IOWA COUNCIL OF THE UNITED BLIND
Web Site: www.acb.org/iowa
Affiliate of the American Council of the Blind
Robert Spangler, President
1505 W. 4th St.
Vinton, IA 52349
Mike Hoenig, Editor
3119 Spring St.
Davenport, IA 52807
Jo Ann Slayton, Secretary
4013 30th St.
Des Moines, IA 50310
(515) 279-4284 – home
(515) 710-7875 – cell
Stephanie Hunolt, Treasurer
1016 Millwood Dr. APT D.
Kirksville, MO 63501
(660) 665-2404 – home
(660) 216-4369 – cell
ICUB OFFICERS AND DIRECTORS
Robert Spangler, President - Vinton, (319) 472-4843
Donna Seliger, Immediate Past President - Des Moines,
Creig Slayton, First Vice President – Des Moines, (515) 279-4284
Mike Hoenig, Second Vice-President - Davenport, (563) 344-8787
Jo Ann Slayton, Secretary - Des Moines, (515) 279-4284
Stephanie Hunolt, Treasurer – Kirksville, (660) 665-2404
Joyce Davis, Director - Fort Dodge, (515) 955-1634
Ruth Hamdorf, Director - Marion, (319) 373-8608
Elsie Monthei, Director –Des Moines, (515) 277-0442
Gary Patterson, Director –Des Moines, (515) 278-2686
Frank Strong, Director –Des Moines, (515) 285-7254
Rose Stratton, Director - Maquoketa, (563) 652-2546
Dove Tanner, Director – Cedar Rapids, (319) 364-7128
Shirley Wiggins, Director - Cedar Rapids, (319) 550-6096
CHANGE OF FORMAT OR RETURNING CASSETTES
Anyone who cannot read this print bulletin finds it difficult to have it read or wishes an e-mail or cassette may receive a copy at no charge. Please contact Jo Slayton at (515) 279-4284 to request an alternative format. Cassette readers are always invited to keep their copy of the Bulletin. However, if you would like to return cassettes when you are finished with them, please place in a NEW standard mailing envelope, write “Free Matter for the Blind” in the upper right hand corner, and return to the editor using the address on the front of this Bulletin. Also, please remember to contact the editor if your address changes. The Post Office rarely provides us with a new address when someone moves. We want to make sure that anyone who wants to receive a Bulletin gets one!
SELECTING ICUB AS A BENEFICIARY
If you or a friend would like to remember the Iowa Council of the United Blind in your will, you may do so by using the following language: “I grant, devise, or bequeath unto the Iowa Council of the United Blind, a non-profit charitable organization, the sum of ______ dollars, ____ percent of my net estate, or the following stocks and bonds (please list them) to be used for its worthy purposes on behalf of blind persons.” If your wishes are more complex, you may have your attorney call (515) 279-4284, or write Iowa Council of the United Blind, 4013 30TH Street, Des Moines, Iowa 50310.
DONATING YOUR VEHICLE TO BENEFIT ICUB
Are you trying to decide how to dispose of a used vehicle? ICUB's Used Vehicle Donation Program offers the perfect solution. Your vehicle will be picked up from your home and sold at auction, with a portion of the proceeds going directly to ICUB. You claim a tax deduction equal to the dollar value of the vehicle. To donate or to learn more, call 800-899-4925.
LIST OF TOPICS
Opening the Gateway for Future Leaders
Blind Transit Advocate to Visit Dubuque
Blind Iowa Artist Featured in American Printing House for the Blind Exhibit
Kathryn Mary Davis
Former Iowa Basketball Recruit James Speed Dies at 61
Statement of Commissioner Mignon L. Cliburn to
Approve Video Description
Blind Americans Equality Day Presidential Proclamation
Cedar Rapids Update
Dubuque Association of the Blind Update
Des Moines Update
The Outhouse Poem
By Mike Hoenig
One of the many great things about ACB is that through it, we all can find opportunities to serve. As I read the last Bulletin on to the master cassette, I felt a special connection with you, the readership. I realized that the best way I can serve ICUB right now is to continue editing the Bulletin. Thank you, board and membership, for allowing me to continue to do so.
Robert Spangler, Stephanie Hunolt, Donna Seliger and I attended the ACB Midwest Leadership Conference on August 19, 20 and 21 in St. Louis. An excellent article describing conference activities and outcomes, written by ACB Students’ President Sara Conrad, appears elsewhere in this Bulletin. I especially enjoyed hearing Dan and Brenda Dillon talk about the many recreational activities which their chapter hosts to recruit and retain members. After listening to this inspiring talk, we got the chance to pretend that we were members of a chapter committee tasked with planning a year's worth of meetings. Chris Gray's banquet address, describing each participating state's contributions to ACB, was very informative. Both Donna and Stephanie, who served on the planning committee, received well-deserved recognition for their efforts.
