September 2021 Chronicle

September 2021 Chronicle

Editor’s Note

By Wilma Chestnut-House

Good day MCB, I would like to announce my candidacy in running for Public Relations Chair.  At this time, I am Membership Chair and one of the three directors.  It is the director’s job to make contact with members-at-large to inform them of all things concerning MCB and inquire if they have any issues that we can assist with.  At one time, the membership and public relations were together.  I would like for these two to be reunited.  I was Public Relations Chair before and I truly loved the job.  Though we are not done with the virus, there are still lots of ways of getting information out about our organization. 

I have been the president of our affiliate, “AGAPE Council of the Blind” and I am now the secretary.  I am also in charge of hosting our Black History programs. 

I started a sports camp at MSB.  It is called Camp Abilities-StL.  This camp teaches blind and visually impaired children how to play adaptive sports safely for fun and competition.

In the National Beep Baseball Association, there is a group of women who make up “Women of Our League”. These women make two teams and are comprised of most of the women who are on coed teams.  On Wednesday evenings of the World Series, they form two teams.  One is the Bombshells and the other is the Divas.  The umpires are women, the score keepers are women, and so is the base operator.  The Women of Our League has been in existence for five years.  Every year I have been the base operator with no late bases and no early shut off of bases.  At the banquet on Saturday, I received a medal from them as the Super Volunteer.  This was also the first year that the Divas won.  Kim Bloomenthal (Diva) and her daughter, Mori who is 15 (pitcher for the Divas) were also players.  Go Divas!

Last year some of us got together during convention time and had breakfast and lunch during the meetings.  We will be able to listen to the convention through speakers.  If you need to give a report, you can step up front and all back ground noises will be cancelled.  Since we had such a good time, the Overland Lions have donated their banquet hall again.  We will be serving breakfast starting at 8:00am-10:30am.  Lunch will be served at 12:00. 

You are welcome to come and join us at no cost.  The address is 2358 Lachlan Road, Overland, MO 63114.  For more information, call Wilma at (314)873-9022.  We can have no more than 75 people and we will be socially distancing.

All the things that I have done and like to do for MCB and other visually impaired people is a real joy for me.  Being involved in MCB has given me a new purpose for my involvement.

President’s Report

By Naomi Soule, President

It is an unseasonably beautiful day today, August 2.  I hope you are having a good summer.

We are getting ready for MCB's 2021 virtual convention in October.  Emails will be sent to confirm speakers, and committee reports will be recorded.  You will be voting on amendments and future convention locations.

Accessible Pharmacy for the Blind will be our keynote speaker this year, since we were able to get Missouri Medicaid to approve them.  Many phone calls to Medicaid, and pharmacies around the state were made, and we were able to get the job done.  I want to thank Kay Malmquist, Chip Hailey and Denny Huff for all their help.  Many of you have already signed up for this service, and the rest of you will learn all about what they offer.

       You will be voting for a new location for next year's state convention.  The Board approved our cancelling The Inn at Grand Glaze because of very poor upkeep.  I was there earlier in the summer, and I didn't think you'd like staying in rooms with holes in walls, dressers and nightstands, and beds that seemed not to have been replaced.

I served on the Soiree Committee for MindsEye and plans are underway for next year's event.  The Centene National Disability Advisory Committee meeting is happening this week, which I will be attending.

       The American Council of the Blind’s 60th Convention just ended, and I hope you were able to participate in the many workshops and seminars.  My favorite was the International Relations Committee - GDUI session about Guide Dog Schools Around the World.  Next year's convention will be in Omaha, and I look forward to seeing friends and actually visit exhibits.

Take care and have a good rest of your summer. 

 

Affiliates Reporting

AGAPE Council of the Blind

By Wilma Chestnut-House

It’s been a while since we did a “White Cane Safety Walk”.  Has everyone forgotten about October 15?   Since our convention starts on Thursday, October 14, AGAPE is inviting all St. Louis affiliates to participate in a walk on Wednesday, October 13.  We will walk in front of Missouri School for the Blind at 3815 Magnolia.  The Walk will start at 9:30 am.  We will pass out literature and coax people into trying to use the cane and sleep shades.  You can stop when you are ready.  We will have donuts, snacks, and water for the participants.  There are now traffic lights on both sides of the street in front of the school.  If you are interested, please contact Elizabeth Brown at (314)395-8398 or Wilma Chestnut at (314)873-9022.  I have sleep shades for those that have sight so that you can walk in our shoes for a few minutes.  Come join us!

Blind Of Central Missouri

Joe Morgan, Vice-President

Greetings from Sedalia! Our picnic held on June 27, 2021 was a great success. It was nice seeing club members in person again. Many thanks to Country Kitchen for the great food and we appreciate them catering for us. We are planning to have an in-person meeting on August 19th but that might change because cases of the Corona Delta Virus are rising again. We will have nominations in August for elections in October. I hope everyone is staying cool and staying well. As I am writing this, we may have our first 100-degree day in 3 years. Until next time, keep smiling!

Delta Area Report

By Wanda Matlock

Hello to everyone from Delta Area!  After our business meeting on May 25th, we had an early Memorial Day celebration.  We enjoyed barbecue sandwiches, potato salad, baked beans, a special slaw made by Belinda Turner, cookies, and drinks.  We voted not to have a meeting in June, but we were back to work in July.

