NFB of Maine News Matters for October, 2012

Vol.2 Issue 10

October 27, 2012

editor: Patricia E. C. Estes




CONVENTION ISSUE- Cause to Celebrate!


(Editor's Note: As the recent past President of the NFB of Maine and a long time Federationist, I have learned that progress like our Maine Affiliate has seen this year needs to be appreciated and also documented. While the NFB has been in Maine to one degree or another for decades, as we re-organized, again, last year, there were no coherent or up to date documents. Essentially, there were no records of the past work. The NFB of Maine had only an oral history, at that point, and that was not useful. The National Federation of the Blind of Maine offer this record and many others generated over the past eighteen months to those who will take up the torch after us. We wish to thank those who went before us and also to be clear for the future, who we are and the solid foundation we hope we pass on to you. An expression of gratitude: without Ron and Jan Gardner's and also Joanne Wilson's support and coaching, there would not be an Affiliate of the NFB of Maine today. Thank you. We are now changing lives because of your belief in us.)

*Click the following link to view a lovely photo of Megan Freitas (one of our students) standing with Mark Riccobono and her mom, Kelly
*Convention Highlights
*Election Results
*links to check out: Patricia Estes and Mark Riccobono Wgan radio interview, Braille Monitor article by Patricia Estes and White Cane talk by Leon Proctor
*Want a recording of the convention?
*Challenge Activities
*Personal Note: Thank you to Dr. Maurer and Dr. & Mrs. Jernigan

Cause to Celebrate!
As the NFB of Maine Board of Directors planned and looked forward to our upcoming 2012 convention, officers remarked at how much had been accomplished in our Affiliate in the past year. Indeed! What they couldn't see that I could, was that one year ago, our Affiliate had no board of directors, one or two functioning members(myself and Steve Sawczyn who tried to help from Minnesota where he had moved for employment), no records, no access to our treasury, no convention for two years and no board meetings for a bit more than that and with the persistence of a very few and the support from Ron Gardner and Joanne Wilson, the NFB of Maine pulled together a fine state convention in October of 2011. That was a New Beginning. There were about twenty -three in attendance and that included service providers, exhibitors, the VA, Ron and Jan and blind guys and spouses. We hardly knew one another, yet we came together to listen, have a darn good meal and, as luck would have it, work!
We even had door prizes but we didn't have a copy of the state constitution. Wait, there was a PDF version archived at National! While that was only accessible to Jan and Skip, soon it was in a Word Doc, Large Print and in Braille-thanks to Roger Cusson. Next the new board worked on our frozen assets and by the new year, Leon Proctor had it all straightened out and "found" some NFB of Maine accounts at TD Bank where he worked! Walter and Dorothy Woitesek worked on NFB Newsline Outreach with mailings and grant writing. We began a monthly newsletter, monthly board meetings by conference call that were always well attended and then added a website for our affiliate, thanks to RWN! And by March we had an AT Large Chapter, the Lighthouse Chapter that covers the entire state, meets by toll free conference call and is continually growing! We met in person in April in Augusta and had more in attendance than six months prior at convention! And in August, Garrick Scott came up to train us in the BETA Program for Students. That was fascinating and fun and a good training for all in attendance: parents, old timers, students, teachers...and, again, we had an awesome turn out. This BETA program continues to meet monthly and we use the curriculum developed by Anil Lewis and Garrick Scott and meet at the Career Center and the DBVI conference Room. This meeting is open to all-membership not required and parents, professionals and blind students of all ages are welcome!

Since so many of our members are new to the NFB, I focused on Federation philosophy and giving members opportunities to be with our National leaders and to feel the strength of our movement. We sent people to Washington Seminar and to leadership Seminar and also to the Dallas National Convention. Members were eager to go, learn and grow! Our mission was, and remains, to train up the next generations of Federation leaders in Maine with a solid foundation in our philosophy and an understanding of what makes the NFB different.

