Updated: Apr 21
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
I have served in my new role as ICUB President for the past three months and have learned so much in a very short time. I have met with the Board twice. We are hard at work reviewing policies, getting Dropbox set up, putting together the Convention committee, and looking forward to 2023!
Speaking of 2023, our Annual State ICUB Convention has been scheduled. Save the date! We will be holding the State Convention during the weekend of August 25, 2023. We will be returning to the same hotel in Ankeny where we look forward to more fun around the fire pit.
We have a variety of works in progress: Applications for the Hoenig Brailler Award have been sent out to eligible students. ICUB members will again be staffing a table at the Braille Challenge. And, the ACB 2023 Washington Leadership Conference will be held on March 11 -13, where Monica Carpenter has agreed to serve as our delegate.
I want to send out a big thank you to Steven Hunt for promoting this year’s White Cane Safety Day by being out and about with his cane in his home town of Creston, Iowa. As one friend said, “Steven is a very active member of the town. He frequently enjoys community activities.” Way to go, Steven!
We look forward with you to the New Year and all ICUB’s upcoming events.
Bettina Dolinsek, President
Iowa Council of the United Blind
Fungus and Fairies
Editor’s note: Karen Keninger is an ICUB Board member from Newton. She has served as Director of the Iowa Library for the Blind and Print Disabled, Director of the Iowa Department for the Blind, and Director of the National Library for the Blind and Print Disabled. She is now retired. Karen has always loved to travel and write about her experiences. During one of her trips, it occurred to her that she was asking questions of natives of the lands she visited that she would have trouble answering if asked about her own home. So, to rectify that, she began to work toward the goal of documenting her life and surroundings on her own Jasper County acreage. Her blog, entitled, “Heartland Safari: Discovering the World around Me,” can be found at: www.heartlandsafari.com . A post from her blog, which she generously allowed us to share in this ICUB Bulletin issue, follows. We are certain that after reading it, you will want to check out more of Karen’s blog. Enjoy!
The other day while we were tramping about near the creek, we came upon a colony of cantaloupe-sized white puffballs growing in the grass. They were past eating, but reminded us of an episode a few years ago while we were living in a big apartment building. One autumn day, Bryan found a puffball as big as a soccer ball growing in a field. He brought it home. Through careful research, we found that if the puffball was pure white on the inside, and had no gills, it was edible. If it had gills it was poisonous. We didn’t find any gills so it was safe to eat. We cut it up and fried it and ate it. It wasn’t wonderful, but it wasn’t bad. We threw the leftover bits in the trash and congratulated ourselves on being good foragers.
A few days later Bryan commented on the handsome metallic green flies on the kitchen window. I was aghast—blow flies or bottle flies! They come from maggots, and maggots come from flies laying their eggs in dead things. Yikes—our neighbors must be terrible housekeepers! We emptied the trash and got rid of the flies, and a few weeks later, to my chagrin, some further reading about puffballs revealed the source of those flies. They had come in as little white maggots in the white flesh of the puffball mushroom, impossible to see. Too late to worry about eating them!
On this fall day in Iowa, nine of these puffballs were scattered around in the grass. They were well past their prime and had probably already sent their billions of spores sailing on the wind.
Giant puffballs are found all over the world. They grow in Europe and Asia as well as in North America. They are common east of the Great Plains, including the vicinity of Owl Acres. They grow in fields and lawns, at the edges of forests, and on a variety of prairie soils.
Giant puffballs are actually the above-ground part of an underground fungus (Calvatia gigantea). This fungus is not a parasite like many fungi. Instead, it is saprobic—that is, it feeds on dead things. You may wonder how a fungus can actually feed on anything. Here’s how it works. The underground part of the fungus is called the mycelium. It is made up of a network of hundreds to thousands of thin tubes. At the tips of these tubes are structures that release digestive enzymes onto dead grass, animal matter, leaf litter, dead wood and similar environmental detritus. These enzymes digest and liquefy the “food” and then the fungus can absorb it to feed itself. In this way, the fungus helps recycle decaying plant and animal matter into nutrients.
The puffballs we see are the fruiting bodies of the underground fungus. They usually occur in late summer and fall. They grow very quickly to form a ball up to 20 inches in diameter. They are pure white as they grow, but turn brownish as they age and mature. The inside is also pure white, and the flesh has the consistency of—well—a mushroom.
