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.
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
President’s Message: Road Trip!
By Wanda Williford
When I was thirteen, I traveled with my three younger siblings and Grandmother from New Jersey to Florida by bus. It was a two-day journey with an overnight stay in Fayetteville, North Carolina, our ultimate destination being Walt Disney World. Mickey, Space Mountain, and no parents. Needless to say, we had a blast, night swimming at the hotel pool after chasing Goofy all day. It truly was the happiest place on earth. To this day, I have no idea how my Grand was able to pull this off, with no major meltdowns and delivering us back to our parents, safe and sound.
To put it simply, I love travel in all its forms. Whether it’s a flight to Europe, Cruising to Bermuda or taking the Amtrak to D.C., sign me up. I have been fortunate to travel abroad several times and visit many states here at home. Interestingly, if asked to choose a favorite destination, it would be any of the road trips with family. We spent the summers traveling to campgrounds throughout the Northeast and Midwest. Our six sleeper Coleman Trailer was magic and my parents the magicians. The table where my mom served pancakes by day, converted to my bed at night. My Dad could MacGyver his way out of any problems we encountered along the way. Sleeping like sardines next to my sister, being bitten from head to toe by mosquitos and having to guard our Pop tarts from curious baby bears, all of this came with adventures in camping. Looking back, I enjoyed every single solitary moment of it. Over the years I have taken what would be considered luxurious getaways. However, none of them rival the pure unadulterated joy I experienced roasting marshmallows, while listening to my mom’s ghost stories at all those quaint campgrounds. When you’re ten years old, the only thing that could top a summer road trip is the promise of a S’more.
Now that the world is opening up and we can move about more freely, it is my hope that you plan a Spring or Summer excursion that ignites childhood excitement. Travel is a life affirming activity. It allows us to explore other cultures, reconnect and strengthen bonds with family, or visit the historic site in your hometown. It is a widely held belief that the planning and anticipation of a vacation is as enjoyable as the trip itself. The buzz of dusting off the suitcase and assembling those tiny bottles of lotions and potions is intoxicating, I must admit. Plane, train, or automobile, hop on and have an adventure to remember.
Our next meeting will be held via conference call, Saturday, April 23, 2022, from 11:00 A.M. to 1:00 P.M. Call (605) 468-8005, Passcode 425373. We are excited to host, Chris Holloway with Polara, as our guest speaker. Chris is the Eastern Region Sales Manager for Polara, the leader in Accessible Pedestrian Signals. Chris will explain the benefits of having Accessible Pedestrian Signals in New Jersey towns, and how they impact the safety and wellbeing of the blind and low vision community. Please join us and learn how to interact with that APS you encounter, while exploring on your long-awaited vacation.
April Quarterly Meeting Notice
Our next Quarterly NJCB meeting will be held by conference call on Saturday, April 23, 2022, from 11:00 am until 1:00 pm. Please note this is a different time than our normal in person meetings. The call-in number is 605-468-8005 Access code 425373#. We hope all of you will join us!
About our Guest Speaker
Chris Holloway is the Eastern Region Sales Manager in the US and Canada for Polara Enterprises, LLC, the leader in Accessible Pedestrian Signals for over twenty years.
Chris is responsible for managing the company’s important channel partners in the eastern United States and eastern Canada, and in partnership with them, establishing new business while increasing business with existing state, county and municipal customers. Chris is also responsible to communicate the benefits of Accessible Pedestrian Signals to organizations and groups that support the visually impaired.
Chris has over 28 years’ experience building relationships and selling to local and state government, private contractors, and educating professional consultants about traffic signal safety technologies. Chris is gifted in building relationships and is thrilled to represent Polara to share the company’s exciting story and to help others see the benefit of Accessible Pedestrian Signals for the visually impaired and other pedestrians.
Prior to joining Polara, Chris lived in Ghana West Africa for five years serving as a missionary where he used his relationship building skills to serve people in a poverty-stricken area of the country. Prior to that, he was a sales representative of a leading family-owned traffic signal distributor in the southeast for more than 24 years.
