Braille Monitor                                                    February 2008

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News from the Federation Family

Attention Merchants and Entrepreneurs:
Register now for the 2008 Business Leadership and Superior Training (BLAST) conference, April 16 to 19 at the Memphis Marriott and Convention Center Downtown. Travel to Memphis for a truly rewarding experience and receive unbelievably low room rates, good from Tuesday, April 15, through Sunday, April 20, based on availability. Visit with merchants, agency partners, and suppliers and give yourself time to relax and enjoy the soulful city of Memphis with all it has to offer. Conference activities blast off on Wednesday afternoon, April 16, and conclude midday Saturday, April 19.

Training sessions and meetings will begin Wednesday afternoon. We will be in meetings all day Thursday, Friday, and Saturday morning. We are planning receptions, a leadership breakfast, and a luncheon banquet. As always, we are developing a first-class training agenda. Those who attended our Denver BLAST say that they gained much from the innovative, interactive, informative training. We are working now to develop the training curriculum for BLAST ’08. The goal of the Business Leadership and Superior Training Conference is to target training to meet the specific needs of blind entrepreneurs.

Working with our partner suppliers and purveyors, we are planning an even more extensive product and services showcase of exhibits during the Dunkin Donuts Blues BLAST, the afternoon of Thursday, April 17. New products, special pricing, accessible technology, and more will make this showcase one you can’t afford to miss.

BLAST is not just for those doing business in the Randolph-Sheppard industry. That is only one focus of this dynamic conference. Any blind person with an interest in management, marketing, entrepreneurship, retail, human resources, team building, and leadership will benefit from this high-caliber learning event. Most of the breakout sessions and much of the main learning sessions are not geared specifically to the Randolph-Sheppard vendor environment. Rather they are packed with information and motivation for anyone in business from food service to home-based start-ups to veteran entrepreneurs. At BLAST blind entrepreneurs are kept engaged, up and moving, challenged with out-of-the box thinking, rocketing toward success.

For the first time we are proud to have a title sponsor. After looking at the curriculum and considering the potential of BLAST and its relationship with the National Federation of the Blind, Dunkin Brands is providing significant underwriting dollars for Business, Leadership and Superior Training 2008. Eight Dunkin Donuts sites currently operate under partnership agreements with blind entrepreneurs through the Randolph-Sheppard program. “The reaction to this innovative approach, bringing national branding possibilities to blind vendors, has been phenomenal,” according to Chris Burr, director, Nontraditional Development, Dunkin Brands. National Association of Blind Merchants First Vice President Nicky Gacos has been taking the lead to develop national branded initiatives. He believes this Dunkin partnership has significant potential: “Of course we can create profitable business opportunities with a large, successful partner like Dunkin, but they can also bring systems and professional education to the entire Randolph-Sheppard program, and program participants can get this kind of training only at BLAST,” Nicky says. The spring Dunkin Donuts BLAST event is developed and sponsored by the National Association of Blind Merchants, a division of the National Federation of the Blind. In 2008, BLAST is also cosponsored by Tennessee Business Enterprises of the Tennessee Services for the Blind.

This year registration is $175 and covers all conference activities and training materials. Those who register before Tuesday, April 1, 2008, will pay only $125, receiving a $50 discount for early registration. Checks should be sent to NABM, 1223 Lake Plaza Drive, Suite D, Colorado Springs, Colorado 80906. Along with your check please include name, phone number, and best mailing address and email if available for each person you are registering. You can also register online at <www.blindmerchants.org>. Remember that the registration fee includes tradeshow, receptions, leadership breakfast, luncheon, and more surprises. We are pretty sure there will be donuts and coffee.
The Memphis Marriott Downtown offers luxurious lodging at low conference rates of $83 a night for single, double, triple, and quad rooms all week long. All rates quoted are net per room, per night, plus the current 15.95% tax. The Memphis Marriott Downtown is the largest hotel in Memphis. It is conveniently located on the Memphis trolley line, very close to shopping, museums, world-renowned entertainment, and the exciting nightlife of Beale Street. Don’t miss the nearby National Civil Rights Museum, the Brooks Museum of Art, AutoZone Park, and the FedEx Forum. Take a trip down the Memphis Walk of Fame, visit Stax Museum of American Soul Music, the Pink Palace Museum and Planetarium, and the famous Peabody Hotel for the March of the Ducks. Memphis is much more than Elvis Presley’s hometown. Memphis is music, memories, and the Mississippi River–the mighty artery that brought influences from both the North and the South to this distinctive City on the Bluffs.