We had several items for discussion at our July 27th meeting.  We had been working on information to be added to the Delta Area page on the MCB Website.  We will be including information about our affiliate along with pictures of some of our past activities as well as activities going forward. 

Each year, when funding allows, Delta Area awards a $1,000.00 scholarship to someone in Southeast Missouri.  Who wants to further their education and meets our guidelines?  This year the scholarship was awarded to a young man attending SEMO University in Cape Girardeau.

Delta Area Members also paid their MCB dues, and Registration forms were passed out to members interested in attending the MCB Convention in October.

We also discussed having a fall picnic.  We decided on a date of September 28th at the park in Matthews, Missouri.  The weather should be very nice by this time and should be a very enjoyable day.

This is all I have for this issue of the MCB Chronicle.  From all the members of Delta Area, we hope everyone has a very safe and enjoyable Autumn.

St. Charles County Council of the Blind

By Margy Petrofsky

Finally, we got together in June, we met for a social outing for dinner at Ethel’s Smokehouse for dinner.  The weather wasn't bad and there was a cool breeze.  Personally I would rather be in air conditioning but I understand.  We were all happy to see each other as it had been over a year.

Our second in person get together was at Quail Ridge park in Wentzville.  We had our June business meeting and brought desserts.  I don't know what was better seeing each other again or the cupcakes and coffee. 

We had our July business meeting also at Quail Ridge park.  For our social meeting we went to Q's in St. Charles. We sat outside on a top balcony and socialized as we listened to a rock band.  It wasn't my kind of music but it was still okay.

We are all or most of us fully vaccinated, so stay safe.

Southeast Missouri United Blind Club

By Beulah Ziegler

Hello everyone from SEMO.  We are continuing to have our meetings by conference call and trying to maintain the status quo during these difficult times.  We have had one member seriously ill with cancer, and our President, Lee has also been seriously ill since our last visit.  We would appreciate your prayers for these situations.  The following is from our president Lee Young:

At the first MCB convention I ever attended, Ida Scotty was highlighted.  The wonderful life and the powerful expression of life that she had brought a great example of how you live your life to the fullest.  She came into this world at a disadvantage but lived her life as an example to everyone of how to get the most out of life no matter your disability or any other life event. Her life touched many others valuing every moment as a powerful example to all and as a friend to everyone she met.  In her 100 years she shared much more than most will in their time. Bless her for being very special. She will be sadly missed. From the SEMO President I say goodbye.

Committees Reporting

Convention Report

By Jesuita Tabor, Convention Coordinator

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 14 at 7:00 PM.  The convention begins with general session on Friday, October 15 at 10:00 AM.  The last day will be Saturday, October 16 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. 

We will be voting for the Treasurer, Public Relations and three Director positions.

Camp Report

By Beverly Kaskadden

It has been wonderful to get back to Cobblestone after a year off.  You don’t realize how much you miss such an event until it is missing. 

Our numbers have been low this year with the uncertainty, and without the bus from St. Louis.  My hats off to those who were resourceful in finding transportation.

I have been reminiscing with others about all the fun we have had at camp.  What wonderful memories to share. If you have never attended, I highly recommend joining us. 

MCB Education & Advocacy Report

By Chip Hailey, MCB Education & Advocacy Chair

Greetings fellow MCB legislative advocates and MCB family and friends.  Due to the lack of time and space in the June issue of the Chronicle, I wasn't able to share any of the information from the ACB Legislative Seminar as well as give an update on Medicaid Expansion.  So I thought perhaps I would share as much as I can with you in this issue of the Chronicle.

The ACB Legislative Seminar was held on Monday, February 22 and Tuesday, February 23, and set aside February 24-26 to meet with our elected officials.

The following were the ACB legislative imperatives we had taken to our national leaders.

  • Legislative Imperative 1 - Medicare Demonstration of Coverage for Low Vision Devices Act
  • Legislative Imperative 2 - Disability Access to Transportation Act
  • Legislative Imperative 3 - Exercise and Fitness for All Act

The above mentioned legislative imperatives represent several key issues in the 117th Congress that ACB believes will help us on our road to full independence and participation in our society.

Secure Independence for Seniors and Medicare Beneficiaries for more than a decade now, Medicare has refused to cover the cost of low-vision aids, due to an eyeglasses exclusion that prohibits the purchase of any durable medical good with a lens.  While the regulatory exclusion was seen as cost-saving by not covering eyeglasses, it has had a negative impact on those who, through the use of special low-vision aids, could significantly increase their independence in the home.  ACB believes that adaptive low-vision aids can have a significant impact on an individual’s ability to remain independent in the home.  Such personal independence can have long-lasting effects toward aging in place, rather than necessitating costlier institutional services.

ACB had called on Congress to reintroduce the Medicare Demonstration of Coverage for Low Vision Devices Act, which would measure the various costs and benefits of removing the Medicare eyeglass exclusion.  This bipartisan legislation is a smart approach to finding workable solutions that help seniors age in place.  Offices in the House of Representatives interested in supporting reintroduction of this legislation were asked to contact Danielle Sumner in the office of Rep. Maloney (D-NY-12), or Shayne Woods in the office of Rep. Bilirakis (R-NY-12).

