The New Jersey Council of the Blind’s mission is to strive for the betterment of the blind and visually impaired community. The purpose of this publication is to provide a forum for the free exchange of ideas, opinions and information that concern blind and visually impaired people.
What Is Your Superpower?
“Faster than a speeding bullet. More powerful Than a locomotive. Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound! Look, up in the sky! It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s Superman!” The opening scene of ‘The Adventures of Superman’ is iconic and familiar to many of us. We fondly recall the unmistakable theme music blaring and actor George Reeves, standing with hands on hips, in superhero pose. His long red cape flapping in the wind, the announcer boasting his amazing abilities. That idea is what immediately comes to mind when we think of superpowers. The mild mannered, Clark Kent, reporter by day changing in a tiny telephone booth to don those red tights and S on his chest to fight notorious villains, rescue ladies falling from skyscrapers and prevent natural disasters. It would be absolutely fantastic to possess the strength to bend steel, fly or change a river current. However, I am convinced we mere mortals have talents that rival Superman. What is your Superpower?
Lately, I hear this question asked often on social media, TV, and Podcasts. So many of us are performing superhuman feats every day. We underestimate our talents and abilities. The Aunt who shows up unannounced and rocks her crying baby nephew to sleep, for her exhausted sister. The best friend who answers your call at midnight, listens and is not waiting to talk. The co-worker who makes that killer Mac & Cheese and brings you the leftovers on that day you forgot to pack lunch. Let us not forget the countless singers, writers and artists who hide their gifts. You hear them crooning, ‘Feeling Good’ and you swear Michael Bublé is driving your Uber. The poet who reluctantly shares a sonnet and blows you away with their beautiful prose. We all know that person who can intuitively resurrect your crashed laptop or easily navigate a new city on foot. Do you recognize yourself in any of these scenarios? Our gifts do not need to be a grandiose spectacle to make a powerful impact on the world. We all have superpowers that may show up as subtle gestures yet significantly improve the lives of others. No cape needed.
As for me, in addition to throwing an epic party, I have discovered, I am a decent public speaker. There I said it! This was news to me, and I have the NJCB to thank for helping me to develop this skill. I am grateful to all of you for the positive feedback and encouraging me to flex a muscle I didn’t even know I had. Being a member of NJCB is a superpower we all possess. Our organization is a leader in the blindness and low vision community, which automatically makes you a leader as well. We are a dynamic group of individuals with many talents. Batman, Wonder Woman, and Captain America have nothing on us.
Our next meeting will be conducted via conference call, Saturday, October 23, 2021, from 11:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M. We are excited to announce, Jenine Stanley, with Aira as our guest speaker. Aira is an app that utilizes highly trained agents to assist blind and low vision individuals interpret and navigate the visual world. Please join us to learn more about this valuable service. Reminder, we will also hold our virtual election of officers during this meeting. Come and cast your vote. Call (605) 468-8005, passcode 425373.
Our October Quarterly meeting will be held by conference call on Saturday,
October 23rd, 2021, from 11:00 AM to 12:30 PM.
Call 605-468-8005, passcode 425373.
Jenine Stanley is a graduate of Franklin University with a master’s degree in business administration. She serves currently as Director of Customer Communications at Aira Tech Corp. She has worked in various aspects of the blindness community for the past 35 years. Jenine produces the Airacast podcast as well as live content for the company’s YouTube channel and other social media. Her work in radio has been recognized with the Ohio Public Broadcasting award.
During our October Quarterly meeting, NJCB will hold elections for our Executive Board. We currently have a Slate of candidates willing to fill the positions for President, 1st Vice President, 2nd Vice President, Treasurer and Secretary.
The slate is as follows:
President - Wanda Williford (2nd term)
1st Vice President – Frank Schack
2nd Vice President – Joyce Sowa
Secretary – Daniel Bausch
Treasurer – Steve Sowa
Any NJCB member in good standing may be eligible to run for office as long as they meet the descriptions below for that position. Anyone else interested in becoming a candidate for one of the above positions, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will also accept nominations from the floor for any open position. Anyone being nominated must have been approached beforehand and be present at the meeting.