I don't know how they do it, but Shirley Wiggins and the Cedar Rapids Chapter make the picnic better and better each year. The food was superb again this year, and guests (Dale and Pat Woltoff) came from as far away as South Carolina! It was great to visit with Colleen (Tanner) Woeste and her husband Bill from Cincinnati, and to learn that their chapter has over 100 members! I think we need to invite them to our state convention to tell us how they do it!
As a member of the History of Blindness in Iowa Project Advisory Committee, I was pleased to provide information about ICUB and ACB for the project's advocacy web page. I encourage you to visit the page at www.iowablindhistory.org, and send me your suggestions. ICUB has made significant contributions to Iowa's rich history, and our story deserves to be told.
News flash! After much cajoling and some excellent training from Jo and Creig Slayton, I downloaded my first digital talking book. Take it from the world's biggest non-techie, IT'S NOT THAT HARD! What a great feeling it is to know that a seemingly unlimited selection of reading material is at my fingertips. I'll even make the brave offer to help any of you out there who need a little encouragement or even some guidance on how to download these great books.
We are once again soliciting nominations for two awards which will be given at the 2012 ICUB convention in May. The Marie Hoenig Memorial Perkins Brailler Award is given annually to a deserving Iowa k-12 student, while the Linda Dietrich Award is given to recognize an individual whose volunteer efforts have made a significant difference in the lives of blind Iowans. Please contact me if you would like further information or if you would like to nominate someone.
I wish each of you a Happy Thanksgiving, a Blessed Christmas, and a Happy New Year.
OPENING THE GATEWAY FOR FUTURE LEADERS
By Sara Conrad
(Reprinted from The Braille Forum, October-November 2011.)
In the "gateway city," gateways were opened for many ACB affiliate members as Midwestern leaders hosted and attended a hugely successful conference focusing on the various aspects of leadership development and performance Aug. 19-21 in St. Louis, Mo. Ray Campbell, president of the Illinois Council of the Blind, said, "As a current or established ACB leader, I felt like I heard several good ideas and learned a few things about myself and what I can do better. I also got a renewed shot of enthusiasm for projects that I'm either undertaking or hope to undertake in Illinois and across ACB."
The conference began with an ice-breaker session, hosted by Michael Byington. Participants were encouraged to choose a device that enhances their lives as blind individuals. Byington's interactive time of "Who Is Your Assistive Technology Device?" included an interview of each member as if he or she were the voice of the device. We heard from guide dogs about their picky owners, glasses crying out from being sat on, and white canes fearlessly leading their companions. The time was not only a lighthearted start to the conference, but it was also educational in providing ideas for the often awkward beginnings of affiliate calls, meetings, and events.
Saturday's events were the meat of what leaders really need to know for effective affiliates. We heard from Ron Milliman about fundraising and media releases; he walked through the steps required for fundraising and charitable donations. In addition, leaders also learned how to write informational and entertaining media releases. We also heard from Chris Gray on treasurers, boards, and affiliates. Gray's presentations encouraged presidents in their work with treasurers, knowing that these positions are crucial to effective fund-raising, spending, and an affiliate as a whole. Campbell encouraged leaders to advocate to their legislators about important issues pertaining to blindness. He highlighted the successful pursuits ACB has had at Capitol Hill, and reminded us that we all have opportunities to contact our legislators, whether in D.C. or in local offices.
Brenda and Dan Dillon shared information and ideas about effective business meetings. Ideas were given for incentives such as dinner or fun activities at meetings, which can make them more inviting. Brenda also discussed mentoring and membership retention, with thoughts for recruiting members. Suggestions included movie tickets, free meals, and networking opportunities to draw others into affiliates. Saturday wrapped up with a banquet, where Chris Gray spoke of the history of the Midwest ACB affiliates. This educational and inspirational story helped to encourage the future leaders and new generations of the organization, reminding all of the incredible leadership that has gone before us.
Sunday's session wrapped up with information about the national convention and project presentations. Many questions were answered for those who have never attended on a national level. In addition, projects were given to small groups Saturday, and we heard from each spokesperson at the end of the conference. The groups chose topics, mainly focusing on fundraising and membership. Groups were challenged to write a plan to raise $3,000 in a year or to plan a year's worth of affiliate meetings. Some fundraising ideas included a state-wide trivia competition, service auction, and chili cook-off. Meetings scheduled were planned based on seasons, meals, and activities that corresponded to the timing given.
