Published by the
IOWA COUNCIL OF THE UNITED BLIND
An American Council of the Blind Affiliate
Bettina Dolinsek, President
304 W. Cedar St.
Goldfield, IA 50542
Don Wirth, Co-Editor
921 9th St., #208
Ames, IA 50010
Sandy Tigges, Co-Editor
2904 34th St.
Des Moines, IA 50310
Table of Contents
Hi members and friends!
I can’t believe it is March already; I’m so ready for winter to end. I love knowing the days are getting longer and we are going to be able to spend more time outside. As I sit here writing this, there is still snow on the ground. Hopefully it won’t last long.
In January the Governor announced her State government realignment bill. In response we have all been busy writing to our legislators, sending texts, visiting the capitol, and attending hearings so that the functions of the Commission for the Blind and the status of the Department as an agency could be maintained. I’m so proud of us, ICUB, and all we have done and will continue to do to protect the rights of blind Iowans. Unfortunately, the bill has been passed and signed into law by the Governor, without including our requests to maintain Commission functions and our agency’s status. The result of the legislative change is that the Director of the Iowa Department for the Blind is now a political appointee who serves at the pleasure of the Governor rather than a position that is filled through consideration and selection by the Commission for the Blind.
Despite not being successful in defeating the changes, we achieved some accomplishments during our efforts on this legislation. We worked closely with the National Federation of the Blind of Iowa (NFBI) to coordinate our message and present a united front for all blind Iowans. For the first time ever, we were able to present a letter to the Governor signed by both me and Scott Van Gorp, President of the NFBI, requesting that the three-member Commission for the Blind have at least one member of ICUB and one member of NFBI within its membership. The cooperation and collaboration reflected in our letter was the result of a number of resolutions passed by ICUB at State Conventions and actions taken by the NFBI Board of Directors.
Several of our members as well as other blind Iowans made presentations at legislative hearings. Legislators, news media and other Iowans recognized the passion of the blind community as we lobbied to be allowed to lead full and productive lives.
The State Convention Committee is hard at work putting together our 2023 Annual State Conference and Convention. I’m super excited about our theme and all the things we have planned so far. August will come sooner than you think, and you can now begin making plans with the hotel to book your rooms. Feel free to make reservations as soon as you can.
Our theme this year is “Art Is for Everyone.” We will have many interactive exhibitors, breakout sessions, and speakers. I know you won’t want to miss out on this Convention. You will find additional information in an article that appears later in this Bulletin.
Four of our members attended the American Council of the Blind’s National Legislative and Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C. What a cool opportunity for them to meet with our national legislators and as well as fellow members of the American Council of the Blind (ACB)! Check out the next article to learn all they accomplished and the events in which they participated.
Thank you for all you do as members and friends to continue to push ICUB forward.
Bettina Dolinsek, President
Iowa Council of the United Blind
Can’t Take Iowa Out of the Girl
I was blessed this year to be asked to represent ICUB at the American Council of the Blind’s National Legislative and Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C. It has been a couple of years since we have convened in person. For the benefit of all members, ACB decided to do things a little differently this year.
First, there was a virtual-only weekend that took place from March 3-7. I know—this is a little more than a weekend! March 7 was my travel day, so I was unable to attend half of the events. They took the girl out of Iowa, and I was off with another ICUB member, Tasha Welsh, to the Des Moines Airport for our flight to Washington, D.C., to participate in the in-person Conference which began on March 9th. We finished our adventure on March 13th with a couple of in-person visits to legislators and staff on the hill. It was a great experience. I did manage to maintain my Midwest values throughout!
