Presented by the National Federation of the Blind
From the Editor: National Federation of the Blind awards are not bestowed lightly. If an appropriate recipient does not emerge from the pool of candidates for a particular award, it is simply not presented. At this year's convention six presentations were made. The first three took place during the Board of Directors meeting Tuesday morning, July 3. The first of these was presented by Steve Benson, who chairs the Blind Educator of the Year Selection Committee. This is what he said:
Ed Vaughan and Steve Benson are seated, and Steve displays the Blind Educator of the Year plaque.
The Blind Educator of the Year Award
Thank you, President Maurer, and thank you, Judy Sanders, Adelmo Vigil, and Ramona Walhof for your participation on the Blind Educator of The Year Award Committee.
The Blind Educator of the Year Award is presented only to those individuals whose talent, teaching skill, contribution to the field of education, and leadership in the community and in the Federation merit such singular recognition. The recipient of this year's award has authored five books, has published more than sixty articles in professional journals, and has delivered papers and lectures in his area of study on three continents. In addition this educator has captured nearly three quarters of a million dollars in research and other grants for work in sociology. He has earned the respect of peers and university administrators alike. In fact, the dean of his school described this year's honoree as the best department chairman he ever had.
The winner of the 2001 Blind Educator of the Year Award has operated a building supply business, served on the city council, and run for mayor in his community.
Over and above his professional credentials and his community involvement, this Federationist has learned well the lessons taught by Dr. tenBroek, Dr. Jernigan, and Dr. Maurer. He has conveyed the Federation's message to the academic community and to the public clearly and concisely. He has stretched blind people beyond what society deems appropriate. He takes an active role in our organization's activities, including the Associates Contest.
The Blind Educator of The Year Award Committee has selected as this year's honoree Dr. C. Edwin Vaughan of Missouri. While Dr. Vaughan makes his way to the platform, I'll tell you that he earned a master of divinity at Union Theological Seminary and then master's and doctoral degrees at the University of Minnesota. He is currently a professor of sociology at the University of Missouri at Columbia, where he has taught for thirty years. He has also served as a visiting professor in Shanxi, China. Dr. Vaughan will shortly assume a post at Menlo College in California.
Dr. Vaughan, congratulations! Here is a check for $500, and here is a plaque that reads:
BLIND EDUCATOR OF THE YEAR AWARD
National Federation of the Blind
C. Edwin Vaughan
IN RECOGNITION OF OUTSTANDING ACCOMPLISHMENTS IN THE TEACHING PROFESSION YOU ENHANCE THE PRESENT YOU INSPIRE YOUR COLLEAGUES YOU BUILD THE FUTURE
JULY 3, 2001
Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you C. Edwin Vaughan.
Thank you, Steve. I very much appreciate this honor. About twenty years ago Dr. Jernigan asked me to do my sociological research about the Federation and to try to publish it in outlets other than the Braille Monitor--in other words, to publish in the general media. So I have done that, and I have learned a great deal from the Federation and a great deal about the rigidity of organizations that resist the kind of goals we champion.
In the current issue of the Braille Monitor are the wonderful voices of Dr. tenBroek and of Newell Perry as they sent Dr. Jernigan off to Iowa. Dr. tenBroek describes the resistance there was at that time on the part of the American Foundation but also of a great many other agencies. He wished Dr. Jernigan well and asked him to see if he could show a new way that agencies could operate. He obviously did that in Iowa. The fruit of his work is in a lot of the national leadership here today. I became interested in studying the nature of the resistance to movements like ours and am pretty pleased about the development of our three rehabilitation centers, as well as the ascendancy of Joanne Wilson to continue her leadership at the national level. We have shown that organizations don't have to be paternalistic and regressive, and I am going to continue to try to shed a little bit of light on the rigidity of the throw-back agencies that still exist.
Thank you very much for this award. I appreciate it very much.
Denise Mackenstadt displays the Distinguished Educator of the Blind Children Award plaque while Sharon Maneki addresses the audience
Distinguished Educator of Blind Children Award
Later in the Board meeting Sharon Maneki, who chairs the Distinguished Educator of Blind Children Award Committee, made her committee's presentation. Here is the way it happened:
Good morning, Mr. President, fellow Federationists. The committee of Jackie Billey, Allen Harris, Joyce Scanlan, and I are pleased to bring you a truly distinguished educator of blind children. Today we are recognizing one of our own, one of our fellow colleagues and friends. She is a member of the National Federation of the Blind and has been one for thirty years, a notable achievement. Today we are recognizing her for her role in education. Since the inception of this award we have recognized administrators of programs for the blind; we've recognized itinerant teachers; we've recognized orientation and mobility instructors and resource teachers. Today for the first time we are recognizing an instructional assistant or what they like to call a paraprofessional.