The conference's success belongs both to its excited participants from Midwestern states and the planners of the event. "I'm glad the effects of the planning committee, consisting of DeAnna Noriega (MCB), Donna Seliger, and Stephanie Hunolt (both members of ICUB), were appreciated by the 51 registered attendees," says Jim Jirak, president of ACB of Nebraska. "The success of the conference proves that when affiliates work together, there is no limit to the success that can be achieved."
These gateways opened not only for seasoned leaders of ACB, but also for new members. Amy Morrison, who joined the Missouri Council this past January, expressed how wonderful the conference was for her. "I thought that it had very practical information," she said. "It's something I would do again. I felt like there were a lot of things to take away."
Positive momentum continues to ignite in the Midwest as leaders open even more gates back in their home states. We hope the excitement, enthusiasm, and success may be shared in other regions. You can find audio recordings of the conference sessions at www.missouricounciloftheblind.org/events/live/. When people come together, there's no telling how many doors may be opened for the growth of our organization.
BLIND TRANSIT ADVOCATE TO VISIT DUBUQUE
(Editor's Note: Though the time for this event has come and gone, I think many of you will enjoy reading about the public awareness work of one of ICUB's board members.)
WHEN: 1:00 p.m., Tuesday, October 25, 2011
WHERE: City of Dubuque, The Jewel (Keyline) Transit, Dubuque Iowa
2401 Central Avenue, Dubuque, IA
WHAT: Frank Strong from Des Moines will ride a Dubuque “The Jewel” (Keyline) Transit Service Bus as part of his goal of riding each of Iowa’s 18 fixed-route public transit systems. Frank is a public transit advocate who encourages everyone to make use of the valuable public transit services available in their communities. Frank, along with other public transit advocates, will ride the Dubuque Jewel (Keyline) Transit Bus to promote awareness of the ease and convenience of using public transit services in Dubuque.
Frank is promoting public transit to encourage everyone to make use of public transit services. Many people do not use public transit because they are not sure of how to ride the bus or where the bus actually goes. Blind people like Frank have been riding public transit and teaching people how to use transit for many years. Public transit is the “freedom machine” for many people with disabilities. And public transit is now more accessible than ever for everyone!
Frank is promoting public transit to relieve traffic congestion, reduce pollution, and reduce carbon emissions. Frank also encourages the use of public transit to help Iowans stand up for energy independence by reducing America’s dependence on foreign oil. Frank states that by using less imported oil, each of us can help make a difference by reducing our use of fossil fuels. By doing so, we can strengthen our economy and help ourselves remain independent and self-reliant.
Frank is working with several different statewide organizations which promote public transit services as well as their own statewide outreach. These organizations include the Iowa Department of Economic Development, the Iowa Arts Council and local State and Federal elected officials.
Everyone can and should join Frank on the bus in Dubuque!
Let’s stand up for energy independence today!
Frank will also perform music on his guitar while he rides the Dubuque bus. This live music feature is not usually available on any kind of public transit but it will be on October 25!
Frank Strong can be reached at his place of employment at the Central Iowa Center for Independent Living at telephone number (515) 243 1742, extension 3 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
BLIND IOWA ARTIST FEATURED IN AMERICAN PRINTING HOUSE FOR THE BLIND EXHIBIT
(Editor's Note: Many of you will remember Joel Ray, a past Marie Hoenig Memorial Perkins Brailler Award recipient, for his talent in creating braille pictures. Joel contacted me in September to share the good news that his submission "Birdhouse, Bird, Tree and Flower" was accepted for inclusion in APH Insights, the American Printing House for the Blind's annual juried art competition and exhibition. The text of the cover letter and certificate is reprinted below. Congratulations, Joel!
Dear Joel Ray:
Congratulations! Your work, Birdhouse, Bird, Tree and Flower, has been chosen to be exhibited in APH InSights 2011, the twentieth annual juried art competition held by the American Printing House for the Blind.
The competition attracted 396 entries this year. We continue to be amazed at the talent of the artists who participate.
Adult competition categories included two-dimensional art, sculpture or crafts.
Preschool through high school work was judged according to grade placement of the artist. The three jurors judged all entries within each category on the
basis of originality of concept, expressive use of medium and artistic excellence and selected eighty-three pieces for the exhibition. From these "show
pieces" of art, awards were selected in each of nine categories.
Thank you for participating. We appreciate your taking the time and effort to share your talent with us.
