Winter 2020 edition

Vol. 73, No. 1

Tonya Mhoon and Jocelyn DeHaas, Editors

Montana Association for the Blind

PO Box 465

Helena, MT 59624

(406) 442-9411


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.
Section                                                              Page Number
President’s Message                                               3
Executive Director’s Notes                                   3
Fundraising                                                               4
MAB Editor’s Corner                                                5
Executive Board Summary                                    5
Elections                                                                     6
Riding the Rails                                                        7
Membership                                                             7
Summer Orientation Program                               8 
Convention                                                                  8
Memorial Loan & Elder Blind Loan Program      8
Scholarships                                                                9
Tips N Tricks                                                                 9
Bequests                                                                      12
Chapter News                                                            13
Membership Form                                                     17
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 again everyone!! I hope that you had a great Christmas and are headed into the New Year with health and happiness.

We haven’t had a lot happen over the last month. Congratulations to the winners of the Beef Raffle. I’m sure it made a wonderful Christmas present. The Montana Association for the Blind is still selling White Cane Coffee. We have a new flavor called Jamaican Me Crazy!! It’s a liquor flavor it’s wonderful. If anyone needs more coffee to sell or would like to get coffee to sell, please contact me at 406-442-9411.

I am still looking for volunteers to sit on some committees. If you would be interested, please call me at 406-490-2669. I would like help on the scholarship, election, and awards committees. When I volunteer, I seem to feel a little more connected to the group.

We are also thinking about Summer Orientation Program. If you or a friend, relative would like to be a part of this wonderful program, please call the office at 406-442-9411 for an application.

Have a wonderful time in the snow!

Rhonda Cochrane, President





Happy New Year, everyone. It is the year 2020. 20/20 is a measurement of vision. It may determine physical vision, but it doesn’t gauge the more important visions of the heart and the mind. Let’s make this year a year in which we engage our minds in new activities and interests. I am a teacher, so I believe that learning is growing. Let’s also make it a year when we reach out to others who might need help. Not only the blind community, but others as well. I know one of our members who works in a soup kitchen and another who makes baby blankets for infants in the hospital. While they are both legally blind, they have the vision of the heart to make their communities better places.

Jocelyn DeHaas

Executive Director




We are proud to announce that we had great success with the beef raffle! We earned $17,720 for the Summer Orientation Program. Thank you to everyone for your hard work in ticket sales.


We are still selling White Cane Coffee. Our number one seller remains Vicky King of Butte. If you are interested in selling, or need more, contact Rhonda at: 406-442-9411. We have 3 new flavors, by the way: Dragon Blend, Mocha and Jamaican Me Crazy, a liqueur-flavored one. Again, the proceeds to support the SOP.

The Dragon Blend is an extra dark blend, and the Jamaican Me Crazy is a liqueur-flavored coffee. Each little bag contains enough for 2 pots of coffee. The Jamaican and Mocha are $6, the others are $4. Help us send more people to the SOP by selling coffee! If you are interested in buying or selling some, please contact Rhonda at: 406-442-9411.

Jocelyn DeHaas







Hello, and I want to wish you all a very happy new year! Yes, it is 2020 - time to get out there and start anew. First off, I want to say thank you all for being so patient with me and understanding as I am still learning to do the Observer. I will get the hang of it. I’m getting some reports from different chapters, but I am still not getting them all. Please send your reports into me so I can make sure they get into the Observer. Thanks to Jocelyn DeHaas for all her help in teaching me how to run the Observer. I also want to thank Rhonda Cochrane for her help in showing me around as the third vice president. Again, thank you all for your patience and enjoy your Observer and the new year ahead.


Tonya Mhoon, editor





The Board of Directors met on September 6th in Billings before the annual convention. All board members were in attendance in person or by telephone. Jocelyn DeHaas talked about what she had done as the new executive director. These activities included writing grants and giving presentations about the MAB to different organizations. She also gave a report about the SOP. There were 18 students last summer. A cinematographer came and filmed at the school. This will become a promotional video for the SOP; it will be done with editing in the spring. She is looking for a new venue to hold the SOP. The District Representatives gave their reports on what is happening across the state.