Nominating Committee Chair
ARTICLE VII - DUTIES OF THE OFFICERS AND EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE
Section 1 - President
The President shall be the chief executive officer of the Corporation; he/she shall preside at all meetings, shall be Chairperson of the Executive Committee, and appoint all committees. The President shall serve no more than two consecutive elected terms and shall be legally blind.
Section 2 - First Vice-President
The First Vice-President shall assume all of the duties of the President when he/she is unable for any reason to fulfill them. This person shall be legally blind.
Section 3 - Second Vice-President
The Second Vice-President shall assume all of the duties of the President when both President and First Vice-President are unable for any reason to fulfill them. This person shall be legally blind.
Section 4- Secretary
The Secretary shall be responsible for receiving and sending all correspondence carried on in the name of the Corporation. He/she shall maintain custody of all said correspondence. The Secretary shall be responsible for keeping a record of all meetings of the Assembly and Executive Committee. He/she shall have custody of all minutes and correspondence of the Corporation.
Section 5 - Treasurer
The Treasurer shall be responsible for receiving and disbursing the funds of the Corporation, subject to the supervision of the Executive Committee and in line with the general policies of the Corporation, as set forth by the General Assembly. Such funds are to be deposited in a bank approved by the Executive Committee, and easily accessible by the Treasurer. He/she shall have custody of all financial and corporate records of the Corporation.
We are very proud to announce that during our July meeting, we awarded two students with the Bernard Zuckerman Scholarship. Kaiylah Mercado Will be attending Rutgers School of Pharmacy in Fall 2021. Lukas Holzhausen-Torinese will be attending Ocean County College for an Associates in Psychology and then plans to attend TCNJ to pursue a career in Psychology/Counseling.
This very surprising and interesting information regarding voter registration, was provided by attorney, Chris Bell, from North Carolina. He is a newly elected member of the ACB Executive Board of Directors. Notably, Chris is one of the original architects of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and has his fingers on the pulse of all things in the advocacy sphere. Therefore, when he was informed of this information that impacts NJ citizens who utilize Paratransit, he shared it with us. Read the announcement below:
Justice Department Reaches Agreement with the State of New Jersey under the National Voter Registration Act
The Justice Department announced today that it has entered into a proposed consent decree to settle a voting rights lawsuit with the State of New Jersey and state officials.
The Justice Department’s lawsuit, brought under Section 7 of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA), challenges the failure of disability transportation programs in the State of New Jersey — including NJ Transit Access Link and county-based Community Transportation programs — to provide voter registration opportunities to their customers.
The proposed consent decree was filed in federal court in conjunction with a lawsuit brought by the Justice Department. The department’s complaint alleges that the State of New Jersey failed to designate offices in the State that provide paratransit and other state-funded disability transportation services as voter registration agencies. Under the NVRA, these offices must distribute a voter registration application to each person who applies for their services, and along with each recertification, renewal or change of address form relating to such services, unless the person involved declines in writing to register to vote. They must also assist applicants in completing voter registration applications, and they must accept completed voter registration applications for transmittal to appropriate state election officials. However, NJ Transit Access Link and Community Transportation programs have not been providing the voter registration opportunities guaranteed by the NVRA.
“Part of our ongoing effort to ensure access to the ballot includes ensuring that social service and disability agencies are providing registration opportunities as required under federal law,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “The National Voter Registration Act is a vital tool to ensure that citizens with disabilities have convenient and accessible opportunities to register to vote. It is critical that all citizens have unfettered access to voter registration opportunities. I am pleased that the State of New Jersey has worked with the Department of Justice to help ensure that citizens with disabilities will have broad access to the voter registration opportunities that federal law guarantees.”
“The right to vote is a constitutional principle that forms a cornerstone of our democracy,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Rachael A. Honig for the District of New Jersey. “The National Voter Registration Act enhances citizens’ access to that democratic process by increasing voter registration opportunities. We appreciate that the State of New Jersey has worked with us to ensure that all New Jersey residents, including those with disabilities, enjoy convenient opportunities to register to vote.”