Certificate of Acceptance
in the twentieth Annual APH Art Competition and Exhibition
Louisville, Kentucky, May 2011
be it hereby known that Joel Ray has created and artwork that have been accepted for exhibition in APH InSights 2011 an art competition and exhibition sponsored by the American Printing House for the Blind
Editor's Note: Randy was the husband of Becky Criswell, manager of the Iowa Department for the Blind's Independent Living program and long-time friend of ICUB.)
Randal Scot Criswell died unexpectedly at his home in Prairie City, Iowa on
Monday, August 22, 2011.
Randy was born to Kenny and Grace (Thompson) Criswell on September 29, 1958 in Grinnell, Iowa. On November 24, 1984 he married Becky (Witte) Criswell.
Randy is survived by four brothers, John (Brenda) Criswell of Urbandale,
Iowa, Rod (Susie) Criswell of Malcom, Iowa, Jim (Heidi) Criswell, and Steve
(Janietta) Criswell of Montezuma, Iowa; two sisters, Cheryl Criswell of
Kentucky and Denise Criswell of Nevada; and a large and loving extended
family including many nieces, nephews, grandnieces and grandnephews.
Above all, Randy treasured his family. He loved hosting, sharing, and
exploring with them. His curiosity and joy in life were contagious. Though
his work success was as the operator of a small business, he was proud of
his farming heritage. Together, he and Becky nurtured their acreage in
Prairie City, Iowa, which they cherished.
Randy was unconventional in his thinking, fiercely independent, optimistic, curious, and generous-hearted. He faced many health challenges and losses in
his life, but did so with a joyous heart, always pursuing fully the business
Visitation will be held Thursday, August 25, 2011 from 4 to 8 p.m. at
Hamilton's Funeral Home, 605 Lyon Street, Des Moines. The family will be
present from 6 to 8 p.m. Inurnment of his cremains will be held at a later
In Randy's memory and honor, the family asks that any contributions or memorials be given to the Iowa Department for the Blind, 524 4th St., Des Moines, IA, 50309. Randy was a student at the Department's Orientation
Center in the early 1980s. He credited his experience there and his
interaction with knowledgeable, experienced persons who were blind with
giving him the confidence to pursue his career. Randy's pioneering spirit
helped blaze the trail for the interstate highway vending operation as well
as other food service, downhill skiing, and welding programs for persons who
are blind. Randy's many other interests included gardening, beer making,
reading, fitness training, stock investing, herbology, gadgetry, guitars, dancing and rock music.
Randy was a gentle and strong spirit who was well-loved and will be missed
by many. Online condolences may be left for the family at
Kathryn Mary Davis
(Editor's Note: Kathryn's daughter Lisa, an ICUB member, worked at the Department for the Blind for many years. She has been a mentor to me since she was my instructor in the Orientation Center.)
PEORIA - Kathryn Mary Davis, 97, of Peoria died at her residence at the St. Augustine Manor at 4:49 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2011, after a brief illness.
Kathryn was born to Frank and Minerva (Mitchell) Freepartner on July 6, 1914, in Effingham, Ill. She married Raymond Davis on April 23, 1938, in Peoria. He preceded her in death on Nov. 21, 1991, in Peoria. An infant son also preceded her in death.
She is survived by her children, Fred (Arlene) Lynch of Hillsboro, N.M., Sharon (Davis) Voegele of Concord, Ohio, Diana (Phil) Lane of Mapleton, Ill., John Davis of Flagstaff, Ariz., and Lisa Davis of Urbandale, Iowa. She has eight grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.
Kathryn graduated from Effingham High School and began studies to become a classical pianist following high school graduation.
In keeping with her efforts toward lifelong learning, Kathryn successfully completed a number of fine arts and science courses at Illinois Central College in her late sixties.
Above all, Kathryn cherished her family, instilling in her children a strong work ethic and sense of responsibility.
She served as a role model to family and friends by promoting the importance of deep spirituality and strong faith, lifelong learning and educational achievement with an appreciation of music, literature and the fine arts.
She delighted in sharing with others her love of the outdoors, fishing, camping, gardening and picnicking.
She was a chef extraordinaire, treating family and friends to her scrumptious home cooking, often using fruits and vegetables from her garden.
Kathryn was an avid and skillful bridge player and belonged to a number of bridge groups.
She was a member of the West Peoria Women's Republican Club and worked in a number of parent-teacher organizations.
Kathryn resided at the St. Augustine Manor for the last 10 years, where she was an active part of the spiritual community.
