By Wilma Chestnut-House
Hello MCB family. It is a very good day! I have been wondering what I could do to add a little spice to our quarterly newsletter and I think that I have figured it out. Starting with this issue, I will be featuring two new regular articles. The first one is an article from a different editor throughout the ACB (All States). Each issue will feature a different editor from a different state.
The second article is what will be called “The Next Generation” by Josh Starner. He will be interviewing young adults and giving them a voice in our newsletter. Hopefully, this will entice some to participate and others to join. We will also feature one Member at Large starting with our next issue.
I hope that you all will enjoy these new articles!
By Naomi Soule, President
Happy Spring everyone!! A lot has happened over the last few months. It seems like I am on conference calls or in meetings more than ever. First-of-all, MCB is in the process of hiring a webmaster to design our webpage. The Board has asked that we interview some companies, which we are working on. I know many of you are excited about going to camp this summer. A waver will be included this year, which covers all of our events. I also continue to represent MCB on the Universal Design Group. We are working on a greenway that will run through downtown. I also visited the museum at the Gateway Arch. The National Park Service and the Gateway Arch Foundation still have work to do, such as Braille signage uniformity and headphones for listening to audio description. I am serving on the MindsEye Soiree Committee this year. The Soiree will be an outside experience which includes watching "Back To The Future" with audio description. It is going to be at the Sheldon Theater.
In closing, I want to thank Kay Malmquist, Vice President, for her partnership. She has been a real asset to me and MCB. Have a great summer.
AGAPE Council Report
By Wilma Chestnut-House
Even though we have not had any in-person meetings, we are still forging ahead. In working with Ronnie Dowell (our member) and Greg Mark, Thomas Reece is now gainfully employed! They went on his work site and made the office computers compatible with JAWS. Go Tommy!
Two more members have now joined the group of the “Blissfully Wedded”!
Patrick Patton (last year’s winner of the Darrell Lauer Award) and Treva Williams were joined in Holy matrimony on May 1. Congratulations Patrick and Treva!
On September 11, we are having a bike ride at Creve Coeur Park at the Taco Bell Shelter down by the lake. I will send out more information later. All are invited and I will send out information where you can rent a tandem bike if you don’t have one. The cost to participate will be $10 and that will cover a meal, unlimited water, and maybe prizes!
Delta Area For the Blind
By Wanda Matlock
Hello to everyone from Delta Area. I am so happy to see Spring finally arrive. I know everyone else is also. We did not have a meeting in March due to some members’ health problems and other members being out of town.
On April 15th, several Delta Area members had a surprise going away party for one of our members. Mickie Ornsby will be moving to Arkansas in the near future to be closer to her family. We will miss her very much. Mickie has been a member of Delta Area for about 25 years. We celebrated with a meal at the Grecian Steak House in Sikeston and of course, we had cake and presents. Mickie was surprised. She thought she was going to a Delta Area meeting. Our members are excited to have the opportunity to go to camp Cobblestone this year.
At our April 27th meeting, the letter from Cobblestone Lodge was read to our members and the applications and waivers were passed out to the members interested in going to camp. It will be great to see and visit with our friends from across the state.
On a sad note, the Mother of one of our members passed away at the age of 88 years. Mrs. Fern Blurton is the Mother of Tony Blurton. Although Mrs. Blurton was not a member of Delta Area, she was always willing to lend her support and talents where she could. Mrs. Blurton had a love for making quilts and throws for people. Her quilts and throws can be found in many, many homes across the bootheel. She made me a bear when I lost my oldest son in 2012 and I still cherish it to this day. Mrs. Blurton’s love, kindness and support for Delta Area will be missed by us all. I guess this is all the news I have for this issue of the MCB Chronicle. From everyone at Delta Area, we wish everyone a happy and safe Spring
Blind Of Central Missouri
By Joe Morgan, Vice President
Greetings from Sedalia! We are still having meetings by phone but here's the good news!! In August we will go back to meeting in person at the Celebration Center in Sedalia. We will still have a conference call for those who are unable to attend the meeting in person.
We are having a picnic on June 27th at Centennial Park in Sedalia. We will be deciding the menu in our May meeting on May 13, 2021. It will be nice to get together with our members again. I will have details on how everything went in my next report. Also, members are planning to attend camp in June and August.
That's all I have to report this time. Until next time keep smiling, and stay safe.
Missouri Guide Dog Users (MGDU)
By Judy Burch
Greetings to all from the members of MGDU. We hope you are all enjoying your spring and are looking forward to a nice summer.
The Top Dog 2022 planning committee will have begun to move forward with plans for the conference by the time you read this article. We are hoping that hotel reservations at the Westport Chalet hotel in St. Louis can begin to be made sometime in June or July. The dates for the Top Dog 2022 conference are May 19-22, 2022. We will keep all apprised as we learn more.
As many of you know, the Department of Transportation is requiring everyone flying with service dogs to complete a form each time they fly. It is up to the various airlines to determine how forms will be formatted and completed. Yours truly is working with this form as this article is being written and it will be interesting, to say the least, as to how this will turn out. I have made my round trip reservations and am thankful that only one form will need to be completed for the round trip.
In closing, please remember that summer brings hot days. We all need to keep hydrated, so when you are out and about carry a bottle of water for yourself and also one for your dog.
We’ll see you again in September.
By Wilma Chestnut-House, Membership Chair
Our Member-at-Large list is growing rapidly. Some of the growth is due to the fact that there has not been too many in person meetings in their local affiliate and some is word of mouth. When my committee started with Chip and Linda, we had 149 members and now we have approximately 160. Even though we have gained about 20 new members, some of our other members have not renewed their membership. So, just as a reminder, please call and check in the office and see if you are up to date with your membership. We would hate for you to miss out on all the happenings due to an oversite.
We are tossing around ideals concerning what we can do to entice members and others to join affiliates. Maybe by the next issue of “The Chronicle” we will have a great change.
Summer Camp Report
By Beverly Kaskadden
ARE YOU READY? Some are, but some are not. If you are comfortable with attending camp, then by all means, get your applications in to join us at Cobblestone.
Of course, when this issue comes out, then deadline for the two week-long sessions will be behind us. You will still have time to submit applications for the September weekend session. The deadline for the September weekend is August 1st. We will do our best to keep everyone safe, and those attending camp will also be responsible to observe safety precautions. I believe we can achieve this.
