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GCB Winter 2009 (Text Version)

THE GCB DIGEST A Publication of the GEORGIA COUNCIL OF THE BLIND An Affiliation of the AMERICAN COUNCIL OF THE BLIND An organization promoting a Hand Up, Not a Hand Out! Winter, 2009 President: Alice Ritchhart 125 Willow Pond Way Brunswick, GA 31525 912-261-9833, Toll Free: 877-667-6815 E-Mail: alice.ritchhart@comcast.net Editor: Ann Sims, 3361 Whitney Avenue Hapeville, GA 30354, 404-767-1792 E-Mail, teacherann@bellsouth.net Assistant Editor: Jerrie Ricks, 1307 Chester Place McDonough, GA 30252, 770-898-9036; E-Mail, jerrie_ricks@bellsouth.net GCB Webmaster: Steven Longmire Sunbright Consulting at info@sunbright.biz GCB Web Site: www.georgiacounciloftheblind.org TABLE OF CONTENTS President’s Message: By Alice Ritchhart -------------------------------------------- 3 BRAILLE, Article from the BBC: Submitted by George Barton ----------------------------- 5 Highlights of the 2008 GCB State Convention: By Ann Sims ------------------------------------------------- 8 Light and Salt, A Tribute to Granger and Jerrie Ricks: By Ron Brown -------------------------------------------- 18 Tropical Garden in Suburbia: By Savannah Morning News ------------------------ 19 Chapter and Special Affiliate News ---------------- 21 News Briefs and Announcements ------------------ 26 PRESIDENT’S MESSAGE Challenges for the New Year By Alice Ritchhart As you are reading this Digest, we have begun a new year. I hope you all had a blessed holiday season and are ready for what I hope will be a safe and healthy new year. I would like to take this time to thank you all for giving me the opportunity to serve as your President for the next two years. Allow me also to express my appreciation for all those members who have dedicated their time and talents to help run this great organization which we can proudly say is the largest organization of and for the blind in Georgia. It was good to see many of you at the convention in November, and I hope you all enjoyed it as much as I did. Cheers to the Columbus group for a job well done. We did face a few challenges this past year, but I think they only caused us to grow, and to be strengthened in our organization. I would like to say things will be better in 2009, but with our current economy, I am somewhat apprehensive that we may have our work cut out for us as an organization and as blind citizens. With this said, I would like to ask all of you to accept my call to action to make a commitment to diligently assist in meeting whatever challenges may be before us. I truly believe that if we all do what we can, then we as the Georgia Council of the Blind and as individuals who are blind will make a difference in Georgia. Our first call to action should be an easy one and would be very appropriate since beginning in January the nation will be celebrating the 200th birthday of Louis Braille. What better way to honor his great gift of braille to us than by getting our Braille Literacy legislation passed in January! The literature concerning the accessibility of the blind into the job market indicates that proficiency in braille skills is very beneficial for encouraging success in the employment arena. Considering the limitations and restrictions of the current job market, it is even more important that our young people get the braille skills that they so desperately need. With this in mind, please plan on writing letters, making calls and being present at the Capitol to get this Braille Literacy legislation passed. The time to start is now. Let’s honor Louis Braille with a stronger Braille Literacy Bill. Second call to action is to help with the Commission for the Blind legislation. This will be a more difficult, but not impossible, challenge. One important matter in our favor is that we are not asking for money. We, however, are definitely asking for a major policy change at a time when the legislative body is reluctant to entertain requests for policy changes. We, therefore, need a serious commitment from our entire membership to fervently assist in getting this vital piece of legislation passed. I am convinced that the establishment of a Commission for the Blind will definitely be the most productive plan for assisting blind individuals in getting services we need to enable us to more successfully compete in this tight economy. Finally I call on you to just get more involved in GCB by working on a committee, volunteering to assist with our young people as a mentor, or just by helping your affiliate or other affiliates to grow. It is true that right now things are a little scary, but if each of us is willing to be committed and to use the talents we have we will be able to continue to grow and keep the Georgia Council of the Blind as the largest and best organization in this state. (EDITOR’S NOTE: You may notice that this next article is written in old English.) Braille Submitted by George Barton, Floyd-Rome Chapter of GCB Why Braille is Brilliant Few inventions have been as simple yet liberating as braille. To mark the 200th birthday of its inventor Louis Braille, former British home secretary David Blunkett explains how it shaped his life by providing him from an early age with a window on the world. Picture a little boy of four. He arrives at school - boarding school - for the first time. Worried, sometimes even frightened, but determined not to cry. Picture then a little boy with a contraption in front of him on his desk the following morning. A stylus (to him, a pin with a wooden knob on the top) in which he's expected not only to press downwards to make what he considers to be a "hole" in thick paper, but the daunting prospect of being told that he's going to operate from right to left. That little four-year-old was, of