A funeral Mass will be at 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 24, 2011, in the St. Augustine Manor Chapel. Msgr. Don J. Fitzpatrick will officiate. Visitation will be from 5 to 7 p.m. Friday at Wright & Salmon Mortuary and 30 minutes prior to the Mass on Saturday at St. Augustine Manor. Burial will be in St. Joseph Cemetery, West Peoria.
In Kathryn's memory and honor, the family wishes any memorial contributions be given to St. Augustine Manor or Hospice Compassus.
Tributes and condolences may be submitted to www.wrightandsalmon.com.
FORMER IOWA Basketball Recruit James Speed Dies at 61
(Reprinted from a University of Iowa Press Release, September 15, 2011)
Former University of Iowa basketball player James Speed has passed away at the age of 61. Speed was living in Las Vegas, Nev., and died Wednesday of complications from liver cancer.
Speed and his wife of 36 years, Sylvia, have lived in Las Vegas for the past 36 years. He is survived by his wife, son and daughter and three step children. Services are pending.
Speed was a prized Hawkeye recruit in 1970, when he tragically lost his sight before he ever played a game for Iowa. He was a 6-7 forward who played junior college basketball at Imperial Valley Junior College in El Centro, Cal. He signed with Iowa despite offers from over 85 other schools. He was raised and attended Valencia High School in Shreveport, La.
Speed came to Iowa to play for Coach Dick Schultz. Joining him in that heralded recruiting class were Neil Fegebank and Jimmy Collins.
A sinus infection led to his losing sight in both eyes. He went on to overcome his blindness by working as a basketball coach, basketball announcer on the radio and most recently in real estate.
STATEMENT OF COMMISSIONER MIGNON L. CLYBURN
Re: Video Description: Implementation of the Twenty-First Century
Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010, Report & Order
In restoring the video description regulations that the Commission
previously adopted in 2000, we further expand access to video programming
and take another step toward the fulfillment of the rulemakings sought by
the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 (CVAA).
In responding to the full intent of Congress, we have acted in a manner that
will enable certain citizens among us to reap the benefits of televised
content in an even more complete way, ending a wait that has gone on for far
I often speak about the rich diversity of this country, and when doing so I
am usually making mention of varying ethnicities or my fellow female
citizens. However, the beneficiaries of the rulemaking we release today are
part of a group that isn't often included under the umbrella of diversity in
this context, but it should be. Our blind and visually-impaired family
members, friends, and neighbors have been waiting for user-friendly
communications services that address their needs in an equal and thorough
way, and this action gets them one step closer to enjoying something that so
many of us take for granted.
In providing video description, America's blind community will not only be
able to enjoy the entertainment that video content providers offer, but they
will also be part of the conversations around it. I want to stress this, as
I can imagine how left out a visually-impaired child feels when his or her
classmates are discussing what happened on a popular show the night before,
and to not be a part of that conversation or be able to follow along. The
same is true for blind adults, for whom the proverbial water cooler chats
about TV shows hold little meaning or enjoyment. This item will assist
those individuals in getting even closer to the mainstream when it comes to
popular culture, and we are a better and more complete nation for it.
The July 1, 2012 date of enactment will allow users of video description to
enjoy the new TV shows of next fall from the beginning, which is an integral
component of the social importance of this item. Further, with the 22nd
anniversary of the signing of the Americans with Disabilities Act falling on
July 26, 2012, I am ecstatic that the video description improvements we
implement via this Order will be in place.
I want to congratulate the visually-impaired community for their tireless
and extraordinary efforts toward this historic development, and am honored
to be part of the culmination of such determination and passion.
Blind Americans Equality Day Presidential Proclamation:
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release October 14, 2011
BLIND AMERICANS EQUALITY DAY, 2011
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
Generations of blind and visually impaired Americans have dedicated their passion and skills to enhancing our national life -- leading as public servants, penning works of literature, lending their voice to music, and inspiring as champions of sport. On Blind Americans Equality Day, we celebrate the achievements of blind and visually impaired Americans and reaffirm our commitment to advancing their complete social and economic integration.
This year also marks the 75th anniversary of the passage of the Randolph-Sheppard Act. For decades, the legislation has provided openings for blind Americans to work as vendors on Federal property, creating meaningful entrepreneurial opportunities and enabling them to contribute to our economy. These jobs have enriched the lives of those participating in the Randolph-Sheppard program and enhanced public understanding of blindness for those who have interacted with the program's vendors.
