The Braille Monitor                                                                                         December, 2003

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Second Annual Meet-the-Blind-Month Campaign

by Jerry Lazarus

Greater  Baltimore Chapter members Robert Lay, Aloma Bouma, Maurice Peret, and Robert Jaquiss arrange games and literature on the chapter's information table for the Fells Point Fun Festival.
Greater Baltimore Chapter members Robert Lay, Aloma Bouma, Maurice Peret, and Robert Jaquiss arrange games and literature on the chapter's information table for the Fells Point Fun Festival.

From the Editor: Jerry Lazarus is the member of the national staff who has worked with Federationists across the country as they planned and executed Meet-the-Blind-Month activities. Here is his report:

NFB member participation in the second annual NFB Meet-the-Blind campaign was an outstanding success. State affiliates and chapters, both large and small, across the country held Meet-the-Blind-Month events this past October.

The campaign, which began last year and is held in October, is a coordinated nationwide project planned and designed to provide opportunities for affiliate and chapter members to reach out to their communities, schools, local civic groups, and others to let them know about the NFB.

Last year's Meet-the-Blind-Month activities and events were very good. But we knew that in this second year NFB affiliate and chapter activity would multiply, and the number and types of events would increase, ensuring that even more people would learn about the organized blind and the NFB.

Affiliate members across the country set up NFB Meet-the Blind-Month information tables at local Wal-Mart stores.   Pictured here, NFB of Maryland members prepare to meet and greet the public.
Affiliate members across the country set up NFB Meet-the-Blind-Month information tables at local Wal-Mart stores. Pictured here, NFB of Maryland members prepare to meet and greet the public.

In August affiliate presidents received a memo reminding them of the upcoming Meet-the-Blind campaign. That was followed by an announcement in the September 2003 presidential release, in which President Maurer offered Braille alphabet cards free of charge to all affiliates and chapters participating in Meet-the-Blind-Month activities.

National center staff, under the direction of Dr. Betsy Zaborowski, provided support to the affiliates and chapters in preparing for their events. Once the type of event, the date and contact person, and the approximate number of attendees was determined, Center staff shipped out the required Braille alphabet cards and other NFB literature.

Prior to the 2003 national convention, Dr. Zaborowski searched for a national Meet-the-Blind-Month partner as well as a fundraising option. We contacted Wal-Mart, the largest retailer in the country, along with Krispy Kreme, one of the most popular makers of doughnuts. We invited representatives from Wal-Mart and Krispy Kreme to the National Federation of the Blind headquarters in Baltimore to learn about the NFB and its mission. Wal-Mart and the NFB agreed that Maryland would be the initial area to test the premise that the National Federation of the Blind could effectively use Wal-Mart as a venue for Meet-the-Blind Month. We also agreed that Krispy Kreme doughnuts could be sold by the NFB of Maryland as a fundraising component.

A  mother and her children support the NFB with their purchase of a box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts at a local Wal-Mart store information table.
A mother and her children support the NFB with their purchase of a box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts at a local Wal-Mart store information table.

The NFB of Maryland arranged for information tables at a number of Wal-Marts at different times during the month. The events proved to be great opportunities for meeting and greeting the public. NFB and Wal-Mart are happy to report that these test venues were very successful.

Thirty-four state affiliates and at least fifty chapters participated in the 2003 Meet-the-Blind-Month campaign. More than one hundred and fifty activities were listed on the NFB Web site for this year's Meet-the-Blind-Month schedule.

The prize for the most original meet-and-greet activity went to the NFB of California.   Here Robert Stigile;Tiffany Manosh; Nancy Burns, president of the NFB of California;and Don Burns enjoy the breeze, the sun, and the excitement of whale watching.
The prize for the most original meet-and-greet activity went to the NFB of California. Here Robert Stigile; Tiffany Manosh; Nancy Burns, president of the NFB of California; and Don Burns enjoy the breeze, the sun, and the excitement of whale watching.

Active chapter organizers included the "diabetes lady" Lois Williams of the Huntsville, Alabama, chapter; Fred Chambers, Beach Cities Chapter in California; Yasmin Reyazuddin, Maryland's Sligo Creek Chapter; Ruby Polk and Rita Lynch, Kansas City and Jefferson City Chapters in Missouri; and Linda DeBerardinis, Garden State Chapter in New Jersey.