course, me. And yes, I was expected, along with all my fellow pupils, to use an old-fashioned braille writing frame which had the six-dot system invented by Louis Braille, born on 4 January 1809, to produce the alphabet and much more. The reason why it was necessary to write from right to left was that, in those days, without the sophistication firstly of mechanical and then of electronic braille production, the dots had to be pressed downwards and, when turned over, would provide a mirror image. It was therefore not only necessary to write from right to left, but also to reverse the actual letters so that with the exception of letters like A and C, other parts of the alphabet had to be reversed. D had to be written as an F. In braille, this is exactly the mirror image - and therefore came out on the opposite side exactly as you'd read it left to right. If all this sounds complicated, it damn well was! Thankfully, new systems were developed as I went through the education system which allowed the production to be bottom-up (with the dots punctured upwards from left to right, immediately readable by the user). Despite all its difficulties in those early days, this system was nevertheless a liberator for me and hundreds of thousands of blind men and women like me. Invented by Louis Braille at the age of 15, the idea came from a soldier who had served in the Napoleonic army in Poland and had attempted to devise a system that could, with night-time maneuvers, allow messages to be sent and instructions to be passed from hand to hand. It didn't work because the system was too complex and the soldiers didn't get it. Not surprisingly, because to read braille without being able to see you need to develop sensitive finger ends. Finger ends which, unlike mine, need to be protected from burns developed whilst cooking, or rough handling of gardening implements and the like. My fingers have developed what in a sighted person might be called "cataracts", but I still plough on. Art of Oratory All those years ago, Louis Braille decided that it was crucial that he should be able to read and, above all, to be able to write down his thoughts. Two hundred years later, when chairing a meeting it is vital that I have an agenda on my own that I can refer to without reference to someone else. It is vital that I have notes even when I shy away from actually reading speeches verbatim. It's no secret that I found reading statements at the Dispatch Box in the Commons a trial. Statements have to be read verbatim because the print version has been handed out, whereas of course speeches are an entirely different matter and much more up my street - as, of course, with answering questions. With a set of notes you can make a speech having learnt the art of oratory at a very early age. In fact it's probably a question of cause and effect. My own development of oratory came from the fact that by using notes I could overcome the difficulty of not being able quite so fluently as I would wish to skim over a written page of braille - for braille doesn't have the opportunity to provide highlights. You can't simply write braille in large form so that as with print you can "catch your eye" on something that it is absolutely vital to deliver or to emphasise. Underlining is possible, but more out of technical form than in terms of being able to quickly highlight what needs to be referred to and at what point. Therefore, for me, braille has been a method of ensuring that I can work on equal terms, using my own initiative and doing it in my own way. For others, it has been an absolutely vital way of ensuring private correspondence and, with more recent developments, being able to demand bank statements which allow privacy rather than relying on someone else to read them (perhaps a neighbour) at a time when confidentiality could be crucial. In the future, so many of the public forms and communications we receive could easily be put in braille by the use of computer software and the transcription equipment now readily available to public authorities. My staff use exactly such software, along with braille embossers, in order to be able to produce material for me on a regular basis. So, as we celebrate the 200th birthday of Louis Braille, we lift a glass at the New Year to thank him for the ingenuity, the confidence and the determination that ensured that others like him sought and gained independence, equality and dignity. Whilst doing so, we should recognise the critical role of organisations working with and on behalf of blind people, such as the Royal National Institute of the Blind here in the UK, whose support and resource base is crucial to making this old invention come alive in imaginatively new ways. The year 2009 will indeed, here and across the world, be a chance to recognise this form of communication as an essential liberator, a window on the world for children reading their books (under their bedcovers, as I did), or adults being able to go about their business with confidence - and with the certainty that very few other people will be able to read their secrets. Highlights of the 2008 GCB State Convention Submitted by Editor, Ann Sims The 2008 Georgia Council of the Blind 52nd Annual State Convention was held in Columbus, Georgia, at the Holiday Inn, North. The host chapter was the Greater Columbus Chapter of GCB. President Crawford Pike was unable to attend, but First Vice President, Jimmie Burkes and Second Vice President, Clifford Jones, along with many members of the chapter are to be commended for the fine, outstanding job they did for GCB! The Co-Chairs of the convention were Jimmie Burkes and Marsha Farrow, and they, along with their committee, are certainly to be praised for the splendid work they did! For those of you who could not attend, we are