by Dana Aard
The month of July was a very busy one for me. 20 Idaho NFB members,including 3 college students and our Jernigan scholarship winner with her four year-old grandson, made up our delegation. We manage to crowd into our hotel room, but we were really cozy. It was a good problem to have. We all participated as part of the 2480 people who broke the Guinness World Book of Records for the largest umbrella mosaic. We were arranged to form our logo and spell the words “live the life you want.” The logistics to get the people organized were phenomenal! What an accomplishment and statement to the world. I enjoyed the excellent presentations celebrating our accomplishments over the past 75 years and reminding us that our work is far from done. We still have situations where children are removed from the homes of their blind parents, and we are still fighting to get rid of subminimum wages for people with disabilities. I attended some meetings on ways to build our organization, and hope to implement some of the ideas in the coming months.
The Treasure Valley chapter had an exciting sports activity morning with the ICBVI Summer Work Experience Program students. We played beepball, road tandems, and had a soccer goal activity. It was great to partner with members of the senior softball league, tandem captains, and a former ICBVI staff member, Brian Jain, who facilitated the soccer game. Brian also was the driver for the Boise BELL program. After the activities, students and NFB members returned to ICBVI for a great lunch provided by members Ramona Walhof and Sue Sebranek. SWEP students sat with, and were mentored by NFB members. Hopefully we will see some of these great students in our chapters in the next few years.
The week before convention, Ramona Walhof and I assisted with the ICBVI College Days program. I led a presentation on self-advocacy, and Ramona presented on useful resources. We both assisted students in preparing a lunch for participants and panelists to presented that were part of the college days event.
Both Idaho Falls and Boise had successful BELL programs. Boise had 11 students ranging in age from 4-12. Idaho Falls finished with 6 students. I enjoyed teaching braille writing and plan to do it next year. This weekend there will be a 1 day camp for blind children and their parents at a camp near Moscow. We had hoped to do a 3 or 4 day BELL experience with blind children and parents, but scheduling was a problem. However, this will be a good start and will plant seeds. I am extremely appreciative for all of those who make our programs with young people possible.
Sean Malone was able to get some good coverage of the Idaho Falls BELL program. We have spoken by phone and he has other good ideas for fundraising and media coverage. I am looking forward to further partnerships to increase media coverage around the state and raise funds for the organization
Our Fall board meeting is scheduled for September 26 at ICBVI. We will be discussing fundraising, convention planning, committees, membership building, our website and other important issues. This is an open meeting and all are welcome.
I am happy to announce that Al Schneider, who is a member of Treasure Valley chapter and a former high school English teacher, has agreed to be the editor of Gemstate Milestones. We will work on the upcoming issue together. Hopefully those who have helped in the past will continue to be part of our newsletter team.
I presented at the ICBVI board meeting. I asked to be notified of any legislation that ICBVI would like help with, and offered to help new subscribers to Newsline learn how to use the service.
Yesterday, I met with Soren Dorius, who is a staff member for representative Mike Simpson in the Boise office, to discuss the TIME act, and try to get our representative to co-sponsor HR188. Soren was unfamiliar with this legislation and I think it will take continuing effort to get the co-sponsorship to happen. I plan to meet with representative Labrador, or an office staff soon. I have also sent an email to the committee that is taking comments on the elimination of section 14c of the Fair Labor Standards act and the elimination of subminimum wages. If you wish to support this effor, direct emails to IntegratedCompetitiveEmployment@dol.gov. You can get information on the Time act from the NFB website, or I can forward an email with the fact sheet if you want.
I am looking forward to my visit with the Central Idaho chapter on Monday, August 10, and I plan to visit other chapters in the coming months. As always, if you have questions or issues that I need to address, please let me know. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org, phone 208 345-3906.
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