The job of the puffball itself is to create and release spores—trillions of them—from within the body of the mushroom. Have you ever stomped on one just to see that green-brown cloud of spores erupt? With that many spores, you’d think there’d be lots more puffballs, but they’re picky about where they land.
The puffballs we found were scattered about, but sometimes puffballs are found in a circle, known as a fairy ring. The fairy rings are created as the underground mycelium spreads out from the center, looking for more dead things to ingest. The mushrooms pop up at the perimeter, forming a ring. Left undisturbed, they may come back year after year in ever larger rings as the underground fungus continues to grow.
These fairy rings have mythologies in a variety of cultures. The Blackfeet Indians who traveled the Midwest prairies believed that the puffballs were stars that had fallen from heaven. The people of the British Isles thought they were places where fairies, elves or pixies danced and played. Some cultures thought they were enchanted spaces—others that they were associated with witches or the devil and should be avoided.
Native Americans found many uses for puffballs. They collected them and created a powder that was used to stop bleeding or to protect open sores from infection. The powder was also used to treat earache, chafing, and the umbilical cords of newborn infants. Compresses made from the spores and spider webs, and held in place with strips of birch bark were also used for wounds and swellings. Research has found that the spores are actually antibacterial, antifungal and antimicrobial which would explain their effectiveness in treating wounds. Indians and settlers alike harvested young puffballs for medicine and for food.
We didn’t harvest the giant puffballs we found this year. They were too old. However, we’ll be on the lookout late next summer and fall for fresh ones. They don’t taste all that great, but foraging for food in the woods and fields has its own attraction.
Shopping to Benefit ICUB
Are you an online shopper? You can help ICUB secure some additional funds when you shop at smile.amazon.com .
There, enter your e-mail address and password. You will be prompted to shop for the charity Amazon is promoting that day or to select your own. In the dialog box for selecting your own, type our name, Iowa Council of the United Blind. We will then be the charity of choice each time you shop athttps://www.smile.amazon.com . ICUB will get 0.5% of the value of eligible purchases.
You can also support ICUB using the Amazon shopping app on your mobile phone. Download or update the app and then open it. Go to “Settings” in the main menu. Tap on “AmazonSmile” and follow the on-screen instructions to turn on AmazonSmile. You can also find the instructions by going to: https://www.amazon.com/b?ie=UTF8&node=15576745011
Those We Have Lost
Editor’s Note: Below you will find articles about three people whom we have lost in 2022 who have made a substantial impact on the lives of blind Iowans: Shirley Wiggins, Sandy Ryan, and Warren Toyoma. Shirley Wiggins was a long-time, dedicated member of ICUB who played an important role in shaping the organization and advocating for blind Iowans. You can find an additional article about Shirley in the Summer, 2015 issue of the Bulletin.
While raising her family and pursuing her career, Sandy Ryan was busy volunteering at the Iowa Department for the Blind, serving on the IDB Commission, and actively participating in the National Federation of the Blind of Iowa. Lastly, a native of Hawaii, Warren Toyoma was a friend of the Iowa blind community and was instrumental in bringing the IDB’s positive approach to blindness to Ho’opono, Hawaii’s agency for serving the blind, and thereby greatly improving the lives of hundreds of blind Hawaiians.
Two other individuals who have impacted the lives of blind Iowans need to be mentioned as well. For many years, Mary Ann Nielsen was a dedicated volunteer reader and Board member for the Iowa Radio Reading and Information Service (IRIS). Candy Coleman was a well-loved secretary for the Independent Living Program at the IDB. Candy was meticulous at doing her job, had a great sense of humor, and loved kitties, Frank Sinatra, KFC, and Lindt Truffles.
Shirley Wiggins, 1932-2022
Shirley Mae (Aldeman) Wiggins, 90, passed away peacefully in her sleep on Wednesday, December 7, 2022, at the Silver Oak Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Marion, Iowa. Shirley was born on September 8, 1932, in Vinton, Iowa, to Ardell Perry Aldeman and Hattie Mae Edler. She was united in marriage to Lloyd Joseph Hilleshiem, Sr., in 1950, in Oelwein, Iowa. Shirley gave birth to her only son, Lloyd Joseph Hillesheim, Jr., who brought her much pride and joy, in 1951. He preceded her in death in March, 2014. Shirley married Harry Wiggins in 1964. He, too, preceded her in death in May, 1986.