The department gave notice to the State of New Jersey of its intent to bring suit under the National Voter Registration Act on March 11, 2021, and the parties worked collaboratively to achieve this agreement. Under the parties’ consent decree — and subject to approval by the federal district court in New Jersey — New Jersey will designate NJ Transit Access Link and Community Transportation as voter registration agencies. New Jersey will also conduct robust implementation and oversight efforts and will afford supplemental voter registration opportunities to existing Access Link clients.
More information about the National Voter Registration Act and other federal voting rights laws is available on the Department of Justice website at www.justice.gov/crt/voting-section.
Submitted by Wanda Williford
During the 2021 ACB National Convention in July, ACB launched the Get Up and Get Moving Campaign. It is a 3-year program to help its members do just that! Have you been feeling isolated or stuck at home? Do you want to exercise and don’t know where to get started? ACB has been active in pushing legislation in several areas such as coverage for low vision medical devices and better accessibility to exercise equipment. The kickoff event will be on White Cane Day.
For more information on the campaign and learn the history of Get Up and Get Moving, visit www.acb.org/GUGM. ACB is pleased to share that the Health and Wellness Track is the first full convention track of podcasts to be released (with 24 in total) and they are now live!
Visit www.ACBmedia.org under the Media tab and select Podcast to access the Health and Wellness Track podcast content and don’t forget to subscribe at www.acbmedia.org/category/acb-health-wellness.
In this issue we focus a spotlight on and study the ‘Southern Charm’ of Sharon Clark. She joined NJCB in July of 2020. Born and raised in Mansfield, Texas, she lost her sight at 8 years old. As a child, her parents raised Sharon with the same expectations as her five siblings, such as doing chores and learning to ride a bike. She attended mainstream school up until high school, then learned blind skills four hours away from home. After graduating, Sharon attended Richland Junior College in Texas. Continuing her education journey, she relocated to NJ and earned her B.A. in Special Education from Rowan University. Ultimately, earning her Master’s and teaching certification from the Pennsylvania College of Optometry. She has worked for the NJ CBVI since 2005, teaching blind and deaf/blind students. In addition to serving on the NJCB scholarship committee, she is a member of the ACB School for the Blind Task Force and Board member for the Association of Blind Teachers. Currently she and her husband Jeff reside in Cherry Hill, NJ with their beautiful guide dogs. Let’s get to know more about this educator in 20 questions.
“You can take the girl out of Texas, but you can’t take the Texas out of the girl.” This statement personifies, Sharon Clark. Her warm Southern accent and love of Tex Mex cuisine was most definitely evident during our conversation. I came away from our discussion thinking, how lucky her students are to have her. Sharon is the teacher we all wished we had as a kid, patient, kind, compassionate and intelligent. She is that teacher who makes you believe in your abilities. I personally can’t wait to meet her at a happy hour and try one of those Jalapeno Margaritas with a basket of Tortilla chips. Texas’ loss is definitely New Jersey’s gain.
Alt text: picture of Scrabble™ letters that spell out the words Inhale, Exhale, and Repeat.
“Aw, Come On!” Versus “Keep Calm and Carry On”:
I took one bite of my cheese sub and felt something crunch. Hmm. Cheese isn’t supposed to crunch, is it? Uh-oh! Was that my dental crown? I’d just had it fixed that morning!
Looking down at my plate, I saw that it was actually one of my front tooth veneers. Aw, come on! Is this Dental Drama Day? Some kind of hinky holiday we never asked for? Luckily, my dentist was able to see me again the same day to take care of it.
I’ve been saying “Aw, come on!” a lot lately. I suppose I’m really saying, “Give me a break, already!”
But I never say, “Aw, come on!” when things are going perfectly well, do I?
What’s that you say? I got a million dollar check in the mail from a random class-action settlement I didn’t even know I was a part of? Aw, come on!
I also used the phrase, “Aw, come on!” (along with other, less-printable terms) when Hurricane Ida roared through central Jersey on September 1st.
We’d gotten the Tornado Warning at 7:30 PM that night, so my son, Coleman (who is 22 years old), my feline-overlord, Squeaky (a former stray tabby of unknown age, but probably somewhere between Years 3 and 4 of his 9 Lives), and I (age: Classified) headed down to the basement.