The Disability Access to Transportation Act

Congress must reauthorize the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act by September of 2021.  The FAST Act fulfills the constitutional directive that dictates that investment in transportation and infrastructure is a core federal responsibility.  It oversees the development and maintenance of roads, bridges, public transit, and rails. As the language of the new bill is developed, language that would positively impact the transportation options and safety for the blind community must be included.

Specifically, ACB called for the reintroduction and inclusion of the Disability Access to Transportation Act, or DATA Act.  The DATA Act would provide greater flexibility in paratransit services to increase the independence and economic opportunity of disabled passengers; increase accessibility for pedestrian infrastructure; and modernize the U.S. Department of Transportation complaint process for consumers with disabilities.  Offices interested in supporting the DATA Act, and including it in the FAST Act reauthorization, were asked to contact Katherine Lee in the office of Rep. Langevin (D-RI-02).

The Exercise and Fitness for All Act

For the quarter of Americans with a disability, equal access to fitness or exercise equipment and instruction remains elusive.  As a result, people with disabilities are more likely to suffer from chronic health conditions including heart disease, diabetes, and obesity.

ACB called for the reintroduction of the Exercise and Fitness for All Act. This legislation would require exercise and fitness facilities to provide a base level of accessibility for disabled consumers, both in the equipment as well as the instruction they provide. Offices interested to support the Exercise and Fitness for All Act were asked to contact Kalina Thompson in the office of Sen. Duckworth (D-IL) in the Senate, and Sarah Jackson in the office of Rep. DeSaulnier (D-CA-11), or Kevin Swanson in the office of Rep. Young (R-AK-At Large) in the House.

For questions or further information on the 2021 ACB Legislative Imperatives, please contact Clark Rachfal, ACB’s Director of Advocacy and Governmental Affairs, crachfal@acb.org,  or by calling (202) 467-5081.

I would like to thank Erika Wolf for her kind assistance in helping me in contacting several of our Congressional leaders regarding the above ACB legislative imperatives.  Thanks Erica for all your wonderful assistance!

Medicaid Expansion

Medicaid expansion should have taken effect on July 1st.  But here we are - at the end of July - with no expanded program.  For more than thirty days, over 275,000 Missourians haven’t been able to enroll in Medicaid.  They’ve been told they can’t have the health coverage that is rightfully theirs.  And the will of the people has been ignored.

As the Medicaid expansion case headed to the Missouri Supreme Court, advocates were hopeful that the court would see what they know to be true: Medicaid belongs to the people, and Missourians have the right to health care.

On July 1st - the date Medicaid Expansion was set to take effect - Missouri Health Care for All, a grassroots advocacy organization, along with its coalition partners, headed to the Governor's Mansion for a rally to deliver an unequivocal message to the Parson Administration: "the time to implement Medicaid Expansion as voters intended is NOW!"

These coalition partners were ready to take action against this assault on the rights of Missourians, and demand Medicaid Expansion be fully implemented as it is constitutionally required.  The coalition rally was held at the Governor's Mansion at 100 Madison St. in Jefferson, City from 11 A.M. to 1 P.M.  In preparation for the June 18th trial on Medicaid Expansion's constitutionality, the coalition was gathering once again to demand the state deliver on The People's Will.

On July 1st - the date Medicaid Expansion was set to take effect - the coalition was taking its fight directly to the Governor's Mansion.

       Recently, Governor Parson further entrenched his administration in this cruel and unnecessary exercise by telling soon to be eligible enrollees that "If there’s not some sort of agreement where we have a solution, and it doesn’t happen before July 1, there’s not going to be choices. We’re going to have to start withholding [from the budget] July 1."

This is an unacceptable position to have, and no way to run a democratic government.  This is especially frustrating as the Governor is quoted as stating "Amendment 2 is now a part of Missouri’s Constitution, and we will find a way to move forward" after Medicaid Expansion's voter led initiative's passage.

Advocates believed it had the perfect solution for the Governor and his fellow lawmakers: fully implement Medicaid Expansion as the voters intended and constitutionally approved. The people have already spoken, and we will continue to defend what we know is rightfully ours.

       At the rally, messages Missourians left for Governor Parson were played on a loud speaker, including impacted individuals from communities across Missouri sharing their stories.  Neighbors and friends who wanted to fight in solidarity with those who are unable to fight for themselves, were also asked to join the rally.

Also during this crucial time, the United States Supreme Court once again had affirmed the Affordable Care Act as the law of the land.  Given the conservative shift of the courts in recent memory, this news couldn't have been more welcomed.  What's more, this is extraordinarily instructive for what should be done here in the state of Missouri regarding the constitutionality of #MedExMO.

On June 18th, Missourians would finally get their day in court.  Medicaid Expansion advocates and their families held confident in the courts upholding the expansion of Medicaid, and were optimistic that the courts would force the state to uphold The People's Will.  Because of the decision regarding the ACA, they were even more emboldened.  What was once seen as an insurmountable task in saving the ACA, it is now settled law.

Advocates believed it was time for Missouri to follow suit.  This is why Missouri Health Care for All, along with their coalition partners led by Missouri Jobs with Justice, had hosted a rally on July 1st at the Governor's Mansion.  Their demand was simple: respect Missouri voters and implement #MedExMO on July 1st.