MCB has acquired the services of Attorney Brian O’Neil, to create a waiver and release. All those attending camp must sign this document and send it into the MCB office.
The one thing I want those attending camp to remember is that you need to bring your own towels and wash cloths. Housekeeping will not be provided. Now, get packed and be ready for an enjoyable summer!
The Youth Camp Committee: Celita White, Sam White, and Beverly Kaskadden.
Adaptive Technology Grant Committee
By Darrel Vickers, Chair
Hi Everyone, hope all of you are doing well. I want to take a minute to give you an update on our technology grants and provide an overview of this great program for those of you who might not be aware of it and how it works.
Missouri Council knows how life changing, certain types of technology can be to a blind person. We are also aware the cost of this type of technology can be expensive and may be out of reach for some people.
Therefore, MCB provides the adaptive technology grant.
Each year MCB sets aside moneys for technology that blind persons of Missouri can apply for, to help offset the cost of adaptive technology.
How it works: For MCB members, MCB will match dollar for dollar for most types of adaptive technology with a $3000 limit over any five (5) year period. Any blind resident of Missouri who is not a member of MCB can also receive a grant, but we will match 25% of the total cost with the same $3000 limit.
2020-2021 Funding: We started in November 2020 with $40,000 in available funding. As of this writing May 1, 2021 we have approved 25 grants and have used approximately $25,000. Thanks to the generosity of the St. Louis Lighthouse, we still have $15,000 left. Otherwise, we would be almost out of funds as usual. If you think this program can help you, I encourage you to apply now!
Purpose: The MCB technology grant is a matching grant to help Missouri blind and low vision persons obtain all types of adaptive technology. The Missouri Council of the Blind (MCB) created this Adaptive Technology Grants Program to help fulfill its mission of enriching the lives of legally blind Missourians. Adaptive technology can be awfully expensive so MCB understands why many legally blind Missourians are not benefiting from its use. For the purpose of this grant program, adaptive technology is considered hardware, software, electronics, equipment, etc. that is standalone or works in conjunction with a computer that makes it possible for blind people to do things that sighted people can already do without using adaptive technology.
Coverage: The Adaptive Technology Grants Program widely covers both hardware and software based adaptive technology, including upgrades and maintenance agreements, and narrowly covers computer systems as required by or used in conjunction with accompanying adaptive technology, such as screen magnification software, screen reader software, or a scanning system. Purchase of a computer along with or for use with accompanying adaptive technology is only eligible for up to a $400 matching funds grant. Only new adaptive technology and computers are covered, including adaptive technology upgrades to newer versions; used or previously owned adaptive technology and computers are not covered.
The Adaptive Technology Committee is made up of three members: Darrel Vickers, Kim Vaughn, and Belinda Turner.
If you have any questions about the program, please contact me by email at email@example.com or by phone at 636-667-3176. Until next time, take Care.
Education and Advocacy Report
Chip Hailey, MCB Education & Advocacy Chair
Greetings fellow MCB legislative advocates, as well as MCB family and friends. It was quite a tempest of activity during this past legislative session and I hope to cover as much as I can in this quarter's issue of the Chronicle.
During the two weeks just before the legislative Spring break, March 15 - 19, 2021, we presented the following two legislative imperatives to our state policy makers.
HB 115, also known as the Missouri employment first act, sponsored by Representative Bridget Walsh Moore, requires state agencies to support competitive integrated employment for persons with disabilities. This Act is a state-level approach to disability services. It means that employment is considered the option of choice for citizens with disabilities, rather than placement in a sheltered workshop, a day habilitation program, or another segregated or non-inclusive setting. The bill requires all state agencies that provide employment-related services or provide services or support to persons with disabilities to coordinate with other agencies, share data where feasible, promote competitive integrated employment, and implement an employment first policy when providing services to persons with disabilities of working age.
In addition, state agencies shall offer specified information to all working-age persons with disabilities and to the parents or guardians of youth with a disability. The bill provides that this shall not be construed as requiring any state agency or employer to give a preference in hiring to persons with disabilities, or require a state agency to perform an action not in conformity with federal law.
The Missouri Council of the Blind believes that one of the most significant barriers to the blind community of Missouri is finding gainful employment. Unfortunately, the primary barrier to employment for people who are blind is their disability.
In addition, MCB believes The Missouri Employment First Act affirms employment as a fundamental necessity in overcoming one's disability. It highlights the significance to self-worth in having a job, and how employment can bring fulfillment into a person’s life. Only through the adopting of a positive attitude toward the employment of those with disabilities can employment barriers be overcome in the future.
The Missouri Council of the Blind had also wished to thank and acknowledge Governor Mike Parson for his emphasis on employing those with disabilities throughout state government.
Last action on March 29, 2021, Referred to the House Rules-Legislative Oversight committee.
HB117, sponsored by Representative Bridget Walsh Moore, modifies provisions relating to Blind Pensions.
This bill removes a requirement of any notice that is sent to any applicant or recipient of the Blind Pension Fund must be sent by certified mail. Instead, the bill allows the notice to be sent by any mail delivered by the United States Postal Service. Removing this requirement would also save Missouri approximately $100,000 annually.
Last action was January 7, 2021, received a Second Read but no further action was taken.
We had also asked our state legislators to join together with us in urging the two Co-Directors of Elections to bring the OmniBallot portal to our state.
The OmniBallot is a secure, online balloting portal intended for voters who may not be able to vote a conventional paper ballot. We made calls and sent emails to the following two Co-directors of Elections, Kendra Lane and Chrissy Peters, strongly urging them to bring this initiative to Missouri.
It's not too late for you too to reach out to both Directors asking that they carefully consider implementing this system in Missouri so that people with disabilities may cast their votes privately and independently from the comfort of their own homes avoiding any possible architectural barriers as well as any transportation costs.
Here are the talking points you can share:
- Accessible vote by mail is being done in over 20 states.
- Voting from home is the fastest growing method of voting in America, even before the Pandemic.
- Not only is electronic ballot delivery important but, electronic ballot return is the next step for 100% accessibility. Thirty-two States allow uniformed and overseas voters to submit ballots back through email or fax. Why not allow voters with disabilities the same option? Only in a secure portal. Email and fax have security issues far greater than our secure federally approved cloud environment.
- Voting access is covered by the ADA. Elected and election officials often hide behind the lack of legislation allowing them when in fact with strong leadership in the state office this can be done without legislation.
