FCB OFFICERS, 2010 - 2012
President, Paul Edwards
20330 N.E. 20th Ct., Miami, FL 33179
1st Vice-President, Debbie Drylie
1544 Walnut Creek Dr., Flemming Island, FL 32003
2nd Vice President, Sharon Youngs
237 Maple Avenue, Palm Harbor, FL 34684
Treasurer, Linda Jacobson
2915 Circle Ridge Dr., Orange Park, FL 32065
Membership Secretary, Sally Benjamin
1531 Dempsey Mayo Road, Tallahassee, FL 32308
Recording Secretary, Sila Miller
2201 Limerick Dr., Tallahassee, FL 32309
Immediate Past President, Debbie Grubb
4215 17th Ave. W., Bradenton, FL 34205-1418
Editor of White Cane Bulletin, Sharon Youngs
237 Maple Avenue, Palm Harbor, FL 34684
Articles for the White Cane Bulletin must be submitted to Sally Benjamin no later than the 20th of the month before it is published. Sally’s email is: email@example.com
If you do not have access to a computer and email please find someone in your chapter to help send it. We would like to hear from anyone who wants to contribute to our news letter. If you don’t have a way to write an article you can call Sharon Youngs at the number above and she will be glad to write it for you.
Articles published in The White Cane Bulletin are in compliance with Public Law No. 104197, Copyright Law Amendment of 1996. This law allows authorized entities to distribute copies of previously published non-dramatic literary works in specialized formats, including Braille, audio or digital text that are exclusively for use by Blind people or those with disabilities. Any further distributing of such articles in another than a specialized format is an infringement of copyright.
ARE YOU MOVING? - Sally Benjamin
If you are moving please notify me of your new address so you will continue to receive your White Cane Bulletin. Also if you know of anyone interested in joining FCB and who would like to receive the White Cane Bulletin and the Braille Forum please contact me at: (800) 267-4448 or E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
FCB Officers 2010 – 2012
Presidents Message: by Paul Edwards
2011 FCB and FCCLV Scholarship Applications Available by Barbara Grill
Vincent Mistretta: by Sila Miller
Employment Committee: by Suzy Hipple
Clinical Research Study Recruitment
Fifth Annual Florida Vision Summit: by Barbara Ross
Clay council of the Blind: by Mike Taylor
Tampa council of the Blind: by Diane Bobrowsky
Handy Telephone References
As I write this, Florida is about to welcome a new Governor. Governor Scott has campaigned consistently on a platform of saving money and consolidating services delivered by state government. In mid-December, his transition team met with representatives of the agencies who deliver services to people with disabilities in Florida to consider how his campaign promises could be converted into reality once he assumes office in January.
At that meeting, a proposal was discussed that would consolidate services to people with disabilities into a single agency. That agency would be the Agency for People with Disabilities that now serves people with developmental disabilities. There are two things that make this proposal differ from those that we have fought in the past. First, Governor Scott clearly regards consolidation as a priority. Second, this proposal is much more inclusive than any that has been made in the past. I want to make it clear to members and others who may read this that the proposal that was discussed came from one individual and, though it was discussed at the meeting, has certainly not yet been espoused by the new administration.
The FCB and all other organizations of and for people who are blind in Florida have met and agree that we must all oppose any proposal that would serve to limit the autonomy of the Division of Blind Services. We all believe that it is crucial that services continue to be delivered by an agency that hires blindness specialists and has the ability to make its own decisions about the policies that determine services to people who are blind. Right now, we have a separate Rehab Council and autonomous decision-taking or making? at all levels. We believe that this is the only way that we can continue to provide services to people who are blind in Florida. Without this independence we are absolutely convinced that people who are blind will not be effectively served. In states where there are agencies that try to combine services for blind people and people with other disabilities, blind people suffer.
All of the organizations of and for people who are blind are meeting on a regular basis. I will keep all of you informed of what is happening as this issue unfolds.
For now, we are gathering documents that will be of help and coordinating our approaches. For now, we hope that this issue will turn out to be a storm in a teacup and we will not have to fully mobilize.
I am not sure just how we can finally persuade governments to stop trying to reinvent models of service delivery whose primary purpose is the saving of administrative dollars.
At the same time as we are seeing service delivery coming under attack, we appear to be making good progress at persuading the state to take a good, hard look at making their major web site more accessible. Robert Miller has taken the lead by providing clear documentation to the state in the form of a 27-page document concerning the specific accessibility problems the web site has. We are proud of the role that Robert has played and will work to help the Technology Committee move forward with this exciting initiative.
