September 2017 Chronicle

September 2017 Chronicle

President’s Message

By Denny Huff, President

Greetings, I hope this finds all of you doing good and getting geared up for another great convention next month in KC.  I don’t have a lot to report but I do have a couple of important announcements.

Let me start off by saying thank you to everyone that submitted a report in the last edition of the Chronicle.  I know some reports that were submitted weren’t included in the Chronicle for one reason or another.  Let me say that our editor, James Hollins acknowledges each report he receives and so if you don’t receive that acknowledgement, please submit your report again and then call James or the office to make sure it was received.

Our strategic planning committee has been working diligently to complete our five year strategic plan.  My thanks to Naomi Soule, the committee chair, the core committee and the entire committee for all of the work they are putting into this plan.  The surveys were sent out and we have received many suggestions as to what you would like to see MCB do in the next five years.

One of the suggestions was for more communication to the members.  When I was first elected president I promised you that I would try and communicate to you what is going on in MCB.  I feel that I have attempted to do this in several ways but if I haven’t, I apologize.  One way I attempted to get information to you about MCB was to have a monthly conference call for everyone to call in and let me know your concerns or ask questions.  I had several different hosts for this conference call and because of the lack of participation by the membership they were discouraged and stepped down as the host.  If the membership would like for me to resume having these conference calls I would be more than glad to start having them once again. 

Within the past month I have established an MCB information line.  At the time of this writing I only have the MCB podcast and the Missouri Chronicle available to listen to but I will be adding more information as time goes by.  The way it works is that you call 773-572-6387 or if you don’t have unlimited long distance you can call toll free (844) 605-4592.  Once you are connected you will hear an announcement giving you the selections you can make.  Mailbox 1 will be the MCB podcast and mailbox 2 is the Missouri Chronicle.  If there is something you would like to have on one of the mailboxes please let me know.  We have a total of nine mailboxes we can use.  My email is dhuff@moblind.org or you can call 855-832-7172.

As most of you probably know we decided to cancel the youth conference scheduled for last month.  As with most all conventions and conferences a contract with a hotel is signed promising that you will use a certain number of rooms and buy a certain amount of food.  The youth conference was no different so we are now faced with either using those rooms or paying for them without anything in return.

Another suggestion that came in several times in our strategic plan survey was to hold a leadership seminar of some kind to develop new leaders.  With that in mind, the board voted in our August board meeting to hold a leadership conference in place of the youth conference.  The dates will be November 17, 18 and 19 of this year.  We will be asking that each affiliate send one person to participate in the conference in hopes of grooming them for a leadership role at some point.  More information will be forthcoming about the leadership conference within the next few weeks.  You can also hear more about it by calling the MCB Information Line.

I am going too briefly address a topic that many people are talking about but very little is being done.  That topic is the MCB budget.  I don’t know how many of you keep up with the finances of MCB but for those of you that do, you are aware that each year we operate in the red.  We do have a nice investment fund and we do take money out of those investments each year.  But therein lays the problem.  We can’t keep doing that indefinitely.  I was told a few years ago that I shouldn’t use scare tactics to address the financial status of MCB by saying that we will eventually be out of money if we keep going the way we are going.  So tell me, when do we begin getting concerned about our budget?  When the money is all gone and we have no choice but to give up our programs and all that we are doing now?  I would rather address that concern now while we are still able to turn things around.

Unfortunately I don’t have an answer in how we can do that and I don’t believe there is a solution that will help us immediately.  After all, we didn’t get to this point just in the past few years but rather this is something that has been coming on for many years.

I am disappointed that we have not been able to do more fundraising than what we have already done.  I am at a loss in how we can cut the budget enough to make up for the shortfall we have.  Many of the line items we have in our budget were incorporated back when we had the income to support them.  We do not have the income we had 10 or 15 years ago but we still have those expenses and for the most part, we can’t just drop them from our budget without some serious repercussion.  Ideally it would be best for us to increase our income with fundraising projects enough to cover our expenses, but that isn’t happening at this time.  So we need to take a serious look at getting our budget under control.  The Board approved the 2018 budget last month and although it was several thousand less than it was last year, we are still operating in the red.  In other words, we are spending more than we are making.

I want to challenge both the Budget and Finance Committee and the Resource and Development Committee to 1) look at our budget and even though it may have some repercussions, find areas that we can eliminate expenses and 2) encourage the Resource and Development Committee to come up with more fundraising programs to help lessen the gap between our expenses and our income.

I would also like to ask you as a member to give us suggestions on how we can either cut our budget or increase our income.  This is your organization and it affects each one of us.  I honestly hope that we can continue serving our members with the programs we have for many years to come and we can with your help.

In closing, let me encourage you to make plans to attend the MCB convention next month in Kansas City.  We will have representatives from Orcam demonstrating how these unique glasses can be used by the blind and visually impaired. 

Another product that has recently come out on the market is from Aires.  Another navigational tool used by the blind and visually impaired.  There will be representatives from this company at our convention this year also.

In closing, let me once again say thank you to all of my committee chairs and to the Board for their help in making MCB what it is.  God bless and see you in KC.

 

 

Medication Awareness Week: 
Celebrating a Victory of Advocacy by the Blind and Our Friends

By Chris Gray, Executive Director

In the early 2000s, there was more and more discussion about the need for and lack of braille labels on prescription drugs.  Here and there, one could find an off-the-shelf product with a braille label.  I remember in particular running across a whole shelf of French wines in a high-end shop that all had braille labels in Palo Alto, CA.  In England and France, my friends delighted in showing me boxes of cough drops, aspirin, and other sundries that also had braille on the box.  Some of these made their way to Canada, but never to the United States. 

In 2001 and 2002, I was approached as President of the American Council of the Blind by several start-up companies with what they believed to be a workable means of labeling prescription drugs for blind people.  One promising possibility was a base into which pill bottles could be fitted with the base speaking what a person read into it before the bottle was attached.  It was inexpensive, and just about any bottle could be labeled in this way by any person owning the talking bottle holders.  This concept though was destined to fail, because so many talking pill bottles would have to be purchased by pharmacists and/or any company who wanted their bottles to talk.  And, what about medication and products in tubes or in any packaging besides a bottle?

In 2003-2004, another small venture approached me with a product called ScriptTalk.  This product employed a label maker on which a pharmacist could encode information about a prescription.  With the pharmacist in control, mistakes in labeling were far less likely and affixing a label to a bottle, tube or other package was a far easier proposition than having a talking base into which the packaging had to be housed.  The disadvantages of ScriptTalk were that the pharmacist had to have the appropriate encoding and writing equipment to make the labels, and each user had to have a reader that could read their prescription bottles.  These were major and expensive obstacles and it took nearly ten years for them to be overcome.

Today, it has turned out that the ScriptTalk technology has the greatest traction in drugstores and pharmacies around the country.  The product is now part of a larger line of excellent products manufactured and sold by Envision America.  In their business model for ScriptTalk, the pharmacy a person uses provides a ScriptTalk reader to the user free of charge.  The financing of the program is a matter between the pharmacy and Envision America of which I have no direct knowledge.  What I do know is that I am delighted each month to get my labeled prescriptions from Red Cross Pharmacy in Odessa, MO (816) 633-5118.  No more do I have to guess about pills to take.  No more do I have to deal with the situation where a pharmacy changes the size and shape of a medication making me wonder if I'm taking the right thing. 