providing an overview of the program. The theme for the convention was "Achieving Greater Heights of Vision in 2008". On Friday afternoon, the Georgia Guide Dog Users presented a showing of “With a Dog's Eyes”: capturing the life of Morris Frank. This hour-long program is a witty, intimate tribute to Morris Frank, the first person to use a guide dog, written and performed by actor Bill Mooney. Mooney brings to life Morris Frank, whose single-minded determination to enable himself and other blind people to travel independently with guide dogs opened a new world for them. The story touches the hearts of all who have overcome adversity. Everyone enjoyed this humorous but touching presentation, and there was hardly a dry eye in the room. The business meeting was held next. The following proposed amendment was passed: Bylaws, Article III. Membership B. Associate Members: Associate members pay local dues. They have the right to vote on local issues of GGDU, hold office except for that of President and Vice President, and to serve on local committees. They do not have the right to serve on state and national committees or be delegates to state and national conventions. Election was held, and the new officers for GGDU are Marj Schneider, President; Betsy Grenevitch, Vice President; Alice Ritchhart, Secretary-Treasurer; Immediate Past President, Diane Healy; Sarah Hooper for a two-year board seat, and Ann Sims, for a one-year board seat. A welcome reception for GCB was held Friday evening, sponsored by Country’s Barbecue. The speaker was Cammie Vloedman, ACB board Director. Cammie Vloedman was born and raised in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. She attended Northwestern Oklahoma State University in Alva, OK where she received a Bachelor of Science degree in E-Commerce, with Cum Laude honors, in 2005; she also received a Masters of E-Commerce degree from NWOSU in 2007. She minored in Animal Science to accompany her avid love of horses. Her family breeds, raises, and shows miniature horses. Cammie has been very active in the disability community since she first won an ACB scholarship in 2003, with extensive participation in the National Alliance of Blind Students (NABS). Cammie recently moved from Oklahoma to Virginia to work for one of the leading accessibility consulting companies in the country. There were around 75 folks in attendance including four college students and their families. At 7:45pm GCB Auction was held, conducted by Kim Harrison, Savannah Chapter of GCB. Everyone enjoyed this annual event, and this year we made over $650 for the scholarship fund. Kim Harrison kept things interesting and rolling! Saturday morning, the Georgia Council of Blind Lions members and friends met for its annual breakfast. GCBL President, Lion Anne Wheeler, introduced the speaker and special guests, Editha Jones and daughter, Adora, who told of their experiences at the Georgia Lions Camp for the Blind. This was a wonderful and inspirational time hearing of all the challenges Mrs. Jones encountered with her three special needs daughters. If your chapter needs a speaker, Mrs. Jones would certainly be an excellent choice. Her daughter, Adora, whom the Georgia Council of Blind Lions sponsored to the Georgia Camp for the Blind, sang some of her camp songs. Chattooga County Chapter and East Georgia Chapter sponsored the other two daughters, and the Trion Lions Club helped with the transportation to and from the camp. It was a successful endeavor. From 9:00am until 12:00pm, the general session took place. GCB President Alice Ritchhart presided. A representative from Congressman Sanford Bishop’s office was introduced by Mr. Dirk Jones, Greater Columbus Chapter of GCB. Congressman Sanford Dixon Bishop, JR., was born on February 4, 1947 in Mobile, Alabama. He was educated at Morehouse College and Emory University Law School. He practiced law in Columbus, Georgia for several years. He was elected to the Georgia House Of Representatives in 1977, where he remained until being elected to the Georgia Senate in 1990. After serving only one term, he ran for the Democratic nomination in the 2nd District where he has been serving for 16 years. Dr. Otis H. Stephens was the next speaker and was introduced by his sister, Ann Sims. Dr. Otis Stephens graduated from the Georgia Academy for the Blind in 1953. He received an A. B. Degree cum laude from the University of Georgia in 1957; an M.A. from the University of Georgia in 1958; a Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University in 1963; and a J.D. with high honors from the University of Tennessee in 1983. He was admitted to the Tennessee Bar in 1984. Dr. Stephens is Alumni Distinguished Service Professor of Political Science and Resident Scholar of Constitutional Law at the University of Tennessee College of Law. Dr. Stephens spoke to the convention via speaker phone as he was in an automobile accident the week before and was unable to attend in person. He brought us up to date with the currency law suit which ACB has won, and everyone was encouraged by the news. We can look forward to having accessible paper currency developed in the near future. Mrs. Janice Morris, retired nurse and care giver, spoke next. Her topic was “My Journey, Your Journey and Their Journey”. She was introduced by Ms. Jimmie Burkes, GCB Convention Committee Co-Chair and member of the Greater Columbus Chapter of GCB. Janice A. Morris was born on December 3, 1941 in LaGrange, Georgia to Emmett and Gina Grizzard. She attended Troup County High School and graduated in 1961. She met the love of her life, Virgil Morris, after he completed four years of military service in the United States Air Force. Janice attended Pineville Kentucky School of Nursing and both she and her husband attended Clear Creek Bible