2022-2023 NJCB Bernard Zuckerman Scholarship Information
It is not too late to apply for the 2022 Scholarship program. To apply, eligible candidates must be legally blind, will be a full-time college student, undergraduate or graduate, in the 2022 – 2023 academic year and be a New Jersey resident. The deadline to apply is May 15th and the winner will be awarded at our July Quarterly meeting. Full details, application forms and how to apply can be found on our website at www.njcounciloftheblind.org. You may also email questions to email@example.com.
Getting to Know You
By Wanda Williford
In this issue we take a peek into the life of NJCB member, Sabastian Warren. He joined the Mercer County Association of the Blind in September of 2019. Diagnosed with Retinitis Pigmentosa at the age of 16, he attended mainstream school throughout his education. In his twenties he attended the Joseph Kohn Training Center as part of the sixteen-week residence program, during which time, he served as VIP student class president. Sabastian later trained and became a Randolph Sheppard vendor, tending to locations in both Camden and Trenton. Currently, he is a member of the NJCB Executive Board and Fundraising Committee. His future goals include continuing his studies towards a degree in Communications and moving into a leadership role in the NJCB. He also dabbles in the Twenty-First century phenomenon, Crypto currency. He and his adorable cat Hector, reside in the state Capital, Trenton, NJ. Let’s get to know more about our adventurous Millennial in twenty thought provoking questions.
The first thing I noticed about Sabastian Warren, when we met, was his delightful laugh. He should record and sell it to Marvel comics to inhabit a Super villain. Secondly, he is an extremely lucky man. At his first NJCB meeting, he won both the door prize and fifty-fifty. A month later he wins the fifty-fifty at the MCAB holiday party as well. Fortune seems to follow him for sure. Lastly, I am impressed by his dedication to our organization and willingness to serve. He brings a fresh perspective to conversations regarding, advocacy, education, and empowerment issues in the blind and low vision community. I know Sabastian along with his wonderful laugh, will be a powerful voice in the NJCB for many years to come. Indeed!
Affordable Connectivity Program
The following information was shared by ACB’s Immediate Past President, Kim Charlson, courtesy of CNET.
The US government opened up applications for a new program offering qualifying residents up to $75 off their monthly internet bills per month. Called the Affordable Connectivity Program, the initiative is overseen by the Federal Communications Commission and funded through the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure law, passed in November.
The program began during the pandemic as the Emergency Broadband Benefit, which offered up to $50 per month to help pay for internet service for those who qualify. Hundreds of broadband providers had committed to participating in that FCC program, including AT&T, CenturyLink, Charter Spectrum, Comcast Xfinity, T-Mobile and Verizon. AT&T, Cricket Wireless and Walmart also offered discounts.
People can apply by the mail or online through the FCC's website ACPBenefit.org, where it lays out eligibility requirements, including household income based on size of a family, whether they participate in other government assistance programs and whether they live on tribal lands. People who do qualify can receive up to $30 per month discount on their internet, which jumps to $75 per month if they're on qualifying tribal lands. The program also provides a one-time discount of up to $100 for a laptop, tablet or desktop computer.
For additional questions about the Affordable Connectivity Program, email ACPSupport@usac.org or call 877-384-2575.
Submitted by Wanda Williford
Transportation is the biggest challenge facing New Jersey veterans.
Written by Michael Symons is the Statehouse bureau chief for New Jersey 101.5.
TRENTON – Transportation is the biggest challenge facing New Jersey veterans, in some cases keeping disabled veterans from needed medical care, lawmakers were told Wednesday in an online hearing.
The state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs works cooperatively with the 21 counties on providing transportation options, but veterans groups told the Legislature it is an inadequate system that often leaves people unable to get to or from medical appointments unless they arrange a ride four weeks ahead.
Bill Graves, president of the Blinded Veterans Association New Jersey Regional Group, said the Lyons VA Medical Center in Bernards Township has a good vision care program – but that many veterans simply cannot get there to benefit from it.
“So, people can’t even get to have their eyes checked, tests or taken care of,” Graves said. “This is a major, major problem.”
