March 2012 Chronicle

March 2012 Chronicle



Report from the Executive Director: Missouri, Here We Come


By: Christopher Gray


Many people, including many members of the Missouri Council of the Blind, have said to my wife, Marvelena, and me "Are you crazy? You're leaving San Francisco to live where?" We tell them all: "no, not crazy, right now perhaps just a little shell-shocked." Though we're still very much getting our feet on the ground, the welcoming environment extended to us in our neighborhood and by so many of you in MCB is truly heartening and awesome. Thank you so much for this warm welcome!


MCB is one of the truly great affiliates of the American Council of the Blind as well as exemplary members of the organized blind movement of America. I have said many times in and out of Missouri that MCB can be proud of its history, standing today in the community, and the many successes achieved for blind residents of Missouri.


The first member of MCB I ever met was Alma Murphey, so many of you will understand that my impressions started off on a positive note. By chance, I sat next to her in ACB's nominations process and this was the first time I had ever participated on the committee. Over 30 years later, I remember how calmly and graciously she answered my questions as we went forward and this began a wonderful professional and friendly relationship between us for many years.


MCB's Administrative Assistant, Virginia, met me at the airport when I arrived, and along with Eleanor has provided me tremendous assistance in getting started in this position. President Denny Huff has also been providing me with invaluable advice and assisting me with pointers to committees and priorities in this introductory period. I've made it through one Board of Directors meeting already, and a multitude of other committee meetings as well. I'm also meeting with or networking by phone with a host of service agencies all around Missouri. Soon, I hope to be visiting and getting better acquainted with many of you around the state as well.


It can be a tricky matter predicting the future. But nonetheless, I'm going to give it a try.  This should be an edition of the Chronicle that once again comes to those of you on cassette who are subscribed to the magazine. Various administrative issues stood in the way of distribution for some time, but these should now be resolved. I'm glad to have been able to lend a hand in working out some of the necessary details to make this happen. Every member of MCB should get the Chronicle in their medium of choice, and I know that your editor agrees with this 100%. Hopefully, we've gotten the job done for you with this first issue of 2012.


I am proud to serve MCB as your Executive Director. Please know that I always have an open door and will do what I can for any member needing assistance. Likewise, the MCB office is here as a whole to serve the membership and to promote the future activities of the organization. A great example of this going on right now is the work on our legislative day in Jefferson City and the support provided for MCB's participation at ACB's upcoming Legislative Seminar. Please always remember that working together there is very little we cannot accomplish over time. I look forward to joining with you to do just that in the months and years to come.




United Workers for the Blind


Celebrating One Hundred Years of
Service to the Blind


The United Workers for the Blind of Missouri was formally organized in 1912 and received its state charter in 1914.


The charter stated that the purpose of the organization was “improving the condition of the blind by interesting and educating the public in the needs and welfare of the blind as a class; by the organization and association of blind persons for their mutual protection, and education and training in useful arts and sciences; by acquiring and holding such property as may be necessary and incidental for the accomplishment of the purposes above set forth.”


The primary objective of this small, dedicated group of blind persons was to secure a pension for the blind of Missouri. In this Herculean task, they finally succeeded after many years of intense effort, despite the drawback of no finances in the very beginning, plus the fact that twice they had to campaign the entire state before gaining the adoption of the constitutional amendment which levied a special tax to pay for the pension as mandated by Constitutional revision.


One of the first undertakings of this organization was to get plans underway to present the idea of a state pension for the blind to the Missouri legislature. In order to do this, a lobbyist had to be maintained in Jefferson City and money had to be raised to defray his expenses.


The first meager funds were raised by conducting a raffle in which each member did his share in selling tickets. As time went by the organization grew and its treasury grew, too, by outright gifts, concerts given by its members and a real minstrel show given by blind persons, for all this was before the time of radio and television. A blind person was sent to each session of the legislature to present our program and to talk individually and personally to each member of the legislature.


In due time, a bill was finally passed to grant a pension of $25 per month to the blind of the state. But the Governor vetoed this bill as there were no funds available with which to pay the pension. This was indeed a bitter disappointment but only served to stimulate the very determined group to put forth even greater effort to succeed in accomplishing the purpose for which they were striving.


At this time it was decided to launch a campaign to amend the state Constitution to levy a special property tax to provide specific funds for our goal. This required hard work, great expense and much individual effort to send literature and workers into all parts of the state to reach the voters.


Then followed our most heartbreaking disappointment when this amendment failed to pass. However, undaunted, the UWB set out with even greater zeal to do a bigger and better job and when election came around, they were rewarded with passage of the necessary constitutional amendment. The first pension bill was passed, signed by the Governor and put into effect in 1921.


The first bill had to be amended in 1923 to be a more workable law. From that time until 1957 the United Workers maintained a person at each session of the legislature to safeguard the pension law in its excellent form and to secure several increases in the amount of the pension. The original pension of $25 per month was paid quarterly and slow increases over the years have brought it to its present level of $707 per month. In 1922, under the guidance of Senator Tom Eagleton, the dual system (Blind Pension and Aid to the Blind) was enacted into law by Congress. This dual system will continue to exist only as long as we maintain a close bond with our dedicated members in the legislature.


