by Sheri Koch
From the Editor: one of the blessings of being involved in a growing and diverse organization is watching the change in leadership that occurs. Over the last few years we have had a record number of newly elected state presidents. They have a listserv that makes it easy for them to communicate, strategize, and get to know one another. Here is a recent post from that list that is particularly moving and instructive:
Hello NFB Family,
I see from watching the list that new affiliate presidents have been introducing themselves, so I will follow suit. I’m a wee bit late with this, having been elected back in September. I am a native West Virginian, and with the exception of a brief stint in western Florida, I’ve made my life here in the Mountain State. With a brief interruption for my senior year, I was educated at the West Virginia School for the Blind. I graduated from a large public high school in preparation for transitioning to college life. My undergraduate work was done in social work, and my master’s degree is in rehabilitation counseling.
For almost thirty years I worked for the West Virginia Division of Rehabilitation Services in their blindness programs, starting as a teacher of adult blind, moving on to being a specialty rehabilitation counselor for the blind, and finally serving as a program specialist of blind services. Happily, I’ve been retired for almost six years.
My husband of thirty years and I live with our two lovely Feline-Americans here in the capitol city of Charleston. We spend time reading, keeping up with the news, traveling to far-away places such as Ireland, doing volunteer work with our local Lions Club, and of course, working for the National Federation of the Blind, an organization that I love dearly and which has changed my life.
Until age fifty I refused to put a cane in my hand. Somehow, and this is still a mystery to me, I thought it much cooler to bumble around in my world rather than taking on the perceived indignity of the long white cane. I continue to marvel to this day about my crazy perceptions and just how wrong I was. As part of my professional duties, I was asked to attend NCSAB [National Council of State Agencies for the Blind], IL-OB [Independent Living Older Blind], and NFB meetings. It was at these meetings that I met wonderful blind people who used the long white cane with confidence and dignity. It wasn’t long before I internalized the value and freedom of the cane. NFB changed my life, and I now live in my world with greater ease, confidence, and peace.
Thank you NFB!!! I am forever grateful, and I will spend as many years that are left to me giving back to you! I eagerly await the time when I have the opportunity to meet each and every one of you.