Our travel adventure began at a mystery gate at the airport. We weren’t the only ones puzzled as to where exactly we were supposed to board our plane. The app we were using offered only a couple of dashes in the place where a gate number should have appeared, and, in the words of a sighted passenger, it was like a scavenger hunt to find where we were to go. I prefer the idea of teleportation over gate access, but alas, it was not meant to be. Once we took off, things were fine, and we were able to find our gate assistants in D.C. without too much of a problem. This is where advocating for ourselves began. Even though our assistants were fine in that they didn’t offer us wheelchairs, they did not know the layout of the airport and didn’t even know how to find the Metro, the public transportation we were relying upon to get to the hotel. It was later in the evening and beyond the after-work crowd, so we were able to entertain one of the Metro employees while getting our Metro cards and learning how the system works. I guess you could say we forgot we weren’t in Iowa, and the staff wasn’t quite sure what to think of the Midwest nice we brought with us.
We made it to the correct stop and to our hotel, and then enjoyed a full day to settle in and explore Old Town Alexandria, where we had some great sushi and a ride on the local trolley. By the end of the day, we had connected with the rest of our Iowa group and were ready for upcoming adventures.
Our time at the Conference contained a mix of activities. We had tours on four days. The most memorable outing was Friday, when that tour ended with the accessible currency rally. It was cool out, and it drizzled the entire time. Our sign lettering melted in the rain. But the speakers were fantastic, and Kolby’s version of “RESPECT” was fabulous! That day, my Midwest roots again surfaced as I tried to make sure everyone was warm enough and able to handle our not-so-favorable conditions. Those Midwest habits were at work during our other tours as well. Once you’ve become and served as a Mom of four, it’s hard to turn off that maternal instinct!
On Saturday and Sunday mornings, we participated in various breakout sessions. I went to all of the ACB-focused events. I would have preferred these sessions to be a little more centered on meeting with our legislators. Still, I did enjoy meeting and speaking with new people, especially those whom I had only talked to over Zoom. I learned a great deal from other blind persons while chatting on the bus to different locations and during a group gathering at an evening meal.
Most days, we four Iowans joined one another for a meal or just hanging out. These were great opportunities to build stronger connections among ICUB members. I would highly recommend such get-togethers to anyone attending the Leadership Conference in the future. It allowed us to work out Conference details while really get to know each other's strengths and weaknesses which in turn should lead us to more productive Chapter meetings and membership in the future.
Originally, we were to meet with staff from each of Iowa’s six Congressional members. Due to scheduling conflicts, we were only able to meet with two legislators’ staffs. The meetings and conversations were not nearly as intimidating as I expected. I now have a better idea of how such exchanges unfold which will help me and others have more profitable Zoom meetings or calls with those legislators and staff members whom we cannot meet in person.
Unfortunately, even with all the time at the Conference, there was little actual preparation for what occurred during visits with legislators and/or their staffs. I hope we can get a D.C. leadership committee started at the national level so that future Conference attendees will be better prepared. An example of the current situation is that, only shortly before our departure on March 7, we learned information to hand to legislators would be provided at the Conference. The material was a digital file-only document without print copies. We ICUB members were fortunate in that we had prepared and printed documentation of our priorities, a description of ICUB itself and information about our experiences and concerns as blind Iowans. This is a small item, but vital to the professional and informed image we wanted to present as citizens who are blind. No matter how many people I asked about what to expect, such education or preparation was never offered.
Overall, it was an amazing week--of getting to know and hug “virtual” acquaintances whom I had only encountered on Zoom, as well as meeting many new folks. I learned aspects of ACB projects and processes that just don't come up in day-to-day conversations. I was also reminded of how much more needs to be done in our communities to make various facets of our lives accessible for all. It was a great experience, and I was honored to be able to represent Iowa at this event. Lastly, I learned that no matter how far I travel from Iowa, I will always be an Iowa girl first!
ICUB Ambassador Program
Did you know...that the Iowa Council of the United Blind has an Ambassador Program? In 2017 the Des Moines Chapter created a steering committee to research how we as a local organization could use our resources to benefit the public. It was determined at that time to develop the Ambassador Program.
What is the Ambassador Program? The Ambassador Program is a way for ICUB to get our members involved in educating the public about blindness, themselves, and our organization.