The United Workers for the Blind sponsored the present legislation permitting blind persons to take someone of their own choice into the voting booth with them to mark their ballot.


These workers also procured passage of the White Cane Law, requiring all motorists to honor the white cane when carried by a blind person, by coming to a full stop, thus allowing safe passage in traffic. The organization has also sent members to appear before committees of Congress and has always fought for better legislation nationally as well as locally.


Along with this legislative program, there have been many other accomplishments of which we can be proud. The UWB was the first organization of the blind in Missouri. In 1940, we sent representatives to Pennsylvania to help form the National Federation of the Blind. We were also the dominant force in organizing the Missouri Federation of the Blind, which is now known as the Missouri Council of the Blind.


In the early years, an annual picnic was held and now the organization sponsors a variety of social activities. Our traditional Christmas Party remains one of the highlights of the year.


Another project dear to the hearts of our founders was housing for the blind. After years of hard work and some disappointments, an apartment building was purchased in 1974 which the organization maintained for the next thirty years.


Education of the blind has been important to our members, and we have provided scholarships and Christmas gifts to needy blind students. Over the years members have taken part in projects to promote braille instruction.


Our organization is composed of blind people and others interested in working toward making certain that blind people receive every opportunity to become well-educated and employable citizens of our communities.


Members have served the Missouri Council of the Blind as board members and committee chairs. We have been instrumental in helping to promote legislation in the state, providing recreational opportunities for blind people and dealing with accessible transportation and technology.


We will be gathering at Pietro’s Restaurant in St. Louis on Saturday evening, May 5, to celebrate our one hundred years and would like to invite anyone wishing to participate to join us there. Members of our Anniversary Committee are Patti Schonlau, Celita White, John Weidlich, Michael and Sheri Keller and Don and Beverly Shockley.


To make reservations you may contact Beverly Shockley by phone at (314)352-4233 or e-mail at Tickets will be $26.00 and reservations must be in by April 21.


This history of UWB was originally written by a long-time member, Xena Johnson, and appeared in the program for the fiftieth anniversary in 1962. It has been updated by John Weidlich and Beverly Shockley.


Joplin Service Club for the Blind


By: Cindy Smart


Greetings to all from the Joplin Service Club of the Blind! Happy New Year to everyone! We hope this will be a blessed one for all of you! We are finally back to normal after all the Holiday festivities. We are glad to be back together again.


A few of our members have encountered some major health issues since my last article. I am happy to report that Jim Murray just received a liver transplant, and is now recovering quite nicely. Sue Verhaar had major back surgery right before Christmas. Some of you remember Joe and Sue Verhaar from camp last September. They are not only members, but also much appreciated volunteers. Terri Shellenbarger’s husband Randy had a light stroke, and is recovering at home.


Terri is a member of our Affiliate, but also works hard in the Association office. Whenever any of us call over there with our own concerns, she immediately goes into her listening mode, and tells us she will put us on her prayer list. So, now, Terri, Randy, and all the others with concerns are on ours. Everyone, just keep those prayers coming, and we will do the same for all of you.


On November 10, the Joplin Association for the Blind had one of their fundraisers, a chili and soup feed. The turnout was great! A few of our club members came to spend the day, and we sold some of our candy and beef jerky.  Our Affiliate had fantastic Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners provided by local church groups. For our Thanksgiving dinner, a local band came to entertain us with ‘50’s music. Wow, were they ever a hit! We were dancing, and having a blast! For all I know, some of them enjoyed it so much; they might have even been dancing on the tables! Joe Verhaar likes to try to dance with every woman in the room! For the Christmas dinner, the church group that cooked for us, brought some members of their choir, and we all sang Christmas carols. For our Christmas project, we helped a couple of local families who have blind children and who were having some financial struggles.


This last business meeting, we started planning some future outings, and we sure hope to be able to make it to the MCB Thrift Store’s grand opening. That is all I have to report for this time, but will be looking forward to the next article. Just think, that will be right in the middle of spring! I can’t wait!



Allied Workers for the Blind


By: Shirley Brokaw, Corresponding Secretary and Tracey Hawkins, Public Relations Chairman


Hello, from the allied workers for the blind in Kansas City. Hope everyone has survived the Holidays, and now it is time to hurry up to spring.


Since we have not been contributing to The Chronicle, let me take you back to June, when AWB held elections, results are as follows:


Tom Jones, President, Melvin Smith Vice President, Janelle Edwards Recording Secretary, William Hawkins Treasurer, and Shirley Brokaw Corresponding Secretary. Since Education & Welfare is an elected office Jerry Annunzio was elected, but most of you know Jerry, due to health reasons, is no longer holding that office. In October, we elected Terrie Arnold.


Membership increased by way of Springfield, thanks Springfield for sending us two hard working members we love them! Kathy and Danny Wheeler have relocated to St. Louis, we will miss them, and both have been long time members of AWB.


We had two major community projects recently. The first was an event that we held at Alphapointe Association for the Blind. Late last year, Chip Block, a well-known instructor who was visually challenged, was hit and killed while crossing the street. The City of Kansas City's Public Works Department was scheduled to install an audible crossing signal at that intersection the following week.