Though we have made progress in the march to equality for the blind and those with low vision, there is still more work to be done. In addition to improving access to technology and employment opportunities, this January, I signed the Pedestrian Safety Enhancement Act. This landmark legislation requires electric and hybrid car manufacturers to add sounds to alert all pedestrians to the presence of these unusually quiet vehicles. These provisions will help increase the safety and independence of blind and visually impaired Americans.
By joint resolution approved on October 6, 1964 (Public Law 88-628, as amended), the Congress designated October 15 of each year as "White Cane Safety Day" to recognize the contributions of Americans who are blind or have low vision. Today, let us recommit to forging ahead with the work of perfecting our Union and ensuring we remain a Nation where all our people, including those living with disabilities, have every opportunity to achieve their dreams.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim October 15, 2011, as Blind Americans Equality Day. I call upon public officials, business and community leaders, educators, librarians, and Americans across the country to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies, activities, and programs.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this fourteenth day of October, in the year of our Lord two thousand eleven, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-sixth. BARACK OBAMA
(Retrieved from the MCB Listserv, November 5, 2011.)
MIRA Foundation USA is a national nonprofit based in Aberdeen, NC. It is unique in that it is the only organization in the United States dedicated to providing guide dogs to blind children and youth between the ages of 11-17, and they do so at no charge to the recipient.
MIRA was founded in 2009 by Robert and Elaine Baillie after Bob became totally blind following complications from coronary bypass surgery. Although he initially felt great despair at the sudden turn of events in his life, close friends convinced Bob to travel to MIRA Canada where he was paired with his magnificent Bernese Mountain guide dog, Devon. Both Bob and Elaine quickly realized that Devon was the key to Bob's adaptation to life with his new challenges, and they decided that they wanted to provide this opportunity to the underserved population of blind children and youth.
Today, two years after its inception, MIRA USA is a young but vital organization that can be very proud of the work they have accomplished. In 2010, in only the first full year of operation,
MIRA paired two dogs with students: one an eleven year old girl from the San Diego, CA area, and the other a young man from Durham, NC who is now a student at Stanford University. The girl became the youngest person in the US to ever have received a guide dog, and just over a year later she and her dog are thriving. She is an honors student, speaks three languages, plays three musical instruments, and has won gold medals in mathematics and Braille competitions. Even better, she is remarkably well adjusted and confident with her dog. In fact, both students are thriving.
Although MIRA USA is a separate legal entity from MIRA CA, we work together in very close partnership, since our dogs and our students are trained on the MIRA CA campus, and we benefit from the thirty year history MIRA CA has with training guide and service dogs, including twenty of those years as the only organization in the world dedicated to training guide dogs for children. In the last twenty years they have paired approximately 200 students with dogs and have never had a rejection. This is a tribute to MIRA CA's careful breeding, selection and training of dogs, as well as their meticulous assessment and training of student candidates. MIRA's global reputation is undisputed and well earned.
The staff at MIRA USA is not only responsible for searching out potential MIRA guide dog recipients, but also ensuring that all paperwork is completed and assembled on time, scheduling and overseeing assessments and follow up visits, and of course, raising the necessary funds to make the pairings possible. Our signature fundraising event, Dining in the Dark, is a semi-formal dinner that is held in a country club environment where the diners don blindfolds from the time they sit down to the main course until dessert is served. MIRA has held this event two successive years in the Sandhills, and once in Raleigh, with events scheduled for the Spring of 2012 in the Sandhills, Raleigh, and Charlotte. Dining in the Dark is not only a revealing event, it has also proven to be fun as people gain awareness about the challenges of chasing cherry tomatoes around a salad plate or simply getting food to their mouths without dropping it everywhere when they cannot see what they are doing.
In July of 2011, MIRA USA sent six students to Canada for training in preparation for receiving a guide dog. Two of the students were from the Sandhills area of NC, two from Raleigh, one from Fayetteville, and one from Aiken, SC. All six students passed the month long session with flying colors, working eight hours per day, six days per week to master the necessary skills to navigate safely and confidently with their canine partners. Since their return home, the students have had one follow-up training session at their home base with a MIRA trainer and will soon undergo a second session. As safety is the paramount concern for both student and dog, MIRA does not cut any corners in assuring that every pair develops a strong working partnership. To this end, MIRA will conduct as many follow-up sessions as necessary; however, this rarely exceeds three.
Future plans for MIRA USA include the establishment of a training center in Moore County which will serve as a facility for training guide dogs and the students being paired with them, as well as a center for all blind and severely visually impaired persons to access resources such as an audio library, appropriate job training, social activities, and whatever other needs are identified. Obviously, the establishment of such a center will be dictated once again by funding, either through a generous individual or corporation, or some other committed entity. MIRA believes, however, from our own research and the feedback from professionals in the field of blind assistance that this facility represents a very real need in the area.