Bob Maffit came to talk about a new nonprofit he is starting. Its goal is to increase orientation and mobility instructors across the state. He wanted someone from the MAB board to also be on its board. Tim Gilmer, accountant, agreed to be on their board.

The board talked about the fundraising activities going on. The beef raffle tickets were selling well, and the board decided also to start selling White Cane Coffee. Several years ago, the board voted to buy Trekker Breeze equipment at wholesale to be sold at retail. The MAB would use the profit for the SOP. The sales have not been going as well as hoped. The board decided to have Jerry West return the money the MAB spent on the Trekkers plus the profit from the sale of the units that did sell, and he would keep the remaining units.


The Memorial Loan/Elder Blind Programs need to be more standardized. Eric Hyatt has spent a lot of time organizing the books for it. A new committee will be formed to work on the programs and establish rules so that the program will be sustainable for the future.






It is already time to start thinking about MAB elections for this summer. This time around we are electing district representatives. The district representatives attend board meetings in person or on the phone. They relay the concerns or suggestions of their district to the board. They are in contact with chapter presidents. They also convey what is happening at the board level to their chapters. Serving on the board is a way that you can know more about what the MAB does, and you can contribute to the blind and low vision population of the state. If you are interested in running, talk with any board member or call the office for more information. You will need to get a biographical sketch in to the office by July 25th so the secretary can get ballots out to the membership.




When I was twelve, my best friend and I took the train from Bozeman over to Livingston. We had lunch and then shopped at Gil’s for Mother’s Day gifts for our moms. It was a thrilling adventure for us and a precious memory for me now. But the southern train line went away some forty years ago.


Over the years there have been attempts to renew the train line that would run from Miles City, through Billings, Livingston, Bozeman, Helena, Missoula, Paradise, and then on to Spokane. There is a group now that is taking a new approach to drum up support other than through the legislature to establish a statewide rail authority. This southern line would not replace the northern line, but it would be a second line in our state.


It might be good for the blind and low vision population of the state to have another transportation option in the southern areas. The group that is trying to make this happen will have a meeting in the spring – I will find out where and when. Perhaps this is something the MAB should support. What do you think? Thank you to Stacie Huff for bringing this to my attention.


Jocelyn DeHaas





It is time to renew your annual membership! Many of the local chapters have already begun to collect membership, but if yours haven’t or you don’t regularly attend, a membership form is attached at the back of this Observer. Our dues are still only $10 per month. Membership dues need to be in by April 30th, or you will have to pay for 2 years.




We are busy planning our summer 2020 Summer Orientation Program. Sadly, we won’t be at Carroll College in Helena this year. They have just priced us out as well as putting new restrictions on us. We will miss our friends in Helena, but we are looking forward to our home for this summer – Rocky Mountain College in Billings. It will be a new adventure there!


As always, if you know of someone who would benefit from the program, please let me know. Our applications for staff and students are out now. You can call the office to get one at 406-442-9411. They are also be available at BLVS offices throughout the state.

Jocelyn DeHaas, Director SOP




The Great Falls Chapter is proud to present the 2020 MAB Annual Convention! We will be having it in late September. We’ll have a western themed dinner, so wear your cowboy boots & ten-gallon hat!




The MAB has two programs to provide no-interest loans to individuals for equipment or education to help them to have a more independent and fulfilling life. The Memorial Loan Program provides loans to people below the age of 55, while the Elder Blind Lease/Loan Program provides loans to people who are over 55. These are available to legally blind MAB members. At the last board meeting, a new committee was appointed to oversee this program. They have established new rules and limits on the amount of loans we can give out in a year. The goal is to have these programs available for many years in the future. The deadlines to submit applications is March 1st and September 1st. If you would like more information or an application, please call the MAB office at: 406-442-9411.




The MAB offers the Emil A. Honka Scholarship in the amount of $1000 annually. Now is the time to apply for this. The applicant must be a resident of Montana with a visual impairment. The application must be received by the MAB office by the end of the business day of June 1st. If you are interested, or know of anyone who would qualify, please contact Rhonda at the MAB office: 406-442-9411.


