September 2013 Chronicle

September 2013 Chronicle

President’s Report

By Patti Schonlau

 

Greetings to All!

 

     Since my last report, I have been quite busy visiting MCB Affiliates, enjoying June Summer Camp, attending the ACB Convention in Columbus Ohio and attending an array of meetings representing MCB!  In June it was my privilege to have the opportunity to visit with Tower Club of the Blind, Agape Council of the Blind, Ozark Association of the Blind, River City Workers of the Blind, Delta Area Blind, and Springfield Service Club of the Blind.  Jim, my husband, and I thoroughly enjoyed June Summer Camp.  This was our first year to attend Summer Camp in June.  It was a different experience being at Cobblestone in June simply because the campers are different MCB members.  It seems members are usually June or July campers and rarely change their month for camping.  Meeting MCB members is always an enjoyable experience for me.  I truly enjoyed being with the June MCB campers!

 

     In July I attended the ACB Convention in Columbus, Ohio.  It is a notable honor to be able to say “I was present sitting on the floor in the 2013 National Convention when the delegates to the 52nd Annual Conference of the American Council of the Blind, held in Columbus, Ohio, elected Kim Charlson of Watertown, Mass., to be the 11th president of the organization and the first woman to be elected President of ACB.

 

     Kim Charlson is the director of the Braille and Talking Book Library at the Perkins School for the Blind and has been the organization’s first vice president for six years.  Charlson has been heavily involved in advocacy efforts at the local, state and national levels for many years, including efforts to increase the number of talking ATMs nationwide and to promote audio description in theaters and on television.  Ms. Charlson has also served as the president of several ACB affiliates, including the Braille Revival League, Guide Dog Users, Inc., and the Bay State Council of the Blind.

 

     "It is truly an honor to be elected ACB president,” Charlson said.  “The support I have already received from the membership has been very rewarding and totally amazing.  There is so much advocacy work to do, and I am grateful that so many people want to help work on all of these important issues."  Elected to serve with her are Jeff Thom of Sacramento, CA, First Vice President; Marlaina Lieberg of Burien, WA, Second Vice President; Ray Campbell of Glen Ellyn, IL, Secretary; and Carla Ruschival of Louisville, KY, Treasurer; David Trott of Talladega, AL, and Patrick Sheehan of Silver Spring, MD, were elected to the Board of Directors.

 

     Upon returning from the ACB Convention, I visited with Southwest Missouri Friendship Council.  This was quite an experience for me.  Everyone who knows me knows how much I love to talk.  Well, during my visit in Joplin, I had laryngitis and struggled to be heard.  Southwest Friendship Council members were so gracious and considerate of my situation.

 

     In August, I visited with Queen City Council of the Blind, Springfield Service Club of the Blind and Route 66 Council of the Blind.  Springfield Service Club of the Blind and Route 66 Council of the Blind are going to be the host affiliates for our MCB Convention in 2014 in Springfield at the Double Tree Hotel.  To date, the 2013 MCB State Convention is yet to come, but already our 2014 host affiliates are busy making plans to insure an awesome convention with great fellowship and loads of fun will be had by all!

 

     I have attended numerous Thrift Store Committee meetings, visited the MCB New Image Thrift Store in Springfield twice, attended Budget and Finance Committee meetings, Policy Committee meetings, a Building Committee meeting and 2013 and 2014 Convention Committee Planning meetings.  On July 15, I attended a meeting in Jefferson City discussing Blind Pension eligibility guidelines.  On July 27, I traveled to Columbia to attend the Interim Medicaid Committee hearing and on August 6, I attended the Blind Task Force Committee meeting in Jefferson City.

 

     October is right around the corner.  I look forward to being with each of you at the Convention.  Please be safe and always remember these words from Helen Keller, “Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” Best Regards. 

 

 

Conversation About Missouri Medicaid Continues

By Christopher Gray

 

     When we talk about Medicaid expansion, this is generally interpreted as implementing the Federal requirements under the Affordable Care Act such that Missouri would cover its citizens for Medicaid if they are at or below the 138% poverty level.  For those newly covered through this formula, Missouri will receive 100% of the cost from the Federal government.  The funding for this comes primarily from money that has been collected over the past several years pursuant to the passage of the Affordable Care Act.  The 100% Federal coverage to Missouri will be reduced gradually between 2017 and 2020.  Under this general definition, there will be no changes made in the services provided to blind and/or disabled recipients.  This is what was advocated by Governor Nixon during 2013.

 

     However, the Missouri legislature wishes to transform Medicaid into a better more functional program.  Many legislators for a variety of reasons wish only to transform but not to expand the Medicaid program. Various proposals were put forward during the 2013 legislative session but none passed.  The bill that got the most traction was HB700, sponsored and introduced by Rep J. Barnes.  That bill would have had far-reaching consequences for the blind including removing the blanket eligibility for those receiving blind pension also to receive MO Health Net coverage.  Under HB700, blind pension recipients would be subject to "spend down" just as recipients of Supplemental Aid to the Blind are today in Missouri.  For blind pension recipients, this would be a disastrous modification of benefits.

 

     Fortunately for us, no such changes were made in 2013, and in fact, nothing at all was done to bring all those Federal dollars into Missouri.  The legislature received tremendous pressure from all over the state to do something and responded by creating a variety of committees and initiatives in response to that pressure.