In celebration of accessible prescription medication, Envision America is sponsoring Medication Safety Awareness for the Blind 2017 September 9 through September 15, 2017 Nationwide.  The Missouri Council of the Blind is proud to participate in this week-long event.  Medication Safety Awareness Week for the Blind is an annual event promoting accessible prescription labels for blind, visually impaired and print impaired people.  Envision America highlights ScriptTalk as a part of this week, but they also acknowledge and promote other types of labeling such as braille and large print.

Being able to celebrate such a week truly excites me as a blind person.  Five years ago, I had no prescription I could identify without affixing my own label, memorizing the shapes of the pills, or asking a sighted friend for help.  True, solutions existed and had existed for ten years, but they were not readily available to us as blind people.  Today in large part because we have not stopped advocating for it, they are more available than ever before.  However, most blind people I talk to, if the subject comes up, don't know about solutions they can have today.  For that very reason, I am writing this article in hopes of sharing the real possibilities out there about which you may not know. 

Participating in this week is going to be fun and easy.  In fact, I've already begun by calling Red Cross Pharmacy in Odessa and thanking them for making the ScriptTalk available.  My wife prefers to have braille labels instead of ScriptTalk.  She also prefers to have a local pharmacy.  So, she uses Keller Apothecary right here in St. Louis.  It is the advocacy of blind residents of St. Louis that encouraged this pharmacy to make several modes of accessible prescriptions available to their customers.  Encourage your pharmacies as well, or if they are already providing accessible prescriptions, just thank them for the effort.  Let them know you care.  After all, if you don't, why should they?

Finally, let your friends know that this opportunity is out there for them.  You will be surprised at how many people are not aware that such an opportunity exists.  We all make due from time to time.  But, we don't have to make due any longer when it comes to prescription medication.

We made the need known by advocating with companies and drugstores.  We got supporting resolutions passed in Congress.  Some states have passed mandates for accessible labeling in their state legislatures.  And, it has worked.  Let's all go out and educate our friends and thank those stores that make such valuable and worthwhile programs available. 

 

 

Public Relations

By Wilma Chestnut-House

I have already served three years as PR for MCB and have the time of my life traveling around representing our organization.  I finished Denny’s term due to the fact that he became President.  Then I did a first term for myself.  I would like to do this one more time.  I hope that I have served the organization to your satisfaction. 

I started out with MCB sweat shirts with the MCB logo, then the MCB stamps (of which I am still using), entered us in the Delta Gamma “Run for Sight” event, and visited many events from Senior Fairs, Health Fairs, and schools to introduce parents and children to MCB.

I would like to try something a little different for the White Cane Safety Day and I would like to have an “All Affiliate” picnic.  This will be done through donations from businesses.  I feel that we need a little more togetherness. We will not have to take care of any business, just enjoy the company and fun. 

If you have any suggestions, please feel free to let me know.  Thanks for allowing me to serve you one more time!

 

 

Affiliate Reports

Blind of Central Missouri

By Joe Morgan

Hello from Sedalia!  Our picnic on June 26th was a success. Everyone enjoyed the hamburgers and hot dogs. However, it was a bit cool for swimming, but the kids didn't mind. I won the 50-50 raffle.  We took in $60 and $30 went to the club.  And now some sad news, Jeannie Halphin passed away on July 14th.  That's all I have for this report.  Until next time, keep smiling!

St. Charles County Council of the Blind

By Beverly Kaskadden

The St. Charles County Council of the Blind is excited to tell you about our new members.  We have had three new members since May.  The first is a previous member that has come back to join us.  I guess she really missed us.  Many of you might remember Lynne Smith from Wright City.  At least that is where she originally lived.  Now she has moved in closer to our meeting location in St. Peters.  Lynne now resides in Wentzville.  She is anxious to get involved again.  Lynne brought with her a friend from St. Peters.  Welcome to Claire Meinert.  Claire is a delight and we are very fortunate to have her join SCCCB.  Then there is Johanna Jeremiah.  I have to smile when I think of Johanna.  She is originally from Canada.  I picked up the accent right away.  Johanna is a “breath of fresh air”, and full of energy.  I can’t wait for everyone to get to know these new MCB members.

We are such a social group.  We usually do not have a business meeting in June, since that is when the Duchesne High School Key Club hosts our Installation dinner, but that took place in April.  We do not like such a long period before getting together, so we had a business meeting at the home of Lynne Smith.  In July we had our annual barbeque at my home.  Our members and guest are growing, so I was so glad I had the space.  The weather cooperated so some of us could sit on the deck. 

In August, we will be gathering on the Missouri Riverfront for dinner and an outdoor concert. 

We take every opportunity to have a little fun then get back to work with the Council business.

It will be time for the convention, so I hope to see many of you then.

Delta Area Blind

By Wanda Matlock

Hello to everyone from Delta Area Blind.  We hope that everyone is staying as cool as they possibly can in this heat.  Now, on with the business of Delta Area.

At our monthly meeting on May 2, we had a baby shower along with our business meeting.  LaWana Copeland, who is the treasurer for Delta Area has a new grandson.  His name is Bridger and we celebrated with presents, cupcakes and drinks.

On May 16, 11 members of our affiliate went to Malden, Missouri to participate in the MCB Pizza Hut fundraiser.  We all had a great time and we are all looking forward to participating again next year.  On Saturday, June 24th, our affiliate was invited to The River City Workers of the Blind annual picnic.  The picnic was held at the Cape Girardeau South Park.  Several of our members were in attendance and as usual, we enjoyed an afternoon of good food and entertainment.  The weather was beautiful and we all had a great time.  A big thank you to everyone from River City Workers of the Blind for their hospitality. 

At our monthly meeting in June, we added a new member to our affiliate.  His name is Craig Ancell and he lives in Scott City.  We are excited to welcome Craig to our Delta Area family.  On July 25, we had our monthly meeting.  We are happy to say that we have another new member, her name is Belinda Turner and she lives in New Madrid.  We are very proud to welcome her to our affiliate.  At our meeting, we discussed and made many decisions about members going to the September weekend camp, the MCB Convention coming up in October, Delta Area dues, an item for the MCB auction and many other issues.  We feel that we had a very productive meeting. 

If anyone is interested in visiting one of our Delta Area meetings, we meet on the fourth Tuesday of each month at 10:30 at the Concordia Lutheran Church in Sikeston.  We hope everyone has a great rest of the Summer.

RITE for the Blind

By Ray Miles

Top of the morning to all of you from the rite affiliate in the south of St. Louis. We now have a new bylaws document thanks to Angelo T. and Jeff S., and a special thanks to Lee Ann S. and of course Jeff’s Dad too. We also went to Fitz’s restaurant for lunch. They have great ice cream and the most stupendous root beer float I have ever almost seen. Kudos to Larry and Rose L. for the arrangements.  It was crowded, but it was fun.  Thanks also to Carol M. for the arrangement of transportation. 

Conjecture looking forward to a hay ride.  I remember what young people did on a hay ride but what do seasoned citizens do? We sang Christmas carols at our last meeting in anticipation of caroling at Christmas time and perhaps a Christmas party at the Bevo.

He left us with two directives and one primary prayer and two words.  Peace and now you must guess what.  Till next time, toodels.