Shirley lived most of her adult life in Cedar Rapids. She enjoyed performing and entertaining for many years, singing and playing her accordion at various venues and volunteering her talents at various area nursing homes. Kim Walford, current administrator of the Independent Living Program at IDB, observed: “Shirley’s unwavering commitment and absolute outstanding contributions to the Independent Living Advisory Committee (ILAC) and (IDBA) to meet goals will forever be remembered through her spirit and will shine on.” Indeed, Shirley lived a long and productive life advocating for the blind community through her career and volunteer service.
Shirley has been involved in organizations of the blind since 1959. She has served on the Board of Directors of the Iowa Council of the United Blind, (ICUB), over the years, as well as President of the Cedar Rapids Chapter of ICUB for many years. She chaired the Linn County support group for blind persons, and was well-known to many individuals across the state, and was always willing to help others, especially those who were newly blind. Shirley would often host Chapter picnics in the summer and Christmas get-togethers for ICUB members. She co-chaired a memorial service for departed ICUB members, family and friends at several annual statewide ICUB conventions. Shirley also served on the Independent Living Advisory Council for some time. For these efforts and beyond, Shirley was recognized often with tributes and awards for her active participation, leadership and service.
Shirley is survived by her brother, Robert Cross; sister, Serena Crowe; and daughter-in-law, Debra Hilleshiem, all of Cedar Rapids; her beloved granddaughters, Tammy Jo Hilleshiem of Navarre, Florida, and Jennifer Hilleshiem of Hiawatha, Iowa, and her very special great-granddaughter, Amia Montgomery, who was the light of her life; many special nieces, nephews, and great great-great nieces and nephews. Shirley had many close and treasured friendships throughout the years. She would like to let you know that her work here is done. She received a call, a sort of offer you can’t refuse, for an appointment from which she will not be returning. This assignment comes with a huge sign-on bonus, and a reunion with family and friends whom she has not seen in a long time. Her new mission takes her to a wonderful place where she will be socializing, dancing, and reading to her heart’s content. Music, laughter, and love are guaranteed. The food is delicious, and you never gain an ounce. She left detailed instructions for her family and friends to celebrate her mission here, one which has now been completed.
Shirley’s family would like to thank the staff of the Silver Oak Nursing and Rehabilitation Center for the wonderful and compassionate care that was given to Shirley over the last four years. Memorials may be directed to the family. Online condolences may be left for the family at www.teahenfuneralhome.com .
Sandy Ryan, 1951-2022
Sandra (Sandi) Jean Ryan was born June 9, 1951, to Harry and Wilma Sutherland (Chitty) at Mary Greeley Hospital in Ames, Iowa. Less than two years later, cancer would make its first attempt on her life, but through great efforts by those at the University of Iowa Hospitals and much support from her family, cancer only managed to take her eyes. Sandi’s parents were told there was little chance she would make it to five years of age, and that the return of cancer was a question of, “when” not “if.” Despite the odds, she made it 70 more years, passing away on November 18, 2022.
Sandi first attended the Iowa Braille and Sight Saving School in Vinton, Iowa, and, later, Nevada High School where she graduated (early) in 1968. From there she went to the Iowa Department for the Blind where she asked her friend Craig who he was talking to, then grabbed the phone and started chatting with the young man on the other end. The young man turned out to be Kent Ryan, the man Sandi would spend the rest of her life with. She joined him soon after at the University of Iowa, and they were married on August 23, 1969. Neither finished their degrees at U of I. Instead they moved to Ames, then to Des Moines to have Matt in 1971 and Marcus in 1974, before moving to Newton to open Ryan’s Emerald Bakery in 1978.
Once the boys had gotten far enough along in school to not need constant supervision, Sandi decided she wanted to finish college. So, in 1983, the family moved to Ames where she attended Iowa State University to pursue a degree in human nutrition. While a student there, Sandi showed her tenacity by standing up to a professor who was convinced that she would burn down the school or ingest poison if allowed anywhere near the chemistry lab. She convinced the administration to allow her to take the class which she passed beautifully and without incident, allowing her to graduate with her Bachelor of Science degree in 1983. She then went to work for the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program at Mid-Iowa Community Action.