College. They served in the ministry together in Kentucky, Georgia and Alabama. Janice worked in the nursing field for 18 years. They had 48 wonderful years together. Virgil was transferred to heaven on February 24, 2007. Janice has two married daughters and five grandchildren. Mrs. Morris spoke of her journey of rehabilitation after losing her sight and encouraged us to continue to persevere. She also spoke of those who needed to understand how to communicate and work with those of us depending on sighted assistance. She encouraged us to be our own advocates. Next on the program was the YAP Speak-Off, introduced by Marsha Farrow, chair of the Youth Awareness Program and President of the Chattooga County Chapter of GCB. During this time, the audience had the opportunity to meet the college students. Four GCB members were matched with the four college students. We were chosen to interview and be interviewed by the students and then introduce each other. It was an informative time. The students were Martha Brandt, Columbus Tech; Megan Garcia, Columbus Tech; Heather Hamlet, Columbus State University; and Kevin Roberts, Columbus Tech. The next part of the program was the reading of the Proposed Amendments for GCB Constitution and Bylaws, Chair, Ann Sims. Other announcements were made, and door prizes were drawn. Mrs. Cora Camp and Mrs. Dolores Rudenber of the Stephens County handled the drawings. After lunch, the annual GCB business meeting was held. GCB President, Alice Ritchhart conducted the meeting. There were several presentations given: One from Kathy Segers with the Department of Education, Beverly Hunter with NFB Newsline, and Paul Raymond with Department of Rehabilitation Services. Robin Oliver gave the secretary’s report which was accepted and passed. Jerrie Toney gave a very thorough treasurer’s report with a closing balance on October 31, 2008 in all accounts of $34,537.67. This report was voted on to be file for audit. All the amendments passed and can be read on the Web site, www.georgiacounciloftheblind.org and can also be sent to anyone desiring a copy by contacting Chairperson, Ann Sims, at 404-767-1792 or via email at teacherann@bellsouth.net. A legislative report was given by Teresa Brenner and Alice Ritchhart. Under new business, it was decided to hold a two- to three-day convention every other year with a one-day convention held on the odd years. This August one-day convention will again be in Columbus, Georgia. There will be a business meeting and a banquet to present awards and scholarships. The election of officers took place with the following slate accepted unanimously: Alice Ritchhart for President, Bill Holley for First Vice President, Keith Morris for Second Vice President, Robin Oliver for Secretary, Jerrie Toney for Treasurer and Debbie Williams for At Large Representative. Ann Sims, Chair of the nominating committee, thanked the committee for serving with her: Tim Kelly, Keith Morris and Judy Presley. At 6:30pm, the GCB banquet was held with GCB President Alice Ritchhart presiding. Banquet speaker was Kenneth Osborne who is a 1972 graduate of the Alabama School for the Blind in Talladega. Following graduation, he majored in broadcasting at Gadsden State Junior College. From October, 1974 until June, 1978, he worked as a disc jockey at WPRN in Butler, Alabama. In June, 1978, he took a job at WEYY and WHTB, an AM/FM operation in Talladega. While there, Ken served as color commentator for Friday night high school football games. He also served as music director for a time at WEYY. In 1984, Ken started his own business, Kayo Productions and became a voiceover announcer. Over the past 24 years, his clients have included Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus, Walt Disney's Magic Kingdom on Ice and Fox-5 TV in New York City. Today Ken does voice work for the Rick & Bubba Show and the Ultimate Fighting Championship. There were around 88 attendees at this function, and everyone seemed to enjoy Mr. Osborne’s presentation. He personalized his jokes, using some names of our GCB members present at the banquet. Then he gave a serious challenge for blind and visually impaired folks in obtaining success. The following awards were then presented: Athens Chapter Loving Cup recipient: Lila Scott President’s Certificates of Appreciation: Sam Elliott, Willie Harris, Jamaica Miller Augusta Chapter Loving Cup recipient: Dave Everly President’s Certificates of Appreciation: Stanley Lopez & Virginia Smelts Bainbridge Chapter Loving Cup recipients: Gloria Hampton, Janice Tootle, Tonya Wright, Adeline Escoffery President’s Certificates of Appreciation: Eddie Escoffery, Robert Andrews, Dwight Jacobs, Andrea Hampton, Audrey Carter, Dan Conley, Peggy Hyatt, Lisa Hodnett, Keith Carter, Virginia Harris Chattooga County Chapter President’s Certificates of Appreciation: Jan Morris and Virginia Tucker Greater Columbus Chapter Loving Cup recipients: Jimmie Ruth Burkes & Kathy Koehler President’s Certificates of Appreciation: Clifford Brinson, Jacqueline J. Burkes, Clifford Jones & Dirk Jones East Georgia Chapter Loving Cup recipient: Christine O'Brien President’s Certificates of Appreciation: Larry Chelena & Linda Cox Metro Atlanta Chapter Loving Cup recipient: Leo Healy President’s Certificates of Appreciation: Steve Longmire and Adam Shapiro Savannah Chapter Loving Cup recipient: Bob Walls President’s Certificate of Appreciation: Brian Leighton Stephens County Chapter Loving Cup recipient: Nettie Mae Lyles President’s Certificate of Appreciation: Dolores Rutenber Rhoda W. Walker Award: Betsy Grenevitch The Gerald Pye Community Service Award: Crawford Pike June Willis Guiding Eyes Award: Kathy Morris Walter R. McDonald Award: Dr. Otis H. Stephens Julie Achroth Award: Sarah Hooper Three President’s Diamond Awards: Country’s Barbecue, Ann Marie Miller, Jane Short Special Certificate of Appreciation to the Family of Robert Willis with daughter, Cara Willis accepting Two Hero Awards of appreciation to honor Frederick McDade and Alfred Camp for their sacrifices on the field of battle Banquet music contributed by Blind Tom. Information about this unusual musician was provided by Cliff Jones, Greater Columbus Chapter of GCB. The next event was the talent show, with Moderator, Phil Jones, East Georgia Chapter of GCB. As usual, this was one of the highlights of the convention with many talented people participating. At the end, a tribute to Ms. Janet Clary was made by the playing of Elvira by the Janet Junk Band. On Sunday, the farewell breakfast was enjoyed by members and friends. After the breakfast, we had a wonderful and inspirational service led by Reverend Hawthorne Reed, pastor of the Gethsemane Baptist Church, Columbus, Georgia. Ms. Jimmie Burkes conducted the memorial service. The following members were recognized and remembered: Mr. Willie Beauford - Columbus Ms. Patricia Fitts - Macon Ms. Margaret Hall of Dublin - At-large Ms. Evelyn Kind - Bainbridge Mrs. Nina Morgan - Chattooga Mr. Bob Willis, Athens Since the convention, the following members passed away: Life-time member of Bainbridge Chapter of GCB, Alvah Anchors died on Saturday, November 8. He was buried in Savannah. On November 28, Clifford Smith, Lakemont, Georgia passed away. Clifford was a long time Stephens County GCB member and husband of Sarah Smith who was our former treasurer in GCB. On December 15, Helen Bartels of Conyers, former member of GCB and owner and operator of VIP transportation services, passed away. Our condolences and prayers continue to go out to these families! Plans are already underway for our one-day convention next August in Columbus. Mark your calendars for that exciting Saturday, and make your plans to attend. You will be receiving more information in the next issue of this magazine. “But Now I See” By Ron Brown, Associate Minister Henry Baptist Church, McDonough, Georgia A Tribute to Granger and Jerrie Ricks From Salt and Light Newsletter Jesus taught that spiritually blind eyes are much worse than physical blindness. Have you met the Ricks? Their spiritual eyes are wide open even if the physical ones are not. Here is a tiny bit of their story. Granger and Jerrie both are graduates of the Georgia Academy for the Blind in Macon. Both hold Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from major universities. Granger also completed most of his doctoral work at the University of North Carolina but stopped to work. That work eventually brought them to Morrow where he began teaching history when Clayton State opened. There he continued for 31 years. Some in our church have studied under him. Their three children, Michael, Charles, and Kathy have likewise gained advanced education. Ministry, engineering, and teaching have all benefited from the home where they grew up. They lived in Morrow most of their married lives. In their first home, Granger found the shortest route to his job, about 2 ½ miles. That was beneficial since he walked to work, sometimes not returning until night. They both demonstrate a wonderful trust and dependence upon the God they love. This did not come without trial as well. Granger was a Christian, but a nominal one, when he started Mercer. Then a very vocal Christian history professor, Dr. Glover, impacted him greatly. This role model helped him gain courage in expressing his faith. Jerrie was saved as a child, but Mercer had a different effect on her. Though she is truly grateful for what she learned there, some of it introduced nagging doubt. Some of the teachers there shook her belief system and it stuck for years. Then God brought some Christians into their lives that helped her come to a new, vital relationship with her Master. The glow is still there as they speak of this journey into enjoying vision that can never end. It is wonderful what one can learn just visiting with the Ricks. As I watched Jerrie keep four pots cooking on the stove, and Granger running his computer with no monitor or mouse, I was amazed. Yet, as I listened to their testimony of God’s grace, I was humbled by their 20/20 spiritual sight. There is much to learn from them on many fronts. Though neither remembers any sight, like the blind Fanny Crosby, they demonstrate no bitterness. Fanny has perfect sight now and like her, the first thing they ever see may be the face of Jesus Christ. Tropical Garden in Suburbia By Savannah Morning News Note of explanation from Marj Schneider, member of the Savannah Chapter and president of GGDU: In August, a member of my husband Don's Toast Masters Club who writes for local community papers interviewed me for a story about our gardening efforts. Though some of the details were incorrect, the spirit of what we're up to and why I don't give time to TV watching was captured. Having the article come out at that particular time was an affirmation of what I'm about as I turned 50. If you go to the article's URL, you will find four pictures as well. Published on SavannahNow.com (http://savannahnow.com) From the street the house looks unremarkable and fits well in the midtown middle-class neighborhood, but the back yard is a veritable tropical garden. Twenty citrus trees are scattered around the yard including lemon, blood orange, tangelo, cara-cara orange, lime, grapefruit, tangerine and mandarin. A pumello plant, a citrus variety from Southeast Asia, has a fruit the size of a basketball. Papaya and guava plants grow tall against the back of the house. Pineapple and coffee plants grow in the ground and in large pots. Along the fences are remnants of the summer vegetables - cucumbers, squash, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, bell pepper, eggplant and okra. Ready to be put in the ground are seedlings of winter vegetables - broccoli, cauliflower, peas, Swiss chard and lettuce (both Asian and Italian). In another corner of the yard is an herb garden with basil, parsley, chive and rosemary. What is left of a blackberry vine climbs up a stretch of fence. Caretakers of this unusual garden are Marj Schneider and her husband, Donald Moss. Marj says the main reason for this garden is health. As a nutrition consultant, she is aware of the many chemicals introduced into the soil or sprayed directly on vegetables that end up in our supermarkets. "I want to know what goes into my food," Marj said. Her goal is to grow as much of the food they eat as she possibly can. Marj does the majority of the gardening, but the couple work together to freeze, can and dry food so chemical-free vegetables are always available to them. Marj discovered that using layers of heavy paper between rows of plants keeps in the moisture, cuts down the weeds and helps her locate the vegetables by touch. Although she says that it is "irrelevant," it should be mentioned that Marj is blind and shares the gardening work with her good friend, Manda, a Seeing Eye dog. Originally from Minneapolis, Minn., Marj and Don first discovered the Savannah area via Tybee Island before buying a house in Kensington Park. When they are not in the garden, they run a computer home business, Tybee Types, transferring academic and business interviews, lectures and conferences sessions into readable text. Chapter and Special Interest Affiliate News: Athens Chapter of GCB Officers for 2009: President, Willie Harris, PO BOX 90, Crawford, GA 30630, 706-743-5810, brobro@windstream.net; Immediate Past President, Daniel Myers; First Vice President, Jerrie Toney; Second Vice President, Pete Hayek; Secretary, Robin Oliver; Assistant Secretary, Jamaica Miller; Treasurer, Annie Harris; Assistant Treasurer, Mike Teal. Meetings are every fourth Saturday of the month from 11:00am until 1:00pm at Multiple Choices Center for Independent Living, 850 Gaines School Road, Athens GA 30605. Augusta Chapter of GCB The 2009 officers are President, Keith Morris, 3359 White Oak Road, Thomson, GA 30824, Phone: 706-595-1465; Vice President, Stanley Lopez; Secretary, Kathy Morris; Treasurer, Steve Everley; Board of Directors: Jack Eckert, Joyce Everley and Richard Jarnigan. Meetings are held at the Freedman Library, North Leg, on the second Saturday at 1:00. For more information, please contact Keith and Kathy Morris at 706-595-1465, or via email at mkumorris@yahoo.com. Bainbridge Chapter of GCB The meetings are held the second Saturday of each month at the library. Officers are Tonya Wright, President, P. O. Box 36, Fowlstown, GA 39852, 229-248-0087; Gloria Hampton, Treasurer; Janice Tootle, Secretary; Edward Escoffery and James Harper, chapter board Directors. Chattooga County Chapter of GCB Meeting place: First Baptist Church of Summerville, 125 Georgia Avenue, Summerville, GA 30747, with meetings on second Friday of the month at 11:00 AM. 2009 Officers: President, Marsha Farrow, 102 North Elizabeth St., Summerville, Ga. 30747; phone, home: 706-857-2968; cell: 706-859-2624; E-Mail: marshafarrow@windstream.net First Vice President, Wendi Harkins; Second Vice President, Mary Turnipseed; Secretary/Treasurer, Jan Morris. East Georgia Chapter of GCB Meetings are the second Saturday of the month, held in Conyers from 10:00 A.M. until 12:00 Noon. Phil Jones reports that the chapter’s youngest member, 18-year-old Patricia Cox is now a student at Berry College in Rome. She is having a great time, taking some interesting classes and is working part-time as a switchboard operator at Berry College. 2009 Officers are president, Phil Jones, 922 Edgewater Drive, Loganville, GA 30052, phone: 678-957-6676, email: brilman1952@bellsouth.net; First Vice President, Elsie Aguilar; Second Vice President, Neb Houston; Secretary, Christine O’Brien; Linda Cox and Anne Wheeler for Co-Treasurers; three Board of Directors are Larry Chalena, Elsie Mooney and Granger Ricks. Greater Columbus Chapter of GCB The 2009 officers are Jimmie Burkes, President, 5600 Hunter Road, #2-A, Columbus, Ga. 31907, 706-568-4386, burkesjrb@mchsi.com; Clifford Jones, First Vice President; Dirk Jones, Second Vice President; Gregory McDuffie, Secretary; Clifford Brinson, Treasurer; and Otis Smith, Chaplain. The meetings are held the first Saturday of each month at the Columbus Public Library, 3000 Macon Road, from 1PM-3PM. Greater Hall County Chapter of GCB The meetings are held at the East Hall Special Needs Library, 2434 Old Cornelia Hwy., Gainesville, GA 30501, on the first Saturday of each month. Officers for 2009 are President, Wanda Martin, 4211 Misty Morning Way, Apt.4212, Gainesville, GA 30506, Phone, 770-535-7840; Secretary, Sue Hasketh; Treasurer, Millie Brackett; Board members, Bob McGarry, Don Linnartz, and Genie Rae O’Kelley Macon Chapter of GCB The 2009 officers are Timothy Kelly, President, 155 Alabama Avenue, Macon, GA 31204, 478-923-2714 and 478-746-5965; Carolyn Carr, Vice President; Kathy Marsh, Secretary; Serena Kelly, Treasurer. The meetings are every other month from September through June, on the second Friday at 7:30 p.m., at Dimpsey Apartments, 523 Cherry Street. Metro Atlanta Chapter of GCB Meetings are held the second Friday night at different restaurants in the Atlanta area. There is usually an announcement on the InfoLink before each meeting. The 2009 officers are Diane Healy, President, 301 MIMOSA Drive, Tucker, GA 30084-2065, phone: 770-935-4082, email: ldhealy@negia.net; Peter Tolly, First Vice President; Adam Shapiro, Second Vice President; Steve Longmire, Treasurer; Chester Thrash, Secretary; Herman Jones, Anita