I also want to take a moment to express the appreciation of myself and all of FCB for an initiative undertaken by William Benjamin. very much on his own, he worked with some local Lions Clubs to put together what he firmly believes will be the first of many annual golf tournaments which raised five thousand dollars for FCB. I am proud of William and excited by this wonderful demonstration of support for all of us!
Clearly, we have had an eventful couple of months. All of the issues I have discussed here show just how important it is to have a strong and viable Florida Council of the Blind. Without an organization like ours, blind people in Florida would not have the chance to be secure in the knowledge that their rights are being protected and extended. That is our job and we will need your help to make what we do count by advocating with us for the changes that we need!
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The Florida Council of the Blind (FCB) is offering four scholarships again this year. The awards are for $2,500, $2,000, $1,500 and $750. In addition, the Florida Council of Citizens with Low Vision (FCCLV) will award one $750 scholarship.
Scholarships will be awarded to students demonstrating academic and leadership accomplishments. Eligible blind students must be residents of the State and enrolled in high school or a postsecondary or vocational training program. A minimum cumulative grade point average of 3.0 is required. The Gayle M. Krause-Edwards $2,500 Scholarship requires a 3.2 grade point average with one semester completed. Part-time students who are working full-time may also apply for the $750 award. FCB Scholarship applicants must be legally blind. Applications may be completed online or printed from the FCB website (www.fcb.org). All supporting documents including a sealed official transcript from the most recent year of school attended must be submitted. A Certification of Vision Status form must be signed and mailed directly by an ophthalmologist, rehabilitation counselor or other qualified entity. Applicants must be enrolled in an accredited college or university or be accepted for enrollment.
The Florida Council of Citizens with Low Vision scholarship will be awarded to an outstanding student who is enrolled in academic, professional or technical training beyond the high school level. The $750 award will be given for either academic excellence or to an eligible applicant who is enrolled in a course of study, which will increase advancement potential in his/her chosen field. This scholarship may be awarded to a full or part-time student.
An applicant applying for the FCCLV Scholarship must meet the low vision criteria. FCCLV defines low vision when the best corrected vision in the better eye is not greater than 20/70 but is better than light perception or light projection or whose visual fields have a maximum diameter of no greater than 30 degrees.
All applications and/or supporting documents must be postmarked no later than March 31, 2011 and mailed to Barbara H. Grill, 2030 Preymore Street, Osprey, FL 34229. If you have any questions, please call (941) 966-7056 or email email@example.com. For more information go to www.fcb.org and click on the Scholarship Application link.
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The youngest son of Vincent and Christina Mistretta, Vincent Joseph (Vince) was born on June 10, 1955. He grew up in Brooklyn and Staten Island New York with a brother who was eleven years his senior. Vincent Sr. worked for the post office and Christina raised the boys and kept the household running smoothly.
Directly following graduation from high school, Vince took a job with Chase Manhattan Bank as a mail clerk. He worked there for three years, until the family moved to Deltona Florida in 1976, following Vincent Sr.'s retirement from the postal service. After relocating, Vince landed a job with Southeast Bank in Orlando where he held a myriad of positions from mail clerk to teller to bookkeeping clerk to loan collector. Vince worked at the bank for the next several years until his eyesight failed.
In 1970, Christina underwent cataract surgery and it was discovered that she also suffered from Glaucoma. Vince was tested and it was learned that he too had this condition that was determined to be brought on from birth defects in both eyes.
Glaucoma is a group of eye diseases that gradually steal sight without warning. In the early stages of the disease, there may be no symptoms. Vision loss is caused by damage to the optic nerve, which acts like an electric cable with over a million wires. It is responsible for carrying images from the eye to the brain. There is no cure for glaucoma-yet. However, medication or surgery can slow or prevent further vision loss. The appropriate treatment depends upon the type of glaucoma among other factors. Early detection is vital to stopping the progress of the disease. Bottom line, anyone at risk of developing glaucoma should get a complete eye exam, including eye dilation, every one or two years.
Vince was able to drive until 1980. While his eyesight wasn't perfect, he maintained some usable vision until the early 2000s when he lost the remaining bit. In 1982, Vince attended the Rehabilitation Center in Daytona. "Paul Edwards was my vocational counselor," Vince recalls. "He's the one who first got me involved with FCB back in 1984. They said "you have potential. Yeah, potential, within a year I became President of the Daytona chapter.”