Tiger Tails

By: Gretchen Maune, Secretary, Tiger Council of the Blind

Greetings from Columbia, home of the Tiger Council of the Blind!  You're in for a double issue since a bit of a hiccup caused our spring article not to make it in.  In recent months, TCB decided to take a month off, and cancelled our July meeting to allow folks more time to relax and travel. TCB members Hazel Fields, Deanna Noriega, and Gretchen Maune traveled to Sparks, Nevada for the American Council of the Blind annual convention. They had a good time, and brought back lots of information on ACB, the latest technology, and ideas from other affiliates. During the prior month, TCB President Jannel Morris connected with other MCB members from across the state at MCB’s awesome summer camp.

Back in the spring, TCB had our booth again at the annual Earth Day Festival, a Columbia event that draws tens of thousands of attendees every year. This year, as in years past, we brailed people’s names, displayed tactile maps, handed out service dog focused activity and coloring books to kids, MCB and TCB brochures, and much more. This booth gave us the opportunity to teach many folks about service dogs and etiquette, and to let folks know about MCB and TCB. We had a spring BBQ on May 6. It was open to all, and included tasty food, good people, and accessible games.

Want to join us? We meet on the second Friday of each month at Services for Independent Living, located at 1401 Hathman Place, Columbia, MO. Please like us on Facebook at Tiger Council of the Blind and follow us on Twitter @tiger_council! If you have questions, please contact Jannel Morris at jannelm@hotmail.comm or send us a message on social media!

AGAPE Council of the Blind

By Elizabeth Brown

AGAPE Council of the Blind is hosting their annual Gospel fest on September 10, 2017.  It will be held at Greater Faith Church on 4114 Natural Bridge Road.  Judy Birch will be the guest speaker.  The program starts at 3:30 pm-5:30 pm.  We hope that you can join us for a great time with singing and valuable information!

Camp Abilities-St. Louis

By Wilma Chestnut-House

The StL Firing Squad, Agape Council, and USABA held our second Camp Abilities July 9 thru 14, 2017 at Missouri School for the Blind.  This year we had an increase of children.  We started with 10 last year and 17 this year.  We had to turn away a few due to late enrollment. 

We started with the Adult Lego Lovers as an ice breaker again.  After letting the kids play with their own logos, they let them feel all the things that the adults had built.  We had a six foot tall Sears Tower and a Louisiana State University logo made with 9000 logos.  Mr. Barney has done great things at the school and has a great staff.  Some of them were hired on as extra for us.  We had a water slide 12-feet high and 18-feet long, a Slip & Slide, and snow cones which made for a great water day. We rode the seven person tandem bike.  We added dancing and tumbling to our events.  At the end of the week, we had a talent show and the kids got to show off what they learned from martial arts, tumbling, dancing, and track and field.  They also had a beep ball game.

Success stories.  One young lady that has a weak left hand and leg decided that she wanted to learn how to work with one hand by herself after hanging out with other girls in the camp and she put on her own leg brace by herself for the first time.  She also had the best shotput after working with the track coach.  Two of the girls went to the World Series of Beep Baseball in West Palm Beach with the Firing Squad and both got home runs and put outs.  One played in the Women of our League game and got two put outs and a home run.  Our camp is working.  

Bike Ride & Camp Out.  On October 21-22, 2017, Camp Abilities will be hosting a 50-mile bike ride.  Yes, 50 miles!  This is for the athlete in you.  We will start in St. Charles, MO at the Katy Bike Trail and ride 25 miles to Klondike Park.  We will camp out overnight and ride 25 miles back the next day.  We will have people stationed along the way with water, energy boosters, and a medic.  We will also have a guy that does minor repairs on bikes.  This ride is for anyone; single bikes and tandem bikes, the sighted and the blind.  No reason not to sign up.  The registration fee is $75 and you get sponsors.  We serve dinner and a light breakfast.  There is a truck to carry any coolers, tents, or whatever you have.  If you have any questions, please contact Wilma at (314)873-9022 or wilmachouse@gmail.com.  We will also have gift cards and coupons for participants.  Let’s do this!  I know that MCB has some great athletes, just get you a good guide.  We can also send shout outs to Big Sharks Bikes for assisting us.

ATI Special Affiliate News

By Darrel Vickers, President

Hello Everyone, it is almost MCB convention time again. Our annual meeting will be Friday, October 6 at 5:15 until 6:30PM.  The Agenda includes:  Roll Call, elections for Treasurer and Secretary, and the Treasurers Report.

The following are tentative:  Demonstration of I. R.A. (Instant Access to Information) and Demonstration of Orcam.

We are hosting the Adaptive Technology vendor room as usual. I do not have a complete list as of this writing but I am sure we will be full.

Adaptive or assistive technology can be anything which helps a blind person carry out their everyday task and maintain as much independence as possible.

We discuss, support and encourage adaptive (assistive) technology for the blind.  We have our own website with a plethora of information about technology and how to get the most out of it.

I invite anyone with an interest in adaptive technology or who wants to know more about it to join us.  To join, visit http://ati.moblind.org and click the membership tab or contact me. Dues are $15 annually.  Because we are an affiliate, if you are a member of ATI you are a full member of MCB.

Featured Technologies:  I. R. A., (Instant Access to Information).  From exploring new neighborhoods and restaurants in the city, to traveling the globe - Aira empowers the blind to experience their world and surroundings like never before.  Real-time request:  The tiny camera mounted on your wearable device provides instant feedback so Aira Agents can safely guide you with any activity.  IRA is a fee based subscription service.  For more information, visit https://aira.io/ or call 858-876-2472.

Noteworthy Apps: 

Seeing AI from Microsoft:  A free app that narrates the world around you. Designed for the low vision community, this research project harnesses the power of AI to describe Complete multiple tasks with one app.  Switch between channels to tune the description of what’s in front of the camera including People, Text and Objects.

  • Short Text speaks text as soon as it appears in front of the camera.
  • Documents provides audio guidance to capture a printed page, and recognizes the text, along with its original formatting.
  • Products gives audio beeps to help locate barcodes and then scans them to identify products.
  • Person recognizes friends and describes people around you, including their emotions.
  • Scene is an experimental feature to describe the scene around you.
  • Identify currency bills when paying with cash. (Coming soon).

Ai is a free download from the App Store. For more information: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/seeing-ai/

VO Lab:  If you want to use an iPhone or iPad you need to learn the gestures. One finger swipe or double tap will do a lot but the system becomes easier with the more gestures you use. There are many tutorials and cheat sheets to help with learning them. But why not have fun while you practice. Vo Lab lets you learn all the different gestures while you are guided in a chemical lab with a professor. Price is $4.99

Come join us at the convention.  Contact me by phone at 636-667-3176 or by email at darrel@ww4b.org.

Library Users of Missouri

By Loretta Welch

This article is to let you know about our meeting at the Missouri Council of the Blind Convention on Saturday morning, October 7, 2017 in Kansas City.

The Dues for Library Users are $10 per person and the breakfast is $12.00 each.  Our meeting will start at 7:00 am on October 7 with breakfast served to us.  You must get your money to Loretta Welch or Rhonda Jones before August 15.  The amount will be $22.00 each if you want to attend the breakfast and your dues.  Hope to see you all at the Library Users meeting in October.

Committee Reports

Adaptive Technology Grant Committee

By Darrel Vickers, Chairman

Hi Everyone, I want to take a minute to give you an update on our technology grants and provide an overview of this great program for those of you who might not be aware of it and how it works.  Missouri Council knows how life changing curtain 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.  This is why MCB provides the adaptive technology grant.