Thomas and Janie Yorker, Board of Directors. Northwest Chapter of GCB Officers for 2009: James Howard, President, 4379 Boynton Drive, Ringgold, GA 30736, 706-996-4417; Fred McDade, Vice President; Cindy Wilson, Secretary; Charles Stubblefield, Treasurer; Robert Sprayberry, Chaplain. Chapter meetings are held on the first Tuesday of every other month at the Walker County Library at 7:00 PM. For further information, please contact President Howard. Rome-Floyd County Chapter of GCB The officers for 2009 are President, Dr. Phillip Dillard, 116 Wiley Drive, Cedartown, GA 30125, 770-748-8629; Vice President, Dorothy Thomas; Secretary and Co-Treasurer, Suzanne Jackson; Co-Treasurer, Betty Ellington. The meetings are held at 11 A.M., in the Etowah Room of the Rome library, usually on the third Tuesday. Please check with Dr. Dillard for schedule. Savannah Area Chapter of GCB Officers are Teresa Brenner, President, 2263 Daffin Street, Savannah, GA 31404, 912-352-9354; tabrenner@comcast.net; Kim Harrison, Treasurer; Dr. Jack Lewis, Secretary; Marj Schneider, Vice President; Board Members, Jan Elders and Bob Walls. The chapter meetings are held the third Tuesday of every month at 6:00 pm in the conference room at Savannah Association for the Blind, Inc., 214 Drayton Street, Savannah, GA 31401. Stephens County Chapter of GCB The meetings are held the third Tuesday of the month from 11:00 A.M. to 12:00 noon at the Camps. Officers for 2009 are Al Camp, President, 275 Alfred Camp Road, Toccoa, GA 30577, 706-886-3894; Sheila Rousey, Vice President; Nettie Mae Lyles, Treasurer; Dolores Rutenber, Secretary. The annual Gospel Bluegrass Benefit is scheduled for Sunday, February 1, at the Shiloh Fire Department. There will be six bands including Al Camp and the Night Owls. There will be plenty of food, soft drinks, a cake walk, all for a nominal charge. There will be a drawing for a television. This benefit is to support the GCB scholarship program, and your presence is needed. There is no admission charge, but donations are appreciated. If you need more information, please contact President Al Camp at the above address and telephone number. Georgia Council of Blind Lions (GCBL) The officers are Anne Wheeler, President, 2199 Floyd Street, Covington, GA 30014, 770-786-5778, awheel@bellsouth.net; Bill Holley, Vice President; Bob Robinson, Liaison; Ann Sims, Secretary/Treasurer. The next meeting is planned for Saturday, January 17, during the lunch hour at the GCB board meeting in Athens, at Multiple Choices Center. Anyone desiring to join this group should pay dues of $20 and send them to Ann Sims, 3361 N. Whitney Avenue, Hapeville, GA 30354. You must be an active member of a Lions club to join our GCBL. Georgia Guide Dog Users (GGDU) Officers are Marj Schneider, President, 212 Oxford Drive, Savannah, GA 31405, 912-352-1415, marjschneider@bellsouth.net; Vice President, Betsy Grenevitch; Secretary/Treasurer, Alice Ritchhart; Board members, Sarah Hooper and Ann Sims; Immediate Past President, Diane Healy. The next meeting will be announced, but plans are being made to meet in Athens sometime in the spring. Anyone desiring to join may pay dues of $15 to Alice Ritchhart, to the address found at the beginning of this magazine. You do not have to have a guide dog to be a member. NEWS BRIEFS AND ANNOUNCEMENTS Louis Turned 200! National Braille Press has been busy planning a virtual birthday party in anticipation of Louis Braille's bicentennial this January 4th. First, we commissioned artist Judith Krimski to design a new image of Louis that would respect his place in history and illuminate the vitality of his vision today. Her stunning Louis icon appears on almost every Bicentennial commemorative item listed below. Read about the icon image here: http://www.nbp.org/ic/nbp/louis/about_icon.html Next, we designed a half-dozen, low-cost items that you can use to spread the word about Louis's Bicentennial throughout 2009! All of these items can be purchased at our new website http://www.LouisBrailleBicentennial.com. Louis Lapel Pins. Our goal is to have everyone who cares about Louis wearing his lapel pin this January 4th-and every other day! It even has teeny-tiny braille letters across the bottom. Get your whole family to participate! $5 each, plus shipping. Louis Note Cards. Keep in touch with friends and family with these gorgeous 4.25" x 5" note cards. Includes 10 cards and envelopes in a sturdy card box: $7.99 for the set, plus shipping. Bicentennial Wall Poster. Perfect for any classroom, den, kitchen, or bedroom, this beautifully illustrated 12.25" x 17" poster celebrates the life and achievements of Louis Braille with images from France. Free-you pay for shipping only. Print/braille Bookmarks. Perfect for the classroom, library, personal books or the office, these colorful bookmarks feature our Louis image and facts about his life. In packages of 30 for $8, or 50 for $12, plus shipping. Braille Key Chains. These unique gold-plated coin key chains measure 1.5" in diameter. On one side, the words "Louis Braille 1809" appear in braille, and the reverse side shows hands reading braille and the words "Braille Opens Doors" Designed and produced by Paul and Bernie Dressell: $5, plus shipping. Tactile Louis. Commemorate the 200th birthday of Louis with this signed and numbered, limited edition, ivory-colored, cast resin plaque, sculpted by tactile artist Ann Cunningham. Hang it on a wall or display it on the wire stand that comes with each plaque: $45, plus shipping. Whatever you do, celebrate Braille. These make great gifts! All these commemorative mementos are available at http://www.nbp.org/ic/nbp/louis/gift_shop.html Disability Day at the Capitol 2009 Mark Your Calendar! Wednesday, February 25, 2009 for a rally on the Capitol steps to celebrate