After completing his stint at the Rehab Center, Vince began attending Daytona Beach Community College, where he obtained his Associate of Science degree in Computer Science. Following graduation from college in 1985, Vince went to work for the Braille and Talking Book Library in Daytona, programming for them. He remained there until his affection for a lovely lady dictated his relocation to West Palm Beach in 1987.
“I began working at the Daytona Beach Library as a programmer for a few years. That's where I met my lovely wife, Pat, at the time she was Pat Soule. I oversaw their computer department. Pat and I met briefly at the 1984 FCB convention but really got to know each other at the Daytona Beach Library in 1986, when she came there for a regional meeting,” Vince explains.
Pat Wichman Soule Mistretta, also originally from New York, worked for almost 38 years at the Palm Beach County Library until her recent retirement. Twenty-nine of those years were spent serving as the Regional Talking Book Librarian. Pat was married to Jerry Soule, one of the founding members of the West Palm Beach Chapter, only a short while before Jerry passed away. The Palm Beach Chapter was renamed the Jerry Soule Chapter soon after his death in memory of Jerry, but has been renamed the Palm Beach Chapter within the recent past.
Vince and Pat were engaged in 1987 and Vince moved to West Palm Beach that same year. The couple were married on June 4th, 1988, right before the FCB convention. “Part of our honeymoon was actually the convention,” Vince laughs.
Within a year of moving, Vince was elected as President of what was then known as the Jerry Soule chapter. “I served two terms as President for them 88 through 89 and 90 through 91, the latter during the same period of time I served as FCB’s President,” Vince recalls. “During that same period, with the assistance of DBS, I was able to get on-the-job training, and landed a position with the Palm Beach County Health Department as a programmer In September, 1988. I’ve been here ever since. I don't really program that much anymore. I now have staff to do the programming. I just manage the Software Development team in the Information Technology Department," Vince states.
Vince moved up the FCB service ladder quite quickly. At the 1986 convention held in West Palm Beach, he was elected to the 2nd Vice Presidency. However, his time of service in that office was quite short. Gloria Cameron, the then First Vice President had to move to Georgia unexpectedly to care for her ailing parents. Vince moved into her vacated position where he finished out the term. Then in 1988, he was re-elected to the First Vice Presidency. "That was back when we had dual Board meetings in the spring and fall and the convention in the summer,” Vince reminisces. In 1990, at the convention held in Daytona, Vince was elected as the FCB President where he served until the elections in 1992. He has served on the Education and Leadership, Resolutions, and Transportation Committees. "I served with Patti Land and helped to write the first scholarship application. I also worked on several ad hoc committees and played a part in helping to develop the first FCB brochure," Vince proudly states.
“Back in the 80s and 90s, officers were encouraged to visit local chapters. During my initial Second vice-presidency, I visited St. Petersburg, where I helped form the Pinellas Chapter. I then visited the Mid-Florida, and Clay County chapters. Soon after, I took a trip down to Miami-Dade and visited the Greater Miami Chapter and then the Jerry Soule Chapter. Paul Edwards was my guide in the beginning. As a matter of fact, I got to share that with him in person when I saw him at the 30th anniversary celebration of the Soule chapter. Jim Lamb and Terry Blessing were two important others,” Vince reflects. “Their passings were very hard for me. They were very special people and good friends of ours."
Unfortunately, Vince’s involvement with FCB waned in 1994. He wasn’t on the Board any longer and his work was quite busy. “People like Doug Hall and myself really twisted his arm to become involved in FCB,” said Paul Edwards, long-time FCB member and current President. “I think that involvement also helped Vince develop confidences in his ability to lead and in his ability to be independent and capable, which eventually led him to become one of the presidents of FCB. He was one of the younger people coming into the organization and he had potential and served FCB well as President. Vince is very capable and we hope he’ll come back and work with us some more.”
Vince is very active with The Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal benefit society that still holds fast to its founding principles of charity, unity and fraternity. The Knights of Columbus was formed by Father MJ. McGivney, assistant pastor of St. Mary’s Church in New Haven Connecticut to render financial aid to members and their families and received their official charter in 1882. The Order has helped families obtain economic security and stability through its life insurance, annuity and long-term care programs, and has contributed time and energy worldwide to service in communities.