 

     One committee is called the Interim Committee on Citizens and Legislators Working Group on Medicaid Eligibility and Reform.  House Speaker Tim Jones asked for citizen nominees to serve alongside members of the Missouri House of Representatives.      Denny Huff nominated me for a position and I and MCB have been honored to receive this appointment.  This is a pretty high-powered committee made up of hospital administrators, physicians, advocates and legislators.

 

     Since July, I have served on behalf of MCB for this committee.  Six meetings were held around the state in the cities of Independence, Springfield, Columbia, Kennet, Cameron and St. Louis during which public testimony was heard.  The turn-out was amazing for all the meetings, even in the more rural areas such as Kennet and Cameron.  Testimony was overwhelmingly in favor of Medicaid expansion and many took up the challenge of discussing Medicaid reform, improvement and even transformation as well.  MCB members testified in many of the hearings and did an excellent job of describing the impact losing Medicaid would have for them and on how Medicaid expansion could be good for all Missouri citizens.

 

     The largest turn-out was at the final meeting in St. Louis where 102 people signed up to testify.  Boxes containing 1,750 witness forms were presented favoring Medicaid expansion. Missouri United, represented by Jim Lembke, indicated that they are submitting approximately 900 witness forms in opposition to Medicaid expansion.  This was the only hearing where blocks of forms were provided to the committee.

 

     With the public hearings just completed, the committee is now working on creating a final report to be provided to the Missouri House of Representatives for further work.  I will be providing written testimony based on service to this committee and the testimony provided to us around the state.  My report, along with those of my colleagues on the committee, will make up a major portion of the final report of the committee. 

 

     Speaker Jones described the upcoming efforts, based on the work of this committee, as follows:  "When I announced the formation of this working group and the interim committee in June, I wanted you to take a collaborative, two-step approach for coming up with reforms for our Medicaid system. Over the last several weeks you have completed step one as you travelled the state taking testimony and gathering information about the current state of our Medicaid system.  In step two, the Interim Committee on Medicaid Transformation will use the information and testimony gathered throughout the summer to formulate a reform package that can solve the major problems facing Missouri's Medicaid system.”

 

     I want to assure you that I will continue providing the needed support and representation for the blind of Missouri in these efforts.  The relationships that have been built over the course of the last two months within the committee should help to provide a more full understanding to the community and the legislature about the real needs of the blind community and the many other communities who rely on Medicaid for their basic medical needs.

 

     For 2014, it is extremely unlikely that the legislature will move forward with simple Medicaid expansion.  What that means for us is very much on the table and we must be vigilant in keeping track of proposals and what the effect of such proposals could be to our community.  You'll be kept abreast of developments in the pages of the Chronicle and through your representative on the Education and Welfare Committee. 

.

TEAM AFFILIATES, BATTER UP!

 

St. Charles County Council of the Blind

By Beverly Kaskadden

 

     The St. Charles County Council of the Blind was very busy the past spring.  We hosted our third Trivia Night fund raiser.  Not only is this a great way to raise funds, but it is also a great way of getting publicity.  Yes, it is a lot of work, but it is also a lot of fun the night of the event, and a relief when it is over!  I would encourage other affiliates to consider putting together such an event.  It takes several members to participate in the involvement of such an event.  If you have numerous volunteers, it does not put too much burden on the coordinators.  Any member of SCCCB would be willing to help anyone who would like advice on such an event. 

 

     In June, we were blessed to have the St. Charles Duchesne Key Club host our Installation dinner.  We were honored to have Chris and Marvelena Gray as our guests.  Chris did a beautiful presentation of the SCCCB officers.  SCCCB takes the month of July off from our official business meeting, but we will be back to work in August.  I hope to see many other MCB members at the State Convention in October.

 

News from Delta Area

By Wanda Matlock, Delta Area President

 

     Hi everyone, the members of Delta Area had a busy summer.  We were invited to River City Workers annual picnic on June 15th at Cape Girardeau Park.  Several members went and we enjoyed lots of good food, socialization and a MCB update by Patti, the MCB president.

 

     As I am writing this report for the chronicle, six members of Delta Area are getting ready to go to camp.  We are looking forward to a great week.  Also, my granddaughter, Rilee Matlock, will be joining us at camp.  The members of Delta Area are also planning to have a booth at the Kennett county fair in late September.  We hope to gain new members for Delta Area and promote MCB.

 

 

Tower Club

By Jesuita Tabor

 

     It is time for you to experience a wonderful ambiance, delicious food, fun and friends.  After you have attended your stimulating meetings with the speakers on Medicaid, Blind Pension, Medicare and other health issues, you will have time to relax.  You can frequent over 15 restaurants and bars within walking distance from the hotel.  How about a laugh, you can attend the Funny Bone Comedy Club.  Feel like hearing some Blues and Jazz, stop by the Blues and Jazz Club.  Here's your chance to go to Hollywood; Hollywood Casino offers free transportation.  Please call 314-770-8100.  Don't forget about the auction Friday night and banquet Saturday night.  You will have a chance to hear, meet and purchase books from the famous Michael Hingson.  On Sunday morning we will have a surprise guest from the 1800's.  See you in the Lou.

 

Hotel Shuttle will pick up at Amtrak Station in Kirkwood and at the Lambert Airport call hotel in advance.

 

Ozark Association of the Blind

By Yvonne Schnitzler

 

     Ozark Association of the Blind was pleased to welcome visitors to our June meeting held at the Café Ste. Genevieve, in Ste. Genevieve, the oldest settlement west of the Mississippi.  President Patti Schonlau and her husband Jim, along with guest speaker, Bunny Maginnis and Richard Kolasch joined us for a delicious dinner. 