community, advocacy, and friendship. Enjoy breakfast or lunch with advocates from across Georgia. Real Careers! Real Homes! Real Learning! Real Influence! Real Supports! To RSVP, obtain event details or for sponsorship information, please contact William McKeen at 1-800-ASK-GCDD or email wimckeen@dhr.state.ga.us. You may also visit our Website at www.gcdd.org Sign Language Classes Beginning, December 6, 2008 through May 16, 2009, we are hosting sign language workshops for parents. These workshops will focus on building relationships, expanding methods of communication and teaching independence. Please contact me if you have any questions: Dona Harris, Atlanta Area School for the Deaf, School Social Worker, 404-298-3613 or email: doharris@doe.k12.ga.us. New Contact Information for Credit Able Low Interest Loans for Assistive Technology for People with Disabilities. Contact: Daphne Brookins, 888-724-2287 AFB (American Foundation for the Blind) Expanding possibilities for people with vision loss and Prepare for winter emergencies and store and label foods that will keep without refrigeration in case of power outages or inability to get to a grocery store. Keep in a dry cool place. Everything on this list is a healthy choice in moderation. Emergency food list: dried fruit, nuts, breakfast bars, healthy cookies, canned goods (fruit, tuna, soup etc.) Don't forget a can opener. You may want to put some of these items in a waterproof tote for easy access in case you have to evacuate. Include in your emergency stash vitamins and supplements that you take regularly as well. Staying healthy in a difficult time is critical. For more information please visit AFB Senior Site. Visit http://www.afb.org/myAFBNewsletter2.asp. The Braille Forum In order to get the Braille Forum to you, our readers, in a more timely fashion, the deadlines for getting articles in are changing. They are as follows: February: December 26, 2008 March: January 26 April: February 26 May: March 26 June: April 26 Please mark your calendars accordingly. Sharon Lovering, Editor American Council of the Blind Announcement from Gospel Association for the Blind, Rev. George Gray The 2009 GAB Bible Camp for adults will be held from Saturday May 23 up to Saturday, May 30, 2009. The theme this year is "You Can Be a Gospel Messenger!" Each day is filled with various activities. To highlight some of these: Each morning a Bible study with Pastor Bruce Coonce takes place at 9 AM to 10:30 AM.; during the afternoon times there is a shopping trip to Wal-Mart, horseback riding, the Christian film, “Fireproof” and “In Search of the Real Mount Sini”, swimming in a beautiful pool with a slide; a special ladies meeting, various games and a road trip yet to be announced. The evening services are conducted by Rev. George Gray. After the evening services, activities include two talent nights, two hayrides, visiting the camp snack and gift shop, and a campfire. You will enjoy the food at camp as well as the opportunity to make new friends! The camp fills up fast so if you think you might like to attend, you need to start the process. The cost for the week of camp is $175, but if you are a first time camper to Camp Siloam your fee will be waved. The Gospel Association for the Blind will also help with transportation costs if necessary. To get started here is what you need to do. There is a $25 non refundable camp registration fee which is to be sent to the Florida office of the GAB. Upon receipt of the $25 you will be sent a camper application and a medical form. These are to be completed and sent to: The Gospel Association for the Blind PO Box 1162 Bunnell FL 32110 For updates on camp you can call toll free 866-251-5165 and enter mailbox 7128 and press the # key. This service will be in operation AFTER February 1, 2009. Camp ALWAYS fills up fast, so act quickly if you think you might like to attend! We look forward to seeing you at Camp Siloam 2009! Georgia Statewide Coalition A meeting of the Georgia Statewide Coalition on Blindness was held Saturday, September 27, 2008, at the Roosevelt Rehab Center, in Warm Springs, Georgia The welcome & introductions of the 77 Coalition participants was made by moderator, Luis Narimatsu. Warm greetings were given by the Roosevelt Warm Springs (RWS) Executive Director Greg Schmieg, Chief of Vocational Services, Elizabeth Kinne, and Director of Life Adjustment Services, Danney Yates. The first speaker was Paul Raymond, Director of Blind Services, Vocational Rehabilitation, Department of Labor/Vocational Rehabilitation Services 2720 Riverside Drive, Suite 132 Macon, GA 31029 Phone: 478-751-6234 Voice FAX: 478-751-6446 paul.raymond@dol.state.ga.us The second speaker was Otis Pickett, WRBL Channel 3 CBS out of Columbus, GA., V.P. and General Manager WRBL NEWS-3/WRBL DT-15 (706) 323-3333 Ext. 205 Fax: (706) 322-3070 - Digital TV Transfer The third speaker was Kathryn (Kathy) Sheriff Segers Educational Program Specialist-Visual Impairments, Georgia Department of Education, Division for Special Education Supports-GIMC, 2895 Vineville Avenue, Macon, GA 31202; phone, 478-751-4000, Fax: 478-752-1745; Email: ksegers@doe.k12.ga.us Participants were provided a tour of the vocational unit's residential area, classroom building and the RWS center for therapeutic recreation, by the RWS staff. Following lunch, Danney Yates facilitated a lively and spirited feedback and discussion session regarding the provision of blind services provided at Warm Springs. Committee Reports were given. . The next scheduled coalition meeting is planned for spring, 2009, in Albany. The date will be determined later. Anyone desiring a full copy of the Minutes, please contact Kay McGill, Coalition Secretary, Kay1949@comcast.net, 404-299-8638.

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