We sat down there until 8:15, watching the local news channel for updates, and once the alert had expired, headed back upstairs.
A few minutes went by, and I decided to do my laundry. The washer and dryer are in the basement, so I grabbed the clothes and opened the basement door. Halfway down the stairs, I stopped in my tracks. “Aw, come on!” I yelled. Squeaky high-tailed it down the hall, losing half a life at least. In the space of fifteen minutes, the basement had flooded with six inches of water.
One of my sump pumps had become overwhelmed by the torrent of rain and had stopped working. Luckily, I have a good plumber, who came out the next day to replace the faulty sump pump. The “Aw, come on!” part is that it cost me $500, but once the new pump was installed, the rest of the water dissipated.
The way to rise above “Aw, come on!” was to take one step at a time. Clear out the water by borrowing my neighbor’s shop-vac. 🗹Check. Move saturated items out to the curb for pick-up by the township. 🗹Check. Look into mold mitigation. 🗹Check.
There was another time when I was heavily into the phrase, “Aw, come on!” and that was after I lost the vision in my right eye. It just didn’t seem fair that, at age 36, I should be dealing with such a dramatic change in my life.
I did a fair amount of wallowing until I adapted and learned that there are skills you build as a person with low or no vision that fully-sighted people may never possess.
One of them is the ability to carry on as normal through power outages, as we’re used to the lights being out. Many of us don’t turn the lights on at all, which makes for a lighter utility bill!
We’ve also learned to use our other senses fully. For example, when I fill up my bottle from the water cooler in my dining room, I can hear how full the water bottle is by listening to the Doppler effect. As the water gets close to the narrower top of the bottle, the sound it makes gets higher in pitch.
Lastly, people with vision loss have learned to listen to our own intuition. If the energy is off in a room, oftentimes, we know it before we even walk in.
So, the next time you find yourself stuck in the mud of “Aw, come on!” remember that you’ve got the wherewithal and the wisdom to “Keep Calm and Carry on!”
The NJCB will launch our fundraising season for 2021 on "Giving Tuesday" this year. The Tuesday after Thanksgiving has become the biggest donating day of the year, in the United States.
We need your help spreading the word. The announcement will be sent to your inbox in November. We ask that you forward the appeal to your friends and family. Encourage them to support NJCB by donating, no amount is too small.
We need continued financial support from the community to fund our annual scholarships and member activities. Please help us, help ourselves, by donating to the cause and asking your following to do the same. Watch out for our donation flyer among the barrage of Black Friday circulars in your inbox. Stayed tuned!
Submitted by Wanda Williford
Sarah A. Thoma, the new Executive Director, comes to NJ Blind Citizens Association with expansive work experience in the areas of organizational redevelopment, strategic planning, fundraising, public relations, and community engagement.
Inspired by a letter published by Charles Blood, the NJBCA Board Chair who is blind, Sarah met with members of the NJBCA board, and was charged with NJBCA’s “rebirth.”
Excited by the opportunity, Sarah, and the new Operations Manager and the Board of Trustees are focused on revitalizing the 111-year-old agency and making it a vibrant, vital institution that provides advocacy, innovative programming, education, and resources for its participants, and their caregivers.
NJBCA is still closed but using the time to strengthen the infrastructure as well as the structure itself, making it a safe, secure site for people to return to.
In the meantime, community partnerships are being formed for using alternative sites until the work on the building is completed and connections are being made for new and exciting programs.
Sarah states "that we are all looking forward to getting together in person very soon and having a celebration of life!"
Peace and well-being to everyone from The MCAB Family near and far.
We pray that everyone has been safe, enjoying the best of health and life.
We’re still holding Virtual phone meetings the 3rd Thursday of the month at 7:00 PM. We are checking from month to month when MCAB will resume in person meetings.
MCAB held its annual picnic on August 7, in person observing all safety precautions. The picnic was held at Elks Lodge 105, 42 Decou Ave., Trenton, NJ 08628. From 12:00 PM til 4:00 PM.
The event was catered my Mama Rosa and Gino the Owner made sure we had plenty of delicious food, deserts and drinks.