 

Our president brought us up-to-date on the happenings of MCB along with encouragement for the future.  We learned important information from Bunny’s presentation on emergency preparedness.  She stressed that knowing about it doesn’t work if you don’t prepare your emergency kit.  Many thoughts and ideas were exchanged during the festive get together.  OAB thanks them for taking time from their busy schedule to visit with us.

 

     We also welcome and are happy to have Deloris Dobbs join are affiliate.  We look forward to working with her to achieve the goals of MCB.  Ida Scotti and Yvonne Schnitzler represented OAB at the ACB Convention in Columbus, visiting with old friends and making new ones.  Members are looking forward to doing the same at the state convention in October.

 

Act Now! Council of the Blind

By Paul Mimms

 

     Act Now! Council of the Blind is beginning its second year, after rising from the ashes of Progressive Council.  Our spirit is still one of rising to meet the challenge of helping MCB grow positively.  We are focused on the upcoming convention, and are excited about several things including our upcoming fundraiser.  No less than usual, this should be a spirited and productive convention for all attendees. See you in the future!

 

Blind of Central Missouri

By Trudy Avants, Recording Secretary

 

     Hello to everyone from Sedalia.  Summer is coming to an end, and soon both fall and the MCB convention will be here.  One of our members, Paul Bremer, passed away on March 8.  His health had been fading for quite some time and he will be missed by all of us.  On March 14, we had our pizza party at the Celebration Station.  Gerry furnished the pizza, Carl the soda, and Donna Franklin brought delicious homemade cookies.  Thank you to our sighted members for all they do to help us and others.

 

     On June 30, we held our annual Outreach Picnic in Liberty Park.  It was fully loaded with all of the usual picnic items along with a birthday cake for Jerry Arnold who turned 90 years young.  The weather was wonderful, and there were about 65 guests in attendance.  We had a great time with lots of food, fun, and fellowship.  We welcomed a new member to our club.  Patty Curts has now joined us, congratulations to her.  Several of our members attended camp this year; a few taking part in all three sessions.  Until next time, keep your smile and a song in your heart, and if you can’t be good, be good at it.

 

Waggin Tails

By Judy Burch

 

     A lot of tails have been wagging here in the Missouri Guide Dog Users of late.  On May 10-11, MGDU held a midyear conference at the downtown Sheraton hotel here in St. Louis.  A number of members and friends enjoyed a Friday night Meet and Greet pizza party where old friends caught up and new friends were made.  On Saturday, we enjoyed speeches and presentations in the morning by MGDU members, a veterinarian and a mobile dog groomer.  A veterinarian from the Banfield Clinic spoke to us about heartworm in dogs.  MGDU member Sarah Calhoun talked to us about TSA, and Judy Burch spoke to the group about rights and responsibilities that go along with working with guide dogs.  We had a vendor who gave out yummy treats for our guides, and several guides enjoyed the services of a mobile groomer, who provided baths and all the extras as well.  Following a delicious lunch, the afternoon was taken up by our MGDU business meeting.  The conference was such a success that we have decided to do it again next year.  The below announcement was recently sent out and there will be more announcements to follow. 

 

Announcement:

 

Exciting news! The America’s Guide Dog Conference will be held on March 28 thru 31, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri!  The Missouri Guide Dog Users organization (MGDU) is proud to announce the first ever in Missouri, America’s Guide Dog Conference.  The conference will be held on March 28 thru 31, 2014, at the Hilton Hotel in lovely downtown St. Louis, Missouri.  Please plan to come and meet fellow guide dog handlers from across America.  Enjoy informative speakers, exhibits and fun activities.  Take advantage of the downtown St. Louis location to explore interesting sites such as the St. Louis Gateway Arch, Busch Stadium, and the new Ballpark Village, to name just a few!  Stay tuned!  More information about this exciting conference will be released soon!  For more information, contact President Nick Whitney at (314) 875-0007 or e-mail him at nickcherub@aol.com.  We hope to see you there!

 

     Well, that’s about it for this time.  Remember to keep your dogs well hydrated when working them in the summer heat, and take care of those paws on hot pavement.  We hope to see you all at the convention in October.  Please let President Nick Whitney know as soon as possible if you are planning to attend the MGDU breakfast at this year’s convention.

 

Braille Revival League

By Marie Thompson, BRL of Missouri Chronicle Reporter

 

     Hello from the BRL of Missouri Special Interest Affiliate, it is getting closer to the time to make plans to come to the 2013 MCB Convention.  If you are not a BRL member, we hope you will consider joining us at our BRL meeting.  Dues are $15.00 per year.  You may send your check or money orders made to BRL of Missouri and mail to our treasurer, Mrs. Patricia Schonlau at 5521 Sutherland Ave., St. Louis, MO  63109.  You may send dues now.  We welcome sighted as well as visually impaired members.

 

     The BRL luncheon scheduled to be held at the MCB State Convention is $15.00 for members and non-members will pay $22.00.  The lunch will be a plated, sit-down luncheon.  We will be selling Uno cards for $10.00 per deck. As always, we will have our fifty-fifty drawing.  One dollar per ticket or six tickets for $5.00; increase your chances for winning!  The BRL‘s President’s position is up for grabs.  So, be thinking about whom you would like to fill the office of BRL’s new President.  See you at the MCB State Convention in October.

 

Now Batting, Your Committees!

