Winter 2019 edition
Vol. 72, No. 1
Jocelyn DeHaas, Editor
Montana Association for the Blind
PO Box 465
Helena, MT 59624
The mission of the Montana Association for the Blind is to promote the social and economic self-sufficiency of blind and low vision Montanans through the facilitation of quality education, learning, training and employment services and opportunities, and to foster a positive understanding of blindness. Our vision is of a Montana in which blindness is perceived and understood to be an ordinary and respectable part of life, and in which the skills and tools of blindness are readily available to all who may benefit from them. We envision an environment in which blind and low vision Montanans have ample and equal opportunities to learn, to achieve, and to contribute in our homes, communities, state, and nation.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Section Page Number
President’s Message 3
Executive Board Summary 3
Meet the Board 5
Meet Our Newest Employee 5
Marge Moberly Scholarship 6
Summer Orientation Program 6
Tips N Tricks 7
Blind and Low Vision Services 9
Shop Blind 11
Chapter News 13
Membership Form 18
The MAB is a member of Montana Shares and receives a nice sum of money each year based on donations through workplace giving and other fundraising.
Hello everyone!! I truly hope you all had a very Merry Christmas!! It is going to be a very good and exciting New Year. We at the Montana Association for the Blind have a few new officers. The First Vice President is Mike Mooney, the Second Vice President is Staci Huff, and the Third Vice President is Jim McClaughlin. We are working on some policy and procedures manual. The planning committee for the Summer Orientation Program is getting underway for the 2019 session. We the board has also hired a new accountant. His name is Tim Gilmere from Bozeman. We are working on a lot of new projects. I hope you all will stay in touch
Rhonda Cochrane, President
Executive Board Meeting Summary
The MAB Board of Directors met on Friday, October 5th at the Comfort Inn in Bozeman. All members were present except for District Representatives Lawrence Poole and John Muoio. Guests included: Bob Maffit, JoAnn Maffitt, and Jerry West. After the minutes and the financial report were approved, Jocelyn DeHaas gave a summary of the 2018 Summer Orientation Program. Then each District Representative gave a report about what was happening in his or her region.
Jerry West gave a summary of the Memorial Loan program and the Elder Blind Loan Lease program. He also reported on the sale of the Trekkers that the MAB purchased for wholesale price to sell for retail to raise money for the SOP. Only 3 have been sold, but he had prospects on further sales. He said that the rest would be sold by the time of the next SOP or his business would purchase them from us.
Laura Gluekert asked each District Representative to relay information about membership forms to the presidents. Each member should fill out a form again this year to make sure that there are no changes to the addresses and phone numbers of members.
Lengthy discussion was held pertaining to the proposed By-law changes. Due to the Board not following the current by-law pertaining to proposed, this year’s proposed by-laws are null and void. The Board held lengthy discussions regarding Roberts Rules of Order, choosing a parliamentarian, the parent/student group (getting it up and running again) and avoiding nepotism. Bob Maffit gave an update on Montana Independent Living Projects (MILP) services. He thanked the MAB for their support in the past. Jocelyn DeHaas discussed the policy and procedure committee of which Beth Wicks is the Chair person. She gave an update on policies and procedures they are currently starting to draft and estimates that it will probably take a year to complete them.
No one from District 1 ran for the District Representative position and there are no likely candidates from that area, so Chris Broadhurst offered to step down as a vice president and take that position. That would allow the board to choose from a larger pool of candidates for the vice president position.
The Board of Directors had a short meeting on Sunday, October 7th after the conclusion of the conference to swear in new board members. New board members, Jerry West, John Snowberger, and Ken McCulloch were sworn in and welcomed to the board. Jocelyn DeHaas discussed with the Board the importance of fundraising for MAB/SOP. She reminded everyone that fundraising is a major duty of the Board and encouraged all Board members to think of ways to earn money. Chris Broadhurst again offered to stop down as vice president to take the District 1 Representative position. Discussion ensued about the appointment of a new vice president. The next Board meeting will be Saturday, November 17, 2018 in Butte.