For hotel reservations call the Memphis Marriott Downtown at (800) 228-9290. Tell the agent that you want the group rate for the National Association of Blind Merchants. Make your reservation now.

Don MorrisElected:
We recently received the following press release about longtime Federation leader Don Morris:

Don Morris, owner of O’Leary’s Emporium in Emmitsburg, Maryland, was elected September 8, 2007, as chairman of the board of the Maryland Retailers Association (MRA). Consisting of over 600 members at some 1,400 locations, MRA is the retail community’s major statewide association.

O’Leary’s has been an MRA member for over twenty years. Mr. Morris joined the board in 1996. In addition to previously serving as first vice chair, Morris also chaired MRA’s Legislative Committee, Political Action Committee, and Educational Foundation. He has operated O’Leary’s since 1984.

Doris Johnson Dies:
Doris Johnson is pictured here with President Maurer after receiving the Jacobus tenBroek Distinguished Service Award at the 1994 Convention.President Maurer reports the following sad news:

On October 5, 2007, Doris Johnson, a longtime member of the National Federation of the Blind, died of cancer. For decades she had been a member of the Baltimore Chapter, but a few years ago she moved to North Carolina to care for her ailing mother. She continued to offer her mother care until her own illness prevented her continued ministrations.

Doris was a quiet person. She had earned a college degree in her early years, and she was thoroughly trained in home economics. Because she was both blind and African American, she found employment difficult to obtain. When we established the National Center for the Blind in Baltimore, she soon became a constant volunteer. Whenever help was needed, she was a part of the work crew. Always cheerful and upbeat, Doris was a glorious pleasure to have at the National Center for the Blind. She worked incessantly, and her presence cheered her colleagues.

In 1994 the National Federation of the Blind presented Doris Johnson the Jacobus tenBroek Distinguished Service Award. This award, granted at the banquet of the National Federation of the Blind in Detroit, Michigan, symbolized the spirit of Federationism—an abiding faith in the future and the willingness to work to make that future reality.

In 1997 the Braille Monitor contained these words about Doris Johnson:

This April the City of Baltimore honored Doris with its Volunteer Award for Continuing Service. Although a number of such awards were presented, Doris has the distinction of having both the Baltimore Sun newspaper and a local television station do stories about her and her work with the National Federation of the Blind. We who know and love Doris have always recognized the value of her cheerful, tireless service to the organization. It is fitting that the City of Baltimore has acknowledged her value as well.

Doris Johnson's joyous, tireless personality has helped to make the National Federation of the Blind what it is. It is with deep regret that we report her death. In one sense what she has contributed to our Federation will remain forever. Doris Johnson was a friend to the blind everywhere.

New Chapter:
On January 5, 2008, the NFB of Ohio organized the National Federation of the Blind of the Ohio River Valley. Members of the Huntington Chapter of the NFB of West Virginia and the Ashland Chapter of the NFB of Kentucky attended to lend moral support. The three chapters are quite close together and plan to take advantage of that fact to organize joint projects and activities. The newly elected officers are president, Rebekah Osborne; vice president, Connie Holmes; secretary, Tami Skaggs; treasurer, John Weber; and board member, Gregg Booth. Congratulations to this newest member of the Federation family.