AWB stepped forward to educate the visually challenged, blind and sighted community about audible crosswalks and safety. AWB hosted a safety event, open to the public, and invited Sheri Block, widow of Chip, the City of K.C.'s Public Works Department, and two members of Whole Person, an advocate and resource group for the handicapped. AWB member Melvin Smith offered safety tips for traveling safely with a cane. Alphapointe donated white canes. The event served as a kick-off for our fundraiser for a student who is visually challenged and studying at the college where Chip was an instructor, Penn Valley Community College.


The City reps brought a demonstration unit to allow those in attendance to hear, see and touch an audible cross walk system. They asked for input from actual users. Advocates with Whole Person, Sheila Styron and Patrick Palmer, explained how they have been working with the City on improving the audible crosswalk signal process, and educating the visually challenged and blind community.


Alphapointe recommended a student in their college preparatory program to be the recipient of our scholarship. Angela Fisher is a single mother who is going back to college to continue her education. She plans to be a teacher and is passionate about teaching students to read. Shari Block made a generous donation and a few of our members donated to the scholarship fund. AWB's Public Relations Committee will utilize some of its budget to help with her expenses. We will share our role in helping this student with Alphapointe and the local media in order to raise awareness of our group and our mission to help educate and support the blind community.


The student, Angela Fisher, visited our Holiday Dinner to speak and meet the members, she also attended our January meeting to get to know the members and share her story. She will attend another meeting to be presented with her scholarship check. If MCB members would like to contribute to help this student, you are welcome to do so. To the AWB members who contributed, Jerry and Edna Annunzio, Odell Hollins, William and Tracey Hawkins and those who will contribute at our next meeting, THANK YOU VERY MUCH! MCB members, please feel free to make a check or money order payable to AWB, note: Chip Block scholarship fund.


We are planning a spring White Cane Walk fundraiser and will be seeking sponsors in the community. Thanks to Donna Geiger for the inspiration and the success of her affiliate's white cane event! Stay tuned!


During the month of December AWB enjoyed a fun filled evening planned by Brittney Hollins (Activities Chair) The restaurant was located in the historic River City Market Area. We were pleased that Eldon Cox & Barbara Dewberry from Progressive Council joined us along with other friends and guests.


AWB is fortunate not to have received measurable amounts of snow causing us to cancel our business meetings. If you purchased raffle tickets at the MCB State Convention for the Braille Writer, and the Book Port Plus, we have extended the raffle through March; tickets are $5 and can be obtained from any AWB member. Linda Coccovizzo is the Fundraising Chair.


Once again Melvin Smith (Vice President AWB) will be participating in the American Council of the Blind third walk-a-thon. He raised $1,800 last year; his goal for this year is $2,500. Any individual or MCB affiliate wishing to sponsor Melvin should make checks payable to the ACB 2012 Walk, and checks may be mailed to his home address 9918 Holly Street, KCMO 64114, the walk takes place at the 51st American Council of the Blind Conference and Convention in Louisville, Kentucky on July 7.


The walk is between 1 to 2 miles. All donations are greatly appreciated in funding such services as the monthly publication of the Braille Forum, and continuing efforts for accessible currency to blind and visually impaired individuals.


AWB extends a warm welcome to any one visiting the Kansas City area to join us at our business meeting held at Alphapointe Association for the Blind on the first Friday evening of each month. Please notify our President Tom Jones to indicate you will be attending. His information can be found on the MCB web site.


Until later we wish you happiness, and keep a smile on your face.

Rite for the Blind


By: Bunny Maginnis, President


Hello from Rite. I can't believe that 2012 is well on its way and we have had no snow to speak of. Wouldn't it be great if the whole winter remains as mild as it has been so far?


In November we chartered a bus to go to Sikeston to eat at Lambert's and did some shopping. There were about 30 members in Rite and UWB who attended. We had a great time. I was really surprised how quickly we were seated and served.


In December we had our Christmas party at Brazi's restaurant. Again several members of UWB joined us and it was a joyous occasion. Prior to the party we went to Mary Culvert home to sing carols to the residents there. We would like to thank John Weidlich again for playing the piano for us. Carol Moody sang a beautiful solo and it was really appreciated.


In January we had a guest speaker, Steven Gragali from the mayor's office talk to us about the metro system. He was very informative and promised to inquire about several items of concerns pertaining to the transportation problems in St. Louis.


I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of you who voted for me to serve on the MCB board of directors. Please don't hesitate to contact me if you have a question or problem I can help you with. If you are a member at large and don't have a computer or any other way to keep informed call me.


I guess that about does it for this time. We'll see you again on these pages in June. Stay safe, behave and God bless. Warm blessings.


St. Charles County Council of the Blind


By: Anne Murphy, Vice President


The SCCB Christmas Party was a festive time had by all. The food was great! Members and their guests were accompanied by Steve Schnelle and his band Tin Buck To.  Aaron Lane also contributed to the musical enjoyment with his singing talent. They all sing great!


We are proud to announce that our member, Carolyn Kemper, has won the Member-of-the Month award from the MCB Membership Committee. We all know how much Carolyn does to help our organization and some things we do not know due to her humble personality. Her husband, Jack, is right alongside of her and we appreciate all they do. Your nice personality goes a long way with your constant giving to our organization and we could not do it all without you. Thank you Carolyn! See you next time! Stay Safe and happy.