Sandi readily embraced technology and shared that love with her children. While working for WIC, she had a friend write a program for her that could talk which amazed Marcus enough that he pursued a career in technology. A friend told her not to allow Marcus to touch the computer again while cleaning up one of his “messes” from a computer learning experience. Fortunately, Sandi chose not to listen.
When Sandi decided a few years later to obtain her Master’s Degree, her patience with Marcus paid off. Marcus tutored her in algebra, and, together with his Mom, they were able to develop a method for printing out her homework so that graders could accurately read it. Sandi graduated in 1993 to a shout of, “Yay, Mom!” and a huge round of applause from the audience.
Following graduation, Sandi went to work for the Iowa Department of Public Health where she spent more than 20 years working in health promotion specializing in women’s cardiac health. Her career culminated with her management of the Well-Integrated Screening and Evaluation for WOMen Across the Nation (WISEWOMAN) program.
In retirement, Sandi became a Commissioner, and then the Chair of the Iowa Commission for the Blind where she continued to be a fierce advocate for and defender of the blind of Iowa. She spent a great deal of time on Braille education as well as scanning books for Bookshare, an accessible online library for people with print disabilities. In 2023 Sandi received the Elizabeth Perowski Memorial Award, “…for extraordinary spirit and inexhaustible dedication in volunteer service to those who are blind.” Her impact on the lives around her cannot be measured, and her absence will be felt far beyond just her close family and friends.
Sandi is survived by her husband, Kent; her sons Matthew (Kacey), and Marcus (Angela); grandchildren Shelby Ward (Trevor), Kaylee Ryan, Dyllan Ryan, Nathan Countryman, and Gabriel Ryan; brothers Craig (Julie) and Chuck (Susie) as well as many other loving relatives and friends. She is preceded in death by her parents, and her brothers Wendell, Gary, and Neil.
A memorial service for family and close friends will be held at 1:30 p.m., Wednesday, November 30, 2022, at Memorial Services of Iowa, 4208 N. Ankeny Blvd., Ankeny, Iowa. A larger memorial service will be announced later in the spring. In lieu of flowers or food, those wanting to honor Sandi’s memory are encouraged to donate to the Iowa Library for the Blind and Print Disabled, or the Gifts and Bequests Fund at the Iowa Department for the Blind, 524 – 4th Street, Des Moines, Iowa 50309.
Aloha, Warren Toyama!
Editor’s Note: We regularly include information about the passing of ICUB members and others in the Iowa blind community. However, we need to remember that ICUB is an affiliate of the American Council of the Blind (ACB). As such, we have the opportunity to meet and develop relationships with other ACB members. The following is LaDonna’s tribute to a long time ACB member and friend.
My husband, Bob, and I traveled to Hawaii many times over our 30-year marriage. We met Warren and his wife Julie early on and found them to be a warm and interesting couple. On several of our visits to the Islands, we enjoyed the hospitality of the Hawaii Association of the Blind (HAB) before their annual conventions. I can picture Warren sitting on a low table swinging his legs to music and singing along with friends.
Warren and Julie founded the HAB, then an affiliate of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB). Early on, several state and special interest groups met in Las Vegas and talked about forming our own organization. As it turned out, all of those groups found a home with the American Council of the Blind. Warren played an important role in the new organization while making and keeping long-lasting friendships.
The HAB early on, at Warren’s insistence, developed a “war chest” because he knew at some point the money would be needed to fight for the rights of blind Hawaiians. When the blind of Hawaii and HAB fought against the State to keep the vending facility at the Honolulu International Airport, the “war chest” came in handy. Ultimately, HAB won the battle and employed several blind Hawaiians at the facility.
Warren was a very wise leader of the HAB until he stepped down and gave the reins to Filo Tu. Warren and Filo made an outstanding organization grow over the years. They saw how IDB services had a positive impact on the lives of blind Iowans and wanted to bring Iowa’s positive approach to blindness to Hawaii. Through their efforts, Ho’opono—the state agency serving the blind in Hawaii—adopted Iowa’s approach and has been transformed into one of the premier agencies for the blind in the country.
Filo left us first, having battled cancer, and now we mourn the loss of Warren Toyama. It is my hope HAB will thrive and grow from the knowledge and wisdom Warren promoted. Aloha, Warren! You will be missed by so many who knew and loved you.