In Memoriam:
Just before Christmas longtime Federation leader Steve Benson called with the news of Allen Schaefer’s death. Here is the recollection that Steve wrote for his old friend:

As Allen grew up, he experienced decreased vision because of retinitis pigmentosa, a hereditary condition that often results in total blindness. Being an optimist, Allen didn’t let that stop him. He entered the teaching profession after completing a degree at Augustana College. However, teaching became increasingly difficult because he didn’t know about the alternative skills of blindness. He began looking for solutions to his teaching challenges. In 1968 he met Kenneth Jernigan, director of the Iowa Commission for the Blind, and Allen’s entire life changed.

He learned some Braille and other alternative techniques that allowed him to keep records and write music notation. From then on Allen was uncompromising in his belief that blind people didn’t have to be second-class citizens and accept what someone else considered appropriate for them. With this belief Allen continued to teach classes from kindergarten through twelfth grade with increasing success and impressive results. During the sixties Allen taught band at Morris High School and actually led the band in parades. I once asked him how he did it, and he replied, “I don’t know; I just did it.” That pretty well illustrated Allen’s personality. If a thing needed doing, he did it. Over his thirty or so years of teaching, his classes consistently won first-place awards in instrumental and vocal competitions.

I met Allen at the 1970 convention of the National Federation of the Blind, and we hit it off immediately. Allen was feisty and had a mischievous sense of humor, just like mine. Over the years we got into trouble on several occasions, mostly with his wife Ruth, because we were being, as she would have said, “naughty.”

Allen applied his organizational skills as a music teacher, strong leadership skills, and belief in the basic competency of blind people to building strong chapters of the National Federation of the Blind in Illinois. It was my pleasure to have worked with Allen, along with a corps of other similarly focused blind people: Rami Rabby, Pete Grunwald, Steve Hastalis, Mike Cramer, Gwendolyn Williams, and of course Ruth Schaefer to pass important legislation that improved the lives of blind people. Ruth Schaefer and Gwendolyn Williams were not blind, but they thought like us and worked just as hard.

In 1974 Allen was elected president of the NFB of Illinois, a position he held until 1978 when health concerns caused him to step aside. I served as his first vice president and succeeded him as president. We worked closely together on countless projects, conventions, legislative initiatives, and just having fun.

Over the last several years my wife Peg, Allen, Ruth, and I became closer. We shared many hours of pure joy together. While Allen’s passing creates a significant hole in our lives, his memory will be sustained by the work we did together to make a difference to blind people and by the knowledge that as an individual Allen helped to shape the lives of many thousands of young people through music.

Elected:
On October 22, 2007, the Richmond Chapter of the NFB of Virginia elected the following officers for 2008: Maurice Peret, president; John Jones, first vice president; Valerie Luther, second vice president; Cyndy Iskow, secretary; Bonnie Rai, treasurer; and board members Marshall Jordan, Annette Williams, and Roberta Shankle.


In Brief

Notices and information in this section may be of interest to Monitor readers. We are not responsible for the accuracy of the information; we have edited only for space and clarity.


Camp Siloam 2008 for the Blind:
The 2008 Siloam Camp for blind teenagers and adults will be held Saturday, May 17, through Saturday, May 24, 2008, at the Golden Cross Ranch in New Caney, Texas. The Siloam Bible Camping Session is sponsored by the Gospel Association for the Blind, P.O. Box 1162, Bunnell, Florida 32110; (386) 586-5885. The camping session is just one of the many ministries of the Gospel Association for the Blind to reach the visually impaired. Those who have attended camp in the past say that camp was the highlight of the year for them.
The campgrounds are located just twenty-five minutes from Houston's George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH). The Golden Cross Ranch is a 110-acre ranch that has been a well established Christian camp for more than forty-five years. The facilities are more than adequate, the camp staff friendly, and the food excellent. The cost for the week of camp is $200, which includes lodging and all meals and activities.

