NFB of Maine News Matters for July 2012

Vol.2 Issue 7

July 31, 2012

editor: Patricia E. C. Estes, Affiliate President



Summer Breeze Greetings to All!

I did send out some news after attending our National NFB Convention in Dallas earlier in the month. But great things continue to unfold and I am writing to be sure that all of you have as complete a calendar of upcoming events and meetings as possible, at this point. Also, as I work with our Board of Directors and our Lighthouse Chapter members, I continue to be impressed with their level of commitment to this organization and our philosophy and to serving the blind of Maine. Each member has a variety of talents and strengths and it is a privilege to be working with all of them. Attend one of the events or calls below and see what I mean for yourself!

We are sponsoring a day of activities for blind students of all groups and ages coming right up. The BETA Program (Braille, Education, Training and Advocacy) and its companion Mentor program has been a growing success in Georgia since 2007. Garrick Scott (who has been involved with the BETA Program in Georgia since its beginning) will be helping us to kick off our own program for blind students in Maine. This isn't your parents' students' program! When you meet Garrick and have fun with us as he shares his special brand of energetic interaction with the young adults, you will see what I mean!(more details below)

I have also had the pleasure to meet several parents, blind students and adults as well as service providers and volunteers. We have a great network of very caring people facing some monumental barriers when it comes to funding, philosophy and logistics pertaining to the improvement of the lives of the blind of Maine in all categories: educational, vocational, transportation, athletics, the arts and just plain socializing and getting together with those like yourself...facing the same types of problems. It is our purpose in the NFB of Maine to help to foster the betterment of the lives of the blind where ever and when ever we can. Right now we have a very cooperative environment in Maine between all of the above mentioned groups and I have made some great friends and met really nice people. so, let us all begin the discussion! We are all (basically) on the same proverbial page and may not agree on every point moving forward, but we can have a discussion and perhaps come up with some joint activities, approaches and even solutions.

*August 2, Thursday at 7:00 pm, NFB of Maine Board of Directors Meeting via Conference Call
*August 4, Saturday, Pine Tree Guide Dog Users meeting at the Iris Network (contact me for info if I haven't sent it to you)
*August 11, Saturday, the BETA Program for Blind Students (& Parents)Kick Off at the Fireside Inn in Auburn, from 9:00-4:00. come early for registration at 8:00am and for muffins, coffee and juice and visiting and checking out i-pads, Victor Readers, GPS, raised line graphics and drawings from E.A.S.Y. LLC and meet our musicians, our authors and mentors and Garrick. Other blind students will be attending, of course, and meet them and find out just how they are creatively solving some problems they may be facing. We will also have a fencing demonstration from Jodd Bowles. The Executive Director of the Iris Network, Jim Phipps, is very interested in this work and will join us. We will be continuing the BETA Program get togethers throughout the school year. We hope to have a meeting space in Lewiston-Auburn and the Iris Network has offered us space for any Portland activities. There is no fee and a sandwich buffet lunch will be served at noon. (Please RSVP to this email or the phone number below by August 6 so we will be sure to have enough food!)
*August 15, Wednesday in Augusta, next meeting of the SRC. This is open to the public and I will have a seat on the committee as will one blind consumer.
*August 16, Thursday evening at 7:00, monthly meeting of our Lighthouse At Large Chapter. This will also be by conference call (a toll free call in number) and all are welcome.
*September BETA Program Activity-TBA; First Thursday-Board of Directors meeting; third Thursday, Lighthouse Chapter Meeting
*October 13-White Cane Walks around the state. (more info to come). Our founder of the NFB and famous legal scholar, Dr. Jacobus temBroek, wrote the first Model White Cane Safety Law that has now been adopted in all fifty states and is observed on the second Saturday of October. Support the walks organized in your area: Portland by the Iris Network, Augusta by the PTGDU and usually one in Bangor, also. (Unfortunately, the Dempsey Challenge has moved from the first week end of October to the second week end and conflicts with the White Cane Walks. Lewiston-Auburn will be a tangled mess with that event for two days. We had hoped to have some participation in the Dempsey Challenge , but they have not returned my initial inquiries. So, I suggest that the L-A people support a White Cane Walk of their Choice. We met Leon and Suzanne Proctor last year at the Iris Network White Cane Walk and they have been such a gift to our Maine Affiliate.)
*October is the Federation's observance of Blindness Awareness Month. Anything we order from the Independence Market will be free of charge as we promote the NFB at a literature table at an event or create our own event in a mall, etc. Watch for other ideas for this month.
*October 27, Saturday, The Annual NFB of Maine State Convention will be held at the Fireside Inn in Auburn (in a larger, warmer room!) from 9:00 to 4:00, with registration and some live music beginning at 8:00am. Our National Representative will be Mark Riccobono, Executive Director of the Jernigan Institute and our "Blind Driver". Mark has now experienced weightlessness with one of NASA's zero-gravity flights...I wonder what he would think of lobstering? Nothing fancy, no gale force winds...just a nice breeze out of the sou' east. Registration fee TBA and door prizes galore! We hope to gather for dinner Friday evening to have more time to socialize and to be with Mr. Mark Riccobono. Mention the NFB and you will get ten per cent off room rates and each room includes a fridge, micro and coffee pot. The fireside Inn serves a Continental breakfast and the restaurant is open from five to eleven from Monday through Saturday. There is a great pizza, sandwich, salad take out across the parking lot from the Inn. We know of at least four people visiting us from "away", not including Mark. (We scheduled our state convention on the last week end so as not to conflict with the White Cane Walks or the ACB convention. Or so we thought/hoped. Unfortunately, the ACB convention is being held on the same day in Portland. I would love to be wrong, so if I am, please give me a clue! We will miss our friends from the ACB and the PTGDU Group)
*WEBSITE INFO: Be sure to visit our affiliate website! Find out about our Lighthouse Chapter, other contacts, NFB Centers and now you can listen to our first Lighthouse At Large Meeting at Pat's Pizza in Augusta! Hear Ron Gardner speak about the unique Federation perspective, hear President Patty lose her voice over the course of the day and experience the NFB Newsline that our First VP, Walter Woitesek, demonstrated. Many thanks to Roger Cusson for the great editing job he did in consolidating the remarks and cutting out false starts and the desert break! click on (You are there!)

In reaching out to parents and students for our BETA Program coming up August 11, I have met some really great and dedicated people. From parents, to the service providers, service organizations and the advocacy groups like the NFB, good people really care about our students of all ages. The networking these past two years has been a great resource to all of us. We hope to continue this teamwork in order to assist our next generation to feel their own potential and to imagine any possible career can be just a series of creative problem solving steps.

It is incumbent up on us to make sure that as we work for our students, that we not only model respect for one another, but to share information for their, and our, betterment. The student deserves successful, blind role models and the blind role model/mentor is stretched themselves as they volunteer their time to this work. It is extremely rewarding. It is not, however, without the pitfalls of slowly moving programs, lack of direct communication as well as unverified "facts." We deserve correct and timely information whether we are a VR client or a student. And everyone involved is accorded and deserving of respect from NFB leaders and members as we work together to challenge what it means to be blind in Maine.

Hope to see you next month!

All the best,

Patricia C. Estes
NFB of Maine
207 344 8292

"The Voice of the Blind-changing what it means to be blind in Maine!"