       On June 18th, Judge Beetem released his ruling on the Medicaid Expansion court case, ruling against the plaintiffs.

Many felt it was disappointing to hear that the Cole County Court’s decision did not align with what is in the state’s constitution.  However, this was just the first step in the legal battle to implement Medicaid Expansion and ensure 275,000 uninsured Missourians would finally access the health care they desperately need.  MHCA stated it would continue to stand with those Missourians in this fight.

MHFA also had quickly released the following reminder: "Let us not forget that after passage of Medicaid Expansion in August of 2020, Governor Parson is quoted as stating "Amendment 2 is now a part of Missouri’s Constitution, and we will find a way to move forward" after Medicaid Expansion's voter led initiative's passage."

This is but one battle in an unfortunate but necessary war to secure the health care coverage Missourians voted for. Our mission is clear and our resolve is strong. The Governor has the power - and responsibility - to uphold The People's Will and constitutional right to health care. And if he won't fight for us and what he knows to be true, then we will bring the fight to his door step.

We are in this fight together. And we truly believe that in the end, we will win. We must. The lives of more than 275,000 Missourians depend on it.

       Then on July 22, 2021, it was made official!  The Missouri Supreme Court ruled the will of the people must stand. Medicaid will finally be expanded in Missouri.  Over 275,000 Missourians are on their way to having health care.

MHFA stated after it witnessed attack after attack on the people's democracy - from trying to weaken the ballot initiative process to not funding Medicaid expansion to attempting to kill FRA funding. This win today proves that when everyday people come together, they win.

Every call that was made, every door that was knocked, every vote that was cast, and every story that was told brought victory.  Medicaid will expand in Missouri, and this win resides with the people.  Our team at Missouri Health Care for All thanks you. 

       Our work doesn’t end here, but this is a moment to celebrate.  Thank you for persisting with us in this fight for Missourians' rights to health care coverage.

My sincere thanks to the following two individuals for providing me with all the above information on Medicaid Expansion:

Drew Noblot & Sarah Willey

Co-Executive Directors

Missouri Health Care for All

Below is the contact information for Missouri Health Care for All:

Missouri Health Care for All

PO Box 190429

St. Louis, MO 63119

missourihealthcareforall.org

877-383-8884

KJ McDonald, Organizing Director

I also had the distinct pleasure of being interviewed by Taylor Davis, one of the summer interns with That Uppity Theatre Company and Dance to Vote Video, regarding my voting experiences.

That Uppity Theatre Company was looking to create a series of videos on the importance and right of people with disabilities to vote.  These videos would be testimonials from individuals on their experiences and thoughts about this movement.  A time was set up to meet on Zoom and chat, as well as to film the segments.  I thought the interview went very well and I found Taylor Davis to be a delightful interviewer.  My thanks to That Uppity Theatre Company for reaching out to me and allowing me the opportunity to share my story.

Below is the contact information for that Uppity Theatre Company and Dance to Vote Video:

That Uppity Theatre Company, 4466 West Pine Blvd, Suite 13C, St. Louis, MO 63108. Phone 314-534-1454 and email www.uppityco.com.

I also wanted to thank representatives from the Developmental Disability Council for also reaching out to me surrounding the issue of accessible voting.

       It's good to know that there are other disability groups wanting to get involved in this fight for accessible voting for all disabled Missourians at every election.

If I can be of any assistance to you regarding advocacy or legislative issues impacting the blind community of Missouri, please don't hesitate to reach out to me at the following:

chiphailey52@gmail.com or by calling 417-540-9703.

Membership Committee Report

By Wilma Chestnut-House

       At this time, MCB has 160 members at large.  We are getting more people applying but we also have people who are not renewing their membership.  After a few months of a lapsed membership, your name is removed from the list.  It is very important to pay your annual dues of $20.  You will be missing out on a lot of the happenings with MCB.  Even as a member-at-large, you have the right to attend and vote at conventions.  This also gives you the privilege to apply for technology grants and other programs that are offered.  We have a monthly conference call for all members-at-large and would like to hear from you.  This call is every third Tuesday of the month at 7:00 pm.  The number is 206-806-9756. 

Adaptive Technology Grant Report

By Darrel Vickers, Chair

Hi Everyone, I hope all of you are having a great summer. 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 August 1, 2021 we have approved 31 grants and have used approximately $33,400.00. Thanks to the generosity of the St Louis Lighthouse, we have $6,600.00 left. Otherwise, we would have used all of our funds and had to turn down 5 grants.

I have contacted the Lighthouse about a grant for next year and am awaiting a decision. I plan to submit a request to the MCB board for $30,000.00 for next fiscal year.

I believe this is one of the most important things the Missouri Council of the Blind offers to directly help the blind and low vision folks of Missouri. So, 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 blind and low vision 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, as well as products which have already been purchased. Note: A full copy of the grant guidelines as well as an application can be found on our website at: https://moblind.org/adaptive-technology-program or by contacting the MCB office at (314) 832-7172. You can also contact me anytime. This is a wonderful program and I encourage you to take advantage of it if you need to.