It's 9:00 a.m.! Cue the band! The band? Yep. We had a band. All I wanted was a couple of other people to help me to sing the song I had adapted,"Telling the Truth is Dangerous Business," as a new NFB song for Maine. We had one practice at our home and Paul Pouiia was at the keyboard and Roger on bongos (yes, the same Roger). We worked out the lyrics and it is a fun song. (Well, the song will have to debut in April at our in person Lighthouse Chapter Meeting.) But the band, "Dangerous Business," remains! I requested that they play "Celebration!" to begin the convention in a high spirit, and they surely did. They also played upbeat music through Registration and through lunch. Paul's friend sang with them and the three of them have had requests for other gigs! This was the first time the three had played all together, way to go, "Dangerous Business!" We have you booked for April, don't forget!

Unexpected and serious illness prevented about half a dozen of our members from attending the convention/celebration. There were about thirty five in attendance and this included several NFB leaders from as far away as Washington State, Utah and Grande Isle, Maine! And as close by as New Hampshire and Baltimore and several towns in Maine-including Peak's Island. We gathered in Auburn at the Fireside Inn for the annual NFB of Maine Convention.

The hotel's Events Manager, Kristi Dunham, was a pleasure to work with and offered ideas and didn't forget one detail! Thank you!

We planned a celebration, a great gathering and sharing and a foundation in our National movement from Mark Riccobono and the National Report. Mark went above and beyond that week end and we are grateful!

We would like to thank the service providers for being with the NFB of Maine and for answering questions and addressing the convention. And many thanks to Cassie McNabb and/or Deja Powell for asking for a flag )last year I was told that they didn't have one. Apparently, the new management has their priorities in place!) Thank you to our Registration table workers, our membership worker, our awesome Tee Shirt order taker, our quilt raffle ticket giver and money taker and everyone who just plain pitched in and did what ever had to be done. It was on the spot leadership training for real!

Due to the unforseen circumstances, our National Representative, Mark Riccobono (Executive Director of the Jernigan Institute)had to work with a roughed out agenda and fill in the blanks. Our two visiting NFB Fellows were asked to speak and gave inspiring talks as did Mark in telling his own story. Cassie McNabb spoke about the NFB Scholarship Program and her story-ask her about her B minus nose the next time you see her!

Thank you to our Queen of Door Prizes, Bobbie LaChance, for our unique items, quilts and baskets!(feel better!) And all of you who contributed door prizes.

Attendees were impressed with Josh Coffee's presentation of his company's, EASy Digital Graphics, products and plans for future applications. We hope to have him return next year to demonstrate the next generation in digital graphics.

Senator Peggy Rotundo stopped in to welcome the convention and to speak about her position as a Senator in the Maine State Senate. She has been a great friend to the NFB of Maine and we appreciated her coming to be with us and we congratulate her on her re-election!

NFB of Maine 2012 Elections:
the elections of board officers elected in even numbered years for two years was held before the lunch break. You will notice that some names are no longer on the board, but be assured that they wish to be active, contributing members of our Affiliate. Others of us have switched hats and we welcom Faith Armstrong, Skip Estes and Lee Ann Nelson to the board.

NFB of Maine Board of Directors:
President-Leon Proctor, Jr.
First VP, Patricia C. Estes
Second, VP-Roger Cusson
Secretary-Faith Armstrong
Treasurer-Curtis (Skip) Estes
Board Member-David Van Wickler
Board Member-Lee Ann Nelson, BETA Program
Board Member-Walter Woitesek, NFB Newsline, Outreach

We have had a board meeting that was super and we remain united and as strong as ever...well, stronger because our Federation Family in Maine is growing and on the move!


Patricia Estes & Mark Riccobono , WGAN radio.

Patricia Estes, October Braille Monitor,"tenBroeke and the Beach Blanket"

Leon Proctor, talk on White Cane Safety Day

It may be possible. Contact Roger Cusson at Studio C, 207 353 5007.