 

Building Committee Report

By Charles Johnson

 

     The Building Committee has had several meetings, the president joined us for one meeting and that was truly an honor.  The electrical was completed at the cost of $2,071.00.  We have purchased an industrial drain cleaning machine for the outside drain due to flooding at the cost of $312.00.  We have a new building contract with Jani-King cleaning services at the cost of $215.00 a month with a savings of $780.00 a year. 

 

Low Vision Committee Report

By Cathie Brauner, Chair

 

CAREERS FOR BLIND AND VISUALLY IMPAIRED INDIVIDUALS

 

     People who are blind or visually impaired can perform almost any job you can imagine.  Lawyer, artist, accountant, secretary, customer service representative, food service worker, factory worker, financial analyst, teacher, media transcriptionist, day care, computer programmer, cook, salesperson, clerk and more.  We cannot count the number of different jobs people who are blind or visually impaired are engaged in today or will be in the future.  The possibilities are tremendous. 

 

     People who are blind or visually impaired have a wide array of career possibilities than ever before in history because of a combination of events since the passage of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.  Legislative and social changes have reduced discrimination toward visually impaired workers as attitudes toward people with disabilities generally have improved.  Employers, especially in midsized and large businesses, routinely follow equal employment opportunity practices and have diversity and disability-accommodation processes in place.  Available assistive technology makes it easier for people who are visually impaired to perform many jobs that they never could have before.  Proper training, appropriate tools, the ability to sell oneself and a willing attitude on the part of employees constitute a winning formula.

 

EVERY WORKER IS AN INDIVIDUAL

 

No two visually impaired people have the exact same level of functional vision or the same approach to executing work-related tasks.  Some use their vision more than others; some may work more efficiently when they can use nonvisual techniques.  Many learned to perform these essential functions of their jobs before they became visually impaired and will need to learn adaptive techniques to retain or return to employment.  New employees who have been visually impaired for many years will need to use adaptive techniques as they learn to perform their duties effectively.  The majority of people who are blind or visually impaired will benefit from accommodations or modifications to their work environment in order to perform competitively at work.

 

ACCOMMODATIONS IN THE WORKPLACE

 

Accommodations are adjustments to the work environment or an individual’s work situation that enable a person with disabilities to perform work duties as well as (but not always in the same way) as his or her co-workers without disabilities.  Accommodations that have proved effective and affordable for workers with visual impairments include the following:

 

  • Glare reduction and adjusted lighting.
  • Voice or e-mail messages instead of handwritten notes.
  • Desk or laptop computers adapted with screen-reading (synthesized speech), screen magnification and/or optical character recognition (OCR) software.
  • Sometimes, larger-than-average monitors and/or braille display devices can be added as peripherals.
  • Large print, tactile, or talking calipers, scales, tape measures, thermometers, blood pressure cuffs, calculators, money identifiers and cash registers.
  • Aids to mobility for people who are blind or visually impaired include long canes, dog guides, electronic travel aids, special telescopes to read signs, use of public transit and carpooling.

 

FOR MORE INFORMATION

 

     For further discussion on the jobs that visually impaired people do and tips for employers, explore the Career Connect database of mentors, which includes more than 1,000 employed visually impaired persons who have agreed to act as mentors to visually impaired people seeking career information.  The mentors can also offer advice on the practical aspects of performing their job duties and getting along well in the workplace.

 

     For informative, first-hand accounts written by blind and visually impaired people who have achieved success in a variety of interesting jobs, check out the success stories written by Career Connect Members.

 

     To check out all of the American Foundation for the Blind links and become informed, go to www.afb.org and enter Career Connect Database of Mentors in the Search Box.  If our Committee can provide education, resource information or peer support, please contact me at cathiebrauner@gmail.com and enter LV COMMITTEE in the SUBJECT BOX, or call 417-781-1188 and leave a message.  Your comments, suggestions and funny stories/awkward moments are always welcome.

 

Craft Room Report

By Loretta Welch

 

     As the chairman of the craft room at the convention in St. Louis, I want to remind everyone to let me know how many tables you want for your crafts.  The craft room will be open on Thursday from 1:00 p.m. to 8 p.m., then on Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon and again from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. You will pick up your crafts on Saturday from 12:00 noon to 1:00 p.m.

 

     I am also secretary of Library Users and we will be selling books in the craft room as a fundraiser and also tickets for a 50/50 drawing.  You can contact me at the following address: Loretta Welch, Rt 2 Box 284, Butler, MO 64730 or call me at 660-679-5429 to let me know about the tables you need.

 

Summer Camp

By Beverly Kaskadden

 

     This article for the Chronicle is to reach out to anyone who has not attended Missouri Council’s Summer Camp program at Cobblestone Lodge.  If you have not attended, unfortunately, you have missed getting to know some wonderful people.  As I sat on the front porch at Cobblestone in June, I was observing others, and they all were having such a good time.  They were sharing stories, ideas, or just joking with each other.  It really did my heart good to hear such contentment and joy.  You meet old friends and make new friends.  I miss friends that cannot be with us, but so glad to have the opportunity to say that because of Missouri Council of the Blind, I have had a chance to know so many good friends across the State.

 

     I would like to encourage others who have never attended camp, to give it a try.  All our programs are worthy, but I do believe the Summer Camp program touches more people than any other program.  Not only is it a vacation, but it is an opportunity to gain knowledge of an item that has helped someone, gain new friends, and to let yourself have fun!  If you ever have any questions about Cobblestone, please feel free to contact me either by phone or e-mail.  I know I can be difficult to reach sometimes, but I always check my e-mail messages.  I am also busy with other community organizations, so I don’t sit around the house much.  By the time you read this publication the 2013 Summer Camp will be over, but please consider joining us in 2014. 

