NFB of Maine News Matters for December, 2011

Vol. 1 Issue 2

December 06, 2011

editor: Patricia E. C. Estes, Affiliate President




Meet the NFB of Maine's New Board of Directors




Season's Greetings, All~


The National Federation of the Blind of Maine met in State Convention October 22, 2011, in Auburn. The following began their terms as officers immediately upon adjournment of the affiliate convention. And we have hit the ground running! There have been monthly board conference calls and plans are going forward for an At-Large Chapter that will also "meet" via conference call. We are working on finances, Newsline and continuing to reach out to the entire community of the blind in Maine through the Open to All Call that we sponsor monthly, and cover issues or interviews that the blind and service providers might find helpful. Our numbers and mailing lists are growing. Be watching for announcements at the New Year and, as always, please share this and if you need, just ask me to remove your name from our list. Better yet, write and ask me to add your name and others to receive the latest news and events.

President: Patricia E.C. Estes
It seems odd to write about myself, but I shall post this "Quick Bio" in the interest of being a Member in Good Standing! As the Spaniard says in "the movie Princess Bride:" "I'll 'splain....No. there's no time. I'll sum up." I am a born and raised Mainer with a Mainer's typical genealogy; part French-Canadian refugee, part famine Irish and part Mayflowering Anglo-Saxon. My husband, skip, and I have lived in the same neighborhood for thirty-five years and have four children and nine grandchildren. Two of our sons are in Utah. One is an Apache pilot being deployed to Afghanistan in January and the other is getting his masters in communications. One son lives nearby and is a "tree surgeon" and our daughter is also in Maine and is studying to be a private floatplane pilot. Skip is a hydro-operator on the rivers in southern Maine and Elsie, our eight pount red Poodle guard dog, and I hold down the fort here on Woodbury Hill in Auburn. I have been legally blind since about ten and last year was diagnosed with MS. This has helped me to re-think my time here in Earth School and I have pulled back (at least for now) from my career of twenty-plus years. I have been in the wellness and nutrition field and opened an office in our home in '93 for private sessions in energy medicine and cranio-sacral bodywork for women. I now am semi-retired and do my counseling in life balance over the phone and internet. I created the Manage Your Natural energies (MYNE) program and have taught and lectured frequently in our area. I just resigned a position as the Wellness Director of the Healthy Beauty Wellness Spa started by a client of many years. I continue to promote and advocate for women in small and micro-business. I still love to write poetry and to play with words. An image will build up in my mind until it just has to spill out onto paper or else I'll burst! And then I call it a poem. I may play with how it falls down the page, but I rarely make many changes from the first draft. I returned to painting after closing my home-based practice and use the room for an art studio. My work has changed with the changes in my vision and is best described as Intuitive Impressionistic Art. It goes without saying that I would not even have tried any of the above if I had not been introduced to the NFB in 1976. But it can't go without saying, because Federation philosophy has shaped my life and our family's. Skip and I were at the last leadership seminar held in Iowa, I am a past president of the Maine Affiliate and have worked with Scout groups sharing the skills of blindness. I have an article in "Let Freedom Ring" promoting Braille literacy.

The 2011 State Board of the National Federation of the Blind of Maine is a tremendous group. Steve Sawczyn and I held things together for a couple of years and this past fall we held elections and said good bye to Steve and his family and wish them all the best in Minnesota. You will meet our new board in the next paragraphs. Some are real new to the NFB and others, well, let's just say "not so much.!!!

First Vice President: Walter Woitasek
I first became drawn into the activities of the NFB in the early 1970's. At the time I was very active in my piano business in Brockton, MA. and also was serving as pastor in a small United Methodist church in West Bridgewater, MA. I was elected as the state corresponding secretary for the MA. NFB and then became president of the Brockton Chapter, which was the second largest chapter of the 15 active groups in MA. When I moved to Maine, I was not involved in the NFB because of geographical isolation. When I returned to MA. I became president of the Springfield Chapter of the NFB where I held office for four years. Over the years I have had the opportunity to attend various national conventions in many parts of the country. It is always good to participate in the various activities and exhibits presented there. Now that I have "retired" I am looking forward to making an active contribution to the NFB of Maine in the coming year.

Second Vice President: Roger Cusson
I am 44 years of age. I work as a computer access specialist for the state of Maine's division for the blind rehabilitation system. I have been blind since birth I also run a 24-track recording studio and play drums for a Christian contemporary band by the name of New Wine. I have been involved with the NFB for the past 25 years or so, and find it very stimulating. I was president of a short-lived local Lewiston chapter back in the nineties. I attended my first national convention in Orlando in July and also the Washington seminar this past February. I hope to do well with my office as second vice president, and will be happy to help where I can...