Iowa Department for the Blind Report
Director Emily Wharton
The past couple of weeks have been a mix of joy and sorrow at IDB. We had a wonderful Friendsgiving-themed Holiday Tea prior to our all-staff meeting. The Holiday Tea and Food Bank committees raised $1,265.00 to be split between the Food Bank of Iowa and Toys for Tots. The Employee Recognition Committee raised $118.00 for Ellipsis, formerly the Youth Emergency Shelter and Services organization, in Des Moines.
On the same day, we learned of the passing of our Commission Board Chair, Sandi Ryan. Sandi was a great mentor, fierce advocate and tireless volunteer. Her example and the impact she made on the many lives she touched are her legacy, a most powerful one. Yes, her work will continue; but, she will be truly missed.
Center students have been busy with holiday traditions: preparing a Thanksgiving feast, cutting down and decorating a tree, selling cookies and beverages at the Friends of the Library concert, and helping with ICUB’s Pack the Pantry campaign. We appreciate ICUB inviting our students to participate in the campaign. Giving back to others creates an opportunity for them to put the skills they are learning into practice and reinforces the awareness they are developing that they have much to give to others.
I intended to share information here regarding the two vacant Commission Board positions. However, I do not have much information, and the situation is likely to change substantially prior to publication of the Bulletin. I will provide information to the consumer organizations’ Presidents as it develops.
We have prepared a budget for the next fiscal year. The next step in the process is the Governor’s meetings with agency Directors and staff. At this writing, I am told the meetings will be held December 13 - 15, but I am still awaiting a meeting request from the Governor’s scheduler. The new legislative session begins on January 9, 2023. Announcement of the Governor’s proposed budget generally occurs at the time of the Governor’s Condition of the State address which is scheduled for 6:00 p.m., January 10, 2023.
IDB will be going back to the Capitol Building on February 20, 2023, where we will host an open house event in conjunction with the Iowa legislature from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. in the West Rotunda. The open house will give the Iowa Department for the Blind an opportunity to promote awareness of the services we provide to legislators, their staffs, and the public. If you are interested in sharing your experiences with our services, showing support for our various programs and encouraging legislators to support IDB through the appropriations and legislative processes—all of which strengthen the potential to empower blind Iowans to be gainfully employed and live independently—please join us at the open house. If you plan to attend, it would be helpful for our preparations if you could inform our Chief Information Officer, Connie Mendenhall. She can be reached at 515-981-8397 or Connie.Mendenhall@blind.state.ia.us .
In addition, Kim Walford, IDB’s Director of the Independent Living Program, will also be present in the Capitol Rotunda for Independent Living Education Day with the Statewide Independent Living Council and Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation Services on Wednesday, January 25, from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m.
Here are a couple of helpful links for you if you are interested in contacting your State Senator or Representative:
1. To find out who your Senator and Representative are, visit https://www.legis.iowa.gov/legislators/find .
2. To view the legislative schedules, visit https://www.legis.iow.gov/committees/
Please remember that I hold a monthly public forum at noon on the 4THTuesday 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
As we mentioned in the last issue of the Bulletin, NLS has launched the Braille-on-Demand pilot project as part of its Braille modernization initiative. The Project has now increased the number of hard-copy Braille books active borrowers can receive each month from one to five. These copies are yours to keep for your own personal use. You can also submit more than five titles for embossing at a time. All titles in excess of five will be held until the next month. At that time, the next titles up to five will be filled. This process will continue until the list has been exhausted. Braille titles will be limited to books that are currently available on BARD, the NLS Braille and Audio Reading Download service. The form to request a braille-on-demand book can be found at: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/NLSbrailleondemand . You can complete the form yourself or contact your network library for assistance.
The October 2020 edition of FSCast from Freedom Scientific contains an interview with Ed Potter who produced Playback Magazine for over 30 years. Ed tells his life story and why he was inspired to start Playback. The magazine was published from 1979-2007 and featured technology news and information of interest to the blind and low vision community. To listen or download the audio or read the transcript, visit https://tinyurl.com/3m8a75jj . The Internet Archive has issues available for listening and downloading through the website at: https://tinyurl.com/yeye9azd .
The Patron Engagement Section of the NLS is offering a monthly program called The Many Faces of BARD. This program will occur on the second Thursday of every month at 6:00 p.m. Central Time. Each session covers one aspect of BARD, the Braille and Audio Reading Download website. Each program will start with a brief presentation. The remainder of the time will be spent answering questions about the presentation or other questions related to BARD usage. To join the meeting, go to: https://tinyurl.com/4u3hy58f , or call 1-669-245-5252.