Missouri Guide Dog Users



By: Judy Burch, Secretary


I hope that you all are enjoying our unusually warm winter and that perhaps your four-footed partners are enjoying some extra exercise as well.


These past few months have been rather quiet in MGDU land; however, with the convening of the legislature comes a proposed bill which brings attention to and addresses protection for those dogs and their handlers who may encounter, among other things, attacks from other dogs.


Members of MGDU have been working hard to promote this legislation, and you can look forward to reading more about it in the upcoming issue of “Tails across Missouri”. By the time the Chronicle reaches you, the Tails newsletter will be out. Please do not hesitate to contact us should you have questions about this legislation.


Remember to praise those wonderful dogs for jobs well done, and we’ll see you again in the summer issue of the Chronicle.





Summer Camp Committee


By: Beverly Kaskadden, Sam & Celita White and Jim Schonlau


Let’s imagine we are sitting along the side of the pool at Cobblestone. It will be here before you know it.


For those who do not know me, I am Beverly Kaskadden, chair of the wonderful Summer Camp program. Last year was the first year in this position, but I served on the committee for several years prior. Celita and Sam White, along with Jim Schonlau complete this committee. My committee works together as a team, so I feel that makes a successful committee. Sam, Celita, and Jim all live close to the office, so they can easily get any information from the office and bring it to my house, where we work on placing individuals in cabins and tables for the dining room. Rarely is this a one-time placement due to cancelations or whatever reasons. We eventually get it right!


There have been several changes in the Guidelines this year, so it is important that everyone review the Guidelines, and please don’t hesitate to call if you have questions.


Last year’s expenses were $18,000 over budget so changes had to be made. We have had to tighten our belts. Unfortunately, we had to cut out the transportation reimbursements for the June and July weeks. Transportation was never provided for the September extended week-end, so that was not an issue.


Will this be restored in the future? I cannot say for sure at this time. Let’s see how this year’s expenses go. I would hate to turn campers down to attend camp because of the expense that is going out for transportation. Something had to be done, so let’s see how this year goes.


Now let’s think about warm weather, fresh air, and great company while at Cobblestone. Then, there are the relaxing floats on the River…that is unless you are floating with seven teenagers! Then skip the relaxing part and replace it with adventure and total fear!


Whatever you choose to do while at Cobblestone, I am sure you will enjoy your time with Missouri Council of the Blind and Cobblestone staff.


The week in June is the week of June 3rd, and the week in July begins July 15th. Check in time is after 3:00 p.m. and check out is on Sunday at 9:00 a.m. Applications must be into the MCB office by May 1st for these two weeks.


The September extended week-end begins on September 6th, Thursday with check in time after 6:00 p.m. and check out on Sunday is after the noon meal.


The deadline date for applications for the September camp is August 1st.The cost has not changed other than the children’s fee. Last year, it was supposed to be $65, but since there was an error on the application, we accepted the $60 fee for children. The adult fee is $75 for the week long June and July weeks, and $65 for children 17 and under. Children under 2 years of age are free. The rate is the same as last year for the September extended weekend; $50. This is an adult only time, so there are no children’s prices.


For more information, please consult the new Guidelines, or you can always call me or the office. I feel a very important factor is good communication, so please come to me if you have any questions or concerns. Our time at Cobblestone can be a rewarding experience. It is a time to relax and leave the MCB business at the office and Board room.


Emergency Preparedness Committee


By: Bunny Maginnis, Chairperson


The disaster trail has been light and easy going in our neck of the woods so far this year.


By the time you are reading this it will be nearly spring and those pesky storms will appear from nowhere and try to blow us away. Just be sure to pay close attention to weather forecasts and instructions given by the media broadcasters.


Pedestrian safety is becoming a real problem. During the past year I know of several visually impaired people who have been hit by cars. They all suffered serious injuries. Although we are protected by law it doesn't stop the pain and suffering once it happens.


Whether we like it or not we must make it known to drivers that we are blind. Even if it is not necessary for you to use a cane in most places, please take it with you when you are traveling alone. I remember when I could see well enough to travel without a cane I didn't always want to advertise the fact that I couldn't see well. I always took it with me though and it saved me from being hurt many times.


In the spring when everything is green, lush, and beautiful there are little horrors hovering mostly unseen just waiting to attack. Because spring usually brings lots of rain, mold and mildew like to hide in dark wet places. Beware of them. They can make you very sick. Maybe next time I'll have more disasters to write about. I hope not. See you in June.


Special Services Committee


By: Anne Murphy, Chairperson


According to the Board who met in November, 2011 we did not get approved for the$4000 amount that had been moved at the convention to add to our budget. However, we did receive an extra $500 from Matt Radetic, from Wrolf, Perrin and Associates in Overland Park, Kansas, which added to our budget.


So far at this writing we have had a warmer winter and have not gotten as many utility bill requests. However, we are waiting for the turn to take place in February. The committee met in January with Denny Huff to go over priorities and applicants and how to further assist people.