 

2013 MCB Convention

By Susan Sanderson

 

     By the time you read this you should have been in touch with the office to preregister for this year’s convention.  Tower Club and RITE have made many plans and promise not to disappoint you this weekend.  This weekend is a great opportunity to gather with your friends from across the state and enjoy the fellowship.  I hope you will be joining us at Sheraton Westport Chalet on the Lake October 11, 12, and 13 for our Banquet and Hospitality, Auction and many other surprises.  There is lots of “Night Life” in walking distance of the hotel, join friends while there for lots of fun.  Please come for the free parking, Wi-Fi, transportation to a casino and much more at this year’s convention.  Sheraton Westport Chalet, 191 Westport Plaza, St Louis, Missouri 63146; 314-878-1500.

 

DRIVING DIRECTIONS

From West

Take Interstate 64/Route 40 East to I-270 North to Dorsett Road, Exit 17. Turn right on Dorsett Road, then turn right onto Progress Parkway. Continue straight ahead into West Port Plaza.

 

From South

Take Interstate 55 North to I-270 West/North. Take Exit 17 onto Dorsett Road. Make a right turn on Dorsett Road, then a right onto Progress Parkway. Continue straight ahead into West Port Plaza.

 

From Lambert-St Louis International Airport

Take Interstate 70 West to Interstate 270 South to Dorsett Road, Exit 17. Turn left on Dorsett Road. Turn right on Progress Parkway and continue straight ahead into West Port Plaza.

 

From North

Take Interstate 70 West to I-270 South, take Exit 17 to Dorsett Road. Turn left on Dorsett Road, turn right on onto Progress Parkway. Continue straight ahead into West Port Plaza.

 

     See you there in October.

 

 

Member of the Month

By Yvonne Schnitzler, Chair

 

     Congratulations to the Member of the Month winners and thanks for your service to your community and MCB.

 

     Doctor Jarrell Holt, Southeast Missouri United Blind Club, is April 2013 Member of the Month and was nominated by SEMO.  Dr. Holt is president of SEMO and has represented his affiliate on the MCB Board.  Dr. Holt is diligent in choosing interesting and informative speakers for SEMO meetings and dedicated in using his organizational skills on the many projects of the affiliate.  He does not hesitate to speak out on subjects concerning the blind.  As Chair of the Scholarship Committee for several years, Dr. Holt has worked with determination to distribute information to schools throughout Missouri encouraging students to take advantage of the MCB scholarship.

 

     Ed Valdez, Allied Workers for the Blind, is the winner for May.  He was nominated by AWB.  Ed was a member of Progressive Council volunteering his services until it disbanded.  Ed is ready for any task whether it is assisting others, providing transportation, or accepting responsibility, delivering, setting up, and returning equipment needed for fundraisers held in area stores or for the numerous activities sponsored by his affiliate.  After serving our country for 20 years in the U. S. Army, Ed worked for 18 years as a Health Technician at the VA Hospital.  He served his church and community as Grand Knight with the Knights of Columbus organizing fundraisers for several charities and in support of the Special Olympics.  Ed received the honor of Grand Knight of the year.  He is active in St. Ann’s Church Legion of Mary, visiting shut-ins, patients in hospitals, and nursing homes.  He also teaches Parish School of Religion.  Ed and Alice are committed to their life’s journey.  Congratulations as they celebrate 47 years of marriage.

 

     Peggy Smith, United Workers for the Blind, was chosen June’s winner. She was nominated by Jesuita Tabor, president of Tower Club.  Peggy was employed by the Missouri School for the Blind for 15 years.  She and her husband adopted one of the students.  They are foster parents of two blind young ladies, a 13-year-old boy and a four-year-old child. Active in her community, Peggy is a Girl Scout leader, activity coordinator for UWB, and a member of the Lions Club.  She is involved in a program feeding the homeless at her church.  Peggy anticipates the needs of others and is always ready to volunteer, support, or offer encouragement.

 

     Virginia Pierce, Southeast Missouri United Blind, is July’s winner and was nominated by SEMO.  Virginia has been an active member of SEMO for over 25 years, and has held offices and represented her affiliate on the Resolutions Committee and the MCB Board.  As a devoted supporter of her affiliate throughout the years, Virginia was eager to embark upon any new challenge and fulfilled an important role organizing and assisting fundraisers to benefit her club. She is an asset to MCB for her willingness to get involved volunteering her time and energy advancing the causes of the blind.  Virginia has been faithful in attending meetings and fulfilling her duties as an officer in spite of health problems in the past few years.

 

     The Member of the Month Committee and MCB appreciate the effort of affiliates and members who take the time to acknowledge individuals who exemplify the significance of MCB.  They are an asset in witnessing and advocating for our organization.  Submit nominations to:  meshowjys@charter.net or call 636-937-3390

 

 

PUBLIC RELATIONS – OUT AND ABOUT

By Judy Burch

 

     I hope that the summer is finding everyone doing well.  For those in the land of public relations, summer is proving to be a time of travel and booths.  In June, the MCB again had a booth at the beepball tournament held in St. Louis at the Concordia Seminary athletic field featuring the STL Firing Squad beepball team and several other teams from around the country.

 

     In July, we had a booth at the ADA celebration held at the Black River Coliseum in Poplar Bluff.  The independent living center in Poplar Bluff has held fairs for a number of years now but this was the first year it was held at the Coliseum and there were many vendors there.  We handed out a lot of literature and PR items and answered a lot of questions about the MCB.  It was a great success.