The telephone number for both Directors is 573-751-2301
Contact by email: Kendra.firstname.lastname@example.org and Chrissy.email@example.com.
Other bills we have been tracking:
Senate Bill 24, sponsored by Senator Bill Eigel, Republican, Weldon Spring, would reduce the personal property assessment rate from 33.3% to 0.001% over five years. The legislation, if adopted, would phase out personal property tax assessments to almost nothing by 2026.
According to the St. Louis Post dispatch, dated February 4th, 2021, Maria Benevent reported that During a Ways and Means Committee hearing, Eigel said only 21 states collect personal property tax, and Missouri’s rate is the third highest. She further reported that Eigel believes personal property tax disproportionately affects less wealthy Missourians and that removing it could improve the economy.
Eigel tends to view this as a $1.4 billion stimulus package.” A fiscal analysis of the bill says it could reduce local government revenue statewide by up to $1.45 billion in 2027 and take more than $6.4 million away from the Blind Pension Program. Scott Kimble, Advocacy Director for the Missouri Association of School Administrators, said the “bulk of this money goes to public schools.” The Pattonville School District alone could lose around $17 million, he said. Kimble, who testified in opposition to the bill, also said school transportation is already underfunded by more than $200 million.
In response, committee members questioned Kimble on ways schools may have saved money on utilities, transportation and expenses during closures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Kimble argued that the pandemic was a temporary situation, while the effects of the proposal would be permanent. No one else testified on the bill.
Currently, personal property tax is assessed at 33.3% of its real value. Local governments then tax that assessed value.
Personal property is any property that is “tangible,” excluding real property such as land and buildings, according to the Missouri State Tax Commission
Examples of personal property include vehicles, office equipment and machinery.
Eigel’s proposal would reduce the assessment percentage to 25% in 2022, 19% in 2023, 13% in 2024, 7% in 2025, and one thousandth of a percent in following years.
St. Louis officials estimated if property values remained the same and there was no mechanism to replace lost revenue, personal property tax revenues to the city would drop from nearly $16.4 million in 2020 to $492 by 2026.
Taxes to all jurisdictions in the city would drop from close to $84.5 million to just over $2,500.
Recipients of personal property tax revenues include St. Louis Public Schools, St. Louis Public Library, the Zoo Museum District and the Metropolitan St. Louis Sewer District.
Eigel countered that his proposal could cause sales tax revenue to go up because of increased spending and that there is nothing in the bill that would prevent jurisdictions from asking voters to raise other taxes. He said local government revenues are at record levels and real property assessments have been increasing.
The Blind Pension program assists blind people who don’t qualify for Supplemental Security Income or for help under the Supplemental Aid to the Blind law. It currently provides MO HealthNet coverage and payments of $750 a month to those who meet income, moral character and other requirements.
The estimated amount the fund could lose is about one-sixth of the total Gov. Mike Parson recommended spending in the fiscal 2022 budget.
Denny Huff, Public Relations Director for the Missouri Council of the Blind said he didn’t know how the blind pension fund would compensate for that loss in revenue to avoid reducing the monthly payments to people who rely on them. If the bill advances, “I’m sure the blind community of Missouri would really focus on that, to either have an alternative” source of funding or defeat the measure entirely, he said.
In response to a question from Sen. Lauren Arthur, D-Kansas City, Eigel said he didn’t want the Blind Pension Fund to lose money and that the Legislature could appropriate money from general revenue to make up the difference.
According to one Senator's Chief of Staff, SB 24 was passed out of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, which came as no real surprise, since we knew the Senator carried a great deal of influence with the committee members.
The bill was then placed on the informal perfection calendar on March 11, 2021. A bill placed on the informal perfection calendar means it has been placed at the top of the calendar giving the sponsor of the bill opportunity to be recognized and bring the bill up again with hopes to push the bill forward. The bill was then defeated on the perfection vote but then the Senate voted to reconsider the perfection vote and the adoption of Senate Substitute #2.
To put it into layman's terms, the sponsor of the bill had hoped to Reduce the personal property assessment rate from 33.3% to 0.001% over five years. This means that if passed the bill would not only reduce the amount of personal property tax but then would also need to increase the amount of real property tax. Since money for the Blind Pension Fund comes off of the personal property tax, this bill would dramatically impact the Fund, thus drastically effecting individuals on the Blind Pension roll.
But in the bigger scheme of things, the BP Fund, as important as it is to all of us, is only a very small part of the picture that would be effected. Other entities such as public schools, police departments, fire departments as well as a number of other entities would suffer even a greater loss, and you can be rest assured that they had advocated as well in opposition to the bill. If the bill came up again after the Spring break and no action taken, then the bill would have died which was what we all had hoped.
Last action was on March 11, 2021, the bill was Placed on the Informal Perfection Calendar and since no further action was taken the bill died. Hallelujah!
Other issues we were monitoring:
HB 1360, sponsored by Representative Basye, establishes the "BRITE" Act governing Braille instruction.
Last action was on April 7, 2021, a Hearing was Scheduled by the Committee on Elementary and Secondary Education, but was not heard.
This year marked the 20th anniversary of Disability Rights Legislative Day and this year's theme was "In This Together."
The event was held virtually so people with disabilities, family members, and others could participate regardless of where they live in the state. Planners of the event believed that the more people who had participated, the more they could advocate for what is important to them and show the legislature that they are all "In This Together!" Disability Rights Legislative Day was held from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesday, March 23, 2021. A rally took place from 11 a.m. to noon and featured an impressive lineup of speakers, including Governor Mike Parson, various legislators, and some powerful disability advocates. After the rally, from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m., advocates met virtually with their legislators and advocated on important disability issues. As part of the "In This Together" theme, there were three topics focused on at the event:
- Support Our Lives = Support Our Staff: For many people with disabilities, reliable support staff are critical to a happy, healthy, and productive life.
- Support Our Lives = Support Our Inclusion: Students with disabilities shouldn't be subjected to restraint and seclusion.
- Support Our Lives = Support Our Work: People with disabilities can and want to work.