Finally, MIRA will continue to educate the general population about the challenges faced by the blind and the ways in which a guide dog assists in mitigating those challenges. Over the last two years, Bob and Devon have addressed over two thousand Moore County fourth graders in partnership with the Moore County Pet responsibility group. While Pet Responsibility teaches children to advocate for their pets, MIRA teaches them about the ways in which a guide dog advocates for its owner. They have also spoken to dozens of civic, church, and general groups seeking to learn more about the blind and guide dogs. It is a never ending challenge, but one that Bob, and MIRA, takes very seriously.
Cedar Rapids Chapter Report
By Shirley Wiggins
Good morning to all, and what a good morning it is. I hope the day is as beautiful where you are as it is here in Cedar Rapids.
First, our chapter wishes to thank all who helped make our picnic a success. Each year I wonder "will it be the last?" But each year it continues to be well attended and all enjoy, so again, we have the building reserved for next year's picnic the 27th of August. We are now planning our yearly Christmas party and auction. It will be at the Pizza Ranch in Vinton the 19th of November. The hours are 11:00 A.M. until mid-afternoon. I can imagine our main topic of conversation will be what has happened and what will happen to our school. Our longtime friend and member of ICUB, Dove Tanner, is recuperating from a fall in his apartment. He isn't getting out as yet, but we are all hoping he can make it to the Christmas party.
As for the support group, we have gained 4 members and seem to stay at 25 or 26 members. When we don't have a speaker, we go through our membership alphabetically as each gives a short history of his or her life before and after blindness. We are up to Jonathan Ice, and I'm looking forward to that. This month each of us will share what we are most thankful for this year. We will make a few plans for the December Christmas party and, of course, we will want Eldred to sing "O Holy Night." Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas to all.
Dubuque Association of the Blind
By Bob Nesler
We are continuing to meet at the Tri-State Independent Blind Center. A few of us are members and participants in activities of both organizations. Four of our members attended the Cedar Rapids picnic in August, and I understand there were very good weather, food, and company. In September the Dubuque Banquet went well with 30 attending. It was at Bishop’s again which everyone seems to enjoy. We had lots of good laughs from the good humor girl, Dhyana Nesler, who told us some funny quips. Rose Stratton did our Auction as usual. Thanks again to those who brought things for us to sell. We did very well, and it should keep us going for another year. In December we are making plans to hold a Chapter Christmas party at a local restaurant. From all of us to all of you here’s hoping the holidays will be good to you.
Des Moines Chapter Report
By Elsie Monthei
COMING UP SOON: Nominations for Officers and Board Members, Des Moines Chapter 2012
President: Elsie Monthei Vice President: Jo Slayton
Treasurer: Arlo Monthei Secretary: Donna Seliger
(recording and corresponding)
Directors: Roger Christianson Dustin Bushnell
Mavis McVeety Marilyn Natale
Frank Strong Gary Patterson
We will have the elections in November. Because of Veterans Day our meeting has been moved to November 18. We encourage nominations from the floor, but you must be a current member of the Des Moines Chapter to participate.
On December 10, 2011, we will hold our Christmas party at The Spaghetti Works. We will be getting a letter off with details.
THE YEAR IN REVIEW: We have had a successful year. Our chapter has increased membership. Sending out a letter has helped with getting new members.
In January, we invited Randy Landgrebe, Director of the Iowa Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, to our meeting to answer questions and discuss the BARD System. He brought us up-to-date on putting our magazines into digital format. Donna Seliger and I attended the Iowa Department for the Blind Legislative Open House, and our chapter donated funds to help with the cost of the food. Donna and I had both Braille and print information for the Iowa Legislature about the National Organization of ACB, and Des Moines Chapter of ICUB.
In February, Des Moines City Engineer, Gary Fox, spoke at our monthly chapter meeting. He provided us with information about how we, as blind persons, can have input to the city for making changes in our neighborhood if we have issues concerning dangerous street crossings and other traffic and pedestrian concerns. He explained that we have a new audible crossing for the blind students at Grand View College. I think that our exchange was informative and helpful for him.
We were able to help with the Iowa Braille Challenge. Many of us corrected the students’ work while others helped with lunch. We were able to provide a donation to help pay for the event.
In March, Louise Duvall from The Friends of the Iowa Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped was our speaker. She brought us up-to-date on events planned, and goals met. We were able to give a donation. Thank you, Louise for keeping us informed about activities of the Friends of the Iowa Library for the Blind and physically Handicapped.
