NFB of Maine News Matters for July-August, 2013
SUMMER SUMMARY, 2013 "Employment, Economics 101 & Perspective"
Vol.3 Issue 6
editor: Patricia E. C. Estes
"The Voice of the Blind in Maine-Changing What it Means to be Blind"
President, Leon Proctor, Jr
In this Issue:
*Who went to convention?
*From the Inside Looking Out:
* Food for Thought-GULP!
*Economics 101: Who won our raffle?
*From the Outside Looking In:
*P&G in Auburn-the Model Employer for the Disabled
*Events & Perspective
NFB 2013 National Convention:
The NFB of Maine had three delegates representing our affiliate at this year's National Convention in Orlando. Leon Proctor, Roger Cusson and George Haley were all able to go and bring back information and ideas and help us stretch into the future. Roger and George had attended National Conventions before, But this was Leon's first. Oops! Now he wants to be on the National Board of Directors! I am trying to convince him that we have work enough to do right here in Maine, but Leon has been smitten! It is certainly quite an experience to attend Convention with over three thousand blind guys and tons of new ideas, not to mention the latest in gidgey-gadgets for the blind in the huge Exhibit Hall. It is inspiring to be with effective cane travelers, Guide Dog users, excellent Braille readers and writers and to soak in the Federation Spirit of personal responsibility, training and can-do attitude. Does everyone at Convention travel independently, read information efficiently or have a positive attitude? Of course not, that is why we continue to go to NFB gatherings and to demonstrate to others what is possible; to give Hope and Help as we spread the word.
From the Inside Looking Out:
One talk on the General Session Agenda gave me the chills: "The Right to Live in the World." I wrote an article for the Monitor last Fall on Dr. ten Broek's legal thesis and how this has played out in my life. I know that I can be an extremely literal person. But I never for a moment thought about our right to actually *live* in the world! Apparently, moral ethicists are debating this very topic: do "severely disabled" persons have a "right to live in the world?" For how long? What if they have more than one disability? Since I also have MS, I immediately saw my name on the short list! As blind people we have much at stake. We need to change what it means to be blind-right NOW! (Check out the Braille Monitor's Convention Issue to read more. And don't miss Dr. Maurer's Presidential Address and his moving Banquet Speech.)
Changing what it means to be blind is an inside job.
The orphan had their bowl and spoon as their symbol of need and helplessness. Did you know that? Well, I just learned this, because that symbol has evaporated from our culture. The blind had the tin cup. When was the last time you ran into this symbol of the blind? Exactly. The tin cup symbol is still very much with us. It is used to refer to the poor blind, we may know some blind person in our community who may play the accordion for money to be dropped into his tin cup and there are endless references and videos on the internet portraying a modern day world passing a scruffy blind beggar and his cup by as he sits on a curb.
The tin cup symbol is still very much with us, in attitudes and basic misunderstanding of what it truly means to be blind. Like it or not, there it is. So, I am asking each of us to honestly consider how we approach our place in the world. Do you have a tin cup extended? Do you sometimes expect a "pass" because you are blind? Do you think your blindness entitles you to something for nothing? How does this "tin cup dynamic" show itself in your relationships?
We cannot expect to change the ugly myths surrounding the tin cup mentality, unless we, first, change what blindness means to us-on the inside. How can that tin cup symbol evaporate for the blind, also, unless the blind illustrate that we don't need it? Good luck, this is worthy, valuable work. You'll see.
Economics 101 and our Raffle:
Our raffle for $100.00 ended on July 27 at Bobbi Lachance Bubier's home. Bobbi pulled the winning ticket and Richard read it: Kim Lagasse of Lewiston! Hooray for Kim and for Leanne Nelson, who is crowned our raffle ticket selling queen! Steve Lambert ran a close second, for King, that is! Thanks everyone and especially to Mark Tardiff, fund Raising Chair and to Skip Estes, Treasurer for putting this together for our affiliate. We made money, involved many members and their families and spread the word about the NFB of Maine across the State. It was a huge success by any definition!And any success the NFB has, benefits all blind people.
The Financial Report at National convention was much better than last year's. But this took lots of hard work and sacrifice. We need to improve our bottom line here in Maine, also. We inherited a treasury and had scholarships from National that allowed us to train members and to start new programs. Both of these resources are minimal, now. There will be more fundraisers, grant writing and more vehicle donation cards. Does this mean that the NFB is holding out a tin cup when all non-profits do the same? Well, I think it all depends on how it is done, don't you think? Changing what it means to be blind takes $$$$, also. Let's get creative and have fun while we do it!
*From the Outside Looking In:
Proctor & Gamble of Auburn Employs the Disabled
Last Spring, the NFB of Maine joined the Androscoggin Chamber of Commerce. We were recognized as new members at the monthly breakfast, July 11. This is when Leon would be home for vacation from training at the Louisiana Center for the Blind. Leon and Suzanne Proctor, Skip and Patty Estes and Roger Cusson were all present. This was also an opportunity to pass out about two hundred pieces of information about the NFB of Maine. And the breakfast was pretty good, besides!
The speaker at this Chamber Breakfast was Rick Malinowski, who works in the Human Resources Department of Proctor & Gamble's large facility on Hotel Road in Auburn. We learned about the quality of P&G's products, the Quality of their company worldwide, the quality of this particular plant and the quality of their employees. Next we heard about the quality of their special program to employ the disabled. This is where things got interesting! Mr. Malinowski repeatedly stated," We hire the disabled and they work right alongside their non-disabled co-workers. And we have the same expectations of them." (We are currently doing "research" to find out if P&G pays the disabled the same rate as their non-disabled counter-part.) Apparently, this hiring program is a model for other large companies to come to Auburn and to learn how to incorporate it into their businesses, Companies like Beans, Anthem, Unum and others have been given tours of the Auburn facility that is having the success in hiring the disabled. I hope VR and DBVI are taking advantage of this opportunity right here in Central Maine.
A couple of our NFB of Maine members have expressed concern about our Affiliate withstanding a current cut-back in staff, shall we say. Our President, Leon Proctor, is at LCB until November. A couple of board members have had to step down due to chronic, severe illness. Things do "feel" different, right now. But, I assure you, this is a temporary slow-down. The Federation in Maine continues to move forward. Our pace is a bit slower, but the direction is on course! No worries. Or, if you do worry, find out what you can do to help: phone calls, mailings, organizing another goal ball game, getting door prizes for our state convention, getting a large local company to sponsor our convention-please consider where you can help.
*the third Thursday of each month is our Lighthouse Chapter Meeting by conference call.
*October is Meet the Blind Month with White Cane walks being held around the State. It is a chance to get a table in the local mall and meet people and teach about what we do and stand for.
*Our State Convention is October 25-26 at the Fire Side Inn in Auburn. Gary Wunder will be our National Rep. Gary is the editor of the Braille Monitor and all 'round good guy! We really look forward to having him with us in October. More info to follow!
Enjoy a safe summer with your family and friends!