales and Marketing at 949-285-3709.

The BlindShell Accessible Cell Phone.  In late 2019, the New BlindShell Classic was released.  The phone has a physical keypad and works on 4G, LTE networks.  It features 23 applications including voice control and text dictation.  The manufacturer comments:  "Over the past few years, we have sold phones for the visually impaired to thousands of customers across 20 countries. We have worked to create a phone that would be durable, stylish, and most importantly, easy to use for the blind and visually impaired. Based on the feedback and input from our users, we introduced the BlindShell Classic last year. This phone encompasses the best of what the world of mobile phones for the blind offers."

I was quite intrigued by this phone and contacted its U.S. distributor for more details.  He was kind enough to loan me an advance version for a week to evaluate.  I must say that what it does, this phone does extremely well.  Everything on the phone talks, the design of the user interface is excellent, and it contains all of the features you would expect in a modern phone such as email, texting, and directory listing functions.  A big disadvantage though is that the phone cannot use any external applications.  Also, I would not call the unit "sturdy".  Its case is thin plastic and my unit had some wiring problems involving the battery which forced me to reboot it often.  In many ways, I love this phone but am taking a "wait and see" attitude for the moment. 

       BlindShell is developed in Prague, Czech Republic by Matapo s.r.o.

There are numerous distributors in the United States including the following:

A T Guys, PO Box 51446, Kalamazoo MI 49005. Call 269-216-4798 or email support@atguys.com. Visit them on the web at www.atguys.com/store.

LS&S, 145 River Rock Drive, Buffalo, NY 14207. Call 716-348-3500, email LSSInfo@LSSproducts.com or visit them online at www.lssproducts.com.

The Chicago Lighthouse, 1850 West Roosevelt Road, Chicago, IL 60608. Call 312-997-3683, email store@chicagolighthouse.org or online at https://chicagolighthouse.org/