What would I do as an Ambassador? The opportunities are limitless! We do speaking engagements and staff booths at such public events as support groups, state and national conventions, IDB business classes and staff trainings, STEM festivals, health fairs, farmers markets, senior community centers, independent living facilities, churches, professional organizations, and local public events. Other activities we might get involved in include providing a Braille literacy table at our local library or county fair, reading Braille books to an elementary school class, manning an aids and devices table, hosting a game night, putting together a low vision basket for our local independent/skilled care facility, passing out signature guides to local medical offices, or speaking with local healthcare providers or businesses such as movie theaters about training staff to serve consumers who are blind. We have opportunities behind the scenes as well! Ambassadors also research local and statewide events, handle scheduling, collect data, order supplies, and make phone calls.
Why would I want to become an Ambassador? As an ambassador, you have the opportunity to connect with others in your community, develop new skills, and have fun engaging with fellow ICUB members.
What do I need to become an Ambassador? Just you and your story! We will help you with the rest. We provide support, supplies, transportation reimbursement, and fellowship!
To learn more about the Ambassador Program, contact Lori Trujillo Roush at 515-402-3508 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org .
Shopping to Benefit ICUB—No More Smiles
For the past several years, we have used this space to promote the Amazon Smile charitable program that netted ICUB contributions of over $450 from customers who had shopped at Amazon and designated ICUB as their charity of choice. Well, no longer. Amazon has decided to cancel the program and take a different approach to its charitable giving.
While we will miss the funds we received from this program, we want to thank Amazon for making it available for the past several years. More importantly, we want to thank those of you who made the donations possible by selecting ICUB as your preferred charity. Every little bit (and for some of you, it was more than a little bit) helped the financial health of ICUB. Of course, we will be looking for ways to replace the lost revenue. If you have ideas, please email Jeana Mowery at email@example.com .
Join Us at ICUB’s 2023 Thirty-Fifth Annual Conference and Convention
Our 2023 ICUB Convention committee is hard at work putting together this year’s annual ICUB Conference and Convention. Our theme is “Art Is….” You guessed it: we are brushing aside the mundane and artfully designing a Convention full of art in its many unique and colorful forms. Let your imagination soar! We are planning interactive exhibits, informative speakers, exciting entertainment, and much more that will offer any color hue on the palette! It may not be an Ecole des Beaux Artes (a School of Fine Arts), but you won’t want to miss out on this year’s Convention!
Here are some vital facts which will help as you plan to join us on August 25th and 26th. You are welcome to make your room reservation at the Courtyard Marriott in Ankeny as soon as…now. The Convention room rate will be $104 per night ($116.48 all taxes included). You can reserve a room by calling Marriott central booking (800-321-2211) or the Ankeny Marriott office (515-422-5555). Be sure to ask for the Iowa Council of the United Blind convention rate.
If you joined us last year, you know what to expect. If not, here are a few details about the hotel. Each room is equipped with a microwave and small refrigerator. The hotel Bistro restaurant, in the main lobby, serves breakfast and dinner. There will be breakfast, luncheon, and dinner banquet meals offered as part of the Saturday Convention itself. Nearby restaurants are also available via Uber or taxi. The hotel stocks a grab and go area which contains snacks, small microwaveable meals, and beverages for purchase.
We are very excited about the upcoming 2023 Convention and would love to see you there! And, as always, feel free to reach out if you have questions or need anything from the Convention committee. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 866-436-0141. You can also use the “Contact us” form on ICUB’s website, icublind.org.
Michael Hoenig: Our Distinguished ICUB Member
Jena Mowery and Others
We have a celebrity in our midst! Michael Hoenig, our very own long-time ICUB member and current Board member, has been appointed by Governor Reynolds to the Iowa Commission for the Blind, and has been honored with the 2022 Lifetime Advocacy Award for his of work promoting independence in the disability community. Following are an email that had been sent out by ICUB President Bettina Dolinsek announcing Mike’s Commission appointment and an article from the January, 2023 issue of Creating Change, the Iowa Developmental Disabilities Council Annual Magazine describing his accomplishments. The article is reprinted with permission of the publisher. Way to go, Mike!