The U.S. Access Board has discontinued its technical assistance toll-free 800 phone number, but it continues to offer technical assistance via 202-272-0080, extension 3, and by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Accessibility specialists are available to answer questions on accessibility as it relates to the built environment, outdoor sites, streets and sidewalks, transportation vehicles, information and communication technology, and medical diagnostic equipment.
Verizon’s enhanced Call Filter app now helps you know who is calling and decide whether or not to answer. Now, when Verizon customers receive a call from a verified business outside of their saved contacts, when applicable, the caller ID will display categories like “Healthcare” or “Public Service.” Call Filter also delivers a unique tool, only from Verizon, that tackles “neighborhood spoofing,” which means that if you receive multiple calls from phone numbers that appear to be local or from a neighbor, you can activate the Neighborhood Filter. With Call Filter, you can block up to five area codes and prefixes at no cost, and with Call Filter Plus, you can block up to ten area codes and prefixes, and get access to six caller ID categories. For more information, call Verizon’s Center for Customers with Disabilities at 1-800-974-6006 (voice/TTY).
Apple has released iOS 16.1 and iPadOS 16.1, which provide many fixes for Voiceover users. AppleVis reports that their testing suggests that these releases resolve a number of the issues that troubled blind and low vision users with the initial release of iOS 16. For details, go to: https://tinyurl.com/2zzfj4c6 .
Speaking of Apple, did you know your iPhone Has 26 new accessibility tools? It’s an impressive list containing something for everyone. To learn more, go to: https://tinyurl.com/mr3xmxht .
An Attitude for Gratitude
I’m sure you all are expecting an article on gratitude and giving back, so this won’t disappoint. However, I want to put a different spin on it, one that looks inward, and asks the question: “What can I gain from giving?” You might be thinking, “What an arrogant thought to consider while I’m helping someone else!” So let me explain.
Each year around this time, we hear all sorts of ads through social media, TV, and radio talking about many people and organizations in need. Sometimes we wonder what we can do to help such people when we’re barely making it ourselves. When these requests are being made, who do you think they have in mind to help? Of course, it is the poor, homeless, and persons with disabilities, and, yes, even the blind. In society, blind people are often seen as less capable than their sighted peers. Where do you put yourself? I’m asking this question because, while working a job and giving back to the community, are we aware that we are changing the perceptions of others as well as how we think of ourselves? Let’s look into some ways we can give.
You might think, “I don’t have money to give.” Most of us think that the only way we can give is through our finances. True, it does take money to push organizations forward and to help them implement their programs, but is it the only way? What are other ways of giving support? Many places need someone to help package items to be sent out. Are you able to volunteer doing that? Do you have a local care facility in your neighborhood? Maybe you can go visit the shut-in’s. Perhaps during this time of year, they are looking for individuals to come and sing Christmas carols. I know Des Moines and the surrounding areas have many parks which we all take advantage of during the nicer weather. Are we able to help pick up trash to make sure the parks continue to be beautiful for many generations to come and enjoy them? These are just a few ideas that come to mind. I’m sure, as you are reading this, many more possibilities may be popping into your head.
Let’s revisit my initial question. How does giving back benefit you? I know, for me, if I am able to help, I feel good about whatever I can do for someone else. Not only do I feel good about the act, but it also gives me a boost in self-confidence. What else can I do? As I mentioned before, if someone sees a blind person in their community, they might think, “What a poor individual! I can’t imagine going through life with no sight. I wonder what I can do to help them.” However, if that same person sees you volunteering your time to help someone else, participating in community events, and even working your 8 – 5 job or commuting back and forth to work, how might this change the individual’s perception? You never know: they may cease to look at you as a poor blind person, but rather as someone they know they can count on when it comes to being generous with time and talents.
Don’t get me wrong. I know we all need a little help sometimes, too. My husband often says, “We are all the beneficiaries of the generosity of others.” Not only do I want to be a beneficiary, but I also want to be a benefactor. As we move through this holiday season and into the New Year, please stop and ask yourself, “How can I help?”
I look forward with you to 2023 and many opportunities where we can all get more involved in our communities to not only receive, but to also give back.
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 .