First approvals will be given to people with basic survival needs such as rent, utility bill requests and visual requests to help with glasses or contact lenses to help them see better. The committee will consider other applicants but will determine if they truly meet the needs of the Special Services Grant. We are stringently looking at all applicants and their needs since our grant was depleted this year. We hope it will be increased back to at least $15,000 next fiscal year. Have a safer and warm winter.  To contact me email me at or call at (314) 434-4051



Youth Services Committee


By: Linda Gerken


Dear all affiliates,


In our continuing effort to increase membership in the organization it is that time again! The youth services committee is taking nominations for sponsorship to our annual state convention. The convention this year is being held at the Capital Plaza Hotel located in Jefferson City, Missouri from October 5 to October 7.


As in year’s past each affiliate is encouraged to submit the name and information of a person or persons that should be considered for sponsorship.


Thank you all so much for your continued support. The committee person should be between the ages of 18 and 35. The person does not have to be a current member of any affiliate and this should be that person’s first convention attended. Each person should be currently residing in the state of Missouri. If selected, each person will be responsible for completing assigned tasks while attending the convention. A meet and greet on the convention floor will be held to make the assembly aware of their presence. The committee will provide two nights in the hotel, with no more than two meals a day and a ticket to the banquet. Please be mindful that no more than four people will be selected.


Thank you all so much for your continued support. The committee looks forward to receiving all nominations for sponsorship. For more information you may contact James Hollins: phone (816)739-6097. Please submit applications to Linda Gerken: no later than August 9, 2012.



Health Benefits Committee


By: Ken Carter, Chairman


The Health Benefits Committee has been busy processing new applications for benefits and our funds are dwindling.


As a reminder, on the Physician's Statement, please be sure the date of initial illness and the date patient may resume normal activity is filled in properly. We need these dates in figuring the amount of benefit.


We are here to help you and glad to be of service to Missouri Council of the Blind.


Public Relations


By: Judy Burch, Chairperson


     By the time you receive this edition of the Chronicle, several exciting events in which public relations has been involved will have already taken place. Perhaps the most exciting is the grand opening of the Missouri Council of the Blind New Image thrift store in its new location at N. Kansas Expressway in Springfield. As your public relations chair writes this, final plans are in the making for what promises to be an exciting and fun-filled grand opening day on February 29. Please stay tuned for the next issue of the Chronicle and a wonderful recap of the grand opening day at the thrift store!


Another event which will have occurred by the time this issue is published is an Open House hosted by the Foundation Fighting Blindness. The date for this event is February 25 and the location of the event is St. Joseph Hospital in Kansas City. MCB will have a booth there and we will be distributing information to the Open House visitors about our organization. Other Missouri and Kansas-based organizations will be there as well.


We are looking forward to Legislative Days in March, and you will read more about happenings there in the summer issue of the Chronicle as well.


The Power-Up Assistive Technology conference will be held this year at the Holiday Inn Executive Center in Columbia on April 1-2. We will have a booth there to distribute information about the Missouri Council of the Blind to conference attendees. Many other vendors will be there to exhibit technology and other organizations as well. To learn more about the conference, visit


Please feel free to contact me with any happenings in your affiliates. I can be reached at or 220 Woodridge Rd., St. Louis, MO 63122.


Membership Memorandum


Greetings MCB! The Membership Committee, Gretchen Maune, Judy Burch, and Halley Korff, hope that you all are having a wonderful winter season. Since our significant Member-At-Large count keeps growing (we’ve even gotten several more since the last Chronicle), we will be working on getting them more involved, and doing our best to meet their needs.


Through contacting at-large members, directing them to affiliates in their area, and helping them to start new ones when there are none nearby, we hope to both ensure that they are receiving the information and services they need, as well as connect them more fully to the MCB family.


If you have questions, concerns, or ideas relating to membership, please email Gretchen Maune at or call her at 573-489-0986. Also, if you spend much time online, remember to like our page on Facebook and follow us on twitter at



Member of the Month Committee


By: Yvonne Schnitzler, Chairperson


I am sure we all know someone who deserves to be recognized for sharing their time and talents in their community, affiliate or MCB. Please take the time to nominate someone from your affiliate or someone you know in MCB with the qualifications for member of the month. Congratulations to our previous winners.


August, 2011--Delavina Ferren, Southeast Missouri United Blind Club

September, 2011--Carl Mack, Tower Club of the Blind

October, 2011--Geraldine (Gerry) Arnold, Blind of Central Missouri

November, 2011--Carolyn Kemper, St. Charles County Council of the Blind

December, 2011--Kim Hallows, United Workers for the Blind

January, 2012--Susan Sanderson, Blind of Central Missouri


Thanks to members and affiliates who have taken the time to nominate someone deserving of this award. Send nominations to


Ready, Set, Get Connected!


By: Brian L. Hallows, Moderator MCB Connect


It has been a busy couple of months for MCB Connect. In December we had our furthest traveled guest in the history of MCB Connect. We went to the North Pole and Santa joined us. It was a wonderful program for both young and old.


On January 16, I had the pleasure to welcome Chris Gray our new Executive Director. It was probably my most enjoyable program so far since taking over MCB Connect last year. It was a very spirited and enjoyable program for me. Thank you Chris and welcome to you from MCB Connect.