During the rally, both legislators and advocates covered these topics. When they met with their legislators, they could talk about these topics or any other issues that impacted their lives each and every day. The planners had also urged people with disabilities not to miss this important opportunity to participate in the 20th anniversary of Disability Rights Legislative Day and show the legislature that they all were "In This Together!" I will have lots more to say next time on the American Council of the Blind's legislative issues that we took to our Congressional leaders. Should any of you wish to subscribe to our MCB Education & Advocacy list you may do so by sending a blank e-mail to Edufirstname.lastname@example.org.
You will receive a confirmation email which you can easily reply to in order to become subscribed. Individuals need not be the affiliate’s legislative representative in order to subscribe to the list. Everyone is welcome to join! Should you have any questions or would like additional information on any of the above issues, please don't hesitate to reach out to me at email@example.com or 417-540-9703. Enjoy your summer everyone!
By Jesuita Tabor, Convention Coordinator
Well, it is that time again! It is time to start thinking about the MCB state convention. The 65th annual convention for the Missouri Council of the Blind will be held virtually again this year on the Zoom platform.
The Board meeting will be on Thursday, October 12 at 7:00 PM. The convention begins with general session on Friday, October 13 at 10:00 AM. The last day will be Saturday, October 14 and general session begins at 9:00 AM.
We will be giving out gift cards for door prizes again this year. We are asking Affiliates to support this effort by donating $25 gift cards. Please mail gift cards to the MCB office.
Nominations will be held for the three Director positions on Friday morning with voting from 12:00 to 2:00 PM. Treasurer and Public Relations nominations will be at 11:00 AM with voting from 12:00 to 2:00 PM.
ATTENTION! ATTENTION! ATTENTION!
By Debra Whitt, Fundraising Chair
While it is still several months away, there is never a better time than the present to start planning for a future event. The Missouri Council of the Blind Fundraising Committee would like to take this opportunity to reach out to our affiliates and request their support for the upcoming online auction in November. We would appreciate any type of donation your club is willing to contribute for the auction—gift cards, new merchandise from local businesses, etc. Donations can be sent to the MCB office in St. Louis. Please designate that the items you are contributing are specifically for the MCB online auction. Thank you in advance for your generous contribution. Let’s keep the great work of the MCB moving forward!
Upcoming Fundraising Events
By Debra Witt
It has been a slow start, but as you read on you will learn what the Fundraising Committee has been working on this year to raise funds for the Missouri Council of the Blind to support its various programs.
May 1st will see the start of this year’s 50/50 raffle. The winner will be pulled on Friday, October 29, just in time to have a spooktacular Halloween or begin your Christmas shopping in style! Raffle chances can be purchased by calling MCB at (314) 832-7172. Once the payment has been confirmed, your name, email and phone number will be sent to Carl Chappell. Carl will then fill out the specific number of ticket chances on your behalf and place them into the “pull box.” You will receive an email confirmation when he has completed your tickets. NOTE: There will not be any paper stubs. We are trying to use the K.I.S.S. principle. Proceeds from this fundraiser will go to support the adaptive technology grant fund. This fund will enable MCB to fulfill more requests by those needing to obtain necessary adaptive technology devices to increase their quality of life.
The costs of raffle chances are as follows:
1 chance= $5 per ticket
15 chances= $50
30 chances= $100
Since we are several months away from the “pull date,” everyone should have plenty of time to purchase all the chances they want. Perhaps you can make purchasing a few chances part of your monthly routine! So, save those pennies and spend them on a chance to win while supporting a worthy cause. GOOD LUCK!
Pampered Chef Party
On Saturday, June 12 at 11:00 a.m. CT (12 p.m. ET) we will be having a Pampered Chef party via Zoom! Cindy Golding, a Pampered Chef consultant, will be presenting several items in the Pampered Chef lineup which will make anyone’s life in the kitchen easier. During this event, Cindy will demonstrate some of the wonderful gadgets Pampered Chef has to offer, as well as throw in some side fun with a chance to win some Pampered Chef! Ten percent of all sales up to $500 will be donated to the MCB to support ongoing programs. Sales over this amount will increase the percentage donated.
And for the guys, this is your opportunity to purchase items that will help show off your unique chef skills when preparing a meal for that special lady in your life! So come prepared to have some fun!
To register for this event and receive the zoom link, please send an email with “Pampered Chef” in the subject line to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Party will remain open for your convenience until July 31st. Remember it is never too early to start Christmas shopping! Every little bit helps the mission of the Missouri Council of the Blind. Be a part of something great!
Tupperware Party for Guys and Gals!
August 12 and 13, 7:00 p.m. CT (8 p.m. ET).
Join us for a Tupperware party via Facebook Live on Thursday, August 12 at 7:00 p.m. Explore how Tupperware can help you in your daily life with storing, cooking, organizing, and more. Tupperware has an answer for many of your needs. The list is endless! Amy Nickel, a Tupperware consultant, will introduce you to the world of Tupperware and many of its uses. She will also answer any questions you have been dying to ask about Tupperware.
And the fun will continue! Join us the following day, Friday, August 13 at 7:00 p.m. for a chance to win some Tupperware while playing Tupperware Bingo. In order to engage in the thrill of Tupperware Bingo you must purchase “Tupperware Bingo cards.” They are $6 each. This is not anything like regular Bingo. The cards consist of five numbers between 1 and 25. When you call to register for this event you will choose five numbers for every card you purchase (you can use the same number on multiple cards). During the event, Amy will draw a number from her bag and briefly tell us about the Tupperware item associated with that number. If you have that number on one of your cards, you will make a note of that in whatever way you choose. When all five numbers on one of your cards has been called, you will be a winner!
Twenty percent of all sales generated from August 12 through September 30 related to these events will be donated to the MCB. Proceeds will be donated to the MCB scholarship fund to help the next generation reach their higher education goals.
To register for either of these events and purchase your Tupperware Bingo cards for $6 each, please contact Amy Nickel at 515-491-8011 or email@example.com.
This is a great way to shop and support! Remember, it is okay to treat yourself to something nice once in a while!
Mary Kay and You!
Nancy Folsom, a Mary Kay representative, will introduce us to the world of Mary Kay products on Saturday, September 11 at 6:00 p.m. CT (7 p.m. ET). This is an event for both men and women. Remember, Christmas is just three months away and it is never too early to get those stocking stuffers or a wonderful gift for that special someone! Don’t forget Mom or Dad! Nancy will discuss the range of products for both men and women, as well as answer questions. This will also be a FUN EVENT! During Nancy’s presentation we will engage in some entertaining games and have a chance to win some Mary Kay products. To register for this event please send an email with “Mary Kay” in the subject, to firstname.lastname@example.org
October 14-16, 2021, the Missouri Council of the Blind will again host its annual convention online this year. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t get together and have some fun while supporting the efforts of the MCB.