Our morning Bible study will be conducted by Bruce Coonce, who was born in 1960, three months premature. Oxygen given at birth caused blindness. God spared his life and has blessed him in many ways. Bruce was called to preach at the age of fifteen. He graduated with a degree in Bible from Baptist Bible College in Springfield, Missouri, in 1983. After graduation he served as an assistant to the pastor in small churches in Texas and Oklahoma. He graduated with a master's degree in counseling from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia, in 1991. For the past fifteen years he has been a member of Community Baptist Church in San Marcos, Texas, where he has served as an assistant to the pastor. He is also employed in the Office of Disability Services at Texas State University-San Marcos.
Activities planned for the week include a shopping trip to Wal-Mart, experiencing various animals from the Houston zoo, two talent nights in which campers can demonstrate their talents, swimming each day, horseback riding, various games, interesting Christian videos, a road trip yet to be announced, a hayride, a campfire, and much more.

Join us for an exciting time of making new friends and spiritual refreshment and renewal. The theme for the 2008 camp is "How's Your Prayer Life?" A $25 nonrefundable camp registration fee is required of all campers to receive the camp application and medical form. You should make your money order or check payable to the Gospel Association for the Blind, and send it along with a three-by-five-inch index card containing your name, address, phone number, cell phone number, and email, if applicable, to the Gospel Association for the Blind, P.O. Box 1162, Bunnell, Florida 32110.

If you are a first-time camper at Camp Siloam, except for the $25 registration fee, the week of camp is free. If needed, we will help with travel expenses. Because of the dates of camp, airline reservations should be made as early as possible this year. Camp always fills up fast, so, if you are interested in being a part of this exciting week, you should act quickly. All applications and medical forms must be in the Florida office by April 18, 2008. A voicemail message concerning Camp Siloam 2008 is now available toll-free at (866) 251-5165. Enter mailbox 7128 and press the pound key.

Healthy Recipes for Diabetics Available:
The Daily Diabetic Recipe service from the Diabetic Gourmet Magazine sends a free recipe to subscribers each day. The recipes include snacks, entrees, salads, dips, and desserts. Each recipe contains nutritional and exchange information. To subscribe or learn more, see the site <www.dailydiabeticrecipe.com>.

Summer Braille Music Institute:
The National Resource Center for Blind Musicians is accepting applications for its seminar for blind college-bound musicians, which will be held from July 14 to 20 at the Overbrook School for the Blind in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Designed for serious Braille-reading music students preparing for or already in college (ages average seventeen to twenty-one), the program tailors instruction to each person's need to develop Braille music and theory skills, and to learn to use technology to submit music assignments in print notation. Applicants must have already studied some music theory, have had several years of music lessons, and be able to present a polished and pleasing performance. They must be willing to put effort into Braille music study and demonstrate a commitment to use the Braille music and computer skills they will learn at the Institute when they return to school. Applicants must also show they have begun thinking realistically about reachable goals and that they have the independence skills, social readiness, and maturity to be a contributing part of a close-knit group. Contact the Resource Center regarding tuition, scholarship criteria, and the application and audition procedure. Deadline for requesting applications is April 12; all application materials must be in the Resource Center office by May 8.

Other options: Please contact the Resource Center if you are a sighted teacher and would like to gain experience as an intern helping out during the program or are a parent and would like to bring a younger student for an evaluation. The Resource Center now works with colleges and state agencies to provide phone and online tutoring to students studying music at the college level. Visit <www.blindmusicstudent.org>, which is also a music information resource. Contact David Goldstein at (203) 366-3300, extension 229, or at <info@blindmusicstudent.org>.

Monitor Mart

The notices in this section have been edited for clarity, but we can pass along only the information we were given. We are not responsible for the accuracy of the statements made or the quality of the products for sale.

Braille Blazer Talking Embosser for Sale:

This is the quietest, lightest, most portable, and most affordable embosser on the market. Used, in excellent working condition. Comes with power cord and online manual. Asking $1,000 or best offer. For more information contact Ollie Lester, (313) 701-0033.

NFB Pledge
I pledge to participate actively in the efforts of the National Federation of the Blind to achieve equality, opportunity, and security for the blind; to support the policies and programs of the Federation; and to abide by its constitution.

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