Each year MCB sets aside funds for technology that blind persons of Missouri can apply for to help offset the cost of adaptive technology.  For MCB members, MCB will match dollar for dollar for most types of adaptive technology with a $3,000 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.

This fiscal year we approved twenty seven (27) grants.  Items purchased include eye Pal Solo, Braille Note taker, i-phones, computers, Victor Reader, magnifiers, CCTV, tablet, and id Mate Quest.

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 the Adaptive Technology Grants Program to help fulfill its mission of enriching the lives of legally blind Missourians. Adaptive technology can be very expensive so MCB understands why many legally blind Missourians are not benefiting from its use. For the purpose of this grant program, adaptive technology is considered hardware, software, electronics, equipment, etc. that is standalone or works in conjunction with a computer that makes it possible for blind people to do things that sighted people can already do without using adaptive technology.

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.

Note: A full copy of the grant guidelines as well as an application can be found on our web site at: http://moblind.org/programs/adaptive_technology_grants or by contacting the MCB office at (314) 832-7172. You can also contact me anytime. 

This is a wonderful program and I encourage you to take advantage of it if you need to.  The adaptive technology committee is made up of three members; Darrel Vickers, Ruthie Clark and Donna Giger.  If you have any questions about the program please contact me.

Email:darrel@ww4b.org or Phone: 636-667-3176

Member of the Month

By Yvonne Schnitzler

Thanks to Allied Workers for nominating one of their newest members Lesa Eleazer recognized as the May Member of the Month. Lesa’s positive attitude along with her organizational skills is a plus for MCB. Lesa serves AWB as the Activity and Special Service Chair and helps organize the British Car Show, Tom’s Town Brewery, The Kansas City Gangster Tour and Steamboat Arabia Museum for the community.

Susan Pearce is the June Member of the Month. Susan was a member of Allied Workers along with her husband Hank. She and Hank left AWB to help form Progressive Council (PCB). She was active in fundraising efforts and served as Membership Chair. Her daughter April was one of the two youth members of PCB, and Susan avidly supported their activity. When PCB folded, Susan and Hank helped form the Act Now! Council of the Blind. When her husband’s medical issues became severe, she withdrew from affiliate activity and provided home care. Following the passing of her husband, Susan resumed her participation in Act Now and currently serves as Membership Chair and First Vice-President.

Kim Vaughn is the July Member of the Month nominated by Mary Hale the MCB Dual Vision and Hearing Loss Chair. Those who know Kim know her to be a quiet person. But, as a member of MCB, Kim has volunteered to help when she can. This is no easy task when faced with the blindness and deafness issues she faces. Kim leads by example, accepting challenges trying to improve her visibility in the public eye. She has served UWB as chair of activities, planning the Christmas parties and as chair of the fundraising committee. Kim is a Board member for Sight and Sound Impaired of St. Louis (SASISTL) and serves as chair for planning picnics and parties. Kim is attending the Helen Keller National Center in New York where she is learning new life skills to become more independent.

Congratulations to these members serving MCB.

Note: If you have emailed a nomination to the Member of the Month Committee and did not get a response, please resend the nomination to meshowjys@charter.net. The email address on the MCB Web page is currently incorrect.

Camp Committee

By Beverly Kaskadden

The Summer Camp Committee has been busy putting together another enjoyable year for those attending camp at Cobblestone Lodge.  It was so nice to see new attendees during our June week.  The best is to see those who were first timers come back the following year.  We must be doing something right.  There are always changes.  It saddens me that there are those who will not be able to return to Cobblestone due to health or other reasons.  I have been attending camp for over twenty years, and I have formed great friends.  We all can reminisce with fond memories of camp.  My favorite experience while at camp is getting to know the people.  I would love to hear what others say their favorite experience while at Cobblestone.  Be thinking about it and I will ask for your answers when I give my report at our State Convention.

If you have any questions concerning camp, please feel free to contact me at bkaskadden@centurytel.net or by phone at (636)-561-6947 or Cell (636)-541-2503.

Building Committee

By Charles Johnson, Chair

Greetings to everyone, there have been dinners, seminars and meetings held at the building this year. Purchases were made for two new furnaces. We are looking forward to upcoming events.  A big thanks to the committee, Robert Vaughn, Jack Lenk, and Angelo Trapasso.

MCB Scholarship Report

By Wanda Matlock

The MCB Scholarship Committee held a meeting on May 12th at 7:00 via conference call to discuss the 2017-2018 MCB Scholarship applications.  The Committee received a total of eight applications this year.  The decisions that were made  are as follows:  Six applicants are MCB members and received the full MCB Scholarship Grant of $2,000.00.  One applicant is not a member of MCB and received half the grant of $1,000.00.  One applicant did not qualify for the grant.

The checks for the 2017-2018 MCB Scholarship Grant recipients were mailed out in June, 2017.  The MCB Scholarship Committee had a budget of $16,000.00.  The Committee awarded $13,000.00 for grants leaving $3,000.00 remaining in the budget.

Missouri Blind Task Force (BTF) Committee
Announces Fall Children’s Vision Summit

By June Lenk

Greetings, Fellow MCB Members, I became a member of the United Workers for the Blind in August of 1997, thereby, obtaining membership in both the MCB and ACB.  Since that time, I’ve enjoyed participating in activities and serving in offices at the local, state and national affiliate levels of our organization.  One of the highlights of my affiliation with the MCB has been my 2014 appointment to the Task Force on Blind Student and Academic Performance, abbreviated as (BTF). 

This task force established in the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education works to develop goals and objectives to guide the improvement of special education related services and vocational training and transitional services for eligible blind and visually impaired students.  The BTF is once again, planning to host at Children’s Vision Summit to be held on Saturday October 28, 2017 at the Capital Plaza Hotel in Jefferson City, Missouri. 

Parents of blind and vision impaired children, blind and vision impaired students as well as teachers of blind and vision impaired students are encouraged to attend. Representatives from various educational institutions and employment agencies along with other representatives in the field of special education have been invited to address the summit attendees.  Instructors in self- defense and adaptive yoga will also give presentations and provide some hands on experience.  A panel made from several of our representatives and speakers will be available to answer basic questions regarding special education laws and discuss assistance, services and programs that are available to vision teachers, students and their parents.  Additional vendors who serve the blind and vision impaired have also been invited to attend the summit.  More details regarding the vision summit will be made available through the Missouri list serve and BTF website soon.

With today’s media and all our modern technology, it continues to concern me that there are still so many persons who are unaware of the services available to blind and vision impaired youth and students in the state of Missouri.  These youth are indeed, future reflections and it is up to consumer organizations such as MCB and ACB to work to ensure they receive the best opportunities for academic and vocational training in order to become productive members in their communities.

Honoring Our Members- Marie

By Mary Hale, Dual Vision and Hearing Loss Chair

Marie is a long time member of MCB and Sight and Sound Impaired of St Louis [SASI STL].  We would like to share the info she shared with us at SASI when she was selected as a Member of the Month.  Thank you Marie for sharing your story with us.