Secretary: Dorothy Woitasek
Let me introduce myself to all of you. My name is Dorothy Woitasek and I was recently elected to be secretary of the National Federation of the Blind of Maine. I was born in Naugatuck, CT. on December 13, 1934, and so, I am a Christmas Baby. I grew up during World War II and I really think that from that experience I learned the values of caring for neighbors and participating in various community projects to achieve the common goal of peace in the world. After graduating from high school, I attended Ohio Wesleyan University where I met my future husband, Walter. He decided to study for the ministry and was ordained in the United Methodist Church. During the next 15 years we lived in a a variety of places: Indiana, Colorado amd eventually Maine. Moving about appealed to my sense of adventure (especially the small mountain valley in Colorado) and gave me an opportunity to meet many people in all sorts of situations and life styles. However, seeking a more settled life, we decided in 1970 to leave the active ministry and we bought a building in Brockton, MA. where we had a piano rebuilding business on the first floor and an apartment upstairs. The business grew to be very successful and I abandoned my teaching career to become a piano technician. and shop co-coordinator. This also gave me time to spend with my three children and their friends who were always in the shop after school for whatever help I could give them with their schoolwork. We became a family business with everyone pitching in to help with the work in various ways. We even had a black and white great dane who went with the piano truck on deliveries and greeted customers at the front door of the shop. It was in Brockton that I became involved in the NFB by driving members to chapter meetings and helping in whatever way I could to help members attend state conventions and other gatherings. Later, after our move to Springfield, MA. (following "retirement") once again, I became active in the local NFB chapter. While there, I attended a convention in Atlanta, GA. where I first realized - not quite the word, it was more like a lightning bolt - that the NFB really was changing what it meant to be blind! I saw a group of young people confidently walking in downtown Atlanta, using canes and dogs, just like any group of sighted teens on that very busy main street. They were from the Louisiana Center operated by the NFB. Now, you have to understand that up to that point, most of my experience was with older NFB people who had been to schools for the blind or who had become blind later in life. These people required quite a bit of help from sighted members and it was a revelation to see these "kids" so independent! But back to my life - Walter and I have three children and four grandchildren. My hobbies are reading, (I like non-fiction books about history - especially American), walking, bird-watching, gardening and travel. We have a vacation home in Steuben, ME. (on the coast in Washington County) and our permanent home is in Portland. I'm enjoying getting acquainted with Portland which really is a fascinating place but I truly love Steuben! However, the damp, cold winters there are not too kind to somewhat elderly people, so I am happy to be in Portland. I am looking forward to getting to know more NFB folk and in closing, I think that our Maine Chapter has made a great start toward "changing what it means to be blind" in the State of Maine.

Treasurer: Leon Proctor, Jr
My name is Leon Proctor Jr., and have been married to a wonderful woman named Suzanne Proctor and we live in Lewiston. I work at TD Bank and have been with them for five years now. I love my job! I have two kids a wonderful daughter twenty three years old and has made me a Grandpa twice over with a grandson age 2 and a grand daughter age 5. I also have a young son at the age of eighteen years. They both have moved out and now are living on their own. I like going to the gym when I can get their. I try to stay in shape but recently I am learning more about cooking and starting to love it more than lifting. I will be sure to balance it out that is for sure. I am also part of another organization call MDI I am on a Men’s team that meets once a week to keep each other successful in our lives and stay on track and to keep each other focused on that. We hold each other accountable to what we say we are going to do in our lives. I love to make a difference in men’s lives and change their lives for the better. I recently joined NFB and was voted to the board as the Treasurer I look forward in doing a great job at that position. I love taking a stand for things I really believe in and the ethics that the NFB has really matches what I live my life by. I can’t wait to do more work with the NFB!

First Board Member: David Van Wickler, Jr.
I am David VanWickler Jr and I have been affiliated with Maine's affiliate to the NFB off and on since 2000. I first got interested in the NFB, because I wanted to learn what it was to be a blind person and not to have to feel ashamed to be a blind person. I was brought into the NFB of Maine by Mr Steve Hoad who at the time was the President of Maine's affiliate to the NFB. I'm a 47 year old male who is blind due to Retinitis Pigmentosa stemming from Bardet Viedl Syndrome. I'm also an insulin dependent Diabetic who quite nicely manages his Diabetes with the aide of an insulin pump from the Medtronics Corporation based in Sylmar California. I also manage my Diabetes by checking my blood sugars three to four times a day with the aide of the Prodigy No Code Talking Glucose Meter. I feel that this is one of the best glucometers on the market for blind people second only to the now out of production Accu Check with the Voice Mate voice synthesizer. I've had a kidney transplanted into me in December of 2003, and am now on immune suppressing medicines to keep my body from rejecting the kidney on me. I'll have to take these medicines for as long as the transplanted kidney survives inside of me. I received a kidney donated from a cadaveral doner, so that's why I said what I did say earlier in this paragraph. I've dealt with a good number of the case workers connected to Maine's Division For The Blind and Visually Impaired and at the Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation over the years. The best of these people that I worked with were Robert Foreman, Marjory Awalt, Carolyn Bebee, and finally Susan Anderson. I often think of things that the late David Marletta a really great person use to tell to me about what it was about being a blind person in a sighted world. He often said, that you don't ever get anything handed to you, if you really want something, you go out and get it yourself. I'm finally really beginning to understand what my old and dear friend was talking about, now that I've lost almost all of my useable vision. I was legally categorized as a totally blind person last May by my Ophthalmologist, Dr James Putnam of Waterville. That bit of news really blew me off my feet. At the most, I had an idea that my vision had decreased extremely on me due to the RP, but I never expected to be told that I amn now considered a totally blind person.

Second Board Member: Bobbie LaChance Boubier
Bobbi LaChance Bubier resides in Auburn, Maine with her husband Richard. She has two grown children and three grand children. She is President of Behind Our eyes, Inc and non profit organization for writers with disabilities. Bobbi is a romance writer her book "Wishes" can be obtained thru Amazon and is also available on book share. Bobbi enjoys audio books, big band music and baking cookies. She is a member of Pinetree Guide Dog users and a member of the Maine chapter of Romance Writers. She loves ice cream and snuggling with her husband. According to Bobbie when she married her husband of two years she found her soulmate in life. "Your never to old to enjoy being loved and giving it right back."

Now you have met our new and hard working board of directors. In a later issue, we will tell you who is the contact person for which area: guide dogs, membership, fundraising, diabetic division, parents' and students, etc. As our five year old grandson, Seamus, sings: "Merry La de da!" And we of the NFB of Maine Board add~ Have a Happy and Safe New Year!

Patricia E. C. Estes


"Those who can see the invisible can do the impossible."


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