The Bozeman Chapter also scholarships from the Todd Family Memorial in the amount of $1000 each. They are for visually-impaired students who are or will be attending MSU-Bozeman or who is a graduate of MSU-Bozeman who will be going to graduate school anywhere. The application for this must be in by April 20th. If you are interested, and need more information please contact Lori Parker, Vice President of the Bozeman Chapter of MAB, at (828) 421-4838 or by email,





In this addition we are going to feature the kitchen. When first losing our vision many times we feel like the kitchen is off limits. The old saying, “If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen,” does not apply here. Safety of
course is first and foremost. Always make sure flammable objects are moved from around the stove and oven before starting your project. Never wear long loose sleeves when cooking. Placing the things you are going to use on a
tray keeps them together and easier to locate when you need them.

Top of stove:
To keep your pan centered on the burner, trace the burner with the handle of a wooden spoon. To find the middle of the pan to pour something into it, find the handle and follow it to the pan then move a little towards the
center and pour.


To turn food over in a frying pan, first remove the pan
from the heat, follow the handle to the edge of the pan and with a fork begin at that point to turn over the food. The piece that is turned has a rough texture and the piece that needs turning has a smooth texture. You can tell this by touching the food with the fork. Returning the pan to the
burner is when the wooden handle trick helps to get it centered back on the burner.


Pancakes are tricky when you no longer can see the bubbles breaking. Now you need to use your sense of smell. Also, I mentally time them. When they slide easily onto the turner, they are ready to turn.

Placing things into the oven:
Set your pan on the top of the stove lining it up with the middle of the oven door. Check the oven, making sure it is free of other things and set your rack at the right height. Turn your oven on to the right temperature. When it is preheated, lift the pan and bring it straight down in front of the oven and slide it onto the rack. It should be right in the middle of the oven. Repeat this procedure backwards when removing the pan from the oven. Then you can move
the hot pan to a rack to cool or serve. Always use the proper hot pads or mitts when working around the hot pans.

To measure liquids with measuring spoons and cups, the handles may be bent upward in order to dip the liquid instead of pouring it. We can use smaller containers to pour the liquids into for easier measuring. Use individual
cups to measure instead of one size fits all. If needed mark cups and spoons with puff paint to identify their size.


When pouring liquids place thumb and middle finger around container and feel with index finger how full the
container is getting. Feeling the hot or cold on outside of container will also help when pouring. Another suggestion is to use white cups for dark liquids and dark cups for light liquids.


To fill muffin tins, use a canning funnel and an ice cream scoop. Use a small scoop to place cookie balls on a cookie sheet.

I hope that these suggestions will help you overcome your fear of the kitchen. Getting back to do what we did before losing vision is so rewarding. Alternative techniques to perform a task are so valuable.

The MAB’s Summer School Program offers so much to help the blind become more independent in their lives. Talk to your local MAB chapter to find out how to apply to come to Summer School!

Written by Sharon Henderson


Cake in a Mug…

Grease a 12-ounce coffee mug.

Mix together in small bowl:

¼ cup of Flour
3 Tablespoons Sugar or Splenda
1-1/2 Tablespoons Cocoa
1 Egg
3 Tablespoons Milk
3 Tablespoons Oil
Dash of Vanilla


Pour into mug and bake in microwave for 3 minutes. It works best to stop halfway through and turn mug a quarter turn. You can add nuts, chocolate chips, raisins or any
things you like best before baking.

Sharon Henderson


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.





Remember, everyone loves to read about what has been happening in the chapters – secretaries & presidents please get your next report in around April 1st.


In November, the chapter recognized Faith’s birthday with some cupcakes, ice cream and gave her a vintage rose diffuser. Bob Hay introduced himself to the chapter as its newest member. He is a veteran and was exposed to Agent Orange. He lost his sight in 2004 due to the exposure, glaucoma, and diabetes. Bob has a dog guide, Yankee, that he trained himself. Bob came from a career of training police dogs, attack dogs, etc. Welcome, Bob, to our MAB family!