Lillian Marie Travelstead Thompson

Marie was born in Point Pleasant, MO in 1933. She grew up in different parts of Missouri as her folks were share croppers (people who worked for farmers who had land). They had to move often to earn money to care for the family. They helped raise cotton, beans, etc., alfalfa and hay, and crops for the livestock which consisted mostly of mules. Marie was the oldest girl, fourth child of her very large family of 14; there were 7 brothers and 7 sisters. It was very hard to make a living and care for that many children. Life was very rough and poor but all the share cropper families worked together to help each other.  They were very neighborly and did what they could for one another. Marie remembers her mom and dad working very hard to care for them and recalls the love and the sharing.

There weren't too many memories about that time, for when she was 8 years old, Marie went to the Missouri School for the Blind (MSB) in St. Louis, except for holidays and summer of course. Every trip to school and home was done alone as the family could not afford the ticket to accompany her. Often she had to wait to get a letter to direct her where to get off and on the bus or train due to so much moving around.

Marie was born with vision but her mother states that a high fever destroyed her optical nerve when she was a baby - possibly encephalitis. Being born right after the depression, knowledge and technology were still on the horizon and doctors didn't know a whole lot of medical stuff back then, so the cause of her vision impairment is questionable. Technology has made leaps and bounds in her 81 years and she states technology is good to a degree, but we should use God's gifts and not rely on it so much.

Marie enjoyed all of her school years. Even as a teenager when she had to give up swimming because the chlorine was so strong, it began to affect her ears but she was grateful that it was a gradual loss. She recalls the caring teachers and principals who worked so lovingly to teach the students to be independent when they got out in this big world. Spending nine months together out of the year, her classmates became like a big family to her. They shared fond childhood memories, laughter and tears, especially when they had to go back home. One outstanding memory for Marie is the day she graduated from the 12th grade. “Without MSB I would have had no education!” she states. She wanted to go to college but alas, “things didn't fall right”.

So after graduation, she returned home to southeast Missouri. Six weeks later having the city life infecting her, the country was no longer interesting. She decided to take off to Kansas City, Missouri where she shared an apartment with a schoolmate and her sighted friend. Marie got her first job on her own in a sheltered workshop doing an assortment of assembly work. It was hard as it was piece work and mostly she stuffed envelopes for photographer studios and what not. But, she did meet a Mr. Lawrence Thompson there. They both did piecework until he became a supervisor over shipping, loading and unloading trucks. Before you know it, life just happens. They couldn't decide who chased whom so it must have been a mutual agreement. Having graduated in 1954, both at the age of 22, they wed in 1955. They were married for 51 years.

They did not have children for the first five years because “We were getting acquainted with each other.” They loved riding on the 1949 Harley and doing “young people things, running around and having fun.”

Their oldest, Rosemarie, was born in 1960 and Brenda Kay was born in 1963. Marie has four grandsons in their late twenties and thirties. They are still in southeast Missouri. Marie said she just moved off and left them all. “Mom is still wild!”

When the girls were born, Lawrence really started to lose his sight so he thought it best to stop with two. He also wanted the family out of the city as he grew up in the small town of Lexington, Missouri. Marie didn't want to leave the city, but like any godly woman she supported her family and moved to Portageville, Missouri. Marie had sporadic jobs there. One of the best was working as a switchboard operator for Family Services, but she was not there long as transportation became an issue. She also worked at a learning center with visually impaired children, she baby sat, and a good job directly from God was working in the Head Start program from 2007-2010. As far as she knows, she is the only blind person who has worked with them. Marie enjoyed the people and proving that we have a disability and we are able to hold jobs also. In 2011 after needing a change she moved back to St. Louis, and has basically come full circle.

Miss Marie is a busy lady. There is always something to choose from for friendly outings: BBQs, game time, socials. She calls up friends, gets call a ride, meets up and has a party. You can find her out and about several times a month, weather and finances depending of course. She belongs to a couple of book clubs and a blues band called The Funky Family!  She plays tambourine alongside another female and two men. Boss Rick Belcher calls the places and keeps the other three on track.

Sometimes it is only the two of them attending the nursing homes to bring happiness and change, something to look forward to - something different and fun! Marie has a special digital reader from Wolfner Library so she reads a lot but is very picky. She likes westerns, religious stories, Christian books, books with a good story, nothing vulgar, just clean. SASI, is one of the most helpful organizations in St. Louis that hearing and sight impaired people can attend.

The most frustrating part of her hearing loss is when people don't speak up. Her family is really bad about that and it bothers her when she has to ask them to speak up a little bit, again and again and again. The most frustrating part of her vision loss is not being able to drive. The most helpful tool or trick in dealing with her Deaf-Blindness is the willingness to educate people, to be able to let them know that yes, we have problems, and we do need compassion sometimes. Not to feel sorry for us, but that we need - a helping hand.

When asked if she could be or do ANYTHING, what would it be? “Even at my age, I would still like to work in the public with some type of job with people or children. I am a people person.” Asking her what's the oddest or most unique thing about you, I got, “Oh Land! I don't know. I can't think of anything. I am just myself” which is perhaps the most unique thing of all. The craziest thing she has ever done or wanted to do was only shared off the record. She did offer that in school it had to be all the sports; skating, bowling, etc.

Marie would like to share with DeafBlind people that continual education of the public is necessary. She just wishes more could be done to recognize us. We are left out too much - we enjoy life too. We have to work together to make a better tomorrow. Before you know it, the day is done and the opportunity is missed. The more we DeafBlind are out there talking with folks, mixing with others, the more the public finds out we can do things also, instead of sitting on the sidelines and being left out.

To sighted and hearing people she would teach them to just be themselves and accept us, as we are people. Don't just sit us down somewhere and leave us - shut off from life. To the next generation, Marie would hope with all the technology advances that they would know a lot more about how to interact with DeafBlind people or any person who has a disability.

And finally when asked if she would like to share anything more, she stated, “Oh shoot, I think I've told you enough. I love people and like doing whatever I can to have fun and enjoy folks. I just try to make them happy. I feel honored that a lot of my friends do call me and talk to me. Everyone needs a time to vent and let off steam. If you need to talk, call in the middle of the night, that doesn't bother me. There are so many lonely people out here that sometimes they need a person they can take into their confidence to share. We could be sitting right next to someone and they could be really burdened down with things. Try to reach out more, even at the risk of making yourself vulnerable. We are all put here for special reasons. I'm just doing what I can for my fellow man and women.”

Marie is living life every day. Making this day the best she can as we are not promised a tomorrow. No matter if you have a disability or not, God has a place for each and every one of us or we wouldn't be here. One day this will all come together and we will be with Jesus in a better place.

Candidate for MCB Director

By Naomi Soule

I am announcing my candidacy for the Missouri Council of the Blind Board as a Director.  I will bring my expertise to the Board from my work on various boards and committees, both in MCB and ACB as well as other civic organizations and cross disability committees. 

I currently serve as Chair of the Strategic Plan Committee, and also served in the same role in 2009.  I am on the Host Committee for next year's ACB Convention in St.  Louis.  I presently serve on the Midwest Leadership Convention Committee, and look forward to a great leadership conference.  I am on the ACB International Committee, and have also served as Chair for the Rehabilitation Taskforce, ACB's Employment Committee, and chaired the Undergraduate subcommittee in the mid 90's.  I held a seat on the ACB National Board in 2005 for one term.  Other Boards and Advisory Committee's I have served on have included Missouri Assistive Technology Council, Chaired St. Louis’s 25th ADA Celebration Committee in 2010, served on the Double Helix Board in the early 90's, and am now serving on the Universal Design Project Group with the National Park Service and the Gateway Arch.  I served on the Metro Advisory Committee for 15 years, and have participated in training Metro Bus Drivers regarding sensitivity towards people with disabilities who ride Metro.  I served on the MindsEye Board and organized the first two major fundraising efforts for MindsEye.