Friday, October 15 at 7:00 p.m. CT (8 p.m. ET) bring your favorite snack and beverage while we join together for some social fun, as well as play four rounds of Pirate Booty! This is a game in part like Bingo except it is played with cards of 6 rows and 6 columns and there is no free space. Also, if you win you shout “Booty!” Prizes will consist of Visa cards in the following amounts: 1st winner $25, 2nd winner $50, 3rd winner $75 and 4th winner $100. Cards for this event will be large-print with braille overlay. They will cost $10 each and can be purchased from the MCB office by calling (314) 832-7172. Make sure you mention how many cards you want. The more you buy the better your chances of getting some Booty!
Saturday, November 13 will be the Missouri Council of the Blind annual online auction. This will be a great opportunity to do some Christmas shopping, or to purchase something nice for yourself! We don’t know yet about what items will be available, but more details will be coming soon.
As you can see, there are many great, not to mention entertaining, fundraising events coming up that you will not want to miss! Make sure to pass this information on to friends, family, and anyone else you can think of who would love to participate in the fun. Please, get this information out on all your social platforms. Don’t forget, this is your organization, and it is one to be proud of and willing to support! We can’t help everyone, but the ones we can help will in turn help others, which will continue to grow the mission of the Missouri Council of the Blind.
Sound and Sight Impaired
By Mary Hale
Do you Know what Sight And Sound Impaired of St Louis is all about? Sight And Sound Impaired of St Louis, SASI pronounced like “sassy”, for short was created in January 2009 to offer a place where a person with both a vision and a hearing loss can go and feel comfortable. A place to meet others like themselves and where SASI offers a planned array of activities.
The meetings and events are to offer opportunities for encouragement through educational and social activities for people with both vision and hearing impairments and their families. The general meetings are held the 3rd Saturday of each month at 9:30 am. Each month we have either a guest speaker, have a group discussion dealing with some aspects of Deaf-Blindness or simply have fun playing a group game. We also share what is happening in our lives and share laughs when we can. We normally meet at the Society for the Blind in Brentwood Missouri. However, like everyone else, we now have been meeting via Zoom. People can access our meeting either with a Zoom app or a phone number to dial. Even if you do not live in the St. Louis area, we invite you to join us via our Zoom meetings. All ages welcomed along with family members and volunteers. While our group is all about focusing on those with the combined vision and hearing loss, guests are welcome to visit the general meetings to find out what we are all about.
All members are encouraged to participate in all SASI functions. This helps us to get to know each other and just plain ole feel like you belong.
Socially, people with Deafness AND Blindness have fewer opportunities to get out with people and feel comfortable.
Here are some reasons that Sight And Sound Impaired of St Louis is successful:
- Communication is #1 concern for those who are hard of hearing or deaf [not just to hear voices but to understand what is being said and also to be heard if you have something to say]
- We use a microphone, interpreters and only one person speaks at a time.
- During our Zoom meetings we still have only one person speak at a time. We use the mute feature. When someone wants to speak they must raise their hand before unmuting to speak.
- Assistive listening devices are available for in person meetings
- It is not a large group
- Everyone understands and respects what the dual loss is all about
- Everyone respects each other regardless of the degree of vision and hearing loss
- SSP / Volunteers are extremely helpful to assist in whatever is needed to make the meetings successful for each person
- Casual, humorous, enjoyable group and a feeling of being part of a family
Mission Statement: Our mission is to offer opportunities for encouragement through educational and social activities for people with both vision and hearing impairments and their families.
If you are interested in joining us for our monthly Zoom meetings, please contact Mary Hale
or for simply more info contact Mary Hale by email at email@example.com or by phone at 314-544-3252. The website is www.sasistl.org.
The Next Generation
By Joshua Starner
Hello fellow MCB members. My name is Joshua Starner, and I graduated from the Missouri School for the Blind in 2016. While in school I participated in the Beta club on the state and national level, enjoyed putting my hands and knees to the mat in wrestling, played goalball, and sliced through the water on my way to the other side of the swimming pool on the swimming team. As a younger member of the blind community, I would like to bridge the gap between the traditional operations of the organization and how it can better influence younger people to become active members. If you are a younger member and would like to help me, give a voice to how the MCB can encourage membership of people in our generation, I would like to talk to you. To illuminate issues facing younger blind, feel free to contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at (573) 573-482-9895.
MEET THE PEOPLE
By Denny Huff
Chip and Denny invite you to meet the people that make the Missouri Council of the Blind what it is.
Since its founding in 1956, MCB has made an impact on the blind community of Missouri. From supporting and advocating for programs such as Missouri Rehab Services for the Blind and Missouri Assistive Technology to successfully challenging the state of Missouri in a legal battle over money that rightfully belonged to the blind. In fulfilling our mission to promote the general well-being of our members and legally blind people in Missouri, and to support or participate in other programs promoting the best interests of legally blind people everywhere, MCB has had and still do have members that step up to the plate to do what is necessary to support and advocate for the blind of Missouri.
Who are these people and what makes them who they are? You may have heard their names but not who they are. Some of them will be familiar names and others may not be well known, but all of them make MCB what it is today. Join Chip and Denny as they have an informal conversation with the people that made MCB what it was and what it is today.
Listen to the introduction of the Meet the People of MCB podcast. If you have an Echo device just say, Alexa, play Meet the People of MCB on Apple podcast.
You can call the MCB information line at 773-572-6387 and press option 1.
If you have a Victor Stream or Victor Trek go to podcasts and then to add a podcast and type in, Meet the People of MCB.
If you want the RSS feed to add to your favorite podcast player it’s, https://audioboom.com/channels/5048779.rss
State to State Connection
By Zelda Gebhard
Hi, I’m Zelda Gebhard. I live in rural North Dakota seven miles from the small town of Edgeley. Wilma asked if I would introduce myself to you through an article in your newsletter.
I find that being thankful for my blessings has kept me going even as I have encountered sorrow and loss. My life has been full of many blessings. I am thankful to have had the privilege of growing up in a Christian home with a mother and father who loved us and God. I grew up with the love and support of two sisters and a brother. I have been blessed with a marriage of 44 years to a man of integrity who supports, respects, and loves me. I gave birth to four healthy sons and I have been able to help them grow into independent, responsible adults who have loved into our family four wonderful "daughters" by marriage and given us eleven grandchildren to enjoy.