The Committee: 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:

Email: darrel@ww4b.org

Phone: 636-667-3176

Upcoming Fundraising Events

By Debra Whitt, Fundraising Committee Chair

In order to raise funds for the Missouri Council of the Blind to support its various programs for blind Missourians, the following events have been scheduled. Please help us get the word out!

50/50 Raffle!

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, or via PayPal at aa@moblind.org. Once the payment has been confirmed, your information (name and phone number) will be entered for the number of chances you purchased and placed into the “pull box.” You will receive an email confirmation when this is done. PLEASE NOTE that 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 assistive technology grant fund. This fund will enable MCB to fulfill more requests by those needing to obtain necessary AT devices to increase their quality of life.

The costs of raffle chances are as follows:

1 chance= $5 per ticket

5 chances=$20

15 chances= $50

25 chances=$75

35 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!

Mary Kay and You!

*NOTE: The email address to register for this event has been corrected from the previous announcement. If you have already tried to register, please do so again at the below address. Nancy Folsom, a Mary Kay representative, will introduce us to the world of Mary Kay products on Saturday, September 11 at 6 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: dawhitt2019@gmail.com.

Convention Time!

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 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

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, or via PayPal at aa@moblind.org.

*Make sure you put in the notes how many cards you want. The more you buy the better your chances of getting some Booty!!!

(NOTE: Pirate Booty will be played via MCB’s zoom platform. In order to claim your prize you must be able to turn on your smart phone’s camera so your game card can be verified by the committee. Once verified a winner, you must mail your card back to the MCB office. Your Visa card and Booty card will be mailed back to you. And for those who do not have a smart phone, you can still play and win. When you have a winning card and shout “Booty!” your numbers will be verified when you read them back.  You will then be declared the winner for that round. In order to claim your prize, you will have to mail your winning card back to the MCB office. It will be verified and then returned to you along with your prize. Since the cards are large-print with braille overlay you can mail them “free matter for the blind.” For any questions please feel free to contact one of the members of the Fundraising Committee.

Scentsy Zoom Party

On October 23, 2021 at 7 p.m. CT (8 p.m. ET), Scentsy consultant Kim Vaughn be discussing a wide variety of items: candles, warmers, waxes, and many other things to freshen and fill your home with happy smells!

Online Auction

Saturday, November 13 will be the Missouri Council of the Blind’s annual online auction. This will be a great opportunity to do some Christmas shopping, or to purchase something nice for yourself! We don’t yet know what items will be available, but more details will be coming soon.

Pampered Chef

Anyone who would like to order from Pampered Chef and still support the MCB may do so through this special MCB link:  https://www.pamperedchef.com/party/missouricb. You may also find the link on the MCB website at www.moblind.org.

As you can see, there are many great ways everyone can support the efforts of the Missouri Council of the Blind. Please, pass this information on to friends, family, and anyone else you can think of who would love to participate in the fun.

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.

ATTENTION! ATTENTION! ATTENTION!

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 on November 13, 2021. We would appreciate any type of donation your club is willing to contribute—gift cards, new merchandise from local businesses, etc. Donations can be sent to the MCB office.

All donations must be received by November first. Please designate that the items you are contributing are specifically for the November online auction. 

Thank you in advance for your generous contribution. Let’s keep the great work of the MCB moving forward!

For more information on the work of the Missouri Council of the Blind please visit our website at moblind.org. Thank you in advance for your generous contribution. Let’s keep the great work of the MCB moving forward!

Emergency Safety Awareness

By April Gray

I will go over a couple scenarios to tell you what to do if there is a fire. The most important thing to remember is if you smell smoke, get out of the building before calling 911. Get out as quickly as possible. If you are in a closed room and smell smoke, or hear a smoke alarm, first feel the door before opening. Be careful touching the knob as that will be the hottest and can burn you. If it is hot, do not open the door. Find another way out. Put a blanket under the edge of the door to keep out as much smoke as possible. Use your whistle to call for help. If you have a cell call 911 and alert the dispatcher that you are trapped. If you are on a bottom floor, open the window and kick out the screen and climb out. If you are on a top floor you might need to jump or wait for help. If you are on an upper floor it helps to keep a drop down ladder in your room.

If the door wasn’t hot then open it slowly. Keep low to the ground. If you have a source of water you can soak a blanket to help protect you as you crawl out. Only take the time to do that if it seems like you are going to have to go near flames. Get outside via the closest means of exit.

       Believe it or not, you might have an advantage on getting out over a sighted person. You are used to mapping your way to doors and windows where the sighted rely on sight. When they don’t have it you have better “eyes” then they do. Always go to the place you plan to meet up with the rest of your family and make sure everyone is out. Let the fire department know if the building is clear so they aren’t in looking for you.

       If you catch fire, beat out the flames as quick as possible. If you panic, stop, drop, and roll once your away from the flames.

If it is a small fire, such as a kitchen fire and you have a fire extinguisher, make sure you know how to start it. Generally, there is a pin or a ring to pull. Point it at the bottom of the flames. Once you have used it get another and dispose of the one you used even if it isn’t completely empty. You can check with the fire department to see if they can refill it, but most ones on the market are one-use. Feel free to message me with questions. Stay safe. 

