The National Federation of the Blind is a volunteer membership organization with affiliates in every state plus D.C. and Puerto Rico. These state affiliates are, in turn, made up of local chapters. Each state affiliate of the NFB holds an annual convention to elect officers and to discuss and conduct the business of the organization (see list of dates and locations of state conventions at the end of this article).
The typical convention agenda includes speakers from agencies that serve the blind in that state, inspirational presentations from blind people who have overcome obstacles, a report from a National NFB Representative, a banquet, a dance or other social event, and perhaps a special luncheon or workshop on specific concerns of blind people and/or parents of blind children.
Although accurate, that’s a rather stuffy description of what can be a very uplifting and exciting experience for parents and their blind children. State NFB conventions are a great place for kids and their parents to observe many different blind people reading and writing Braille, using canes and dogs to maneuver throughout the hotel, eating in the restaurants, handling money, socializing, and working together to solve the common problems they face.
The experience becomes even more meaningful when parents and kids join as members and participate fully in the convention proceedings. Even ordinary convention tasks, such as helping in the hospitality room, can have carry-over benefits in other aspects of life. That’s what Brek Erikson, a young man from Idaho, discovered.
Here’s Brek’s description, reprinted from the Spring, 1999, issue of the Gem State Milestones, the newsletter of the NFB of Idaho, of his “Experience in the Hospitality Room” at the NFB of Idaho State Convention:
by Brek Erickson
When it came time for state convention this year, I was asked if I might be willing to help in the hospitality room. I thought that this might be a good way for me to serve as well as develop some of my talents. I had to fill plates and tubs when they ran low. I had to know where the different kinds of soda were and had to be able to direct people to the trashcans. I also greeted people who entered the hospitality room and made sure that the environment was welcoming and pleasant.
A week after the state convention, my school was sponsoring a Job Fair. I volunteered to help. I did not know what my assignment would be, but I knew that I had to be ready early that morning so that I could help wherever I was needed. When I arrived at the Job Fair, the leaders did not know where they could put me to work. I heard that there was a student hospitality center, and there was no one yet who was operating that checkpoint. I spoke to the leader of the Job Fair and asked if I may be of help in this area. I worked the Student Hospitality Room with no difficulty for the entire time. I filled plates when they were empty, and I was able to tell people the different kinds of soda that were available. I made sure that guests signed the hospitality book. If it were not for my experience at the state convention, I would not have known that I was able to handle such a responsibility.
Here is a list of the NFB State Conventions from Summer, 2000, through Spring, 2001. Specific dates and/or locations were not available for every state at this time. To get that information as it becomes available please contact the
of the Blind
1800 Johnson Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21230
(410) 659-9314 * <[email protected]>
Alabama March 9, 2001. Huntsville.
Arizona October 13-14, 2000. Tucson.
Arkansas September 29-October 1, 2000. Fort Smith
California November 3-5, 2000. Crown Plaza Hotel, Foster City.
Colorado October 6-8, 2000. Pueblo.
Connecticut November 4-5, 2000. Waterbury.
D.C. Early spring, 2001.
Delaware November 3, 2000. Dover.
Florida September 1-3, 2000. Sheraton,
Griffin Road, Fort Lauderdale.
Georgia May 18-20, 2001. Albany.
Hawaii September 23, 2000.
Holikoa Hotel, Honolulu.
Idaho Spring, 2001. Boise.
Illinois November 3-4, 2000. Springfield.
Indiana October 13-15, 2000 Holiday Inn, Indianapolis.
Iowa September 22-24, 2000. Five Sullivan Brothers,Waterloo.
Kansas October 27-29, 2000. Days Inn, Topeka.
Kentucky November 3-5, 2000. E. Gate Holiday Inn, Cincinnati, Ohio (Joint convention with Ohio).
Louisiana Spring, 2001.
Maine October 14-15, 2000. Portland.
Maryland November 17-19, 2000. Ocean City.
Massachusetts April 6-8, 2001.
Holiday Inn, Worchester.
Mississippi March 31-April 1, 2001. Doveport.
Missouri April 6-8, 2001.
Montana May 18-20, 2001. Nashua.
Nebraska October 6-8, 2000. Best
Nevada May 18-20, 2001. Las Vegas.
New Hampshire November 17-19, 2000. Manchester.
New Jersey November 10-12, 2000. Holiday Inn, Clark.
New Mexico Spring, 2001.
New York November 10-12, 2000.
Holiday Inn by Rochester airport.
North Carolina September 15-17, 2000. Sheraton, Raleigh.
North Dakota Spring, 2001.
Ohio November 3-5, 2000. E. Gate Holiday Inn, Cincinnati. (Joint convention with Kentucky).
Oklahoma April, 2001.
Oregon October 20-22, 2000. Florence.
Pennsylvania November 10-12, 2000.
Alkaline Hotel, Erie.
Puerto Rico November 18, 2000.
Rhode Island October 21, 2000. Holiday Inn, Providence.
South Carolina August 4-5, 2000. Sheraton, Columbia.
South Dakota April, 2001. Sioux Falls.
Tennessee March 9-11, 2001. Knoxville.
Texas Spring, 2001.
Utah March, 2001.
Vermont October 27-29, 2000.
Virginia November 17-19, 2000.
Holiday Inn, Winchester.
Washington October 6-8, 2000.
West Virginia September 15-17, 2000. Ramada, Charleston.
Wisconsin November 10-12, 2000. Howard Johnson, Madison.
Wyoming Fall, 2001. Riverton.