MEET THE BOARD
We have had several resignations and changes in the Board of Directors this fall. Vice presidents Beth Wicks and Pansy Callantine resigned. Thank you both for your years of service to the MAB, and we hope you will remain valuable members of the MAB. The board debated over who to appoint to fill out the vacant positions. In the end, great people were found for each position.The board now consists of Rhonda Cochrane – President; Mike Mooney – First Vice President; Stacie Huff – Second Vice President; and James McLaughlin– Third Vice President. They are joined by District 1 Representative – Chris Broadhurst; District 2 Representative – Eric Hyatt; District 3 Representative - Jerry West; District 4 Representative – Ken McCulloch; District 5 Representative – Buddy Long; and District 6 Representative – John Snowberger.
MEET OUR NEWEST EMPLOYEE
For about the last seven years – since the MAB split from the NFB, the MAB has hired accounting services from the accounting firm of JCCS. The board reviewed these costs and services, then decided to hire an accountant rather than continue with JCCS. Tim Gilmere, a professional accountant and member of the MAB in Bozeman, will help us get our accounting customized more to our needs both now and in the future. Tim is no stranger to the MAB. His father-in-law was Emil Honka, a long-time member whose contributions to the MAB are honored by our annual Emil A. Honka Scholarship.
It is that time of year again to renew your MAB membership. The dues are still only $10. Please pay your dues as soon as you can. If you pay after April 30th, you must pay for two years. There is a membership form at the back of this Observer, or you can contact Laura in the main office for one. Her number is: 406-442-9411.
MARJORY MOBERLY MEMORIAL CONVENTION SCHOLARSHIP
Margery – or Marge – Moberly was a longtime member of the Rimrock (Billings) Chapter who passed away over the summer. She served as their treasurer for as well as their secretary for a while. Marge loved the annual conventions! In her memory the Rimrock Chapter has given $500 toward a special scholarship fund to help members who want to attend the convention but can’t afford it. The Rimrock Chapter asks all other chapters to donate as well so that the scholarship can help more people. If anyone wants to contribute to the scholarship, please contact Laura at 406-442-9411
Summer Orientation Program
The SOP will be held this year from June 17th to July 12h at Carroll College in Helena. Applications for students and staff are now available. Think of someone you know who would benefit from our program. It is an opportunity for someone with vision loss to learn to do what they did before, learn new things, and make life-long friends. Tell that person about the SOP – encourage them to attend. They will not regret it.
We lost a beloved member of our SOP family this year. Beverly Tully passed away in December. She had been coming up to teach at the SOP for 9 years with her husband George. Beverly taught a variety of different things with us at the SOP over the years. Last year she taught Braille and was an assistant hostess. She was a wonderful, knowledgeable teacher, and she made everyone feel warm and welcome. We will miss her terribly.
Jocelyn DeHaas, Director SOP
TIPS AND TRICKS CORNER
BLIND AND LOW VISION SERVICES
Sheri Devlin received a promotion to counselor supervisor for the Great Falls office. The vision rehabilitation therapist position will be advertised soon through Job Service and on the State of Montana website within the next few weeks. Qualifications for the position are a master’s degree in Vision Rehabilitation Therapy or for a person to be hired in a training assignment with a bachelor’s degree in a related field. Watch the job listings at https://mtstatejobs.taleo.net/careersection/200/jobsearch.ftl?lang=en.
The Blind and Low Vision Offices staff remains stable. They have helped the Great Falls office. Melanie Beagle and Lindy Ballard from Butte go to Great Falls monthly. Melissa Leggate goes to Browning, Cut Bank and Havre; and Cindy Dye and Shannon Payne are assisting in the eastern part of the state and Lewistown area.
Lindy Ballard completed her master’s degree in orientation and mobility.
The telephone number for the Kalispell office changed to 406 300-7400. The toll free number is still 877-296-1760
The vocational rehabilitation program continues under Order of Selection. Individuals who are visually impaired or blind and need services are encouraged to apply for this program. Although they will be on the waiting list it means they will be called sooner than if they wait to apply. BLVS staff will also do all we can to refer them to other services or opportunities that can help now. BLVS can also work with youth once they have entered high school to provide Pre-Employment and Transition services to prepare them for work and college. The Older Blind program is not under Order of Selection, so services can happen now.
The Business Enterprise Program has opportunities for legally blind individuals to be self-employed doing vending on state and federal properties. If you are interested, talk with your local BLVS counselor about the program. The Business Enterprise program could open a route in Great Falls. The candidates for the program need to have computer skills in e-mail, word processing and spreadsheets, labeling and organization, mobility, be able to lift and move cases of sodas and snacks and work well with customers. Training is provided on how to service vending machines and specifics of operating a vending route.