Below are a few links to some great first aid kits, some power banks, and the life straw, which are great additions to your survival kit for emergencies. Don’t forget to include personal hygiene items, and copies of important documents including copies of passport, ID, rental agreements, or home and car title, and contact numbers for all credit cards. Also write down important contact numbers you don’t have memorized in case something happens to your phone and you have to use someone else’s. I included several first aid kits because they contain different things so you can choose what is the best for your needs.

  • M2 BASICS 300 Piece (40 Unique Items) First Aid Kit | Premium Emergency Kits | Home, Camping, Car, Office, Travel, Vehicle, Survival https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01M0MWXOZ/ref=cm_sw_r_em_apa_glt_fabc_KK0AXD57213X75TGJ7NP?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1
  • First Aid Kit – 291 Pieces of First Aid Supplies | Hospital Grade Medical Supplies for Emergency and Survival Situations | Ideal for Car, Trucks, Camping, Hiking, Travel, Office, Sports, Pets, Hunting, Home https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00W4WDRRU/ref=cm_sw_r_em_apa_glt_fabc_3VXCM6VC92MWCJ1NTVEF?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1
  • First Aid Kit -309 Pieces- Reflective Bag Design - Including Eyewash, Bandages, Moleskin Pad and Emergency Blanket for Travel, Home, Office, Car, Camping, Workplace https://www.amazon.com/dp/B074DW15XZ/ref=cm_sw_r_em_apa_glt_fabc_YHG6RFYTKRSTYT2MV4J4
  • LifeStraw Personal Water Filter for Hiking, Camping, Travel, and Emergency Preparedness https://www.amazon.com/dp/B006QF3TW4/ref=cm_sw_r_em_apa_glt_fabc_T571C6FCNYRDP4MT41BF?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1
  • Solar Power Bank 33800mAh Portable Solar Charger 5V3.1A,18W PD QC 3.0 Dual 2 USB,LED Flashlights Port Strong LED IPX7 Flashlight,Waterproof, Dustproof, Shockproof (Orange) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08PSWVTSM/ref=cm_sw_r_em_apa_glt_fabc_M2R3H4DC61YKRHE7W50P
  • Baseus 30000mAh Power Bank, USB C Portable Charger 30000 mAh Fast Charging External Battery Pack Charger Powerbank for Cell Phone iPhone 12 Pro Max Samsung Galaxy S21 iPad https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07X5JGTJ5/ref=cm_sw_r_em_apa_glt_fabc_TT7C3711MJWV2W879493

MEET THE PEOPLE of MCB

By Denny Huff and Chip Hailey

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.

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 and press option 1. 773-572-6387’

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

Here are the people of MCB we have interviewed thus far:

Don and Bev Shockley https://audioboom.com/posts/7869041

Shirley Brokaw https://audioboom.com/posts/7874772

Terry Nord and Kay Malmquist https://audioboom.com/posts/7879517

Linda Gerken https://audioboom.com/posts/7884380

Chris Peltz, The Blind Griller https://audioboom.com/posts/7888069

Jesuita Tabor https://audioboom.com/posts/7895823

Judy Burch https://audioboom.com/posts/7900607

DeAnna Quietwater Noriega https://audioboom.com/posts/7904973

Allan Newsham https://audioboom.com/posts/7909160

Sarah Calhoun https://audioboom.com/channels/5048779

Carl Chappelle https://audioboom.com/channels/5048779

ISOLATION TO INSPIRATION

By Writing Works Wonders

Website:  www.WritingWorksWonders.com

Email: Writingworkspodcast@gmail.com

Co-hosts: Cheryl McNeil Fisher & Kathleen P. King

The story of two author-educators experiencing sight-loss, who find a common vision of encouraging, inspiring, and accelerating writers’ sharing and development through a global platform for author interviews, virtual workshops, open mic events and more.  Readers also enjoy the opportunity to interact with some of their favorite authors, such as Dr. Patrick Taylor, Jodi Thomas, Pamela Kelley and beloved narrator Kristin Allison.

Beginnings

Writing Works Wonders is the brainchild of Cheryl McNeill Fisher and was launched on ACB Community calls in September 2020. Cheryl is an accomplished author of children’s books and, recently, a biography/memoire. Cheryl has been a member of ACB, GDUI, and other vision impairment and writing associations for many years. One of her series communicate the experiences and resilience of people with visual impairments, through the words of Guide Dog Sammy.  She has increasingly focused on encouraging emerging and experienced writers.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, when ACB Community began hosting Zoom calls on many different topics, Cheryl initiated a writing call.  By 2021, she had been hoping and praying persistently for someone with whom she could work. Someone who would have the same vision, work ethic, but different skills to complement hers.

In Writing Works Wonders, the ACB Community call, Cheryl had cultivated a core group of talented writers, some of who were beginners and others quite advanced. These participants have been essential in the continuing development of this transformative endeavor. In addition, the ACB Community channel of ACB Media (fka ACB Radio) provided invaluable support in technical aspects, including streaming the interactive Zoom calls. The entire community, and world, has been adjusting to using virtual platforms to meet their social needs.