The MCAB Events Committee which consisted of members: Wanda Williford, Terry Hammoutene, Barbara Knoblock and George Franc did an excellent job in soliciting local businesses to donate gifts to give out as prizes to our members.
Everyone had a marvelous time and there was so much food for everybody to take some home.
Submitted by Mustafaa Shabazz, MCAB President
Are you “Tech Curious” or a “Tech Enthusiast”? Wherever you land in the technology sphere, we need your help and input. We invite you to join our monthly call focused on assistive technology. We conduct an intimate chat where there are no stupid questions or intimidating jargon. We come together to help one another and gain a better understanding of the technology we all live with or aspire to.
Please come share your expertise on the iPhone or ask that question about your Victor Stream.
Our meetings are held the first Monday of each month. Call (978) 990-5000, passcode 361060.
October 4, 2021, at 7:00 P.M.
November 1, 2021, at 7:00 P.M.
December 6, 2021, at 7:00 P.M.
January 3, 2022, at 7:00 P.M.
All are welcome to participate in our informative, casual, and lively conversation. Learn more about everything from Jaws to Android Talk Back.
Submitted by: Wanda Williford
Starbuck’s famous Pumpkin Spice Latte has the world adding pumpkin spice to everything from ice cream to potato chips. This sweet bread recipe is a delicious way to join the craze and celebrate the Fall season. A slice of this moist and decadent bread is perfect for breakfast or anytime snack. This recipe is easy to make, and you can share the spicy goodness because it yields two loaves. Bake this fragrant bread and the aroma will transport you to the warm interior of your favorite coffee spot. Brew a cup of your best kitchen table Joe, take a sip and bite the slightly sweet treat. Yum! Pumpkin Spice Bread (makes 2 loaves)
3 cups sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
4 eggs, lightly beaten
1 can (15 ounces) solid pack pumpkin
3½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon ground clove
½ teaspoon ground allspice
½ cup water
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, combine sugar, oil, and eggs; add pumpkin and mix well
In a second bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking powder, clove and allspice; add to the pumpkin mixture alternately with water, beating well after each addition.
Pour into 2 greased 9x5 inch loaf pans. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, 60 to 65 minutes.
Cool in pan 10 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely.
Submitted by Wanda Williford
NJCB is on Facebook. Anyone interested in contributing to the success of this page please send your ideas and posts to our email address at email@example.com. Please note all posts must be related to activities relating to your membership with NJCB or its affiliates. The page is www.facebook.com/groups/2255314534793147. Just search for New Jersey Council of the Blind in Facebook.
Please send your annual dues along with the attached membership form to our Treasurer, Steven Sowa. Annual dues for members at large are $10.00. Checks should be made payable to NJCB and mailed to PO Box 434, Woodbridge, NJ 07095.
Announcing, we have a NEW way to pay dues and making donations through PayPal using your credit card. Our webpage has the direct links to the secure page.
Saturday January 22nd Time and Location TBD
The NJCB Chronicle is also available on Newsline. If you do not have a Newsline subscription, contact Reader Services at the New Jersey Talking Book and Braille Center at (800) 792-8322 to get signed up for a Newsline subscription. Four quarterly newsletters are sent to members free of charge by E-mail. You may obtain the current and back issues of the Chronicle and other information from our web site www.njcounciloftheblind.org. Feel free to write us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The New Jersey Council of the Blind (NJCB) is a 501 (c) 3 corporation. Much appreciated tax-deductible donations may be sent to the Treasurer of NJCB.
The NJCB officers are.
President, Wanda Williford (609) 375-6682.
1st Vice President, Frank Schack – (973) 595-0116
2nd Vice President, Joyce Sowa (732) 596-9675
Secretary, Dan Bausch
Treasurer, Steve Sowa (848) 999-2079 or by mail to PO Box 434, Woodbridge, NJ 07095
NOTE: Disclaimer. The views and opinions expressed in this newsletter are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of the New Jersey Council of the Blind officers and/or members. The editor reserves the right to edit articles submitted for both space and content.
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Annual Dues: $10.00 due in January
Make check payable to NJCB and send to:
Treasurer- Steven Sowa
PO Box 434
Woodbridge, NJ 07095