If you or someone you know, are deaf-blind or significantly hard of hearing and blind the iCanConnect program can help with distance communication equipment. Individuals who qualify are provided the necessary equipment and training for distance communication. Distance communication includes using telephones, doing e-mail and accessing the internet. Applications are available from the BLVS office or on-line at http://www.icanconnect.org/how-to-apply.
The BLVS staff wish you and your families a happy and prosperous 2019.
Beverly Berg, Program Administrator
Blind and Low Vision Services
Brothers Byran and Bradford Manning of New York both have Stargardts disease. It is a juvenile form of macular degeneration. These young men left jobs in finance to start a charitable clothing line, Two Blind Brothers, with the mission of curing blindness. 100% of the profit is donated to retinal research.
Over the Christmas shopping season, they started a Shop Blind campaign. The reason was, they said, that that they have trust so many people. When they cannot read a menu, they have to trust the waitstaff to read it for them or recommend a dish. When they are traveling and get lost, they have to trust that someone will give them the correct directions. They wanted buyers to experience this type of trust. Therefore, their website is blacked out. There are no pictures of items for sale nor descriptions. You simply choose an item priced thirty-two, sixty-nine or eighty-nine dollars, then trust. You are able to tell what size you want.
They write, “We blacked out our website to show you what it is like to ‘shop blind’. Shopping when you are visually impaired can be difficult. It’s hard to see colors, sizes, or prices if you can see them at all. We rely on the trust of our friends and of strangers, which is why we want you to walk a mile in our shoes (or shirts!) and shop blind with us as a way to raise awareness about the everyday work obstacles those with visual impairments face.
We know it's crazy to buy something you can't see. We debated doing this experiment for a long time. We finally decided to do this to "pay it forward" to all the strangers who have helped us when we shop, order food, or fill out a form that we can't see.
The premise of Shop Blind is ‘trust’ – we’re asking you to trust us to get a product we think you will LOVE without ever having seen it; the same way we place our trust in others to accomplish everyday tasks many often take for granted.”
When asked why they are doing it, they replied, “We are doing this to help the 11 million people who are losing their vision in the United States alone. We are doing this to change the conversation in the doctor’s office from ‘go home and learn braille, you’re going blind’ to one of hope for the visually impaired community. There are treatments in sight and cures that are already being used in patients today and we want to help tip the scale”
I appreciate the fact that they donate all the profits to research to cure blindness, and I think their Shop Blind is innovative. So, I ordered something for thirty-two dollars. I will let you know what it is! If you’d like to visit their website, it is at: www.twoblindbrothers.com/
Jocelyn DeHaas, Editor
Have you remembered the Montana Association for the Blind in your will? If so, please let us know so that we can properly thank you. If you haven’t, please think about helping us continue to foster independence and a positive future for the blind and low vision people of Montana.
Butte Silverbow Chapter
November’s meeting was our Thanksgiving dinner on the second. We enjoyed a full turkey dinner with all the trimmings. We had 16 people at the meeting. On December 7th, we had our Christmas meeting. We had ham, mashed potatoes, and corn. 12 people attended. The Bell Ringers came and played beautifully! We really enjoyed them.
On January 4th we met at Perkins at 1 pm. We discussed the last business meeting in October. Mike Hocking gave his final calendar report and Bob Brooks gave a treasurer’s report. We all had a happy new year and wish everyone in the MAB the same! Our next meetings will be February 1st and then March 1st at 1 pm at Perkins in Butte.
Vicki King, Secretary
In October, Rhonda, Terry, and Eric all reported to the Chapter the happenings of the annual convention in Bozeman. All stated it was both fun and interesting.
Faith was presented the Chapter award for her service to our chapter. We all learned that Faith is legally blind in one eye. She is an extraordinary woman. Thank you, Faith, for your service.
After a lengthy discussion, it was moved, seconded, and passed by the chapter that Secretary Hyatt would also take the position of Treasurer, due to Hugh's health and his concerns for his wife. I gladly accepted the position and will service this Chapter well.