Down through the years, along with the blessings, I have experienced losses and challenges which have provided me with opportunities for growth. My father died in a farm accident when I was 15. Under the strong leadership of my mother, the family was successful in continuing to ranch in western North Dakota. That is where I learned firsthand about teamwork and responsibility. I discovered the rewards of working hard with persistence and dedication.
I chose to attend Northern State University in Aberdeen, SD and earned my degree in Business Administration. My career started as a Medical Transcriptionist in a local hospital. That evolved into being on the administrative team as Director of Outpatient Services. My duties included managing the clinic, doing the professional credentialing, overseeing the specialty outreach clinics, supervising the medical records department, and conducting the marketing program for our healthcare network.
After having continued difficulty with my vision, at age 34, I was diagnosed with Stargardt's, a genetic retinal disease. My vision gradually decreased over the following six years until my diagnosis of legal blindness 24 years ago. After my initial diagnosis, I continued to work with the use of low vision aids like handheld magnifiers and a CCTV. When I was unable to safely drive the 15-mile commute to my job, I gave it up and we moved from South Dakota to North Dakota where my husband continued employment as an AG loan officer. For two years I worked from my home as a contracted medical transcriptionist. Though this was work I enjoyed and had the training and experience to perform, I discontinued it because of a difference in philosophy. The company I was contracted with was focused on quantity of lines completed and not on quality of the work. I knew after working directly with patients how important it was to strive to create error-free medical records and found I couldn’t compromise my standards to create more output.
I am currently working part-time for an independent insurance agent. I enjoy my job because it gives me an opportunity to get out of the house, be around people and continue learning new things. I am able to continue to perform my clerical duties with the help of handheld magnifiers, screen magnification on the computer and my desktop video magnifier. Transportation is faithfully provided by my husband. I am thankful to have a boss who is understanding that my work schedule is dependent on my husband’s schedule. Though he is a very patient and understanding man he often is reluctant to give me new tasks to perform. I need to continually show him what I can do and look for ways to prove my abilities. I do have difficulties with our network phone and our printer/scanner/copier because of the inaccessible screens. I have needed to adapt and have memorized the menus because I cannot visualize them. To continue to learn, I recently took an online, Excel course from Hadley. It was free and I could complete it at my own pace.
My vision loss has resulted in many changes in my life such as the loss of my career in healthcare administration, loss of my driver’s license and the subsequent loss of independence I experience living in a rural area with no public transportation.
My vision loss has presented me with many opportunities as well. I served two terms on the governor-appointed, advisory committee for Vocational Rehabilitation, the ND State Rehabilitation Council, of which for a time I was the Chairman. I have been a member of the North Dakota Association of the Blind (NDAB), an affiliate of ACB, for 18 years. I was the editor of its newsletter for five years, served two terms as Vice President and Membership Chair and am currently in my fifth year as President. This is my eleventh year of being a Legislative Liaison for NDAB. This position has provided me with the opportunity to present blindness issues and to advocate on the state and national levels. I am happy to report that HB 1253 was recently approved by both the ND House and Senate and is currently waiting to be signed into law by our governor. It will give those of us who cannot mark or read a ballot the option of voting absentee completely electronically. I am so incredibly pleased that we were successful in educating our leaders about the importance of providing a secure, secret, and independent way for us to vote when not at the polls.
I joined the Council of Citizens with Low Vision International (CCLVI), a special interest affiliate of ACB, in 2015, was elected as a director on the board in 2016 and currently serve as the First Vice President and Chair of the Membership Committee. It has been my privilege to serve on the Convention Planning, Public Relations and Youth Outreach and Support Committees. I have done so because I would like everyone with low vision to have an opportunity to learn about our organization so they will then have access to valuable information and experience the benefits of membership as well.
In ACB, I have been serving on both the ACB Auction Committee and the Durward K. McDaniel Fund Committee since 2014. It was my interest in communications that led me to run for a position on the ACB Board of Publications (BOP). I was elected in 2019 and continue to serve and represent the low vision perspective on a board where all other members are blind.
As a former editor, I know that being an affiliate editor can be a lonely job. In many cases they do the hard work of getting information to their membership without much support. Therefore, I brought up the idea of creating a list for ACB Affiliate Editors and the rest of the BOP agreed. This newly created list is a place where editors can go to communicate with others doing a similar job. They can share ideas, struggles and successes. In addition to that, we will be hosting quarterly Editor Gatherings via Zoom where topics of mutual interest will be shared.
In my community, I have enjoyed teaching children in Sunday School, Vacation Bible School, Growth in Faith Time (G.I.F.T.) and AWANA. I treasure the time spent with my sisters in Christ at Care and Share, an interdenominational bible study group that meets weekly.
With adaptive visual aids, I continue to sew with my church group, the Merry Monday Quilters at the Wesley United Methodist Church of Edgeley. We make quilts for missions near and far. The ladies also help me with my prayer quilt ministry. The quilts are made for those in the community who are dealing with a major illness or injury. They are a tangible symbol of our prayers and love.
I am truly thankful for my blessings and for the Lord's faithfulness to help me endure, survive, and even thrive no matter what I have encountered in life.
If you would like to ask me any questions, you can reach me by emailing at email@example.com or by calling me at 701-493-2399.
PROTECTING ONESELF FROM SCAMS AND OTHER REAL LIFE DIGITAL ISSUES
By Mary Hale
Hello everyone, I want to share some info being presented by the Wolfner Library. It has to do with protecting yourself from the new modern digital world we are all in these days. This is something that can affect all of us. This opportunity is about protecting oneself from scams and other real-life digital issues. They originally scheduled this training opportunity for April 28th. I was shocked when I was called to say it had to be canceled as I was the ONLY person to register for it. They have rescheduled it for Tuesday, July 20th at 7:00 pm. I just cannot imagine that I am the only person in Missouri that is concerned about my digital security.
This training is called “Lockdown Your Digital Life” and is an informative program that may be accessed via Zoom or phone. Attendees do not have to be registered patrons of Wolfner Library. Read more about it below.