*Dorothy Woitesek, Portland- Thanks for your request for observations on the convention. Both Walter and I are glad that you're feeling at least somewhat better - MS can be a real "downer" in many ways. We both felt that Mark Riccobono did an excellent job in chairing the meeting. It went very smoothly and covered the business efficiently. It was good also to have help from the NFB National - those who came to help out also did an excellent job. We felt that the presentation by John McMahon was realistic and explained something of the problems that DBVI has with training and services to clients. The music offered by Roger and Paul was a great accompyment to the meeting, also. And it was fun to be on the registration table - I met Mark Tardif and talked with Paul Puiila's mom who did join our chapter. The talks after lunch by those who faced great odds in achieving education for their chosen professions were very interesting - I know that sometimes I forget our own struggles with the church hierarchy to educate them to the fact that a blind person can be an effective pastor of diverse congregations. Also Walter's early struggles with college officials who simply did not have a clue as to how he would get around the campus, find classrooms and accomplish the required classwork! The example of NFB members was a great inspiration to him and gave him hope in those situations. But enough of personal remincences - the convention was great and very well organized!

*Mark Tardiff, Grande Isle- Thank you very much. The convention indeed went well and yes, people pulled together very well. There were some great social aspects of the weekend as well, such as a number of us going to the Village on Saturday evening. This was a small convention, but a vibrant active convention. I’m sure we’ll talk soon.

*Lee ann Nelson, Lewiston- I Just wanted to send a few thoughts on the Convention as you asked.

We all pulled together and made it happen without much trouble. It truly was a crash course in leadership training but we did have fun and learned that we can do it.

Leon stepped up and took his roll seriously following Mark leading us forward. Dorothy and Faith both took right off with registration and getting all the information so we can start up a regular mailing list.

It admittedly took me a bit longer to get things unloaded and set up then finally I did get started with collecting dues from everyone that either needed or wanted to join that day.

The smiley faces were handed out over the morning but I did get it done before we had to vote but everyone was in agreement on nominations so things certainly went off with no trouble.

Leon did ask for suggestions on where we were heading and some thoughts from the group. I said we were moving forward in a positive direction.

I also suggested that we try and have some venders at next year’s convention as I feel that may draw more interest. Such as Freedom Scientific, AI Squared and Humanware just as a start.

I'm thinking if we can bring in some technology it may raise peoples interest and bring in a wider range of people and many more members.

Also I wanted to add and not leave out the band and how great they were and they certainly did a great job before the convention started and during the lunch hour after of course they had eaten. Lunch was great and those that helped in the serving line did a great job and I'd hate to leave them out as they certainly stepped up at the last minute and helped those with less sight. Also I'd like to thank all the staff at the hotel as they worked hard and helped in any way they could. They didn't over step but, did offer and kept the food fresh and coming as they did in August.

*Roger Cusson, Lisbon- It was a great time and the day was busy and fun. Mark did a great job chairing. We need more people, man!

As Mark Riccobono and I planned the day, he suggested a Challenge Activity. The board breaking that was done at the Leadership Seminar seemed to be the least complicated and had the fewest pieces! Board breaking it was. But Mark had never done it himself. What to do? But Leon and Skip had, so we went ahead. At the end of the convention day Leon called Mark up to be the first to try his hand at breaking the board. And most tried it from there. All agree, though, the board breaking was a huge hit! (har, har! I give Dr. Maurer permission to use that to end a Presidential Release!).

And speaking of Dr. Maurer, we had an assignment to fulfill from him,"Introduce this man to a Maine lobster!" Well, Sir, we are pleased to report: mission accomplished! Mr. Riccobono had his own Challenge Activity! Following adjournment, those who could, met at one of the areas best sea food restaurants and ordered a boiled lobster dinner for Mark. Apparently, he became convinced to spare his suit coat the consequences of this full contact dining experience. Give the man the traditional first-timers' bib!

I would like to thank Dr. Maurer for his mentoring at the Leadership Seminar last May. he told me,"Patty, it takes only one person to build an affiliate." I put up a bit of an objection because of the work done by others. Dr. Maurer repeated what he had just said, very patiently. Thank you, Dr. Maurer, your words of encouragement have kept me going through difficult personal times.
I would also like to acknowledge Dr. and Mrs. Jernigan and the great influence and impact they have had on my life. For some reason, they have both given me their time, energy, wisdom and love. I do hope that Dr. Jernigan likes what he sees in Maine.

And this is my report.
In Gratitude,
Patricia C. Estes

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