Members of the NFB of Maryland student division, Muttasin Fadl (handing out Braille alphabet cards to shoppers), Lydia Richardson, and Presient Mika Bowers at a Wal-Mart information table.
Pictured here are members of the NFB of Maryland student division, Muttasin Fadl (handing out Braille alphabet cards to shoppers), Lydia Richardson, and President Mika Bowers at a Wal-Mart information table.

Other active areas included Ohio, where the Southeast, Miami Valley, Greater Summit County, Lake County, and Lorain County chapters got the message out at multiple venues.

The variety of activities was also exciting this year. Here are some examples of the more imaginative ways members found to distribute NFB literature.

Minnie Walker from the Mobile Chapter in Alabama conducted a "Keys Please" program, in which the mayor, city council, and city fathers were asked to ride public transportation for a day to experience travel as blind people do regularly. The Mobile Register even carried a short piece on the event. The Diabetes Action Network of Alabama set up information tables at local colleges and at Senior Housing Centers, providing information on diabetes and the ways the NFB can help.

 

Steven Booth, Greater Baltimore chapter member, uses plastic golf balls in a six-egg carton to quiz two young sisters on the Braille alphabet at a local street fair.
Steven Booth, Greater Baltimore chapter member, uses plastic golf balls in a six-egg carton to quiz two young sisters on the Braille alphabet at a local street fair.

Sandie Addy, from the Tristate Chapter in Arizona, was even able to persuade administrators to insert NFB literature (with an associate form, of course) in the payroll envelopes of municipal workers for Prescott Valley, Prescott, and Chino Valley.

At a ceremony held October 22, 2003, in the Warner Chamber of the Nebraska state capitol, Governor Mike Johanns proclaims October as National Federation of the Blind Month.  Amy Buresh, Carlos Servan, and other NFB of Nebraska members accept the proclamation.
At a ceremony held October 22, 2003, in the Warner Chamber of the Nebraska state capitol, Governor Mike Johanns proclaims October as National Federation of the Blind Month. Amy Buresh, Carlos Serván, and other NFB of Nebraska members accept the proclamation.

NFB members organized walk-a-thons, participated in street fairs, and staffed information tables at libraries, department stores, and senior fairs. Affiliate and chapter members also spoke to elementary and middle school classes. Chapter members in California, Colorado, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Missouri, North Dakota, Ohio, and Pennsylvania contacted their local Wal-Mart managers and set up meet-and-greet tables.

Affiliates and chapters sent out press releases and calendar notices to their local papers, and several received local press coverage. In addition requests were made and granted for Meet-the-Blind-Month proclamations from many governors' and mayors' offices. The record for this activity is held by Maine, where the affiliate collected fifteen Meet-the-Blind-Month proclamations, including one from the governor, and twenty-four White Cane Safety Day proclamations.

The proclamation signed by Governor Johanns in its entirety.
The proclomation signed by Governor Johanns in its entirety

There you have a brief overview of Meet-the-Blind Month 2003. It is not too soon to begin thinking about and planning for the 2004 NFB Meet-the-Blind-Month campaign.

 

Pat Wingo, state assistant vice president for government affairs for AT&T, accepts a corporate partnership award for AT&T's support of NFB-NEWSLINE in Georgia.
Pat Wingo, state assistant vice president for government affairs for AT&T, accepts a corporate partnership award for AT&T's support of NFB-NEWSLINE® in Georgia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The NFB of Georgia held its second annual Black Tie, White Cane gala.   Pictured are NFB of Georgia President Anil Lewis, Second Vice President Thelma Godwin, and Congressman John Lewis.   Congressman Lewis, who represents the Fifth Congressional District, including most of Atlanta, was the keynote speaker.
The NFB of Georgia held its second annual Black Tie, White Cane gala.   Pictured are NFB of Georgia President Anil Lewis, Second Vice President Thelma Godwin, and Congressman John Lewis. Congressman Lewis, who represents the Fifth Congressional District, including most of Atlanta, was the keynote speaker.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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