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.
President’s Message: Stay Connected!
By Wanda Williford
Zoom calls, Chat boxes and Smart Phones, Oh my! Since the very beginning of human existence communication and connection has been integral to our emotional and physical survival. The ways in which we keep in touch, has evolved in unimaginable forms in the past 150 years. I imagine smoke signals wafting over majestic mountains warning a neighboring village of important news. The Pony Express delivering a letter to a Wyoming Homesteader announcing the birth of a baby back East. In the 1990’s Pager’s aka Beepers were clipped to purses and waistbands, alerting us a loved one needs an immediate call to remind you to pick up milk on the way home. Today, cell phones, social media and text messages allow us to communicate in real time and up close and personal ways.
Thankfully, we no longer need to start fires or ride horseback across the desert, in order to keep in touch. The Pandemic has prompted us to find creative ways to learn, socialize and celebrate. Prior to March of 2020, Zoom was a groovy 70’s children’s show out of Boston, I watched everyday after school. To date, I have participated in more Zoom calls, birthday celebrations and webinars than I could ever count. I am grateful for all the ways we are able to stay connected in the 21st Century. However, post pandemic it is important we continue to seek out those things that bring us joy and we make the phone call or drop the e-mail to the friend or family member who may need our support and love. We are positively impacted by lifelong learning and close human bonds.
Fortunately, we have the choice of making the ultimate connection, by once again meeting in-person. There is no substitute for being in the same room with friends, having long awaited conversations, exchanging laughs and sharing moments. This year I will be attending the ACB Annual Conference and Convention as a 2020 JP Morgan Chase Leadership Fellow award recipient. This trip is 2 years delayed; however, my hope is to finally be in the room with those individuals I've only experienced over Zoom. This year’s hybrid convention is being held in Omaha, Nebraska. However, no plane ticket needed, you can participate from your couch or kitchen table, by listening into Convention programing July 1-8, via ACB.org or your Amazon Alexa on ACB Media. Being connected to convention has never been easier.
Our first in-person meeting in over two years will take place Saturday, July 23, 2022, from Noon to 4:00 P.M. at the Blind Citizen’s Association 18 Burlington Ave, Leonardo, NJ 07737. We are thrilled to host Dr. Bernice Davis as our guest speaker. Dr. Davis is the Executive Director of the New Jersey Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired. Additionally, we will be awarding our annual Bernard J. Zuckerman Scholarship during this meeting. This event is poised to be an exciting return for the entire NJCB Family. We will reconnect and make new memories. Please join us for this unofficial NJCB Family Reunion.
July Quarterly Meeting Notice
The next quarterly meeting of NJCB will be hosted by The New Jersey Blind Citizens' Association (BCA) at Camp Happiness at 18 Burlington Ave., Leonardo, NJ 07737 on Saturday, July 23, 2022. A pizza lunch will be served at 12 Noon for a cost of $5.00; the meeting will begin at 1 PM and will be over at about 4 PM. In order for them to prepare enough food call the BCA office at (732) 291-0878 by July 12th to let them know that you are coming. One person from each organization can call with a group count. We are looking forward to seeing you there.
Can’t make it in person? No worries, call in on our conference call number. Dial 605-468-8005. Access code is 425373#.
Our guest speaker
Dr. Bernice M. Davis
Executive Director, New Jersey Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired
President National Council of State Agencies for the Blind (NCSAB)
NCSAB President, Dr. Bernice Davis, was appointed, Executive Director of the New Jersey Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired (CBVI) in 2018. In this capacity she is responsible for the overall administration and operations of the Commission, the single state authority charged with providing education, vocational rehabilitation, independent living, assistive technology, and eye-health services for the estimated 259,000 residents of the state, who are blind, deaf-blind or visually impaired.
Before joining CBVI in 2005, Dr. Davis, was the Assistant Chief Executive Officer of the NJ Division of Developmental Disabilities, North Jersey Developmental Center (NJDC). In this role she was second in command of a residential facility that provided a wide range of habilitation, behavioral and medical services and supports for individuals with developmental disabilities.
Dr. Davis earned her Doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the Illinois School of Professional Psychology in 1993, and her B.S. degree in Applied Psychology from Loyola University of Chicago with a minor in Anthropology. She is a licensed psychologist, as well as a certified American Management Associate, who has over 21 years of experience as a clinician and public administrator.
2022 Scholarship Opportunities
Announcing our 2022-23 Bernard Zuckerman Scholarship Winners
NJCB is proud to announce two winners for the Bernard Zuckerman Scholarship Award for the 2022-23 school year. Mark Szafran, from Triton Regional High will be attending Rowan College in the Fall. Gavin Morrobel, from Scotch Plains/Fanwood High School will be attending Rochester Technical Institute in the Fall. Congratulations to both!