President Dolinsek wrote:
As many of you have heard, Mike Hoenig has been appointed to the Commission Board. We are so excited to know he will be serving in this capacity, and know he will do a great job for the blind of Iowa. Some of you may not know Mike, so I asked that he send me a little bit about himself for all of you to get to know him better. Congratulations, Mike, on your appointment and I look forward to what great things you will do. Mike said:
“I have been blind since birth, and have lived nearly my entire life in Iowa. After graduating in 1980 from the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School in Vinton, I received my BA in psychology from Central College (1984) and my MA in rehabilitation counseling from the University of Iowa (1987). I began my professional career as a rehabilitation teacher with the Iowa Department for the Blind’s Independent Living program in 1985, relocating to the Quad Cities in 1989 to accept a similar position with the Illinois Department of Rehabilitation Services. I subsequently worked for a nonprofit disability organization before going to work as a training coordinator with the University of Iowa Center for Disabilities and Development (UCEDD) in 1993. I retired from full-time employment with UCEDD in August 2022, but continue as a consultant on several projects. I previously served on the Iowa Commission for the Blind and currently serve on the Iowa Developmental Disabilities Council and the Friendship Force Quad Cities Board of Directors. I enjoy travel, sports, dancing, gardening, and playing cards.”
2022 LIFETIME ADVOCACY AWARD
Creating positive change isn’t always easy and can take years of effort. This year, we felt it was important to recognize the great work of someone who has spent more than 30 years advocating for and with people with disabilities. Michael Hoenig received the 2022 Lifetime Advocacy Award for his ongoing work as an advocate, mentor and friend to the disability community.
In 1993, Mike helped create an advocacy training project called Iowans with Disabilities Exercising Advocacy Skills (IDEAS) and went on to become involved in numerous other initiatives including the Conner Training Consortium, the Iowa Department of Public Health’s Living Well with a Disability program, the People First conference, and the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities training program. As co-chair of the Council on Disability Awareness, Mike worked to ensure that the University of Iowa’s websites met the highest standards of accessibility. In 2016, the university’s websites were cited as the most accessible in the nation. He also co-hosts the Disability Exchange podcast!
Mike recently retired after working as a program coordinator at the UCEDD for 29 years. For the past three years, he also worked closely with the Iowa Developmental Disabilities Council to implement a new youth leadership academy. Mike is continuing his lifelong advocacy work by serving as a DD Council Board member.
Robert Bacon, former director of the UCEDD, was one of the people who introduced Mike when he received this award during the Make Your Mark! Conference. “The title of the award describes Mike’s life perfectly,” he said. “Because of who Mike is as a person and lifelong advocate, Iowa is in a better place.”
Blind Lector Sees God’s Love, Mercy
Editor’s Note: The following article appeared on page 9 of The Catholic Mirror on March 17, 2023. It has been reprinted with permission of the publisher. Many of you may remember Mary Clarke as a top-notch instructor in the IDB Orientation Center. Mary’s experience is another example of blind Iowans actively contributing to their communities. We would like to share your story of community participation with our readers, too. Please send your article to us, or we can interview you and write it for you.
Blindness doesn’t keep Mary Clarke from fully experiencing and sharing her faith.
Clarke was in her 20s when she was diagnosed with retinitis pigmentosa, a hereditary eye disease generally resulting in total blindness.
“As I see it, there are three kinds of sight. There is the physical sight which I don’t have although I have my other senses,” Clarke said. “Then there is the sight brought on by reasoning which we all share and then there is the contemplative sight which to me is the most profound sight because it opens our soul up to the magnificent Spirit of God’s love and mercy.”
She learned Braille as an adult and her Braille reading is slower than those who developed the skill at an early age.
“When I am preparing a reading for Mass, I will read it over many times before I read it at Mass,” she said. “This has proved to be a tremendous spiritual blessing for me since as I read it over and over, I gain new insights into the deeper meanings of the readings.”
Clarke said she believes she can help others struggling with their challenges by accepting her challenges through God’s grace.