Professionally, I spent 18 years as a District Supervisor for Rehabilitation Services for the Blind, and 2 years as an Employment Specialist.  I also worked on various projects, such as interviewing committees, organized two student events, worked on the team that chose a software program for staff and helped make sure the software was completely accessible for both blind and low vision staff.  I am on the Centene National Disability Advisory Committee, and serve as the Chair of the Employment Committee.  I have participated in training Centene's Human Resource staff from all over the county in hiring people with disabilities, and have placed three blind individuals in corporate positions.  I worked for IBM for 11-1/2 years in recruiting as well as Event Management.  My husband and I worked as a morning team on a rock station in Columbia from 1993 to 1995, and still do a once-a-week radio show at Lindenwood University.  I look forward to lending my knowledge and expertise to MCB’s Board of Directors.

Donating and Fund raising

By Darrel Vickers

As one who believes in giving back, I found the following interesting and thought provoking.  Here are nine positive effects of giving to charity.

1. Experience More Pleasure:  In research conducted by the National Institutes of Health2, participants who chose to donate a portion of $100 they were provided enjoyed activated pleasure centers in the brain. Although this experiment was controlled and scientific, it did show that donating money simply makes you feel better, which is something we can all benefit from.

2. Help Others in Need:  We don’t live in a perfect world, and there’s never going to be a perfect time to give—but there are always people out there in need of help. Whether interest rates are rising, the economy is in the doldrums, or even if you’re experiencing financial difficulties of your own, the reality is that when you donate your money, you help others who need it.

3. Get a Tax Deduction:  If you give to an IRS-approved charity, you can write off donations on your tax return. Certain restrictions do apply, though. To learn more about them, along with whether or not a particular charity has IRS approval, check the IRS website or The Life You Can Save’s fact sheet about tax deductibility. Donating your cash is a great way to reduce the amount of money you send off to Uncle Sam, and for a good cause, to boot.

4. Bring More Meaning to Your Life:  When you donate money to charity, you create opportunities to meet new people who believe in the same causes that inspire you. That, and making a real impact on those causes, can infuse your everyday life with more meaning. If you’ve been stuck in a rut, whether personally or professionally, sometimes the simple act of donating cash can do the trick and reinvigorate your life.

5. Promote Generosity in Your Children:  When your kids see you donating money, they are much more likely to adopt a giving mindset as they grow up. I write from personal experience. I’ve donated money to a variety of charities over the years and have always made sure to inform my eight-year-old son of my efforts. Last Christmas, when he and I were shopping at a mall, he spotted a kiosk for a charity and rather than spending some of his allotted money on Christmas gifts, he asked if we could sponsor a hungry child overseas. We signed up then and there. Do the same with your kids and you might see similar results.

6. Motivate Friends and Family:  When you let your friends and family know of your charitable donations, they may find themselves more motivated to undertake their own efforts to give. It takes a village to address issues such as world poverty, scientific advancement, and early childhood education. Stoking passions in the folks around you is a very positive and tangible effect of your own giving.

7. Realize that Every Little Bit Helps:  You don’t need $10,000 to make a difference in someone’s life. In developing countries, even just a few U.S. dollars could result in a week’s worth of meals for a starving child, much-needed medical attention, and even improved schooling. Don’t just think of your cash donation from an American economic perspective. Often that money can go a lot further elsewhere in the world.

8. Improve Personal Money Management:  If you set a scheduled $100 donation each month for a particular charity, that can motivate you to be more attentive to your own finances in an effort to ensure you don’t default or fall behind in your monthly donations. Anything that gets you to pay closer attention to your bank account is a good thing—especially when it helps those in need.

9. Give, If You Can’t Volunteer:  This might not necessarily be a positive effect of charitable giving, but if you’re too busy to volunteer or otherwise donate your time, giving money is the perfect workaround. Never think that you can’t improve someone’s life or the world itself if your personal or professional schedule won’t allow the time. Writing out a check is a simple way to show you’re willing to help others in any way you can.  For more information https://www.thelifeyoucansave.org/Blog/ID/200/9-Positive-Effects-of-Donating-Money-to-Charity.

Before I became a member of the Fundraising and Development Committee and attended a week long intense fundraising boot camp I thought fundraising was someone else’s job.  For example, Chris should go out and bang on doors and write grants and bring in the money we need. Perhaps we need to hire a fundraising director and they should just go out and raise the money.  Do any of you feel like this also?  The reality is this is not correct. While the Executive director should be out in front in some things no one person can do it alone. Even if we could hire a person to just do fundraising they would still need financial and time support from the membership.

There is no magic bullet when it comes to raising money.  Please reread the above nine things and look within yourselves and see if there is something you can do. If it is simply not possible to contribute financially perhaps you have time or a skill to help this great organization.

 

 

Board Meeting Minutes

May 9, 2017

May 9, 2017 at 7:00 PM, President Huff called the conference call meeting to order.

Joe Morgan led a prayer.

Roll Call was conducted by DeAnna Noriega, Secretary. All officers, directors, executive director, and affiliate representatives were in attendance with the exception of the representative Robert Ash of The Queen City Council of the Blind.

President Huff welcomed the executive director, Chris Gray.

He then requested approval of the agenda. Brian Hallows moved the approval of the agenda as submitted and the motion carried.

Tyler Kavanaugh moved the approval of Minutes, April 17, 2017 and the motion carried.

Saundra Eckstadt, the woman proposed to facilitate the conducting of the Strategic Plan for MCB introduced herself. She outlined the importance of a strategic plan. She said that the first step was to review the purpose of the organization. Next, was to determine what steps needed to be done to achieve that purpose and assign goals, expected results and how these were to be monitored. She stated that a timeline for meeting goals needed to be developed. She explained that each proposed goal needed to be looked at to determine if it fulfilled a vision or was just a feel good opportunity. She described what a recommendation is and presented how a workplace work group might set about implementing a plan of action.

President Huff asked if the Board had any questions for Ms. Saundra Eckstadt.

Sabrina Fowler asked whether Ms. Eckstadt had any additional experience in strategic planning. President Huff noted that she had come highly recommended by our previous strategic planner.

Tyler Kavanaugh asked if she had experience working with disability organizations. She explained her work with creating partnerships between the disability Community and potential employers and agencies serving people with disabilities. When asked what she thought our strengths and weaknesses were, she said we had a lot of things we wanted to do but were perhaps attempting to do too much. She felt that we had a wealth of people dedicated to the growth and health of our organization.

Chip Hailey asked if reviewing our webpage gave her an idea of our goals and programs. She asked about programs such as legislative, summer camps, and assistive technology grants. President Huff replied that all of these are active.

President Huff explained that a core group will do some ground work such as deciding whether we would work toward a three or five-year strategic plan. They would look at what an actual budget would be if we wanted to increase our programming. He commented that our last strategic plan didn’t set measurable goals or outline who would be responsible for carrying them out. Some goals set were not realistic. Executive Director Gray stated that our previous strategic plan needed to be updated because it was too ambitious. He felt that we could bring a new vision of what MCB can accomplish in the next 3 to 5 years.