Cultural Competence in the Vision Loss Community
by Miss Ruth Williams
Multi-colored picture framed in green with the words, “You belong” on it.
It is surrounded by lush, leafy plants on all sides.
The world has been changing so fast, I wonder if, somehow, the Earth has hit a speedbump in space and been knocked off its axis!
Crypto currency is a thing now, and to me, it seems like theoretical payment. No centralized bank, no paper money, no debit card. Try telling your creditors that you’ll theoretically be paying the bills!
Another concept that has been trending is the metaverse, in which virtual reality and video allow users to exist within a digital universe.
|What is Microsoft's Metaverse?|
And, of course, the biggest change we’ve all had to adjust to is living in the midst of a perpetual pandemic.
We’ve found ways to stay connected and engaged, like holding Zoom meetings and ACB Community Calls.
We’ve learned to adapt, even in surreal circumstances – we hunkered down, baked sourdough bread, and feathered our nests as we waited for a vaccine.
We made it through the worst of it, even finding some new “best practices” as a result. Working remotely is a prime example.
It’s the same way with vision loss: sometimes there’s a sudden, permanent change and the world goes dark. In other cases, vision changes gradually, and each transition is a seismic shift. Either way, the only way forward is to adapt and carry on.
As we connect with the community virtually, we’ve gotten to know each other and to learn about other peoples’ cultures, languages and customs.
There’s a practice I’ve noticed in some of my blindness and cultural access groups, and that is to introduce yourself and describe how you look when speaking at Zoom meetings.
In some meetings, the practice is to describe yourself using conventional terms; for example, “I’m a 56-year-old white woman with reddish/blonde-white hair. I wear glasses. I’m wearing a brown top and white scarf. I live in Somerset.”
Other groups have a more progressive approach, and, in this case, I would say: “I’m a 56-year-old white, straight, cisgender (meaning that I identify with the gender I was assigned at birth) woman with reddish/blonde-white hair. My pronouns are she/her. I wear glasses. I’m wearing a brown top and white scarf. I live in Somerset, the traditional land of the Lenni Lenape.”
It may take some getting used to, but it’s important to honor everyone’s culture, and to acknowledge that times have changed, and not everyone feels they fit neatly into a conventional category.
Sometimes people on Zoom calls also describe the picture they use for their background, and many have a blurred background.
I prefer to hear people go into detail to describe themselves so I can really picture them. One young woman said she had her chestnut-colored hair in French braids on both sides of her head. A man said he had a neatly trimmed salt-and-pepper goatee. Honestly, please don’t tell me about your blurred background; everything is blurred for some of us! Tell me about the tiny touches that make you, you.
As times change and we learn more about those of other cultures, it only makes sense to update our thinking, just as our vision may change over time and we have to adapt as we go along.
No one can see through our eyes, and that’s why it’s so important to audio-describe your world to those around you.
To bring people who haven’t experienced life the way that you have an understanding of your reality.
To advocate for the things specific to your needs that the powers-that-be may say, Well, other blind people don’t need that. Why do you?
The answer to that is: because you do. And even though many people refer to cultural competence as being politically correct, it is actually just about meeting people where they are. Listening to that still, small voice within that detects the humanity and divinity in every person you encounter. At the end of the day, everybody's from somewhere. Now we’re all here together. Even without vision, it’s clear to see that the world is big enough for all of us.
News from Blind Citizen’s Association by Sarah Thoma
Spring was a time of renewal at NJBCA…
Our amazing Operations Manager, Katherine, created another successful community event with the Spring Artisan Market. It was held on Saturday, April 23, 2022, and had more than twenty-five talented artists participating. The Seeing Eye puppies in training, live music, face painting and kids’ activities, along with a food truck from Chilango’s and funnel cakes provided by the members of the Atlantic Highlands and Highlands Lions Club were all met with a great response from everyone that attended.
Our Campers have returned to Camp Happiness, and you can tell it is home for them. We started back in November and have grown in the past few months to twenty-four in number including past members and six new ones. Last week when I was in the Thrift Shop, I heard the sound of laughter from the main hall where members were meeting. As the program was Music Therapy, I walked in into the room to see members chiding each other as to their capacity or lack thereof to carry a tune. I must admit it was music to my ears. They are such amazing people; Katherine and I continue to be inspired by them.
Katherine developed new community partnerships, and we are now able to provide free lunch for our members when they are at Camp Happiness and bags of fruit and vegetables for them to take home.