“This may sound rather strange, but by not being able to see distractions around me, I find myself focusing on my spiritual sanctum as I participate in the Eucharistic celebration,” she said.
Her role as lector began when she was attending Mass at Our Lady’s Immaculate Heart Catholic Church (OLIH) in Ankeny. Monsignor Steve Orr had asked parishioners to consider being volunteering to be lectors.
She said she had an overpowering urge to volunteer: “At the same time I was saying in my heart, ‘God, this is crazy…I had not read in front of people since I had lost my vision.’”
The thought persisted so she was put in touch with individual training lectors.
“I contacted the Xavier Society for the Blind. They sent me the Propers for the Sunday Masses and I began to lector at Sunday and daily Masses,” Clarke said. “For the daily Masses, the staff at OLIH would send me the readings on my computer and I would transcribe them into Braille.”
Clarke has been able to enter into many aspects of the church with the help of materials that are made for the blind.
After becoming a widow in 2012, and through 2020, Clarke managed her own home in Ankeny before moving to Waukee. She continues to lector at St. Boniface.
The Xavier Society has provided her with many different materials.
“It is inspirational to see the commitment of our patrons to their faith and some of the barriers that they’ve overcome to actively participate on a daily and weekly basis in their parishes,” said Malachy Fallon, executive director of the Xavier Society for the Blind, a nonprofit organization founded in New York City in 1900.
Its co-founders were a blind teacher of blind children, Margaret Coffey, and Jesuit Father Joseph Stadelman.
To learn about the services offered by the Xavier Society for the Blind, go to XavierSocietyForTheBlind.org .
Editor’s Note: The article is accompanied by two pictures: one, a picture of Mary standing at the ambo of St. Boniface Church while lectoring; the second, of Mary’s hands moving across a page of Braille text.
Iowa Department for the Blind Report
Director Emily Wharton
Spring brings a new season of events to IDB, and I want to highlight a few of them. From April 3-7, we will be holding our semi-annual New Staff Seminar. This is an opportunity for new staff members to learn about our history and philosophy as well as meet some of our partners like ICUB, NFBI, and the Friends of the Library. I love getting to know the new folks and helping them connect to our IDB family. At the end of the week, each participant gives a short presentation on an article or set of articles relating to the topics we covered. Even though I’ve read all the articles on the list several times, I always learn new things from these presentations. If you have ideas for articles, videos, or speeches to add to the main or elective reading lists for the week, please email them to me at email@example.com .
April is National Volunteer Month. We would like to thank and acknowledge our many volunteers who generously donate their time and efforts to support our programs and services. The Library has many behind the scenes volunteers who help with narrating books, Braille transcription, editing, shelving and processing books, and much more. Volunteers assist with our youth and senior programs, tackle paperwork, and help clean and repair our building. On April 21, 2023, we will honor our volunteers at the Elizabeth Perowsky Volunteer Workshop. Following the Perowsky Luncheon, The Friends of the Iowa Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped will host their annual meeting. There will also be workshops and training events for volunteers in the morning and afternoon. Every moment our volunteers give makes a huge difference in so many ways. Their willingness to share both their time and talents by volunteering with IDB adds so much to our capacity to empower blind Iowans to be gainfully employed and live independently.
Please remember that I hold a monthly public forum at noon on the 4th Tuesday of each month on Zoom. During the forums, you can get updates on issues of concern and ask questions about what is happening at IDB. For information on how to join the meeting via Zoom, contact Janice Eggers at 515-380-1944 or Janice.Eggers@blind.state.ia.us .
Donating Your Vehicle to Benefit ICUB
Do you need to dispose of a used vehicle? ICUB's Used Vehicle Donation Program offers a perfect solution. Your vehicle will be picked up from your home and sold at auction. A portion of the proceeds go directly to ICUB. You can claim a tax deduction equal to the dollar value of the vehicle. Call 800-899-4925 for more information.