In April, we had our craft and bake sale at the Department for the Blind. I want to thank all who helped with providing the crafts and baked goods. I also want to thank those who bought the things we had to sell. This has been a successful fundraiser for the Chapter. It is nice to be welcomed for this event.
In May, we had our state Convention. The Des Moines chapter sponsored Hospitality. This has traditionally been a fundraiser for the Des Moines Chapter. Arlo and I have worked together to make this event fun. I want to thank the program committee and everyone who worked so hard for this event.
In June, I worked on my gardening presentation for the ACB National Convention. I want to thank the library for helping with the transcription of Braille materials and the Braille design. It took a huge amount of preparation time.
In July, we had our picnic and swimming party at the Department. We played BINGO and were glad to have the Braille cards available. Many people brought good food to eat. I want to thank those who donated the door prizes and food. I also want to thank those who brought guests, as each guest is a potential member. Thank you for coming and supporting our chapter event. And thanks to the Department for the use of the building.
In August, I gave a short president’s report about attending the national convention and how my presentation went for Friends in Art. We also discussed the Midwest Regional Convention and Donna Seliger indicated that she was going to attend on her own time. It is hoped that more younger blind persons can attend a regional event and join ACB.
In September, a group of people discussed their new and blind friendly alternative technologies. Deborah Caldbeck shared her new navigation system. Dustin Bushnell talked about some items which he finds helpful, including an audible meat thermometer. Gary Patterson shared his expertise on a new Braille device. Other persons who shared ideas were Creig and Jo Slayton and Elsie Monthei. Often we have time set aside for this purpose. Some items are simple and some are complex. The important thing to note is that our members keep us informed and help us do our jobs while helping to keep us independent. I think what is most important in the proof of the product is in the blind user not in the sale. If you need more information, contact these people.
A nomination committee was appointed, and we have our election of officers in November. Ed Sheppard gave us an update about a former Department for the Blind staff person, Shoshana Hebshi, who had an encounter with Homeland Security. We hope she is doing well.
In October, we invited Elizabeth Presutti from the Des Moines Area Regional Transit Authority. She gave us a great presentation on changes to occur and information on long term planning. Many of us were not able to participate in the public hearings. We were pleased that she consented to be our guest speaker and that she addressed many of our questions and concerns. Transportation is important to all of us. We need to urge our members in the House of Representatives to be in support of the transportation bill. Braley and Latham have indicated support. We need to get the other Representatives from Iowa on board. Later we will need to be contacting Senators Harkin and Grassley for their support of the transportation bill.
We will participate in the Younkers Community Day Fundraiser. If you need coupons ask Arlo Monthei for them.
We had a guest from the Orientation Center at our October meeting. She told us a little bit about herself and joined us for our meeting. Thank you.
Frank Strong invited us to attend the Independent Living Presentation at the State Capitol. Doctor Avallis was going to speak in the old Supreme Court Chamber. We encouraged persons interested to attend. Last year Luis Gallegos, Ambassador from Ecuador and the UN Representative on World Disability Rights, spoke at our chapter meeting.
THINGS OF INTEREST: I went out in the field with Becky Criswell to Indianola. Vivian Verhule had planned for this event. It was a community in-service. I believe that this is a great way for the Department for the Blind to reach out to communities to provide educational opportunities for older blind persons and those who provide services to them. Thank you, Becky.
THINGS TO PLAN: I hope to invite the following speakers to upcoming meetings:
* Gail Stricker who is in charge of the Book Club discussion groups
* The teacher from Iowa Methodist Health systems to learn what is new in drugs and research.
* Someone to tell us how Des Moines is becoming a more friendly and safe area for aging Iowans
* Someone to tell us how we can obtain locally grown food delivered to our homes.
Let me know what is working for you, and other programs which are of interest to your communities.
I was invited to attend the kickoff of the Oral History Project in Indianola at the History Center. Many of us who participated in this endeavor were present. Karen Keninger, Director of the Iowa Department for the Blind, was the presenter. The Orientation students were also in attendance.
Some of us attended the Elizabeth Perowski Iowa Library workshop and Luncheon. Mavis McVeety, a Des Moines chapter member, received the DEAR Reader Award.
I have been reading the book “People of Vision: A History of the American Council of the Blind” by James and Marjorie Megivern. I now realize the importance of communication and I hope that I will be better about keeping our other Chapters informed about our activities.
By Mike Hoenig
CARAMELIZED PARTY MIX