Advancing

In February of 2021, Dr. Kathy King suffered additional loss of sight and reached out to ACB through several community calls. When Kathy phoned into Writing Works Wonders virtual session, she met Cheryl and fellow authors. At that point, she knew that these people had similar goals, needs, and vision. Having published many books, led writing workshops and conferences worldwide, and recently retired from university professorship, she recognized an opportunity to use her expertise to continue to support writers.

Kathy and Cheryl began talking and emailing that week. Very shortly, including a test run and many discussions, Cheryl invited her to cohost the calls.

The vision of Writing Works Wonders has been refined, keeping the fundamental commitment constant: to encourage and support writers at all levels of experience with different abilities. This vision means both writers and readers benefit from the varied programming.

Reaching Further

Cheryl and Kathy implemented their vision and carefully, but quickly, fleshed out the scope and infrastructure of Writing Works Wonders. A high priority was to be able to repurpose their content and reach a larger audience.

Leveraging their many skills, these women have accomplished all of these goals on a very slim budget. To increase flexibility of their program, they purchased their own accounts for Zoom and podcast hosting. They started editing the Zoom recordings before posting on the public podcast. They also built a website to house and consolidate all of these essential components.

Together, they have worked hard to spread the word about the podcast and live Zoom calls through social media. Readers can follow Writing Works Wonders on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Next, Cheryl and Kathy are growing their group of followers and supports to spread the word of the podcast interviews, events and opportunities. 

Cheryl and Kathy achieved so much in so little time because they developed a warm, comfortable partnership which is sustained by mutual respect and trust. They both understood that they needed to communicate frequently and freely with one another. Perhaps this point was one of the most important steps they took to build a strong, creative, effective, working relationship and friendship.

The website has much more than the fabulous show archive.  Visitors will also find an abundance of resources, tips, and special content for writers. Cheryl and Kathy post short, Author Clinics, also referred to as Author Accelerators.  The accelerators provide valuable productivity, writing, and marketing guidance for authors and publishers.

Listening

  • LIVE on ACB New Media’s Community Channel, Friday 1pm Eastern. (Previously known as ACB Radio.)
  • All podcast platforms.
  • Tell Alexa/Echo, “Play Podcast Writing Works Wonders.”
  •  Visit www.writingworkswonders.com for the latest episodes.

© Cheryl McNeil Fisher and Kathleen P. King, 2021

Sports for the Blind

Bike Ride at Creve Coeur Park

On September 11, 2021, our beep baseball team is hosting a fund raising bike ride at Creve Coeur Park.  We will be at the Taco Bell pavilion down by the lake.  We will ride the bike/walking trail around the lake.  The trail is 3.8 miles. 

The riding starts at 9:00am.  We will have unlimited water (no soda), hot dogs, bratwurst, and burgers.  We will also have fruit and chips.  Everyone will receive a certificate of participation and maybe a small gift!

The registration fee is $10 and we have sponsor sheets for you to get sponsors.  If you would like to participate, please contact Wilma at (314)873-9022.

Congratulations to Mr. Deke Edwards

Mr. Deke Edwards is being inducted into a Hall of Fame for the 5th time!  At age 11, he lost his sight to an injury while hunting.  He then attended Missouri School for the Blind starting in the 6th grade until graduation.  Deke wrestled at MSB under Coach Eberhardt.  He then attended SIU Carbondale where he wrestled and won three Conference Championships.  He left SIU with 46 wins and 5 losses. 

Deke started teaching math at MSB in 1962 and was assistant coach under his former coach, Mr. Eberhardt for 12 years.  After Eberhardt retired, he became head coach for 35 years.  When asked who were some of your best wrestlers, he quickly stated, “Those Dewberry boys”!

I started MSB in December of 1971 and met him as my math teacher.  I joined United States Association of Blind Athletes in 1986.  While competing in my events, he was there also.  At the age of 47, he was running the 200 and 400 meter races with his 16-year-old son, Sean, as his guide runner. He also entered in the cycling competition with his son Sean as his guide on the tandem bike. They were awesome as a team. I predicted that young man was going to work for the CIA, FBI, or Secret Service because he would run with his dad and then run with other runners three or four times in a row. He had endless energy.  When other kids went to camp to learn how to swim, archery, and other camp things, he was learning how to jump from helicopters. 

In 2006, Deke and a different guide flew to Santa Fe, NM and rode the Santa Fe trail all the way back to Kansas City, MO.  They rode 768 miles, averaging 100 miles per day.  At this time he was 67.  He plans to ride in the Midnight Ramble on August 21 this year at age 82 and once again, Sean is his guide.  He said that Sean rode his first 100 miles with him at age 16.  He speaks about his grandson, Ian, who goes hunting and shot a deer every year since he was six years old except for one time when he did kid stuff and went to a friend’s birthday party.  Talk about following in the footsteps of grandfather and father.

Here is a list of the Hall of Fame accomplishments:

Missouri High School Hall of Fame, 1981

Greater St. Louis Athletic Association Hall of Fame, 1994

National Wrestling hall of Fame, 2005

SIU Carbondale Sports Hall of Fame 2019

St. Louis Sports Hall of Fame, 2021 along with O.J. Anderson, Kurt Flood, and Chris Pronger.

National Beep Baseball Association

On July 31, 2021 history was made in the National Beep Baseball Association World Series held in Wichita, KS.

The battle for the World Series title was between Indy-Thunder and San Antonio Jets. 