Vince's hobbies include music and computers. He plays guitar and keyboard and sings. He has been in several bands and hopes to get back into music. He and Pat currently live in Wellington, Fl, just west of West Palm Beach. They own a lovely home and have two birds, two dogs and a cat.
"There's nothing wrong with being blind. There are ways of getting through it independently but there are also people to help you through it. The key is to work towards your independence. I kept on pushing myself to go forward. Many other people had that will too," said Vince, when I asked him for any advice he might want to share.
Vincent’s professional success and early service to FCB is a testament to his statement that “there’s nothing wrong with being blind”. It sure hasn’t stopped him from living life and being an active participant in society and serving his community. Vince, I thank you for taking time to share your memories with me and I wholeheartedly second Paul’s hope that you’ll get involved with FCB again soon.
**A man is only a leader when a follower stands beside him.**
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Hello FCB Friends.
The Employment committee is putting together a panel discussion group for this year’s State convention in Daytona Beach. The topic for this discussion group is to be operating your own business. We are looking for blind or visually impaired individuals that have been in business for at least 3 years. We would also like to put together a booklet of individuals that would be interested in being mentors to people who are just beginning the process. If this is something that interests you and you would like to participate, please contact me via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 386-253-4313. I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Chairman FCB Employment Committee
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Blind individuals with no light perception needed.
A local doctor is conducting research to evaluate a new investigational treatment for insomnia and daytime sleepiness in individuals who are totally blind.
Individuals may qualify who:
• are between 18 and 75 years of age
• are blind with no light perception
• have trouble sleeping at night or experience daytime sleepiness
Participants will be compensated for their time and effort and will receive study medication and study-related medical evaluation at no cost.
For more information Call 1-888-389-7033 M-F 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM ET
**The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.**
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State Representative Dennis Baxley (R-Ocala) and Mr. Robert Kelly, president of the nonprofit Florida Association of Agencies Serving the Blind (FAASB), announced today that the annual Florida Vision Summit will return to the State Capitol for a fifth consecutive year on Tuesday, February 8, 2011.
The statewide Florida Vision Summit is organized and co-hosted by two organizations: the Florida Legislature's Vision Caucus, which is a bicameral, bipartisan Caucus of over 50 Senators and Representatives; and FAASB, which is a statewide association of local nonprofit agencies that provide direct support services to blind and visually impaired Floridians, from blind babies and visually impaired school-aged children to low vision workers and seniors with age-related vision loss.
Representative Baxley was the founder of the Florida Legislature's Vision Caucus in 2005. Mr. Kelly, of Daytona Beach, is the FAASB president and Executive Director of the Florida Lions' Conklin Centers for the Blind.
FAASB President Robert Kelly said, "In all, about one million Floridians live with low vision or blindness. Seniors with vision loss is the segment that is growing the fastest. However, our State's blind babies program continues to be one most critically underfunded. The Florida Vision Summit will raise awareness of these issues."
Representative Baxley and his wife, Ginette, raised an adopted son, Jeffrey, who became blind as an infant. "Ginette and I understand the critical importance of early intervention when an infant looses his/her sight. Without Florida's blind babies services, these small children can fall behind in education, their mobility and social skills. They can lose their chance at the 'American Dream' or to simply become a productive member of our society," Representative Baxley said.
"Our son, Jeffrey, is a young adult now, blessed by God, focused on his career, and on achieving his piece of the American Dream. Our Vision Caucus members understand that funding blind services is a critical State service and a great investment," Representative Baxley concluded.
The Fifth Annual Florida Vision Summit will begin at 7:30 AM, February 8 with a Legislative Breakfast on the 22nd floor of the State Capitol. Beginning at 9:00 AM, a three-hour General Session will be held in the Chambers of the Florida House of Representatives on the 4th floor of the State Capitol. All Florida Vision Summit events are free and open to the public.
The list of speakers for the 2011 Florida Vision Summit will be released in January.
Previous Florida Vision Summit participants have included the Governor of Florida, the Senate President, the House Speaker, legislators, Executive Agency heads, Florida School for the Deaf and Blind, and higher education leaders. From the private sector, participants have included the leaders of vision-related professional associations, including the Florida Optometric Association, the Florida Society of Ophthalmology and the Professional Opticians of Florida, the leaders of nonprofit organizations, including the FAASB agencies, Advocacy Center for Persons with Disabilities, Blinded Veterans' Association of Florida, Chatlos Foundation, Edyth Bush Charitable Foundation, Florida Council of the Blind, Florida Deaf/Blind Association, Florida Families of Children with Visual Impairment, Hope for Vision, National Association for Parents of Children With Visual Impairments, National Federation of the Blind of Florida, Prevent Blindness America, Southeastern Guide Dogs, VisionServe Alliance, and the public.