The president requested that $3,500 be allocated to hire Ms. Eckstadt.  Mr. Kavanaugh moved that the funds be made available.

Ms. Fowler asked how this payment would be structured. Mr. Vickers asked what we had benefited from the last strategic plan.

Executive Director Gray listed these items from our previous strategic plan:

Open a business to diversify our funding,

Increase membership,

Hire an executive director and director of development.

He stated that it was important to bring the Board into a cohesive group with an understanding of what we want to accomplish.

Director Vickers asked what work had been done before hiring Ms. Eckstadt.

Chris outlined the goals we had set and didn’t accomplish. Wanda Matlock asked how much Ms. Eckstadt will be doing besides her working with the core group. President Huff stated that he was hopeful that the strategic plan could be completed by our state convention.  Mr. Norton wondered if we needed to cut programs or refine our focus. 

President Huff felt we could not cut programs but should look at cutting administrative areas and raise additional funding streams.  

Treasurer Vaughn asked what the value of using a professional to lead this process was overdoing it ourselves.

President Huff said that a professional could help MCB to reach a consensus without being distracted by personal agendas.  Ms. Kaskadden asked if a strategic plan would help us in writing grants. President Huff asked for a vote. The motion carried.

Sabrina Fowler moved that Naomi Soule be appointed chair of the Strategic Planning Committee. The motion passed.

Treasurer Vaughn explained that the Public Relations Officer had requested an additional $500 to cover the expense of setting up booths and several events between the present and the close of this year’s budget. He proposed instead that she be permitted to move funds from all other public relations line items to cover this expense of exhibit booths until the end of the budgetary year. The motion passed.

Wilma was commended for her efforts to promote MCB.

President Huff asked that anyone wishing to attend the Midwest Leadership Conference please contact him.

Mr. Dobbs asked why the chronicle had not been placed on the website. President huff explained that there was a problem with the core file type that has been corrected. The meeting adjourned at 8:28.

Respectfully submitted by Secretary, DeAnna Noriega

From the lower left-hand drawer

By John Weidlich

I have decided to do something completely different for this edition of the Lower Left-Hand Drawer. We will get back to products and services next time, but this column will be entirely about a man and my memories of him.  On June 12, the blind of Missouri lost a great friend and advocate. His name was Father Boniface Wittenbrink, but those of you who knew him well knew him as Father Boni. Those of you that are new to MCB may not recognize that name but those of us who have been active in MCB over the years will always remember his tireless work on our behalf, first as the Founder of the Radio reading service for the blind that serves the St Louis Area and later for his efforts on behalf of Friends of Eye Research. I worked with Father Boni for many years at the radio station. He was my boss and my friend and, although I may not have agreed with everything he said and did, he has had a profound impact on my life and on the lives of many of us. I will always feel grateful to him for having the faith in me to offer me a job that I held for thirty-three years.

And so, for this month's Lower Left-Hand Drawer, I would like to share with you some of my memories of Father Boni and share some of my favorite Father Boni stories.

Boniface Wittenbrink was born on June 30, 1914 in Belleville, Illinois and died on June 12, 2017 at the age of 102. He grew up in a large family with many brothers and sisters. Though he was born and died in Belleville and spent much of his life there, he traveled to and worked in many parts of this country and studied at a University in Rome. He was a priest for 76 years, ordained on September 21, 1941 into the Order of the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate, an order of priests known for its missionary work and service worldwide.   After serving in many locations in the US and Canada, he was called back to Belleville in 1972 and given the task of starting a radio station for the blind. But let's go back a bit and look at how the idea of radio for the blind came about.

Today there are many ways for blind people to get access to the information found only in local newspapers: local news, grocery store ads, sports scores, obituaries and the comics.  You can use Newsline, or go online to the website of newspapers if they are accessible. But how did blind people get access to this information before computers? Gaining access to newspapers was almost impossible unless you had a family member or friend to read them to you.

But a blind man from Minnesota named Stanley Potter came up with an idea. Why not get volunteers to read newspapers and magazines and broadcast them over the radio so that blind people could hear them?  They could be broadcast over subcarriers of FM stations and heard on receivers specially designed to hear those frequencies not available on regular radios. The first such station went on the air in Minnesota in the late 60s and was quite successful. The idea began to spread and was picked up by Lions in St Louis who wanted to start a similar service here, but no FM station owners were interested until they contacted the Oblates at the Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows in Belleville, who operated a religious station, WMRY. They were eager to use their station's subcarrier frequency for the service and called Father Boni to the shrine to run it. I don't know how Father Boni was selected for this difficult task but this is what he said when he was given the assignment: "I don't know anything about radio except how to turn one on and change the batteries and I sure don't know anything about blind people except they can't see, but if you think I can help, I'll do it." And do it he did.

The Radio Talking Book, as it was known then, went on the air on March 1, 1973 with about four listeners and a handful of volunteer readers, reading local papers, magazines and books to people who could not read them for themselves. Our station was either the second or third station for the blind to go on the air, going on the air at about the same time as the Kansas Audio reader.  There was some opposition. He says that the Manager of the St. Louis Globe Democrat did not want his paper to be read over the radio because it might affect subscriptions but Father Boni persuaded him to come around and the paper was read daily along with the Post Dispatch and the Belleville News-Democrat. Two of the most popular features were the Grocery store ads and the obituaries. There was no charge for the service, but potential listeners had to apply to receive one of the radios and show proof of blindness. With the help of a wonderful lady named Jo Kathman and other staff and volunteers, the station steadily grew under Father Boni's direction. He served as Director of the station until 1975 and Development Director until 1984 before going on to other pursuits; more about that later.

One of Father’s biggest tasks during those early years was raising money to keep us on the air. The Oblates provided much financial support but he and Jo were always seeking other funding sources. Father Boni was very persuasive when it came to seeking donations because of his passion for the cause of getting information to those who could not read print. He made many friends who supported the station, including KMOX Sports announcer Bob Kostis. 

I was hired by Father Boni to be the Assistant Program Director and came to work for the station in March, 1976 at about the same time that Jerry Bielicke joined the staff as Program Director. Boni knew about my previous work at KPLR-TV in their news department and approached me about working for the radio station, then known as Radio Information Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. He felt that my blindness would be helpful in knowing what to broadcast and to be a connection to the listeners, many of whom I knew. I was unemployed at the time and was eager to take on this new opportunity.  Since I lived in Missouri and the station was across the river in Illinois, transportation was always a challenge but I managed to find solutions, which could make a long article in itself. Jerry and I ran the station's equipment, planned programs and worked with the volunteer readers, auditioning them and deciding when they would come and which programs they would record or read live. We also did the daily call-in show called Talkback, which included everything from celebrity guests, like Jack Buck, to trivia contests like Name That Tune. Father Boni also did Talkback one day a week, reading from articles that he found particularly interesting.

Boni was a man of unstoppable energy, interested in everything. I don't recall him ever saying that he didn't feel well, although I know that he had health problems. He loved learning about new things, especially in the fields of science and medicine. When he found a project to undertake, he went full steam ahead and brought us along, even when his schemes drove us a little crazy trying to keep up with him. I don't remember the details but I have a vague memory of a packet of information that he once sent to all 535 members of Congress that contained written information and an audio message on a cassette; maybe something he recorded. At any rate, I do remember running the cassette duplicator many times for a few days.