Lockdown Your Digital Life Tuesday July 20, 2021 at 7:00 p.m. Based on the model from Oasis, a training program for older adults, Wolfner staff will host a workshop that focuses on protecting oneself from scams and other real-life digital issues.
To participate, please call Wolfner Library at 800-392-2614 and ask for Amy or email firstname.lastname@example.org to register. Hopefully, we can show more support to Wolfner Library for offering us this training.
Advocacy Letter for Visually Impaired Patients
By Raymond Bishop
A committee consisting of five blind people recently gathered to casually discuss the topic of access to patient health information and the needs of those with impaired vision. As a result of this discussion, it was determined that there was a need for a prefabricated letter outlining patient requirements and the measures that need to be taken by the medical facility or doctor’s office to provide better access to and protection of personal health information for the blind and visually impaired.
To this end, sample letters were created. Present this letter to your medical practitioners. The goal is better information access and security for everyone. Please feel free to contact Bob with your comments or questions. Contact Bob Branco by phone at 508.994.4972 or by email at email@example.com. Following is a sample letter:
To Whom It May Concern,
My name is -----, and I am a patient of Dr. -----. As a patient who is blind/visually impaired, I am writing to ask for specific considerations when visiting your medical facility, as I believe I should receive equal access to my own information as any sighted patients would automatically be granted.
Specifically, I am asking that you please take the following steps to make your documents, forms and all other processes accessible to everyone, including blind people like me:
1. Provide all bills, instructions, labs, reports and other correspondence in an accessible, electronic digital text format that is prepared and tagged in accordance with existing industry best practices, guidelines and standards, such as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.
2. Make sure all processes, including check-in and check-out, are designed and implemented in a manner that works for all patients whether or not they are able to see. For example, if kiosks or tablets are used, the vendor should have a clear plan for making them accessible to patients with disabilities.
3. Draft and implement an accessibility policy and provide training to all management and staff to ensure it is followed consistently.
While you are working to address the long-term accessibility concerns I have just outlined, I am asking for the following considerations, which include:
1. Accessibility to your health services and documentation. Some examples of these requests may be to ask that I receive correspondence from the health care provider in: Large Print, Braille, Email, or a phone call.
2. I would also ask for a private place where a staff person can help complete necessary medical forms.
3. A text message or phone call to remind me of my appointment instead of a printed letter or postcard would also be quite helpful.
4. If you provide a patient portal, I may need assistance with setting it up and learning to use it with assistive technology. If the patient portal has not been designed for accessibility, then I may need considerable assistance from a staff member over the phone from time to time.
Thank you for giving consideration to these issues. Not only will following these examples benefit me as a patient regarding independence and privacy, but much of what I refer to is mandated by the effective communications and reasonable accommodations provisions required by your country’s laws.
I thank you for your thoughtful consideration and I look forward to working with you on these matters.
Now On Be My Eyes: Verizon & Jobs for Humanity
TAP-Wireless Team, Missouri Assistive Technology
Be My Eyes and Verizon Accessibility Support Good News. Do you need accessibility support on your mobile device? Customers of Verizon can now connect with their phone provider through Be My Eyes - just access the Specialized Help menu and find Verizon in the Technical category. Give them a call on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM Central Time to get an expert from Verizon to help with accessibility features and information about their services.
To make things even more exciting, Be My Eyes has announced their first Careers partner, Jobs for Humanity. With the launch of their new job board, blind.jobs, they already have more than 1,000 positions available around the world, where employers have committed to interviewing the top visually impaired candidates. They're holding open office hours on Specialized Help a few hours per week to help people get familiar with the service they provide. Learn more by visiting:
January 28, 2021
The meeting was called to order by President Naomi Soule at 7:05 p.m.
Joe Morgan said a prayer.
Recording Secretary Joe Morgan called the roll. All officers and directors were present, and all affiliates were represented.
Naomi welcomed online listeners.
The agenda was approved.
The Minutes for November 5, 2020 were approved.
Naomi read the confidentiality agreement that was signed by all board members.
Jack Lenk gave the Treasurer's Report. The checking account balance is $111,495.62. As of the end of December, the US Bank balance is $213,607.45. The Raymond James balances are Account 1 $242,679.41; Account 2 $1,695,501.60; Account 3 $1,429,087.67; and Account 4 $227,056.79; total Raymond James accounts $3,594,325.47. The total balance for all accounts is $3,807,932.92.
Naomi said the name of the Resource and Development Committee will be shortened to Fundraising Committee.
Naomi said she has a group of good people for this committee and they are asking the board for $1500. They plan to use the funds for advertisements in newspapers, mailings, etc. The committee members are Deborah Whitt, Chair, Erica Wolf, Carl Chapel, and Kay Malmquist. They are looking to expand a few more members. Deborah spoke about the committee's plans. Sabrina Fowler moved that $1500 be budgeted for the Fundraising Committee. The motion was adopted.
Board Training will include affiliate presidents, committee chairs, and board members. There will be four 2-hour sessions which will be held on February 10, 17, 24, and March 3. The Zoom platform will be used and the meetings will start at 7:00 p.m.
Kay Malmquist, Personnel Committee Chair said that it was brought to the personnel committee that the MCB office used to be closed between Christmas and New Year's day. A former executive director stopped having the office closed during these times. The committee asked the board to reinstate the office being closed so that the staff could enjoy their holidays. This was a motion brought by the personnel committee and would also be put into the handbook and will also be put into our policies. The motion was adopted. She also said that the committee decided to wait to hire an Executive/Resource and Development Director until candidates could be interviewed in person.
Kay and Naomi met with the three directors Chip, Linda, and Wilma. We have 159 members-at-large. They had a meeting a week ago to let them know what is going on in MCB and get them involved. They also wanted to find out their interests and what they needed. They will have monthly meetings.
Chip Hailey said that the ACB mid-year leadership meetings will be held February 21-23. The presidents meeting will be on Sunday, the 21st and the legislative seminar will be held the 22nd and 23rd. The meetings will be held virtually so no one from MCB will be traveling to Washington, DC. They will be streamed so anyone can listen to the presidents meeting and the legislative seminar. As far as our MCB legislative days are concerned, due to the pandemic MCB will not be going to the capitol this year. All MCB legislative advocates will receive assignments from the office and they will call and email their senators and representatives. The Education and Advocacy conference call will be on Thursday February 25th.