 

     By the time you read this, the 9th Annual Silver & Gold Healthy Living Senior Fair will have happened in St. Charles.  Again, the MCB will have a booth there and I am sure it will have proved to be a great success.

 

     In late September, the MCB will again be represented at the Kennett County Fair.  This will be a big event as the fair will be there for a week and MCB will have a booth there throughout the whole week.  Also in September the Missouri Guide Dog Users and Braille Revival League MCB special interest affiliates will have tables at the Foundation Fighting Blindness Vision Walk here in St. Louis at Tower Grove Park.

 

Well, that’s about it for the public relations report.  We hope to see you at the convention in October.

 

 

Wolfner Library News

By Darrel Vickers, Wolfner Advisory Board Chair

 

     Some of you may have noticed there are commercial audio books available on Bard.  This is an exciting new event because most new books are already available as audio recordings, so the NLS can just use them instead of rerecording them.  This will greatly speed up the time they will be available to us.  While some commercial audio books have been available for a while, the NLS is now in negotiations with more major publishers to use their audio book versions.  They have to work with them because the copyright exemption does not strictly apply in these cases.  Please note, if you are unable to download books and magazines from Bard, they are all available from Wolfner.  Just contact a reading advisor.

 

     News from the National Library Service (NLS):  NLS is partnering with commercial audio publishers to obtain audio books so it can make titles available to patrons in a more timely manner.  This means NLS patrons will sometimes have access to audio versions of commercially produced books at the same time or shortly after the release of the printed book.  Because NLS will not have access to the print book prior to the release of the audio version, it may not be possible to assign sex, violence, and strong language content descriptors to these titles.  Thus, a number of titles acquired from commercial audio book publishers will be characterized as “unrated.”  This new tagline will appear in the body of the annotation.

 

As always please contact a reading advisor for any help or book suggestions for you.  Wolfner Talking Book and Braille Library, Jefferson City, MO 65109, 573-522-2767

 

Smart Phone Apps

     The NLS smart phone apps are still on schedule for release this fall.  There have been some delays but they want them to be right before release.  I will send out an announcement as soon as they are available.

 

 

New Image Thrift Store

By Angela Goodwin, General Manager

 

     On behalf of the Missouri Council of the Blind New Image Thrift Store, I would like to say Thank You for your continued support!  New Image Thrift Store is happy to report that we continue to experience steady growth, and this past quarter was no exception.

 

Our total sales in the second quarter of 2013 were $144,250.48, which is a $50,532 increase over the $93,718.45 that we brought in during the same period of 2012.  Also, we witnessed a total of 16,138 customers at our store during this past quarter, which was an increase of 4,453 from the 11,685 customers that we served during the same period of 2012. 

 

We continue to expand our donor program through our call center.  For the month of June alone, the success rate (the rate of actual donation pick-ups compared to the number of calls made) in the call center was an outstanding 18%!  This was, by far, the highest rate of success that we have recorded here in our call center.  This equated to a total of 509 donation pick-ups for the month of June, which was also the most that our drivers have taken on during a one-month time frame. 

 

As you can see from these figures above, your thrift store here in Springfield is paving the way to success as we continue to expand our foot print.  While we measure our growth and success in sales, we would also like to take this a few steps further.  Our staff at New Image is the reason we have been able to increase our overall growth.  Our staff understands the importance of what Missouri Council of the Blind offers the blind community, as well as what this organization means to the community as a whole.  Our entire team understands that what MCB does, makes a tremendous difference in the lives of many throughout our state.  This has had a lasting impression upon our staff with the effects being witnessed in all areas throughout the store!  I am very proud of our entire team for all of the hard work they have put into our store! 

 

     We continue to look for ways to help the community every day.  Whether it’s recycling items to keep them out of landfills or giving shoes to individuals that help the homeless, we are involved.  We recently began an initiative in which we donate books to the Greene County Justice System.  Every day we receive more books than we can process, so we have partnered with Greene County to donate a portion of our excess books to help the Greene County Justice System empower those in need.  Greene County has also purchased vouchers from our store to help community members reestablish themselves.  We hope that through this initiative, we can expand partnership with Greene County to help enhance the lives of others!

 

     Lastly, we also measure our success in terms of community outreach.  This includes helping people from all walks of life.  In our last edition, we touched on the work that we are doing with the ARC of the Ozarks and Alternative Opportunities through our volunteer programs.  So now, we would like to talk about what we are doing to get the blind community involved. 

 

We currently have three individuals who live with vision loss who currently work at the thrift store.  One particular individual, who is completely blind, works in our call center and does a phenomenal job of bringing in donations to this store by working directly with donors and setting schedules based on their respective addresses.  This is not an easy task as we work feverishly to reduce fuel costs by utilizing various forms of mapping software when scheduling a pick-up.  This can be difficult at times as donors may not be ready on certain pick-up days.  It is his job to exclusively work with the donor while making sure we are as efficient as possible.  He has been instrumental in helping to grow our call center and donor program into what it is today!  He is an asset to our team with his dedication and hard work in linking the community to the Missouri Council of the Blind through donations!

 

We also have another employee living with partial vision loss who provides a great service to our team in the warehouse.  This individual handles tasks such as baling clothing, sorting inventory, quality control, cleaning, unloading and loading vehicles, and working with donors and customers.  When considering the degree of his vision loss, his continual dedication and hard work has been an inspiration to our team.