The Thunder team was going for the fifth win in a row and Kevin Sibson, former pitcher for Austin Black Hawks and now the Jets was retiring after 36 years and nine World Series rings.  Ron Brown, President and assistant coach of Thunder and Darnell Booker, GM and coach have a fantastic group of young men who are awesome!

In the game of beep baseball, we only play six innings and if you hit a 170 ft. pop fly, that is an automatic two runs.

At the bottom of the fifth inning the score was tied 6-6.  In the top of the sixth inning, the Jets scored a run and it is now 6-7 with the Jets in the lead.  Then they were back out in the field hoping to hold the Thunder down to those six runs.

And then, Corey White happened, a 22-year-old black American young man came up to bat.  He was the first batter for this inning.  On the first pitch, the pitcher, Jared Woodard, knew that he threw the best pitch ever! First pitch, first swing, and the ball flew high in the sky and landed 173 ft.  Corey was not aware that he had hit an automatic two runs until he was almost back at his team bench.  When the team made him realize what he had done, he fell on the ground and cried tears of joy.  Darnell was elected as 1st Vice President of the NBBA organization on our first day of the series and now his team gets their fifth win for the World Series ring.  Your star hitter is now in the history archives for the National Beep Baseball Association because this has never happened in the history of beep baseball, the hall of fame for the last run of the series, #1 in defense, #1 in offense, and MVP! How much better can it get?!  I would also like to give Kevin Sibson all of his props for the skill and excitement that he brought to the sport.  At my first World Series in 2013, Kevin was the first pitcher that caught my attention.  He was fascinating to watch.  He is truly a pitcher that will go in the books as one of the great ones.  At this time, I guess he has earned the title of “The Goat” in the sport of beep baseball. But look out Kevin, Jared is on his way!

Gateway Archers Impress in their First World Series

By: Mike Curtis, Director of Special Initiatives, MindsEye

Though their first official season was put on hold due the 2020 pandemic, the new St. Louis Metro Area Beep Ball Team, The Gateway Archers, looked like a team on the rise in the National Beep Baseball Association (NBBA) as they competed in the 2021 Beep Baseball World Series. Before the series, they competed in 3 Regional tournaments in Indianapolis, Ames, and Champaign. The initial ranking of the World Series had the Gateway Archers ranked 17 out of 19. The Archers went 6 and 4 over the weeklong tournament in Wichita, Kansas beating the Long Island Bombers to take 9th Place. By increasing their ranking by 8 spots, the Archers moved up more than any other team this year. Kyle Borah won Defensive Rookie of the Year Award for the World Series.

Archers also had other accolades throughout the year. In Indianapolis, Kyle Borah and Rich Krussel won Defensive All- Star honors. In Champaign, Kyle and Josh Sisson won Defensive All- Star Honors, with Kyle also making the Offensive All- Star Team. In total, Archers won 6 awards throughout the year. After their first full year of competition, the Archers look like a team to pay attention to as they look to build upon their success in 2022 and beyond. For more information about the Gateway Archers or MindsEye’s Beep Ball program, contact Mike Curtis at mcurtis@mindseyeradio.org.

New Technology

A New Voice For Amazon’s Digital Assistant

Amazon has quietly started rolling out a new masculine-sounding voice option to its Alexa virtual assistant along with a similarly masculine-sounding wake word to trigger the assistant: “Ziggy.” (The odd choice of name is presumably to fit into Amazon’s love of “A to Z”-style branding.) The new voice option was actually added several days ago alongside an announcement for new celebrity voices like Shaq and Melissa McCarthy, but it went largely unnoticed until it was spotted by The Ambient.  The “Ziggy” wake word joins the existing “Alexa,” “Computer,” “Echo,” and “Amazon” wake words that have already been available to use with Alexa for years. Amazon isn’t specifically associating “Alexa” with the feminine-sounding voice and “Ziggy” with the new masculine-sounding option; users can use either of the voice options with any of the wake words.  You can switch between the two voice options — which Amazon refers to as “Original” and “New” — by asking Alexa to “Change your voice,” and you can similarly select a new wake word by asking it to “Change your wake word.” The change seems to be device-specific, though, so you’ll have to set the new voice on each of your Alexa devices.

Amazon has been a holdout when it comes to offering a masculine-sounding voice option for its digital assistant; Apple and Google offer multiple voice options for Siri and Google Assistant, respectively. Neither of those companies associates specific voices with gender anymore, either: Apple’s Siri options are presented as “Voice 1” and “Voice 2,” while Google’s voice options are listed under a variety of colors.

Amazon has only offered its feminine-sounding option since the Echo was first introduced back in 2013. And while The New York Times notes that Alexa will respond to questions about gender by replying “I’m not a woman or a man, I’m an AI,” Amazon itself still tends to refer to the Alexa personality using gendered “she” and “her” pronouns in its documentation. That’s despite that same documentation emphasizing that Alexa is not “a person with a physical body or a gender identity” and that “Amazon doesn’t let organizations (for example, skills or AVS) refer to Alexa as ‘she’ or ‘her.’”

The new masculine-sounding Alexa voice option is reportedly only available in the US for now, but it will presumably be making its way to other regions soon.  It’s not available to me yet in Ireland.