We had our annual Christmas dinner at Barclays. We exchanged gifts. We had wonderful meal and lots of laughs. Our regular meeting will be at the Hearthstones at 1:00 on the second Monday of each month. Call 406-490-2669 if you need a ride.

Rhonda Cochrane. President


Butte Silverbow Chapter


The Silverbow Chapter had its Thanksgiving party on the first Friday in November, and its Christmas party in December. We had a lot of fun together and had door prizes. At the Christmas Party, we had bell ringers come to play us music.




Vicky King, Secretary

Bozeman Chapter


November: Our program was getting to know the blind. Benny McCracken spoke about Starr Guards disease. Scott Wheat spoke about being blind since birth. He has worked with guide dogs for a long time. He is in the process of getting a new guide dog. His current dog is being retired due to health issues. Both speakers said that technology has made a big impact on their lives.


Our book club selection was nonfiction, reader’s choice. Our walking club is on hiatus for the winter.


December: We again participated in the Christmas Stroll on Dec. 3. Hot cider, a fire pit and candy canes with BMAB information attached we our attractions.

Our annual Christmas luncheon was on Dec. 10th at the Fork and Spoon. Thanks to the Bozeman & Sweet Pea Lions who helped with serving at the Christmas luncheon along with some new volunteers from the Delta Gamma Sorority. The winners of the beef raffle were announced. A local member, Lori Zentner, won the first prize!

Our book club selection was Poetry. We met at the Center Ice café in Belgrade. We each read a few selections for the group. We were privileged to have a new guest, “the paper plate poet” Willa Jean.


We will have an open house for the Low Vision Center on May 19 from 10-4:30. Over Here Consulting is coming down to show us the new products and walk us through some of the other ones. We hope you can join us.


We at Bozeman Chapter MAB hope you had a very Merry Christmas and wish all of you and a Happy New Year.

Christi Small, Secretary

Rimrock Chapter (Billings)

The Rimrock Chapter enjoyed a Christmas gathering at Montana Club with members and guests.

We are preparing for another raffle to start in January. We will offer over a $1000 Dollars in prizes. Stacie Huff shops the Black Friday sales event to make our tickets even more valuable. We will keep you informed…

Respectfully submitted, Nancy Cormier, Secretary


Great Falls Chapter


On December 6, our chapter held a bake sale at the annual Great Falls Downtown Christmas Stroll. We raised nearly $400 for our local group. On December 16, we held our monthly meeting. We had a Christmas party with pizza and other potluck goodies.  We discussed the 2020 Convention, which we will begin planning in earnest in January.  Happy New Year!

Janet Koostra, Secretary



Capital City (Helena)


The Capital City Chapter did not submit a report. If you are interested in attending a meeting, please contact Vicky Greaney at: 406-458-9411.


Polson Chapter

The Polson Chapter did not submit a report. If you are interested in attending a meeting in Polson, call Laura Whitten at: 251-591-7015 for time and location.



The Havre Chapter did not submit a report. If you are interested in attending a meeting in Havre, call Judy Neely – 406-301-4989 for time and location.




The Bitterroot-Sapphire Chapter did not submit a report. For information, contact Chris Broadhurst – 406-880-0823.


At-Large Chapter

The At-Large Chapter did not submit a report. For information on when meetings are held by telephone, contact John Snowberger at 406-823-9292.




Please remember that we work hard on the Observer for the members who enjoy reading about what is happening in the chapters. Please submit the chapter reports. The next deadline for articles and chapter reports for the winter issue of the Observer is April 1st. .






The Observer is published four times a year. Please send all comments, questions and submissions for publication to:
Tonya Mhoon
MAB Observer Editor



The Observer is available in three formats:
1. Large print
2. Email
3. Digital audio (an MP3 file on a thumb drive that works in a computer or talking book machine)
If you would prefer your copy of the Observer in a different format, please contact the office at: 406-442- 9411.


Montana Association for the Blind
PO Box 465
Helena, MT  59624




















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