News You Can Use
Norma A. Boge
What's that bird? Ask Merlin Bird ID—the world’s leading app for birds. Just like magic, this free app will help you solve the mystery. Merlin Bird ID helps you identify birds visually and by sound. From the renowned Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Merlin is unlike any other bird app—it's powered by eBird, the world’s largest database of bird sightings, sounds, and photos. This app offers four fun ways to identify birds: by answering a few simple questions, uploading a photo, recording a singing bird, or exploring birds by region. Find more information and download links for Android and IOS at https://merlin.allaboutbirds.org/ .
Awarewolf Gear sells the All-Terrain Cane (ATC), which gives you the power to explore where other mobility canes couldn't dream of going. It is designed for walking on more challenging terrain. With its high-strength design and innovation with lightweight super-strong titanium alloy, the ATC supports you as you walk or hike, giving you the support and stability of a reinforced mobility cane. Check it out at https://awarewolfgear.com/atc/ .
The team at BlindShell USA has announced the availability of the NLS Bard mobile app for the BlindShell Classic 2 accessible cell phone. The team has assembled a page where there is plenty of useful information about the new app, including how to get started and links to podcasts that demonstrate this exciting new feature. Go to https://blindshellusa.com/bard/ .
Interested in Braille you can keep indefinitely? The NLS Braille-on-Demand pilot program, launched in 2022, now allows all registered patrons to receive five hard-copy Braille books per month with no return date. Patrons may request books directly using the form at https://tinyurl.com/52d76nwt , or they may contact their network library for assistance in filing requests. Any Braille book available on BARD is eligible to be produced in hard copy by the program. Books will be mailed directly to requesting patrons.
Samsung has previewed a new TV mode to help people with low or limited vision. Pronounced “rah-loom-ah-no,” Relumino Mode outlines objects, enhances contrast, adjusts brightness, improves colors, and sharpens the content—all of which makes the screen look much clearer to a person with a vision impairment. Relumino Mode will be offered with the QN90C, QN80C, QN900C, and QN800C models, all of which are Samsung’s new TVs for 2023. Learn more at https://tinyurl.com/bdeswrds .
Bookshare has launched its new Reader app for Android, IOS, Windows and Alexa-enabled devices. The Bookshare collection now numbers over 1.1 million titles. Find out more about features and how to get started at https://tinyurl.com/4pu2uvhz .
Three Years and Counting!
Where were you in March 2020 when our world seemed to come to a halt? Did you jump on Hump Day Happy Hour, our first conference call during the pandemic? Were you curious about the questions of the world, and so joined us for Mysteries of the Universe? Thought it would be a good time to learn that iPhone and joined us for iPhone training? Love a good book and joined our book club? Thought cooking sounded fun and tuned in to Cooking in Quarantine? Maybe coffee and conversation on a Saturday during Coffee with Carrie was your thing. Or you needed to learn this strange thing called Zoom that everyone seemed to keep talking about. Whatever it was, we are so glad you joined us and continue to do so—three years later!
What inspired these calls was the desire to keep our members, friends, and families connected during such a difficult time. There were periods when we were hosting up to three calls a week, and although we don’t do as many now—typically one a week—we are still going strong! Thank you all for participating, and another huge thank you to all of our hosts. We could not do it with out you!
If you have an idea for a call/Zoom session and would like to test your hosting skills, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to start the process.
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 you have questions or your wishes are more complex, you or your attorney can contact ICUB by calling 866-436-0141 or through the webpage at: www.icublind.org .
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 eggs, beaten
1 box Jiffy cornbread mix
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
1 can cream corn
1 cup sour cream
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients and place into a greased 9X9 baking dish. Bake 30 to 45 minutes or until golden brown.
Notes: You can make this with or without the sour cream. For a twist I have added onion and even green chiles. Enjoy!
Help Wanted – Newsletter Co-Editor
Beginning with the Fall 2023 (September/October) issue, we will have a new Co-Editor of the Bulletin. The successful candidate will have good written communication skills, organizational skills, a cattle prod for slowly arriving articles, an ability to think outside the box to come up with different ideas, and a good spell checker or nearby Alexa. Unfortunately, the departing co-editor didn’t always have those tools and skills. So after nearly 10 years and more than 30 issues, he is being put out to pasture. (As you can tell management is rather lax or the change would have come long ago.)