Toms River resident John O’Connell said despite living in the nation’s most densely populated state and in his case, living in the municipality with the most veterans in the state, the programs run by the county and options from volunteer groups are inadequate for even a trip to a clinic in Brick.
He said the federal government has a rural transportation grant program that could be helpful but that it’s not available to residents of New Jersey.
“If I was a veteran in the middle of Montana or Kansas, I would actually have an easier, it would be easier for me to get to VA medical appointments,” O’Connell said.
Mustafa Shabazz, vice president of the Blinded Veterans Association New Jersey Regional Group, said in the late 1990s, there was funding for veterans’ associations to provide transportation to the hospitals and medical centers but that it was taken away around 20 years ago.
That forces those volunteer groups to raise funds to afford their vehicles and gasoline, which they sometimes can only operate sporadically because the drivers aren’t paid.
“I just think that’s shameful,” said Bob Andrzejczak, a disabled veteran and former state lawmaker. “For a minimal cost, we can be providing a better service all around to our veterans.”
Johnnie Walker, adjutant for Disabled American Veterans Department of New Jersey, said the DAV runs three vans out of Cape May County that transport veterans to out-of-state VA appointments.
He said a van with six veterans leaves at around 6 a.m., drops half of them off in Philadelphia for their medical appointments, then takes the others to Wilmington, Delaware, for cancer treatment. When it’s done, they drive the three back to Philly, pick up the first group and get back home at 7 p.m.
“And anybody that’s ever had chemo or radiation may understand they don’t want to be in a van for eight, nine hours. They want to be home in bed,” Walker said. “The transportation system with the VA is in terrible, terrible condition. We know this.”
Joseph Nyzio, chief of the Veterans Benefits Bureau in the state Department of Military and Veterans Affairs, said the state partners on veterans’ transportation programs with all 21 counties but concedes they are lacking for money and vehicles.
“Is it a perfect program? Absolutely not,” Nyzio told the Assembly Military and Veterans’ Affairs Committee. “And all these shortcomings, all the testimony you hear today, we’ve heard for years.”
Nyzio said the federal VA has been pushing for years to get veterans into VA hospitals for care – which increases the demand for transportation.
“We probably haven’t built the program up enough over these last 20 years or however long the program’s been going on,” he said. “But there is an actual program. It does have its shortfalls and issues, just like any program out there.”
Submitted by Mustafaa Shabazz
Giving Yourself a Break When Life Gets Messy
By Miss Ruth Williams
Last week, my cat, Squeaky, and I got a bit stressed when contractors were working in our house, and they had to move around the furniture. Squeaks wondered, where is my litterbox living now? I asked them, where is the hamper? Having things kept in their usual place matters a great deal to those of us with vision loss.
The workers also left a lot of dust and debris, which, due to my low vision, I can only clean up early in the morning when the sun is shining its brightest.
This is also a metaphor for the way I look at challenges I’m facing. My sense of equanimity can change depending on the weather, my level of hunger, the fact that I missed my favorite TV show, the pain in my neck from working on the computer all day, the fact that there is no chocolate in the house and there ought to be a law against that. You know, the usual tiny dramas that seem to be a big deal!
Even without contractors, plastic tarps on the floor and the noise of home repairs, so many things add to the storage bin of stress in my mind. Has my weight gone up? Is my blood pressure rising? Is my credit score down? Are the bills piling up?
Even when I feel hale and hearty, changes in my environment can throw me off. I was annoyed during the renovation process, but relieved and satisfied once it was done.
I’ve decided that, even if my visual acuity goes up and down, it’s possible to stay in a “steady-state,” to coin a term. To me, that means staying focused on my goals and finding the good in life, no matter the circumstance.
Author Don Miguel Ruiz wrote about Four Agreements to live by as you navigate the world:
In terms of that last agreement, “Always do your best,” Ruiz writes, “Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick.” That was the truth for me last week.
Since I’d gotten my Covid booster, I was exhausted, so I was nowhere near as productive in terms of getting my project work done. I had to miss meetings, which never happens. I didn’t feel like I was “pulling my weight” for my blindness and low vision groups and committees.
