The Braille Monitor                                                                                       December 2002

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Letter to Blind Vendors:
Suggestion to Us All

by Kevan Worley

Kevan Worley
Kevan Worley

From the Editor: Kevan Worley is president of the National Association of Blind Merchants. He has been working with his division to raise funds for the capital campaign. Here is one of his letters:

October 2002

Dear Fellow Blind Vendor,

As you may know, I am working with other blind leaders in the important effort of raising funds for the Campaign to Change What It Means to Be Blind. We are now in the midst of raising funds for the new NFB National Research and Training Institute for the Blind (NRTIB), and I have been asked to contact my fellow blind vendors and merchants. The goal blind vendors originally set was to raise at least $1,000,000, and over sixty blind vendors have already contributed more than $600,000, an achievement of which we can be proud.

As blind vendors you and I have been extraordinary beneficiaries of the work of the National Federation of the Blind. The rights and opportunities in the Randolph-Sheppard vending program we enjoy result from the efforts of the National Federation of the Blind. Like you, I have received far more benefit than I can possibly repay. However, I have made my pledge toward this historic project, and I am asking you, if you have not already done so, to do the same. My thanks to all of you who have already contributed.

Since its founding in 1940, the NFB has worked zealously to achieve the objectives set by Dr. tenBroek and other founders—to promote the economic and social welfare of the blind. Nowhere more than in the vending program has this goal been achieved.

For more than half a century NFB members and supporters have sought to integrate blind people into American society on the basis of equal rights and equal responsibilities. The NFB is built on a philosophy of self-help, self-respect, productive employment, and independence of spirit.

The National Research and Training Institute for the Blind will be connected to the National Center for the Blind, which houses the NFB's National Headquarters in Baltimore. I have enclosed a brochure that tells you more. The NRTIB's programs will focus on five related areas:

*Developing model programs enabling blind and visually impaired people to find jobs

*Undertaking research and developing products that allow the blind access to information technology

*Seeking to change the public's perception of the nature of blindness through information and resources

*Improving education for blind children, especially increasing Braille literacy

*Creating special programs for those who become blind as they age.

As of this writing we have received gifts and pledges totaling $16 million of our original $18 million goal. It is a great start, but we have a long way to go. The estimated cost for construction of the National Research and Training Institute for the Blind when we began the Capital Campaign was $18 million. We have worked hard to keep costs in line, but we want a building which will be substantial enough and equipped well enough to serve our purposes for at least the next fifty years. As often occurs, the cost estimates were not quite high enough. The current projected cost is approximately $19.5 million.

Many doubted that we would be able to raise the money for the research and training institute. However, we always keep our promises—especially the ones we make to ourselves. As I have already said, we have gifts and pledges in hand totaling $16 million. This includes $3 million from the state of Maryland, and we have the prospect of an additional $3 million in appropriations from the state. This last $3 million appropriation has not yet been made, but we have been informed that it is quite likely that it will be, so we are very close to our revised goal of $19.5 million.

Please do two things. First, make a pledge toward this very important project. Second, make your pledge in an amount that lets your conscience say, "This is my best effort." Again my thanks to all of you who have already contributed.

Remember that your pledge can be paid over a five-year period. That is to say, your $10,000 commitment can be paid at the rate of $2,000 per year or $500 per quarter, if that is easier. A pledge of $5,000 can be paid at the rate of $1,000 per year or $250 per quarter, if that is easier. You can do the math. Larger gifts will result in larger annual payments, smaller gifts, in smaller ones. Pledges from blind vendors so far range from $100,000 over five years to $500 over five years. Every pledge or gift, no matter the amount, is critical.

You can give securities or stocks which have increased in value since you purchased them. When you do this, the building fund receives the full value of your annual pledge, and you do not have to pay a capital gains tax on the appreciated stocks you give. Of course you should consult your tax advisor on the tax implications of any gift or pledge.

A permanent wall bearing the inscribed names of individual donors above the $5,000 level will be displayed prominently in the new facility to recognize contributors. All contributors, including those below $5,000, will be listed in the appropriate gift level on the Campaign Honor Roll to be published and announced during the campaign victory celebrations.

Gift AmountTitle

$1,000,000+Jernigan Circle, Master Builder

$  500,000+President's Circle, Program Builder

$  250,000+Director's Circle, Opportunity

 Builder

$  100,000+Leader's Circle, Independence

 Builder

$   50,000+Patrons

$   25,000+Partners

$   10,000+Benefactors

$    5,000+Fellows

$    4,999-Friends

Doubtless you will have questions. Please feel free to call me at (303) 306-7122 or call Vince Connelly at (410) 659-9314, extension 368.

In the meantime, please think back and add up the benefits you have received by virtue of the work of Dr. Maurer, Jim Gashel, Don Morris, and others who have vigorously defended the Randolph-Sheppard vending program and your rights and mine to work and earn and be responsible. Many of you attended the BLAST Conference in Las Vegas and heard all that the NFB is doing for every blind vendor. Rest assured that the National Association of Blind Merchants will continue to lead the way to greater opportunities for all blind vendors.

Some over the years have believed that most blind vendors care about nothing but the price of Pepsi. Together we are proving false this old stereotype of those who participate in the Randolph-Sheppard program. Together, with our support for the National Research and Training Institute, you and I prove with our financial commitment that we care about opportunity for the blind of today and the blind of tomorrow. Thank you.

Best regards,

Kevan Worley

President, National Association of Blind Merchants

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