Iowa Ham Balls from Taste of Home
3 ½ pounds of ground ham
1 ½ pounds of ground beef
3 large eggs, beaten
2 cups whole milk
3 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 cans (10 ¾ ounces each) tomato soup, undiluted
¾ cups vinegar
2 ½ cups brown sugar
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
In a large bowl, combine the first five ingredients. Using a 1/3 cup measure, shape mixture into 2-inch balls. Place in two large shallow roasting pans. Combine all remaining ingredients and pour the liquid over the ham balls. Bake at 325 degrees for 1 hour, basting frequently.
I have been making these for years, and they are always a big hit! Enjoy!
On December 11, the Des Moines Chapter of ICUB held its Christmas party at Felix and Oscar’s Restaurant in Des Moines. Attendees used the occasion to celebrate and thank Carrie Chapman and Lori Trujillo Roush for the many years of service they have given to ICUB.
Although they still plan to be active in the organization, they both decided not to run for office this year—Carrie as State President, and Lori as Des Moines Chapter President. Some members spoke on their behalf and, in gratitude, the group presented each of them with written notes, a card and a poinsettia.
When Cynthia Qloud, then ICUB State President, recruited Carrie and Lori as members a few years ago, she dubbed them, “the sisters.” That nickname has stuck. Each soon became active in ICUB. They met with legislators, made presentations, and organized activities for IDB students. And each one stepped up to the challenge when asked to take on leadership roles. One member put it succinctly this way: “I understand your service to ICUB was recognized at last weekend’s Christmas gathering. How fitting and well-deserved. Let me add my praise and gratitude to both of you for all you have done. Your leadership toward involving ICUB in a broader base of activities, in recruiting others to the organization, in working with IDB, and toward involving less active members has truly reinvigorated the Chapter and the statewide group. Thank you.”
I cannot say it any better than that. I have watched Carrie and Lori grow in their leadership roles, and I appreciate the enormous creativity, time, and effort they have put into making ICUB the strong organization it is today. I am proud to have worked closely with them and to call them my friends. Thank you, sisters, for all you have done for the blind of Iowa.
Across Iowa Chapter Report
At our meetings we have been learning more about our Chapter members. In October, Liz Soenen shared her work with puppets. She creates puppets for entertainment and educational purposes. She used them in her work teaching Independent Living clients while she was at the Iowa Department for the Blind. She also sent each member a set of google eyes that we could put on our fingers to create our own puppets. However, we decided a better use for them was to place them on our white canes since that is our vantage point for seeing!
In November Karen Keninger talked to us about a blog she has created (see article above) and her reasons for writing it, including sharing information, the personal satisfaction of creating something, and getting a sense of inner calm.
In December we held a personal sharing time with members recounting various holiday memories. Through the stories we got to know a bit more about each other. From these discussions arose a great philosophical question: “Oyster stew/soup—is it a holiday tradition?”
What is your answer?
Des Moines Chapter Report
The holiday season provides opportunities for us to reflect on what is past and on what the future may bring. As to the past, as the incoming president of the Des Moines Chapter, I thank Lori Trujillo for her hard work and dedication as President of our Chapter over the last six years. Her tireless efforts have ensured our success in reaching out to the community, bringing in some new members, and growing in our confidence in ourselves as blind individuals. I am grateful that she will be serving as Vice President for the upcoming year.
Our Chapter held the annual Trivia Bowl at Felix and Oscar's on November 5, 2022. We also held our first Pack the Pantry campaign this year. We provided food items for the residents of the downtown YMCA. We put together Christmas boxes that included items such as toiletries, laundry supplies, socks, and underwear. A box was provided for each resident of the downtown YMCA. The boxes were delivered to the YMCA on December 9, 2022.
In January, I will hold the first meeting with the new Des Moines Chapter Board to begin thinking about events for the upcoming year and how the Iowa Council of the United Blind, Des Moines Chapter, can continue its mission both to support its members and to further our community involvement.
Moving forward, we want to continue to be an organization of blind people which believes in blind people—our ability to be successful in the job market, our ability to carry out the responsibilities of family life, our ability to contribute to the well-being of their communities, our ability to be as self-sufficient as possible. In short, we want to continue to be an organization that strives to live out the view that blind people are human beings with the same desires, aspirations, and goals as other members of the human family. As we celebrate the accomplishments of President Trujillo, let us continue to move forward with this positive vision of ourselves and all persons who are blind. Happy holidays and New Year to all!
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.