We had no meeting in November. We had our December meeting on the 17th and enjoyed a dinner hosted at Peppermint Patty's of Anaconda. We all enjoyed the meal. We had a choice of what we would like except for the halibut which was a little costly. However, a couple of the members had prime rib. Then we enjoyed a gift exchange afterwards. Great job, Peppermint Patty's!
Secretary Hyatt and Treasurer Emeritus Hugh had a good chuckle. It was stated that Hugh was so handsomely dressed that he looked like a Senator. Therefore, Eric appointed him (unofficially, of course) District Representative. Eric said he would put it in Hugh’s lap and the Secretary position was put in Eric’s lap. All who listened had a good laugh.
Both Francis and Hugh are two of the most wonderful people that I could have ever met. They have been vital members of this Chapter for the many years, and their service will never be forgotten.
This report respectfully submitted,
Mr. Eric S. Hyatt, District Representative
Anaconda Chapter secretary
In November Todd Fahlstrom was sworn in as our new President, and Christi Small was sworn in as the returning Secretary. During the meeting Todd outlined his plan for 2019. Todd would like to create classes at the low vision center utilizing our membership base to stay active and give back. Some ideas for classes include intro to Braille, iPhone techniques, card making, games, etc. We also want to do a quarterly activity on a Saturday to get people involved who can’t come on the regular meeting day. We shifted our meetings to the 2nd Tuesdays of each month to help those who require transportation the ability to get to our meetings.
December 13th was our annual Christmas lunch at the senior center. Lunch was provided and served by the Bozeman Lions Club. It was a great way to start the holidays. Thank you, Lions.
Christi Small, Secretary
Our chapter invited the general public to a technology workshop in January. Jerry West and Lief Bowman travelled 100 miles to help 17 people navigate their cell phones, tablets, computers, and one Alexa. We put bup flyers and had a newspaper interview to advertise this workship. Jerry and Lief gave an overall introduction and then spoke to each person to assist them with an issue. The workshop was a success because many people have difficulty understanding basic electronic device use. We anticipate a second session because we just opened the door for most participants, and they are eager for further training. Thank you, Jerry and Lief.
Judy Neely, President
Bitterroot Sapphire Chapter
The Bitterroot Sapphire Chapter did not have a meeting in December. The chapter now has an ad in the Bitterroot Star, the local newspaper, listing our meeting location, time and date. On January 3rd, I (Chris) talked with the executive director of the Main Street Association in Stevensville. She was very helpful. I am also going to join the Friends of Main Street Association. It will open the door to working with other nonprofits in Stevensville in fundraising events. As someone who has been involved with the MAB for twelve years, I realize the urgent need for fundraising. We have to do a lot more work toward fundraising or our ship will sink.
Chris Broadhurst, District 1 Representative
Great Falls Chapter
We have a lot of new faces in the Great Falls Chapter. We have eighteen members now and growing. We held our annual bake sale at the Christmas Stroll this year and raised over $700 for the SOP. Leif went to the Havre Chapter on the 7th of January to hold a technology day at the senior center. Judy has been advertising it and has had several calls from non-members that want to attend. We are hoping it will help to grow her chapter again. We met on the 15th of January in Great Falls and talked about plans to set up at least three fund raising dates this coming year. We started our penny drive then as well, so we want to challenge every chapter to start their penny funds again and let’s raise some funds for SOP!
Jerry West, President
Rimrock Chapter (Billings)
Rimrock chapter meetings are held first Wednesday of the month. Members and guests met at Perkins, downtown. In January, the focus was to discuss the raffle and 2019 Convention preparation. Raffle tickets will begin sales after January 15 and end in May. Items chosen for the raffle are as follows:
· Grand prize- 55-inch smart TV
· 2nd prize: HP laptop
· 3rd prize: Robot Vacuum
· 4th prize: Portable Coleman propane grill
· 5th prize: $100 gas card
Members of other chapters interested in purchasing tickets contact Mike Mooney, President (406-672-5285) or Buddy Long, (406-647-2260). Tickets are $10 each.
A committee working with conference planning include Mike Mooney, Stacie Huff, Buddy Long and Nancy Cormier.
Although we are in the early planning stages, the location and dates of the convention have been selected. The convention will be held in the same location as previous Billings convention on September 6-8 of 2019.
Nancy Cormier, Secretary
No reports from the Capital City (Helena), Polson, Lewistown, or At-Large Chapters