In February, we will be talking about camp with our Camp Director Beverly Kaskadden. If you have ever even thought about going to our wonderful Camp this program is for you. February 20 is the date for this Connect.


On March 19 I have scheduled an update for all of us from Stephanie White Brady from Joplin. She will update us on the assistance we have sent to the Joplin tornado victims. She has many stories to share with us on how MCB has helped our friends in Joplin.


As always let me remind you that this is your program. If you have any suggestions for future programs, please feel free to contact me at my contact information below. Thank you for your support.

Brian L. Hallows, Moderator MCB Connect,, phone (314)395-8573, cell (314)215-1879


Convention Coordinator


By: Susan Sanderson


Hey everyone, now is the time to get ready for this year’s convention. The hotel is ready to take our reservation. Capitol Plaza hotel staff is looking forward to having us hold our Convention October 5, 6 and 7. To make your room reservation call 573-635-1234. Be sure to tell them you are attending the MCB Convention so they can give you the reduced rate of $79 for singles or double, $99 Jr. Suite, and $119 King Suite. The hotel has a new policy for early check-in; before 3:00 there will be a $10 charge so they have time to get our rooms ready from the check out at 1:00. They have this policy to better serve their customers. The hotel also is non-smoking in all areas.


We have a new activity during our hospitality dinner this year. An Auction is going to be held with Melvin Smith and Wanda Lentz as co-chair for this committee. We are all looking forward to see what surprises they have in store.


Don’t forget to mark your calendar for October 5, 6 and 7. We are also making arrangements for tours to the Wolfner Library Thursday Afternoon and Friday morning. See you there.





By: Judy Burch, Public Relations Chair


To All MCB Affiliates and Members,


The auction committee invites you to participate in a project for the 2012 state convention, which will be held in Jefferson City this October. We are asking that members seek donations of nice merchandise which will be placed for bid at the auction. Conventioneers can place their bids on these items, and the highest bidder for each item will receive the merchandise on which they bid. We are looking for items which people would really enjoy receiving so such things as overnight stays at hotels, a vacation at a condominium, nice restaurant dinners, open-end airline tickets, electronics such as iPods (or who knows, maybe even an iPad), or nice adaptive equipment would be good choices.


Of course, proceeds from the auction will go to the MCB. We look forward to you joining us to help make this a fun-filled and productive fundraiser for MCB.


If you have any questions you may contact committee members Wanda Lentz at or Melvin Smith at





Missouri Governor Jay Nixon's News Release, December 23, 2011.

Gov. Nixon makes board and commission appointments.


JEFFERSON CITY - Gov. Jay Nixon today announced his appointments to eight boards and commissions. The appointees will be subject to confirmation by the Missouri Senate, with the exception of the State Rehabilitation Advisory Council for the Blind.


The Governor has re-appointed Brady Clevenger, of Republic; Gene Fleeman, of Dixon; and John W. Thompson, of St. Louis; and appointed Paul M. Ajuwon, of Springfield; Donna K. Borgmeyer, of Jefferson City; Betty K. Farley, of Jefferson City; Rita Galbraith, of Webb City; Nia V. Ray, of Jefferson City; Sheila Wright, of Kansas City; and Patricia L. Yokum, of St. Louis, to the State Rehabilitation Advisory Council for the Blind.


The State Rehabilitation Advisory Council for the Blind gives advice and recommendations to Rehabilitation Services for the Blind, a section of the Division of Family Services on all matters pertaining to services available to blind and visually impaired Missourians.


Since 2006, Clevenger has been a vocational rehabilitation counselor for Rehabilitation Services for the Blind. He holds a master's degree in community counseling from Pittsburg State University and an undergraduate psychology degree from Missouri Southern State University. The Governor has re-appointed him for a term ending Aug. 21, 2012.


Fleeman has been a successful manager through the Business Enterprise Program for more than 27 years, including his present position as the contract manager for food services at Fort Leonard Wood. He is the current secretary of the Missouri Association of Blind Merchants, and holds a bachelor's in finance from Missouri State University.


The Governor has re-appointed him for a term ending Aug 21, 2013. Thompson has been the president of Lighthouse for the Blind since 2000, a not-for-profit company with the mission of providing employment for people who are blind. He holds both a master's and a bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of Missouri. The Governor has re-appointed him for a term ending Aug. 21, 2014.


Dr. Ajuwon serves on the faculty of Missouri State University with the Department of Counseling, Leadership and Special Education. He has published numerous reports on work with those with visual impairment or other disabilities. The Governor has appointed Dr. Ajuwon for a term ending Aug. 21, 2012.


Borgmeyer has served as a council member of the Statewide Independent Living Council since 2001. She has served as program assistant, representative or specialist on the Governor's Council on Disability since 1976, and as a member of the Blind Literacy Task Force since 2003. The Governor has appointed her for a term ending Aug. 21, 2014.


Farley is the director of advocacy administration for Missouri Protection and Advocacy Services, which protects the rights of persons with disabilities through legally-based advocacy, and has been with the office since 1998. She holds a master's in business administration from William Woods University and a bachelor's degree from Lincoln University. The Governor has appointed her for a term ending Aug. 21, 2013.