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Out with the old
In with the new,
So much to do
Tomorrow’s not promised
But still I prepare,
To greet a new morning
With good will and cheer.
Is this my moment,
Is this my time?
Doors once closed are opened,
It’s my turn to shine.
Right around the corner,
Just beyond the bend,
I smell a new dawn of promise,
I can see the rivers end.
No more procrastination,
No longer walking in fear,
I’m making a wise decision,
I will not shed a tear.
Brilliance of colors surround me,
I humbly look to the skies,
I think heaven is smiling,
Finally I understand why.
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Since our beginning in 1982, the Clay Council has taken the months of July and August off. However, our members decided to get our 2010-2011 Campaign started with a bang! Deciding to use the occasion of National White Cane Safety Day as our focus, we got our Second Vice President, Dan Harkins to head up an effort to put together a Vision Awareness Day program.
Our first choice for a site was the Orange Park Library’s meeting room. The meeting room at the OP Library was already booked for the Fifteenth, so we held our event on October 8. The majority of Clay County citizens live in the northern end of the County, so the Orange Park Library would be convenient to the largest number. Additionally, there was the tremendous bonus that we can get the use of the room for free.
Dan and Barbara Harkens got their introduction to our group by attending our last Vision Awareness Day in 2006. With their experience and contacts in Clay County made over many years of living here, they put together our biggest and best ever event of this or any other type. Anyone attending this Vision Awareness event with a slight or significant vision problem could have talked to experienced professionals for guidance. One could have come hungry and gone away with a full stomach as well as a bag full of calendars, catalogues, brochures, and more. Having put on the biggest and best event our group has ever hosted, we were disappointed with the attendance. Dan and Barbara had sent notices of the event to all Talking Book subscribers in Clay County thanks to the help of the Talking Book Library. Their committee had notified readers of the Veteran’s Support Group, readers of Independent Living for Adult Blind Newsletter, and more. They pushed every button that anyone suggested might produce results. Additionally, information for transportation and how to make those arrangements was provided. Our review of the less than hoped for attendance hasn’t yet produced any areas that we didn’t address. Like many a business person with a service or product to provide and no customers, we feel frustrated. There have been, and we hope there will continue to be advances in medicine and technology that help with reducing or correcting vision loss. But at the same time we know that there are individuals with significant vision loss that could be aided in gaining greater independence by an association with our group.
With few exceptions, there has been declining participation in programs for the visually impaired in the past few years. The most popular program for the visually impaired, Talking Books have experienced a sharp decline in subscribers nationwide. Here in Florida, the numbers of Talking Book subscribers has dropped from over 43 to less than 30 thousand. That’s a significant decrease and it represents a trend that currently is and will continue to impact our organization.
One can argue, and I’m sure we will argue in our meetings, that it is easier to be part of a consumer organization now than it was in the past. Reaching out to new members will require us to understand obstacles that are apparently real, if not understood.
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The Tampa Chapter FCB made a generous contribution to the Tampa Lighthouse for the Blind, supporting the weekly teenage transition program, monthly adult social program, and the low vision clinic. TCFCB supported the children from birth to age 10 by donating 45 gifts and classroom incentives to the Hillsborough County School Visually Impaired Program at their 12/03/10 Christmas Party.
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Project Insight: 800-267-4448
Bureau of Braille and Talking Book Library: 800-226-6075
Division of Blind Services: (Tallahassee) 800-342-1828
American Council of The Blind: 800-424-8666 (available only 3:00 to 5:30 PM EST Monday-Friday)
ACB Legislative Hotline: 800-424-8666 (Evenings 8:00 PM - 12:00 Midnight EST Weekends 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM only)
AT&T Disability Services: 800-872-3883 Press 00 and speak with your long distance carrier or, Florida only 800-982-2891
BellSouth Disability Services: 800-982-2891 from anywhere
Social Security: 800-772-1213 24-hour voice and touch tone accessible
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- THE END -
FLORIDA COUNCIL OF THE BLIND
1531 Dempsey Mayo Road
Tallahassee, FL 32308
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