As the first in that class, she is truly a leader. Instructional assistants have a great deal of influence on the student or students they work with. They see the student every day. Frequently they see the student more than the actual vision teacher does. So they can help that student, as this person does, to be more independent. As she puts it, she wants to put herself out of a job so that the student won't need her services anymore.
But in typical Federation fashion she doesn't just influence the one individual that she works with. As a leader she has seen to it that all professionals in Washington State take a Braille literacy competency test. She is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Washington State School for the Blind, and her accomplishments really have had an effect on both Washington state and the nation. Join me in congratulating Denise Mackenstadt.
I have for you, Denise, a check for $500 and will hold up the plaque. I'm going to read the text, and don't criticize my Braille afterwards.
The National Federation of the Blind honors
Distinguished Educator of Blind Children for your skill in teaching Braille and the use of the white cane for generously devoting extra time to meet the needs of your students and for inspiring your students to perform beyond their expectations. You champion our movement. You strengthen our hopes. You share our dreams.
Denise Mackenstadt then came to the microphone to speak for a moment:
I have been blessed by many things. I have been blessed by family, who tolerate my passion. I have been blessed by very dear friends, who help me. I have been blessed by this organization. I have been blessed by a mentor and a teacher whom I never properly appreciated or thanked; that would be Dr. Jernigan. This award is of such incredible importance to me because you are my peers, and to be honored by your peers is the height. I appreciate it and thank you very much.
Linda Hindmarch addresses the audience while Bruce Gardner looks on.
Distinguished Service Award
Late in the Board meeting Bruce Gardner came to the podium to make a special presentation. Bruce chairs the Affiliate Action Committee, whose members work to resolve problems at national convention before they become problems. This is what he said:
Nineteen-eighty-seven was a memorable year for me. We in the Arizona affiliate had the opportunity to host our National Convention in Phoenix. That was the year of the Cactus Kid. [For those whose memories do not reach back to that convention, the Cactus Kid was a character that Bruce invented and played during the convention. He adopted a western accent that you could cut with a knife and a set of quaint expressions that made us all guffaw.] That was the year that I began wearing a big black hat to National Conventions. But 1987 is memorable and significant for a far more important reason.
In 1987 Linda Hindmarch began serving as the NFB nurse at our National Conventions. In 1987 our conventions had grown to the point that we felt it was important for us to have a full-time nurse on staff at our National Conventions to give peace of mind in addition to first aid and practical advice around the clock and twenty-four hours a day. In 1987 Homer Page was the chairman of the affiliate action committee, and he was asked to find someone who would be willing to donate his or her time to go to Phoenix, Arizona, in the middle of the summer and be on call around the clock to serve the blind. Homer Page contacted Linda Hindmarch, who at that time was living in Boulder, Colorado, and supervising a staff of licensed practical nurses at the Center for People with Disabilities. I think Homer may have been surprised when he described the tasks and the assignment and asked Linda, "Could you possibly have some recommendations or know of anyone who would consider doing such a thing?"
Linda said, "I would be interested in doing that." Linda brings to the National Conventions a unique blend of technical medical training, common sense, and genuine caring and concern for individual people. This is now the year 2001 and the fifteenth consecutive year that Linda Hindmarch has served as Unit 17 on the radio and served as our NFB nurse. [applause] This is the fourth convention at which I have had the pleasure of working closely with Linda and observing the way that she gives out first aid, practical advice, and TLC.
It is a pleasure for me on behalf of the National Federation of the Blind to present a token of our appreciation to Linda Hindmarch. Linda, I have here a beautiful plaque if you will turn it for the audience to see and for the cameras to photograph. The plaque reads:
Distinguished Service Award
presented by National Federation of the Blind
to Linda Hindmarch, RN
for outstanding selfless service to the blind. We call you our colleague with respect. We call you our friend with love.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, July 3, 2001.
When Linda Hindmarch stepped to the microphone, she said:
Thank you, Mr. Gardner, President Maurer, and all of you people. I should have guessed when you asked me to come up here that you had something up your sleeve. This is unusual for me to have to be up here. I am usually in the trenches and much more comfortable at that level. This is really an honor, and thank you very much.
Tim Cranmer displays his plaque.