 

Lastly, our Assistant Manager is also legally blind.  This individual handles many day-to-day operations while managing our call center, donor program, community outreach, and sales and marketing.  He has held this position for over a year and has been instrumental in expanding our donor base into what it is today.  As the General Manager of New Image Thrift Store, I am fortunate to have such an intelligent, dependable, and driven Assistant Manager.  He truly is an asset to our management team and our store overall!

 

In closing, our hope is that we continue to grow not only in sales, donations, and customer base, but also in our efforts to reach and serve all members of our community!  Thank You for supporting us in this journey!

 

Get, And Stay, Connected!

By Chip Hailey, MCB Host Moderator

 

Dear MCB family and friends, 

 

     Did you know that MCB has a monthly teleconference whereby you can call in with questions and comments regarding blindness related topics, or find out what is the latest happening going on in MCB.  You can also get updates from our MCB president, Patti Schonlau, or our Executive Director, Chris Gray.

 

     We have already had such exciting guests as Janet Dickelman, ACB Convention Coordinator, talking about the 2013 ACB National Convention, and Pat Chambers, Executive Director, Heartland Independent Living Center in Owensville, talking about emergency management.

 

     The call takes place on the second Sunday of the month at 3:00 p.m. and generally lasts around an hour.  However, since our MCB State Convention will also be taking place on the second Sunday of the month in October, we will have it on the third Sunday for that month instead.  The call-in number is (712) 432-6100 and the participant's pass code is 129071#.  Should you wish to participate but do not have free long distance service, please feel free to contact me at (417) 781-6728 or at chip@gatewayfortheblind.com and we will do our very best to get you connected.  You can also listen to the call in its entirety at any time by calling (712) 432-6190 and enter the pass code 129071#.  However, you will also need to enter a pen number which is generally the date of the call.  For example the pen number may be something like 071413. 

 

     We will be having a lot of exciting new guests talking about many interesting and informative topics and you won't want to miss a single moment of the fun.  We may even have a mystery guest appearance from time to time, or a special guest appearance like from our ACB president, Kim Charlson.  So please stay tuned for any upcoming announcements.  We will try to make the announcements early enough to alert all interested parties and affiliates.  Have a great Autumn and we will talk to you on our next MCB Connect.

 

 

Meeting Helen Keller

By Mary Hale, Deaf-Blind Committee Chair

 

     Many times in our lives we are inspired by others around us.  We especially look up to those who have successfully dealt with some of life’s challenges.  Some are famous, most are not.  But to get the opportunity to meet someone that the whole world admires is a once in a life time experience.  One of our very own MCB members has had such an opportunity.  Her name is Ida Scotti.

 

     I had the pleasure of speaking with Ida recently and learned that she actually met Helen Keller in 1943.  This happened when Ida was at the Lighthouse for the Blind in New York.  She was performing there in a “Little Women” production as “Jo”.  It just so happened that Helen Keller was there also.  Ida was asked if she would like to meet Helen Keller, of course she said yes.  As Ida tells it, she shook Helen’s hand and said she was very pleased to meet her and that she greatly admired her.  Helen then put the fingers of one hand on her cheek and with other hand had her fingers on her lips.  She remembers Helen saying in her own voice, to her “very young”.  Needless to say that was an experience that Ida will never forget.  She still displays her picture of Helen Keller in her home today.

 

     Ida has been an active member of MCB in the Ozark Association of the Blind affiliate since 1974.  She plans to attend the MCB state conference again this year in October.  The fact that she’ll be celebrating her 93rd birthday in August 2013 does not slow her down.  We also had a chance to discuss how much having a hearing loss in addition to blindness affects a person.  When someone relies a great deal on “hearing,” what is around them is so important. As we both agreed, for us personally, that deafness and our communication with others is more critical to us than our blindness.  Not being able to understand the words spoken is definitely worse than the loss of our vision.  Even with her blindness and hearing loss, she still enjoys her love of nature by listening to all their sounds, even though she cannot hear them as well now.

 

Sighning The Last Check

By Celita White, Treasurer

 

     As the election for the office of Treasurer rolls around again I regret to say I will not be running for office.  I have had a reality check with my health this year and on the advice of family, friends, and yes, the doctors, I really need to slow down.  I appreciate everyone's support in the last two years and all the years before.  I would like to thank Virginia for creating a wonderful database that has made life after check books so much easier to deal with, and to Eleanor her right hand lady for her invaluable assistance.

 

     The office of treasurer does involve more than signing checks but really is not all that difficult of a job since the invention of QuickBooks and check writers.  I know there is someone out there that can do the job well and I wish he or she the best.

 

From the Lower Left-Hand Drawer

By John Weidlich

 

     I am actually submitting this to your editor a few days before the deadline this time, not because I have undergone a reformation but because I will be at Cobblestone when the August first deadline rolls around.  But don't expect me to make a habit of this, James.  Anyway, just a very few items this time.  I hope to have a more abundant stack of material in the drawer next time.