There is always something new to discover here. When going through paperwork, I found that we were incorporated on May 15, 1917, and decided to throw a small celebration with our members. Of course, we had to have a cake! During the event, we discussed how NJBCA continued the mission of its founders and continued to provide free services to the Blind and Visually Impaired through the Spanish Flu, World War I, The Great Depression, World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, Desert Storm, the Afghan War and now COVID.
We are so thankful for the support of the community and the Lions Clubs throughout the State, as we are not supported by any government funding. The Eatontown Lions Club definitely demonstrated their commitment to NJBCA as they held a 5k Race for the Blind on one of the coldest, rainiest days in May. Despite foreboding clouds and freezing rain, more than fifty runners showed up that morning (me, too!) and ran the course. I might add that prior to the race, it was raining but once the race started, the rain stopped. Once it was over and the tents started to come down, we were met with a deluge of freezing rain. I don’t know how they do it, but I was told by the Lions that it works like that every year. I personally think that someone has really good connections to pull that off…
I was honored to represent NJBCA at the Lions 101st State Convention which was held at the Tropicana Hotel in Atlantic City on May 19th-21, 2022. It was wonderful to network with other agencies who are state projects and meet the Leadership and members of the Lions clubs who have supported NJBCA through the years.
Our dedicated in-house volunteers continue their commitment to us with their efforts to provide our members with a positive and safe environment. The weather was finally warm enough for the wonderful AT&T Pioneers to complete the ramp to secure safe wheelchair accessibility at the rear of the building.
Another one of our volunteers engaged the Monmouth County Master Gardeners for advice on starting a garden and with the support of an Eagle Scout Troop from Marlboro and a Brownies Troop from Leonardo, a garden was planted for our members to enjoy. The finishing touches on the garden in the way of painted rocks spelling out NJBCA are happening this week.
Things are good, but challenges of maintaining an old building continue. Katherine and I found ourselves bailing water one day when the boiler broke in our utility room. We were informed that we needed a new heating system and are thanking our lucky stars it is Spring! Shortly thereafter, the air conditioning system died, and it will cost $17,000 to put in a new one. Ending this on a bright note, the garden is beautiful, the tomato plants are growing, and the wonderful scent of salt water is in the air.
Plans continue to be developed for the state meeting on July 23! We all are looking forward to meeting you in person.
Mercer County Association of The Blind (MCAB) by, Wanda Williford President, Mercer County Association of the Blind
Mercer County Happenings!
To quote a favorite Stevie Wonder album title It’s “Hotter than July” here in Mercer County. The Summer is sizzling with excitement in anticipation of things to come. The return to in-person meetings has been popular and well attended by MCAB members. We have managed to gather, for the past several months, safely and without incident. Currently, we are preparing for the Annual MCAB picnic, looking forward to future activities and hosting interesting guest speakers.
A few highlights from our May meeting include an amazing guest speaker and the addition of three new members. Brianna Machado, Senior Recycling Specialist, with the Mercer County Improvement Authority, discussed “best practices” for residential curbside recycling. Her presentation was very informative and everyone was gifted reusable shopping bags and other nifty swag. Additionally, we welcomed three new members into the MCAB Family, Duwayne Haynes, Renee Jordan and Austin Wayslow. We are thrilled to have an infusion of new energy and ideas brought by these wonderful individuals. Our June meeting topic will focus on the ACB 2022 Convention and the various ways to participate.
The MCAB’s annual summer picnic will take place on Saturday, August 6, 2022, at the Elks Lodge in Ewing NJ, from Noon to 4:00 PM. The party planning committee, which includes members, Daniel Franc, Cathy Godfrey, Terry Hammoutene, Barbara Knoblock, Barbara Plunkett and Wanda Williford are busy organizing a spectacular event that will assuredly be enjoyed by all. If you are interested in joining the festivities, contact, Wanda Williford at (609) 375-6682, for additional details. We are excited to come together to celebrate the joy of summer and one another. Have a glorious warm season filled with fun and endless sizzle.
NJCB Tech Talk by Wanda Williford
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.
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 www.facebook.com/groups/2255314534793147. Just search for New Jersey Council of the Blind in Facebook.
2022 Dues are due.
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.
Remember NJCB on Amazon Smile
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 smile.amazon.com/ch/22-3592848
Save The Date
Saturday July 23rd 12 Noon Camp Happiness in Leonardo
Saturday October 22nd 12 Noon Location TBD
Saturday January 28th 12 Noon 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 July
Make check payable to NJCB and send to:
Treasurer- Steven Sowa
PO Box 434
Woodbridge, NJ 07095