Louis Braille Memorial Award
Early in the banquet Master of Ceremonies Allen Harris called Professor Michael Tobin from the United Kingdom to the podium to make a presentation. Professor Tobin is a member of the International Braille Research Center Board and last year's recipient of the IBRC's Louis Braille Award. This is what he said:
Ladies and gentlemen, thank you. This is my second visit to the National Federation, and I am particularly pleased tonight to be with you because it is my very great pleasure to make presentation of the Louis Braille Memorial Medal. The recipient this year is Dr. Tim Cranmer.
Tim left school at sixth grade. He then had a variety of jobs including in the Kentucky State government. He became director, I believe, of the Kentucky Institute for the Blind in the 70's and 80's. He was director of research at the National Federation of the Blind and was the first chairman of its research and development committee. He was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Louisville. He is the inventor of numerous devices, and I understand that CBS's "Sixty Minutes" show last year called him the "Thomas Edison of technology."
Among his many inventions are the Cranmer abacus, the modified Perkins Brailler, the first audible portable Braille calculator, and also the pocket Brailler now known as the Braille 'n Speak. He was the president, chairman, and founder of the International Braille Research Center in Baltimore and was one of the principal developers of the Unified English Braille code. He was, I understand, also the mentor of Deane Blazie, so he has many great honors and achievements under his belt. Last year, of course, you in the National Federation of the Blind awarded him your highest honor, the Jacobus tenBroek Award. It is my very great pleasure tonight to present to Dr. Tim Cranmer this gold medal, which I am just about to open and award. For the sighted among us, I am holding up this glorious gold medal for everyone to see. It has in it, of course, the embossed letters BRL, which I think some of you will know what that means. In addition is this very lovely Braille plaque, which he will be able to hang up. It says:
Braille Research Center, Inc.
International Braille Research Center Louis Braille Memorial Award
Dr. T.V. Cranmer
In recognition of outstanding contributions to research related to Braille Literacy and education of the blind.
Presented by the Board of Directors
July 6, 2001
I have great pleasure in presenting both the medal and the plaque to Dr. Cranmer.
Tim Cranmer then replied:
Thank you, Dr. Tobin. Thank you, International Braille Research Center. Thank you, fellow Federationists. This is the most coveted award that I could have selected because Braille is the most important tool ever invented for the blind.
So thank you very much. I appreciate being here, and I would point out that there is always a surprise or two at a Federation convention. Thank you.
President Maurer addressed the audience while Betsy Zaborowski and Jim Gashel together display their Jacobus tenBroek Award plaque.
The Jacobus tenBroek Award
Following the scholarship presentations at the banquet, President Maurer came to the microphone again to say:
The tenBroek Award, of course, is named for our founding president Dr. Jacobus tenBroek. It is given to those who have done significant work inside the Federation to build within the organization. It is intended to symbolize Dr. tenBroek's efforts and to recognize their continuance in those who have come after him and who have been inspired by him. We do not give this award every year. We give it only as often as we find that somebody within the organization deserves to receive it. This year we have to receive the award, not one individual, but two. And I say that because the two of them work together. Each of them is capable of independence and independent work, and they do make efforts on behalf of the organization in separate spheres. But the reality is that they are a team. They have operated as a team for some years now. Not only do they operate as a team, but they operate as an effective team. Membership in the Federation is not new to them; they go back awhile. But the work they do is often new to them. They take on new tasks. They undertake to build what has not existed in prior times. I would like to invite Jim Gashel and Betsy Zaborowski to the podium.
Jim Gashel joined the Federation before I did. He is one of those people who come out of the 60's. And, as we have observed at this convention, there are fewer of us from that era than there once were. Betsy Zaborowski joined later, but her commitment is as deep. At the beginning Jim Gashel looked upon the tutelage of Dr. Jernigan with mixed feelings. He wondered whether or not he was being expected to do what he should not reasonably be called upon to accomplish, but he came fairly shortly to know the meaning and the necessity for it. Then he began to try to teach others. Betsy Zaborowski wondered whether or not the organization was real when she came upon it. But she has come to be one of the most supportive human beings in the organization. And she is undertaking a task which nobody so far has done sufficiently, that is, to make us well known in corporate America. And she is accomplishing it with considerable skill.
Jim Gashel's talents lie in writing regulations and laws that can help to change the face of the world for the blind, then taking those regulations and laws and frightening the pants off people who didn't think they wanted to obey them. He also has skill in persuading people in various parts of the world to make substantial contributions to us, and Dr. Zaborowski has emulated this characteristic, helping to bring us during this past year an appropriation from the state of Maryland of one million dollars this year with a promise of five million more.