Naomi said that the Affiliate President's Conference Call started in January and people were very enthusiastic about it. The calls will be held every other month. The presidents can talk about their concerns and information can be relayed to them. There is also a chat list available.
Chip Hailey said that he and Paul Mimms had discussions for years about people who were unable to grasp the computer. An organization called Tavim plans to put computers into the hands of senior citizens 55 years of age and older. Not only are they going to get computers but also the necessary software. They will also provide training to access everything on the computer. They will be working with Missouri Assistive Technology, which provides software to blind Missourians who have computers with internet access. They have a website which is currently under development but has a lot of information on it already. Other members of this organization include, Paul Mimms, Chair, Chip Hailey, Vice-President, Denny Huff, Secretary and Beverly Kaskadden, Treasurer. Denny Huff requested that the $2000 MCB usually gives to Power-Up be given to this organization. Denny made this a motion and the motion was adopted. Denny Huff and Chip Hailey abstained.
Naomi said that a decision on how the convention will be held will be made in April. Also Debra Whitt said that an auction is planned to be held after the convention.
The meeting adjourned at 8:08 p.m.
Respectfully submitted, Joe Morgan, Recording Secretary
February 27, 2021
The meeting was called to order by President Naomi Soule at 10:05 a.m. Joe Morgan said a prayer.
Recording Secretary, Joe Morgan called the roll. All officers and directors were present. Delta Area Blind and Joplin Service Club of the Blind were not represented.
Naomi welcomed online listeners.
MCB Website: Kay Malmquist introduced Sarah Hale from California who had to get up early to join us for our meeting. Kay is speaking on behalf of the Multimedia Committee. They have received complaints about not being able to find things on the website and other problems. The website has been maintained by Virginia and she has done a good job. MCB has been paying Firespring $160 a month and they are not doing very much with the webpage. MCB is also paying $100 a year to maintain our domain name. The committee felt they could do a lot better than what is currently provided. Denny Huff heard an advertisement and also talked with a lady who runs a company called Site Weaver her name is Sarah Hale. Kay felt she does a phenomenal job after looking at some of her websites. Kay asked the board to listen to what Sarah has to say and she comes highly recommended from the Multimedia Committee. Sarah gave a presentation about her plans for improving the website. The multimedia committee recommended that the board approve changing from Firespring to Site Weaver. This was considered a motion. Discussion followed and the motion was adopted.
Summer Camp: Beverly Kaskadden introduced Lee Layton from Cobblestone Lodge. She said the Layton’s have gone to so much effort to make it all very safe for everyone involved to attend Cobblestone. Applications have already been sent out but the dates are wrong. She is trying to get back to everyone to change the dates. She encouraged all board reps to take the information back to their affiliates because many will have questions. Lee explained to the board about safety measures they are putting in place for Cobblestone to reopen safely. Check-ins will be on Monday this year to give the staff more time for cabin cleaning. Masks must be worn in the lodge except when eating and drinking in the dining room. Some inside events will be moved outdoors. He talked about liability. He talked to a business law attorney. His answer wasn't exactly what he was hoping for he said it was a great question and a hot topic among the other partners in the firm. He said to make sure everyone signs a general release of liability form. He will check everyone's temperature when they arrive. Camp weeks have been reduced from 7 days to 6 days and rates have been adjusted. Lee took questions from the board. Denny Huff made a motion that we continue the summer camp program at Cobblestone this year for all three programs, the two week-long programs and the extended weekend. Naomi said she talked to MCB’s attorney, Debbie Greider about the current waiver on the application and if it would keep us from any liability and her answer was no! More discussion followed and the motion was adopted.
The meeting adjourned at 11:28 a.m.
There were two motions; the first was for changing companies for MCB’s website and the second motion was for having summer camp.
Respectfully submitted, Joe Morgan, Recording Secretary
March 9, 2021
The meeting was called to order by President Naomi Soule at 7:05 p.m. Joe Morgan said a prayer.
Recording Secretary Joe Morgan called the roll. All officers except the vice president were present. All directors were present. Affiliates not represented were Delta Area Blind, Joplin Service Club of the Blind, Rite for the Blind, and United Workers of the Blind. Naomi welcomed on-line listeners.
Summer Camp: Naomi welcomed Peter Julich an attorney who has taken over for Debbie and John Greider who have both retired. Naomi and Kay Malmquist had a conference call with him today and they talked about what they could do to protect ourselves from liability. She asked Peter to be on the call to discuss our options. Peter said that the current worry is that someone might contract the Covid-19 virus and claim it was caused by the Missouri Council of the Blind. MCB would like to insulate the organization from that problem. He searched case law and found a recent case Fervent versus Hidden Valley Golf Inc. There was a liability release contract that participants had to sign and agree to and it listed dangerous activities and the court found that it protected Hidden Valley. He said that our current waiver that is at the bottom of all camp applications would not cover us, and the waiver should be re written so that we would be covered from liability if someone attending camp contracted a virus like Covid-19 and then sued MCB. Peter answered questions from the Board. Once a person signs this waiver it remains in effect until they rescind the waiver. Camp Chair Beverly Kaskadden also answered questions. Linda Gerken offered an amendment to the motion that was made on February 27th that our attorney draft a new waiver as soon as possible. A roll call vote was taken, and the amendment was adopted. Naomi asked Beverly to work with Peter and she said she would also ask Kay.
MCB Convention: Naomi, Chris, Virginia and Jesuita were on the conference call with the Radisson Hotel in Branson Missouri yesterday where we were scheduled to have our 2021 convention. Cost was $102.95 a night plus tax. Jesuita said that we have problems. They were told that there would be no housekeeping, and this is happening in hotels across the United States. There will also be no room service because of limited staff. Also meeting rooms will cost $1,500 a day. Small meeting rooms would be $500 a day. Because the meals are buffet style there would be no banquet and no place for venders. The management four years ago when MCB did the contract has changed. She said if we decide to have our convention at that hotel, we will have to bring along a sighted guide. Jesuita suggested that we have our convention virtual this year; she thinks by next year things will be much better. There is no fee for canceling. She took questions from the Board. Sabrina Fowler moved that we hold the convention virtually this year. A roll call vote was taken, and the motion passed by a 9-5 vote.
Being no further business, the meeting adjourned at 8:16 p.m.
Respectfully submitted, Joe Morgan Recording Secretary
There was one amendment to the motion on February 27th and one motion to have the MCB convention be virtual this year.