Father Boni freely spoke what he believed and what he felt. I suppose some people today would consider that he was not always politically correct. I am going to tell this story because it amused me very much at the time. Back when I started, we did not broadcast on Christmas day but Father thought there might be people with no place to go on Christmas day who would still like to hear the station and he suggested that we try to broadcast. When I questioned whether I could find volunteers willing to come in and read on Christmas morning, he said "find some Jewish people." Now, I am positive he meant absolutely no offense to Jewish people with that remark. I think to him it was just a practical solution to a problem he wanted to solve. I don't remember what we did that year about live reading but we were on the air and have been ever since on December 25, even if only with recorded programs. 

I learned some good lessons from Father Boni that I have tried to apply to my life. Shortly after we started working, Jerry and I decided to make a major change in the way that the morning newspaper was presented. I will spare you the details but it was going to involve a lot of work for Jerry and I to accomplish, changing some live volunteer reader's times and rearranging programs on the schedule. Jerry and I wanted to do it but we kept putting it off and telling Father we weren't quite ready whenever he asked about it. Finally, he had enough of our procrastination.  You guys will never be ready, he said and then, we will make the change on--and he named a date about a month later and told us you will be ready and we were. We stopped delaying; we got busy, and the changes went off smoothly just as he knew they would, which taught me that the way to achieve a change is to set a definite goal and stick with it.

I don't remember the dates, but many years ago, the United Workers decided to leave MCB. There was a disagreement between the MCB President and UWB leadership which led to harsh words and eventually the decision by UWB to disaffiliate from the Council. A few years went by with no change or attempt to reconcile our differences. Then one day I was on an airplane with Father Boni going to a conference and he said how sad he was about UWB leaving the Council and asked me why it happened. At that time I was President of UWB. I started out by saying "Well, it was because," and then I stopped because I could no longer remember exactly what it was that started all the trouble in the first place. I knew the general cause of the disagreement and that it had something to do with legislation but I couldn’t remember the details or why we were so angry with MCB. Besides that, MCB had a new President so what was the problem?

I could no more explain it to Father Boni than I could explain it to myself after so many years. I decided right there that the feud needed to end and we should rejoin our friends in MCB and start working together again, which taught me that sometimes you don't even know why you are fighting and it is time to let it go.

Father Boni made friends wherever he went. I remember him at one of the radio reading service conferences deciding to go to a particular restaurant for dinner and gathering up people to come along and join us. I have no idea how many of us ended up in that restaurant but I remember we had a lot of fun.

Now, my favorite story. If you lived in St. Louis in 1982, you remember the big snow that happened on the last day of January. The official amount was 13 inches but most places got much more, in some places up to 22 inches. The city was completely shut down and RIS was off the air for four days because none of us could get to the Shrine. On the fourth day, a Wednesday, I got a phone call. It was Father Boni. I can't stand being off the air and you're going to tell me how to put the station on the air so that I can talk to the listeners and see if they are ok. Now, Father did often broadcast over the microphone, but he had no idea how to run the equipment. Skeptical me said that no one would be listening because we had been off the air since Sunday.

That didn't matter; he was going on the air with my help. So patiently, I told him to go into the control room and explained which switches to flip and how to turn on the microphone. And soon, he and Jo Kathman were broadcasting to the blind listeners. He asked if everyone was ok and asked them to call in. I'm sitting at home thinking this is never going to work but a phone call came in and he managed to put the caller on the air and then another one, and another one.  And for two hours, Father and Jo talked to listeners by phone over the air, making sure they were surviving the storm.

Then he called to find out how to put recorded programs on the air, which he was able to do.  The next day, Jerry and I made it in. Maybe we thought we would no longer be needed with Father at the control board? 

I mentioned earlier that getting to and from work was a challenge, especially since for the first few years I worked a 3:00 to11:00 shift. My Dad was retired when I started and he drove me to work in the afternoon and picked me up in the evening; about a thirty minute drive each way.  One morning, about six months after I started work, he had a sudden aneurysm and couldn't drive me to work. Mom got him to the hospital and drove me to work.  However, I wasn't sure how I was going to get home. Two hours before the end of my shift, Father Boni came in and told me to sign off early because he was taking me home. But in fact, he was taking me to the hospital, where my Dad was seriously ill. The rest of my family were there and father Boni sat with us until about 2:00 in the morning, giving us comfort, praying with us,  and helping us to keep up our spirits. I remember it was election night and he watched the results with us on TV as Carter was elected President. He offered prayers and hugs as we left and told me to take off as much time as I needed. My dad died two days later but I will always  remember his kindness to us on that difficult night. He was truly a compassionate man of God.

This next part may be a little difficult so I hope you all understand what I am trying to say. Father Boni became increasingly interested in eye research and prevention of blindness and he left RIS around 1984 to focus most of his attention on that subject. He still came to the station and did programs on the air but his attention was given to blindness prevention. He met a woman named Helen Harris from Los Angeles and with her help started an organization called Friends of Eye research, a lot of which was dedicated to Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP). I believe that his focus on prevention of blindness may have caused some hurt feelings and misunderstanding between him and leaders in the blind community. It was hard for him to understand why some blind people were not as passionate as he was about stopping the spread of blindness. One of the things he wanted to do was to have a nationwide telethon to raise money for eye research but, for various reasons, people just didn’t seem interested or give him support. Maybe we thought that such an event might reinforce some of the negative stereotypes about blindness. I wish he hadn't said this but he would sometimes become frustrated and say that leaders in the blindness field were more interested in keeping their jobs than in working to find cures for blindness. I felt very sad when he would say that. Father Boni did not pity blind people but he saw the problems that blindness caused for the newly blind and the results of so much preventable blindness in other countries and he wanted other people to feel as he did about eliminating blindness. It may have been hard for him to understand that many blind leaders were more interested in advocating for those people who had lost their sight and finding ways for them to deal with the difficulties blind people face daily. Father Boni always fought for the causes in which he believed and worked diligently for what he believed in even if he was misunderstood by people with different agendas.

Father Boni received many awards and accolades for his efforts on behalf of the blind.  He was listed in Who's Who in America in 2000. In 1992 he was given the Ellis M. Forshee Award from MCB, which I know pleased him very much. He also received the Agrama Harmony Gold and Light Award at the RP International 27th Annual Vision Awards Celebration in Los Angeles for his commitment to the spirit of volunteerism and vision in his work for the blind.

I have no idea how many MCB state conventions and affiliate parties and functions he attended.  But when he came to an MCB convention, he didn't give a talk and leave; he stayed for the whole convention, attending the banquet and mingling with his many blind friends. Do you remember how he would lead us in singing what he called the Alleluias? I am positive that he didn't attend those conventions from any feeling of obligation. I believe he was there because he wanted to be part of us and he always seemed to enjoy himself and was eager to help in any way he could.

Father Boni retired from his work in 2009 and spent his remaining years at the Apartment Community at the Shrine. He began losing his sight and I heard that he became completely blind. He attended my retirement party in 2009 and spoke about hiring me and my work with the Radio station. He was a very generous man and gave me a very generous financial gift to thank me for my service.

These are just a few of my memories of this kind man. I know that many of you who knew and loved him have memories as well.  I was very pleased to be able to attend his funeral Mass and to hear so many heartfelt words about him from his friends and colleagues.