The job has benefits. They include getting to know much more about many ICUB members. The stories they have to tell are wonderful. Another benefit is being able to pretend you are Perry White while supervising your star and cub reporters. And, don’t call me Chief!
Interested individuals should contact Bettina at email@example.com .
I’ll save my farewells and closing thank yous for my final issue this summer. I am sure it will be a bestseller so watch for it. Or, better yet, start writing an article for the issue.
Across Iowa Chapter Report
We have continued to meet the first Thursday of every month via Zoom. Since we are spread out across the state with additional members in California, Louisiana, and Arizona, we are only able to have a face to face meeting at the annual State Convention.
We have devoted time at the last several meetings to talk about items such as:
1. Educating physicians and other professionals about how to better serve their blind clients by sharing information about tips, appliances, and apps that blind people use.
2. The state government reorganization bill and other legislative issues.
3. The importance of mentoring, sharing, and advocacy around blindness and other areas in which we have interest and knowledge.
We currently have 26 members and will welcome any one else who would like to join us.
Des Moines Chapter Report
As of January 1, I took over my responsibilities as the President of the Des Moines Chapter of ICUB. In my role, I have a new appreciation for the importance of collaborating with and learning from others. Lori Trujillo Roush as my Vice President continues to offer support and invaluable feedback for making sure the Chapter has what it needs. Her mentorship is indispensable. Donna Seliger continues to provide excellent help as our Board Secretary, and Linda Manders Gonzalez continues to work hard to keep track of the financial side of our Chapter. Steve Hagemoser continues to provide support and encouragement. Sam Claassen, our newest Board member, offers new perspectives.
Since January, our Chapter has established a fundraising committee. This group is now in the process of researching and recommending ways in which we can raise money to support the Chapter. Suggestions include a game night, asking restaurants for donations, and putting together an evening at a local brewery.
Lori Trujillo Roush is currently heading up our Ambassador Program. Our most recent big event, the Pack the Pantry Campaign, took place in December of 2022 and was very successful. In February, Steve Hagemoser, Mark Edge, and I attended the dinner at which we served YMCA residents who in turn expressed appreciation for the help we had provided in December.
On March 4, we attended a tactile tour of the Des Moines Art Center. This provided an opportunity for us as blind individuals to experience sculptured art. It also provided a way for us to connect with fellow members of the community, both the leaders of the tour as well as others who had come to enjoy the art on display.
On March 13, our Chapter hosted two members of the Iowa House of Representatives, Eddie Andrews and Heather Matson. Andrews is a member of the Republican Party; Matson is a Democrat. Our State President Bettina Dolinsek and I asked prepared questions of the Representatives, inviting them to discuss their interest in politics, and the ways by which bills become law as well as how they do not. We also wanted to get each Representative’s take on the issue of accessible absentee ballot voting. The meeting was well attended, and we all felt hopeful that the legislators will assist us as we continue to move forward to make absentee ballot voting accessible not just to blind Iowans but to all Iowans who need it.
The year is still young, and our Chapter continues to move forward to support blind Iowans as well as to engage in community outreach. We look forward to seeing how the rest of the year unfolds.
To get a current list of State Board members and Chapter Presidents, including their contact information, go to our website, icublind.org, and click on the “Who We Are” link. You can also e-mail us through a form at the bottom of the website page.
The ICUB Bulletin is available in large print, via e-mail, and on an NLS-compliant digital audio cartridge. To subscribe to the cartridge edition, please contact the Iowa Department for the Blind Library at 515-281-1323 or 800-362-2587, option 2. Please direct other questions about format choice and address changes to Co-Editor Don Wirth.
ICUB offers a BIG thank you to FuseBox One for so graciously donating the printing and mailing of the print copies of each issue of the Bulletin. We also wish to thank Catherine Witte as well for so meticulously proofreading each issue.
Copyright 2023 Iowa Council of the United Blind, Inc.