 

     Remembering a remarkable Lady:  On July 27, several of us attended a memorial service for a lady who had a great influence over the lives of probably thousands of blind students who attended the Missouri School for the Blind here in St Louis.  Gretchen Traubitz Gilles served as Librarian at MSB from 1947 until she retired in 1989, forty-two years of encouraging blind children and teenagers to experience the joys of reading Braille, large print and recorded books.  In addition to running the library, she also taught Spanish for many years.  Gretchen was born March 12, 1926 and died on May 29, 2013 at the age of 86.  She grew up in Leadwood, Missouri with one brother and two sisters.  Although fully sighted, she was born with Cerebral Palsy, which affected her mobility, but she never let that condition limit her life.  She graduated from the University of Missouri with a Bachelor's degree in 1947 and came to work that year at MSB.  During summers, she went to graduate School at Wayne State University and obtained a Master's Degree in Library Science.  During her career, she received many honors and awards and at her retirement, she received the Merit of Honor as Handicapped State Employee of the Year.  She was a strong supporter of the Wolfner Library and was active in an organization called the Closeup Foundation, taking students from the school to Washington, D.C. for tours of many of the attractions there, including the Library of Congress.  The Foundation said of her, "Your leadership in advancing civic literacy has made a difference." In December, 1958, she married Wilbur Gilles, who taught history at the school for many years.  Mr. Gilles died in July, 1986.  She was also a devoted member of St Mark's Episcopal Church, where the Memorial service was held.  Mrs. Gilles was passionate about her work at the school and loved the students, although she could be tough when we tried to get away with things we shouldn't do.  One of her jobs was to monitor the nightly Study Hall, where we were expected to be doing our homework.  When students decided instead they would rather talk and cut up, she would say in a very loud voice, "I want it quiet in here," and it would be quiet.  Deeke Edwards, who also taught at MSB after he graduated, likes to tell the story of the time she realized that Tommy Reece was not in study hall one night.  The story is that she tracked him to his dorm room, where he hid under his bed.  But he wasn't hiding quite well enough, because his feet were sticking out.  She pulled him from his hiding place by his feet, marched him back to the library, and made him stay there long after study hall was over.  As I say, she loved us and encouraged us in any way she could, but she did not let us get away with much.  One of the things I took away from my years at MSB was a lifelong passion for reading and I give Gretchen Gilles all the credit for instilling that love of reading in me and in so many others who attended the school.  How many walks I made with her through the Braille shelves looking for a book that she thought I would like and how often I would have to say "I've already read that one."  But she always managed to find something I would like.  She was indeed a remarkable lady and lived a very full and rewarding life.

 

     My friend and MCB member, Kim Vaughn has asked me to tell you that she is a Scentsy Distributor.  What is Scentsy?  Kim says: "Do you love the smell of a beautiful fragrance but aren't comfortable around wicks and flames?  Come and discover Scentsy, flameless, wickless candles.  They warm up safely in a hand-crafted pot with a light bulb."  You just plug the pot into a wall socket and experience the fragrance.  Kim says there are over eighty scents from which to choose.  Other products are also available, including room sprays, scent packs, lotions, bath tablets and gifts for children.  The scents fragrance bars are $5.00 and the plug-in warmers range from $20 to $35.  You can order by checking out her web site, www.kimvaughn.scentsy.us or you can call her at (314) 647-7765. Her email address is bluerobin39@sbcglobal.net

 

     Here is something for our St Louis readers.  Mary Hale says for you to check out Games Accessible for Blindness (GAB).  The games are played on the 4th Tuesday of each month at the St Louis Society for the Blind, 8770 Manchester Road from 10:00-12:00.  A different game will be played each month.  You can reach Mary Hale at (314) 544-3542 if you want to know more about GAB.

 

     This next item comes from Richard Smith at Wolfner Library.  By now, you are almost certainly familiar with the little tag at the end of NLS book descriptions that indicate that a book contains strong language, violence or descriptions of sex.  

 

Many of us avoid them, but some readers find this information very useful in determining whether or not they want to order or download a book.  But in the future, you may see some book descriptions followed by the word Unrated.  What is an Unrated book?  Is it the same as X-rated?  

 

Well, no, not at all.  Here is the explanation:  The National Library Service is partnering with commercial audio book producers to obtain recordings of those books and make them available to NLS readers who download books from the BARD site or order them from libraries for the blind like Wolfner Library.  The good news about that is that we will sometimes have access to commercially recorded audio versions of books at just about the same time as the release of the printed book.  That means that in some cases, we will be able to gain access to these recorded books at the same time that sighted readers are able to purchase them.  

 

Because NLS will not have access to the print book before the release of the audio version, it may not be possible to indicate whether the book contains strong language, violence or sexually explicit material.  So some of the titles acquired from commercial audio book publishers may be described as Unrated.  This in no way means that the book does contain these elements.  It will just mean that the information is not available and so no description of that content will be included in the book description.

 

     Denny Huff says there will be a monthly telephone conference to discuss the use of IDevices like iPhones, iPads and iPods.  The calls will occur on the first Sunday of every month at 3:00.  The conferences will feature presenters followed by an opportunity to ask questions.  Conference recordings will be available to people unable to call in.  The number to call will be (832) 551-5900, access code 120535.  This is not a toll-free number unless you have unlimited long distance phone access.  There is also an email list to talk about these devices.  To join, send an email to IDevices-join@GatewayForTheBlind.com.

 

     En-vision America has started a program to help blind people get access to prescription information.  Through the Pharmacy Freedom Program, eligible individuals can obtain a free ScripTalk Prescription label reader.  Participating pharmacies attach a small RFID label to each prescription bottle which contains the information printed on the prescription label.  This label can be read using the ScripTalk reader.   For information about the program contact En-vision America at (855) 773-2579 or visit www.envisionamerica.com

 

     GW Micro has released Version 8.0 of its Windows-Eyes screen reader with new features to allow easier access to web sites, including new hot keys for simplified web browsing.  For more information, contact GW Micro at (260) 489-3671.  The company's web site is www.gwmicro.com

 

That wraps up this edition of the Lower Left-Hand Drawer.  See you again in December.