As I have said, they work independently, but they work effectively as a team, knowing when to take on their own responsibilities and when to share ideas, to have joint action in support of the Federation. I want to give to the two of you this plaque. I will hold it up so it can be observed. It says:
Jacobus tenBroek Award
National Federation of the Blind
James Gashel and Betsy Zaborowski
for your dedication, sacrifice, and commitment on behalf of the blind of this nation. Your contribution is measured not in steps, but in miles, not by individual experiences, but by your impact on the lives of the blind of the nation. Whenever we have asked, you have answered. We call you our colleagues with respect, We call you our friends with love.
July 6, 2001
Jim Gashel was the first to respond.
You won't believe this: I am speechless. But I always have a speech with me. This is truly one of the two or three most incredible moments of my life: to stand before you and to be honored in this way when we are doing only what all of us ought to do--we're working for the movement. All I would ask is that all of you remember that it's all of our responsibilities to go out and work for the movement. We can't all go out and climb a mountain like Erik did, and we can't all do the wonderful things that every one of you do all the time or raise five or six million dollars like Betsy did, but we can all work for this movement. We all have a place in it, and we love every one of you. Other than that, I am totally speechless. I thank you. I love you forever.
Then Betsy Zaborowski made a few comments.
As a good wife I think I'll let my husband mostly speak for me. I can't tell you how touched we are. As Dr. Maurer was beginning to make this award, we were passing names back and forth at our table, never dreaming--because as Jim said, there are so many, many gifted and talented people in this organization, so many of us who give our heart and soul--so let us just thank you very much and share our gratitude with you tonight.
Allen Harris presents the Newell Perry Award plaque to Erik Weihenmayer.
The Newell Perry Award
Near the close of the banquet Allen Harris made one final presentation. Here is what he said:
It is now my pleasure to present the next award which the National Federation of the Blind gives from time to time to people who achieve some significance, some salient goal beyond the Federation, individuals who in some way or another contribute to opportunity, security, and equality for blind people whether they have participated directly with us over a period of time or we've come to know them more recently in a specific activity. Whatever the case may be, there are those who, working beyond our Federation, accomplish deeds, achieve goals that are so significant that we in the National Federation of the Blind take the opportunity to honor them. The award that we are going to present now is the Newell Perry Award.
Some of you, like me, got to hear Dr. Perry's voice in the cassette edition of the June Braille Monitor. What a wonderful surprise it was for us to open the Monitor and have it begin with the voice of Dr. tenBroek followed by the voice of Dr. Perry. It was a wonderful treat. When Dr. Perry was referring to Dr. Jernigan as Mr. Jernigan and giving him advice about things he should do when he got to the Iowa Commission for the Blind, toward the end he said, "By the way, I am not that busy these days. If you have work, work that pays pretty well, I would be available. Give me a call." It was both very poignant and very much like the Federation. Dr. Perry really was a person who inspired Dr. tenBroek. Dr. Perry, Dr. tenBroek, Dr. Jernigan, President Maurer, Jim Gashel, Dr. Betsy Zaborowski--all are people whom we associate with excellence within the Federation.
We present the Newell Perry Award to a person who has distinguished him- or herself working on behalf of the blind, but beyond our organization. It is our privilege tonight, yours and mine, on behalf of the National Federation of the Blind to present the Newell Perry Award to Erik Weihenmayer.
Erik is holding up the plaque. We are pleased and happy to be able to recognize Erik's feat of climbing the mountain. Let me read to you what the plaque says:
Newell Perry Award
National Federation of the Blind
in recognition of courageous leadership and outstanding service, the National Federation of the Blind bestows its highest honor, the Newell Perry Award upon Erik Weihenmayer our colleague; our friend; our brother on the barricades. You support our progress; you strengthen our hopes; you share our dreams.
July 6, 2001
Erik then came to the microphone and said:
Thank you. This is the greatest honor anyone can ever receive. I am really touched. Thank you very much. To walk in the footsteps of so many great people is a huge honor.
I don't know if this is the right time, but I also have something to give to the NFB. I want to present this flag that we flew on top of the world, the National Federation of the Blind flag. To me this is a symbol of opportunity created and facilitated by the National Federation of the Blind in the hopes and dreams and accomplishments of so many blind people like me, who have benefited greatly from the many great blind people who have come before us and from the collective blind movement. Thanks.
Allen Harris: We accept the flag in the spirit of all those blind people who were with you on the mountain. We display the flag as a commemorative element of a tremendous exploit and the symbol of the climb all of us intend to make in the decades to come. Thank you, Erik.