Galbraith served two terms as president of the Southwest Missouri Friendship Council of the Blind. She has been a caregiver for children with cerebral palsy and a volunteer working with the elderly with dementia. Galbraith has a bachelor's in psychology from Missouri Southern State University. The Governor has appointed her for a term ending Aug. 21, 2014.


Ray is currently the executive director of the Missouri Workforce Investment Board. She previously operated a private law practice in St. Louis and also served as an attorney in the administration of Gov. Bob Holden, as general counsel for the St. Louis City Board of Aldermen, and as an assistant circuit attorney for the City of St. Louis. The Governor has appointed her for a term ending Aug.21, 2014.


Wright is a consumer support provider for Missouri Assistive Technology Project in Kansas City, and has worked in rehabilitation and residential services capacities for more than 30 years. She is the president of the Kansas City chapter of the National Federation of the Blind and a past member of the State Rehabilitation Council for the Blind. The Governor has appointed her for a term ending Aug. 21, 2014.


Okum is the superintendent for the Missouri School for the Blind, located in St. Louis. She was previously director of compliance for state board-operated schools under the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education, and served as a principal and district superintendent for the Drexel R-IV School District. The Governor has appointed her for a term ending Aug. 21, 2013.





By: John Weidlich


Here is the latest collection of new products and resources that I have gathered for you, taken from a variety of sources. I hope something here will be useful. As usual, I remind you that none of these items are being endorsed by me or MCB, although I may express an opinion from time to time. They are mentioned here only in the hope that you might find them of benefit. I am sorry that I don’t have prices for some of the magnifiers. I know it is important for you to know how much a new product costs before you think about buying it and I will always give you that information when I have it. I don’t know why, but for some reason many of the announcements for new technology I see lately don’t show prices. Guess they want you to check it out before you decide it is too expensive. So here goes:


When TV stations went to the new HD format some time back, those radios that some of you had that picked up audio signals of TV stations would no longer work. Well, a company called OEHM Electronics now offers a DTV Radio that does what those old and now obsolete radios used to do. It is an audio only HD TV receiver. Think of it as HD TV without pictures. It comes with Braille or email instructions and a permanently mounted remote control. It costs $175 and can be ordered from OEHM Electronics,
Phone: (408) 971-6250.



Accessible Electronics sells talking MP3 players with either four or eight gigabyte memory. They have fully speaking menus and come with FM radio and voice recorder. For more information, go to or call (727) 498-0121. I have no information about prices.


The BM01 is a mobile phone with big buttons from Bierley. It has large keys, magnified text messages, an emergency call button and a radio with built-in speaker. It can be used with any cellular provider. For information call (800) 985-0535 or visit


AI Squared is the American distributor for the I-loview handheld video magnifier. Some of the features of this pocket-sized magnifier include twelve levels of magnification, four levels of brightness and 16 levels of contrast sensitivity, five color modes and a an SD card for storing and moving images. It has a 4.3 inch screen but there is an option for using it with a larger external screen. The phone number for more information is (800) 759-0270 and the web site is


Another new magnifier on the market is the Lifestyle HDmagnifier from HIMS. It is said to enlarge in high definition for a crisper text and sharper color contrasts. It comes with a 19 or 22 inch screen monitor and provides from 2X to 84X magnification. Phone: (888) 520-4467,


Last year, National Braille Press put out a delightful Braille book called Monday Morning Quotations compiled by Diane Croft. It was a spiral-bound book with 52 pages. Each page had a quote from a famous person. The idea was to read a quotation each Monday morning and to think about it during the week before going on to the next week’s quotation. Some of you know that I put them on Facebook every week. The book was so popular that this January NBP released Tuesday Morning Quotations. The new book costs $9.00. It can be ordered from National Braille Press by calling (800) 548-7323 or by going to their web site, Here are a few of my favorite Monday Morning quotations:


Don’t let other people tell you who you are. Diane Sawyer


No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. Eleanor Roosevelt


What if the hokey-pokey is really what it’s all about? Bumper Sticker


If you want to make the days in your life really matter, you must love something. Kobi Yamada


If you are working on something you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed. The vision pulls you. Steve Jobs

If you make a mistake, acknowledge it quickly and openly, learn from it, forget it and move on. Brian Tracy


If the grass is greener on the other side, yours may need watering. Unknown


We do not see things the way they are; we see them the way we are. Anais Nin


Speak only if it is an improvement on silence. Quaker Proverb


While they were saying among themselves it cannot be done, it was done. Helen Keller


One generation plants the trees: another gets the shade. Chinese Proverb


People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. Maya Angelou


Another new Braille book from National Braille Press is The Poetry of Everyday Life, a selection of poetry from modern poets about love, nature, work and ordinary life. These are not abstract poems that only an English professor could understand. But they will make you think, smile and maybe cry a little. This one is $9.95 in one Braille volume.