Between feeling wiped out and dealing with the renovations, I got knocked out of my usual groove. At one point, I had an important email drafted, and found myself looking at it for over an hour to ensure it had no typos. My mind could not focus clearly on it with all the noise from the contractors. I was irritated.
At that moment, my cat bumped against my leg, which is a sign of affection, but it startled me. I told Squeaky to leave me alone, and I felt bad instantly, because he was already scared by the disruption to his world. Later, I gave Squeaky a nice back scratch, and all was forgiven!
I really was doing my best but continued feeling unsettled. I didn’t get all my calendar tasks done, and that always bothers me. It’s like leaving yesterday’s dishes in the sink. That is just a big “nope” to me!
At the end of the day, I had to give myself a break. The projects I’m doing are meaningful to me, but what I’m doing is all volunteer work. It’s not like I’m getting paid to do it or have a manager who’s breathing down my neck. I’m putting the pressure on myself because I value the idea of making a positive impact in the world.
Even though things were in a state of flux when the home improvements were being done, life would be back to its normal, peaceful state soon enough. Plus, my room would be painted a lovely, cream color. I had to remind myself that these changes were worth it.
It also gave me a deeper appreciation of how serene my home usually is. The interior work I did that day was to surrender the ideal of perfection. I can’t always hit all the marks I set for myself. Some days, I must set modest goals and accept that moving in any direction, no matter how small the step, is better than sitting still.
Like home improvements, interior work always takes time and effort. It’s rarely neat and tidy during the process of renovation; often, it’s noisy and unsettling. But at the end of the day, it’s worth it to step out of your comfort zone, especially if you’ve gotten comfortable with situations that no longer serve you or could even be detrimental to your well-being.
The true comfort zone is coming home to who you truly are. Being yourself, whatever room you may walk into. Feeling you’re going in the right direction, despite the detours you encounter. Changing your life for the better might be challenging, but when the work is done and the dust clears, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment that you built a life of your own making.
This easy and delicious recipe utilizes a surprising ingredient we all have in the pantry, a can of Tomato soup. These Sweet and Sour Carrots, make a great side dish for that special occasion dinner or casual cookout. I’ve prepared this dish for many a potluck, it is always a hit. Bon Appetit!
Sweet and Sour Carrots
2 pounds carrots peeled and cut into 1-inch rounds
1 green bell pepper cut into 1-inch squares
1 white onion sliced into thin rings
1 20 ounce can pineapple chunks (drained)
1 can condensed tomato soup
1 cup sugar
¾ cup vinegar
½ cup vegetable oil
1 teaspoon prepared yellow mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place carrots in a medium pot, cover with water, bring to a boil for 7 to 9 minutes and drain. Place cooked carrots, green bell pepper, pineapple chunks and onions in a casserole dish. Toss to combine. In a bowl combine sugar, vinegar, vegetable oil, tomato soup, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, salt, and black pepper. Stir until combined and sugar dissolves. Pour mixture over vegetables in casserole dish. Bake 20 minutes or until sauce bubbles. These carrots are delicious served hot or cold.
Submitted by Wanda Williford
News from Blind Citizen’s Association
Spring is in the air at NJBCA!
Following a cold and blustery winter at the Shore, the buds on the trees are starting to show, crocus and daffodils are peeking throughout the grounds in the hopes of an early arrival of Spring. However, last evening, chatter and laughter of children on scooters with their parents walking closely behind demonstrated that Spring certainly is near.
In the past few months, we have seen an elevated increase in calls with the need for diverse range of services. To support the needs of the community, and we are constantly researching new resources and forming strategic liaisons to address the ongoing and escalating issues.
Work continues to be done to the interior of the buildings by our wonderful donors and volunteers enabling our members to return in late March to a safe, healthy environment. The air filtration system was installed this month by C & C Air, Heating and Plumbing but as we found a need to wait until winter was over before the exit ramp could be installed by the AT&T Pioneers, we have been having our member meetings at our wonderful community partners, the Middletown Library and Middletown Arts Center. Although our members’ favorite programs are returning, we are constantly exploring new opportunities for them to participate in and learn.