The Statler Center is offering employment training in the field of customer service for people who are blind. It is a ten week training course at the Center in Buffalo, New York. Job searching assistance is also provided. For more information, contact Jeff Pease at (716) 888-4526. His email is


For several years, I have been reading articles about research on a strange-sounding device called the BrainPort, being developed at the University of Wisconsin. It consists of a head-mounted camera which sends visual images to a processor that produces a form of vision through a pattern of stimulation on the user’s tongue. I can’t quite understand how this works or how it results in a visual image for a blind person but you may have a chance to test this device for yourself and see how it works. The Envision Vision rehabilitation Center, located in Wichita, Kansas, is looking for people who would be interested in participating in a clinical trial of the BrainPort. After initial training at the Center in Wichita, study participants will evaluate the BrainPort in their homes for a year. If you are interested, call Shannon Riley at (316) 440-1528. I know one MCB member who is considering taking part in this study and if she does, I hope she will tell us all about it.


Mind’s Eye Travel arranges travel tours for people who are blind or visually impaired. Several trips are planned for this year, including one in September to Boston. For details, call (207) 542-4438 or go to


Thanks to a donation from Goldman Sachs, the Hadley School for the Blind will soon begin a new program for blinded veterans. There will be courses focusing on business, technology, independent living skills, adjustment to blindness and Braille literacy. The program will also assist blinded veterans who need help with applying for benefits such as disability compensation and medical care benefits.


Congratulations to the Telephone Pioneers, who just celebrated its 100th anniversary as a volunteer organization. For more than 50 years, the Pioneers have worked with the National Library Service and cooperating libraries repairing talking book machines. It is estimated that they have repaired 3.6 million machines. They have also been involved with the game of beep ball.


The Princeton Braillists are continuing to produce maps and atlases in Braille. Their latest project is an Atlas of North Africa with maps of Egypt, Libya, tunesia, Algeria, Morocco and other countries in that region. Along with maps, there are facts and general information about each country. The maps display cities, rivers, mountains and places of special interest. There are sixteen maps and the Atlas costs $14.00. To order or to find out about many other Braille maps and atlases they have for purchase, contact the Princeton Braillists at 76 Leabrook Lane, Princeton, NJ, 08542.


Another organization celebrating a major anniversary is Choice Magazine Listening, which turns fifty this year. Since 1962, Choice Magazine Listening has provided a recorded magazine consisting of unabridged articles from popular print magazines. Now issued four times a year, each issue contains twelve hours of news articles, fiction, poetry, book reviews, and essays. It can be ordered directly from the producer or downloaded from the BARD site. The magazine has reflected the history of recorded magazines, going from records to cassettes to cartridges that can be played on the new NLS machines. The magazine is free. To order a subscription, call (888) 724-6423 or visit


Freedom Scientific is now selling the Plextalk Pocket, which plays talking books, podcasts and music using an SD Card. It also records and has a radio. The price is $345. For more information, call (800) 444-4443.


Bay Area Digital sells a talking cooking thermometer, which speaks temperatures from -50 to 550 Degrees Fahrenheit. It costs $39.95 and is available from Bay Area Digital, Phone: (888) 881-1998,


The National Association of Guide Dog Users (NAGDU) has established an education and advocacy hotline to provide guide dog users with information on legal rights and help with resolving problems with denial of access to cabs, restaurants, and other facilities. The number is (866) 972-3647.


Freeze-up is a new memory game from Independent Living Aids. It is for two to eight players and it costs $26.95. The company’s phone number is (800) 537-2118 and the web site is The company has an extensive catalog of other products as well.


BPC Programs offers computer games for blind computer users, including Three Day Velocity, treasure Hunt, Tournament, Space, the Great Escape and more. To download any of these games go to


Earlier, we have talked about a condition called non-24 hour sleep-wake disorder, which seems to affect many totally blind people, especially those without light perception. It is believed that many people without light perception have difficulty sleeping because of their body’s inability to regulate their body clocks to a normal 24 hour rhythm. Vanda Pharmaceuticals has been studying this condition and says it is getting good results from clinical trials of a new drug called tasimelteon. The company hopes to enroll about twenty more people in their trial and to have results by the end of the year. It is thought that this sleep disorder may affect about 50 percent of totally blind people in the United States, approximately 65 to 95,000 people. For more information, go to


MyInfo911 offers emergency medical identification cards that use quick response or QK codes to provide medical information to people responding to an accident or emergency. The card contains your name, picture, year of birth, blood type, emergency contact information, allergies and medical conditions and a quick response code number. Using a cell phone, the QK code can be used to log onto a web site and obtain your complete medical history if you are unable to communicate. For more information about obtaining one of these cards, go to


Finally, Portal Tutoring provides assistance to blind people who want to learn how to use the Internet for shopping, employment, education or hobbies. There are also tutorials on reading and writing Braille, and using adaptive technology. The web site is or you can call Ann Parsons at (585) 244-0477.


Southwest Missouri Friendship Council of the Blind in Joplin, Missouri is selling Visi-Belt; in the Florescent Lime Yellow Color, for $12.00 each – plus shipping. To place an order, call Ron or Cathie at 417-781-1188.


Visi-Belt is up to 1,500 times more reflective than white fabric alone! This belt gives the wearer greater visibility and enables oncoming vehicles more reaction time. Visi-Belt is made from Durable vinyl with reinforced webbing, is 2 inches wide and has a quick release buckle and adjusts 31 inches to 55 inches. This belt provides high visibility to the wearer (136 meters away) while walking, running, biking, etc. during the day or at night.


That’s all for this time. See you in June.