Transportation with the rising gas prices remains an issue, but we are working on resolving those as well.
By popular demand, the NJBCA Artisan Market is being held on Saturday, April 23, 2022, with a rain date of April 24, 2022). With twenty-five plus artists, live music, kids’ games, and activities, it promises to be another wonderful event. Location is at NJBCA, 18 Burlington Ave., Leonardo, NJ 07737 from 10 am – 3 pm. For more information, please visit our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/njbca.org
We are thrilled that the Eatontown Lions Club is hosting a 5K Run for The Blind on Sandy Hook on May 7, 2022, to benefit NJBCA. Registration is available at www.Runsignup.com. Please go to Find a Race – Enter Sandy Hook Lighthouse 5k and the registration comes up. The race starts at 9:30 am and 11:00 finish. Hope you can join us for the run or to meet other wonderful people at this beautiful location!
We are excited to be hosting the State meeting in July and meeting you all in person!
Mercer County Association of The Blind (MCAB)
Mercer County Happenings
The Spring of 2022 will usher in a season of celebration for the members of the Mercer County Association of the Blind. With the easing of Covid-19 restrictions, we are now able to resume our monthly in-person meetings. Twenty-four months of conference calls has left us craving the camaraderie of the friends we have so dearly missed.
Thankfully, our conference line has allowed us to host speakers we would not ordinarily have access to, during the past two years. By phone, in January, R.N. Corinne Cariello, of the Mount Carmel Guild, informed the group about the free nursing services available to seniors in Mercer County. MCAB member, George Franc, is currently receiving help organizing his medications and shared his positive experience. In the near future, the Mercer County Improvement Authority (MCIA) will be joining us in-person to “school” the group regarding proper recycling practices. Additionally, we will continue our “Sighted Guide” lesson and conduct how-to workshops for visual assistance apps, such as Aira and Be My Eyes. There is lots of great information for us to share!
As a group, we have so much to be grateful for. Surviving the worst health crisis of the past century is a testament of our strength and resilience. The physical and mental toll of being isolated and cut off from friends and family has been an extremely high price to pay. However, we will summon our inner butterfly, spread our wings, and socialize once again. The party Planning Committee has started brain storming ideas for the Summer Picnic in August. And, make no mistake, lots of pretty cupcakes will be sacrificed in honor of Spring birthdays. Let the celebrations begin!
Submitted by Wanda Williford
NJCB Tech Talk Monthly Call
We have decided to open up our monthly call beyond Tech. So our topics will vary. The best way to learn is from each other! Join our monthly calls and get some answers from your friends.
The calls are on the first Monday of each month. Our next call will take place on Monday, April 4th, 2022, at 7:00 p.m. Call (978) 990-5000, passcode 361060. Please join us for a fun and informative chat. Email Wanda Williford, firstname.lastname@example.org, with any questions or suggestions for discussion topics.
Support the NJCB on Amazon
When shopping on Amazon use Amazon Smile and support the NJCB.
Go to Smile.Amazon.com and look for New Jersey Council of the Blind Inc. Or use https://smile.amazon.com/ch/22-3592848
Check out the NJCB Facebook Page
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 https://www.facebook.com/groups/2255314534793147/. Just search for New Jersey Council of the Blind in Facebook.
Have you paid your 2022 Dues?
For members at large if you have not already paid dues for 2022, please do so immediately. To be an active, voting member and continue receiving the benefits of our members which includes our Chronicle and ACB newsletters, please send us your $10.00 dues payment. NJCB is required to submit our membership lists and dues to the ACB national headquarters to remain a valid certified affiliate. Please send your membership dues payment to our Treasurer, Steve Sowa PO Box 434, Woodbridge, NJ 07095.
As a reminder for our At-Large members you can also go to our web page and pay online now. The link is https://njcounciloftheblind.org/dues.
Save The Date
Saturday July 23rd location TBD
Saturday October 22nd location TBD
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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