April 2012

The Official Newsletter of the
Michigan Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired
An affiliate of the
American Council of the Blind

The Michigan Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired unites people: To promote cultural, social, and personal growth, as well as understanding toward progress, dignity, and equality in issues regarding blindness and visual impairment.

Joe Sibley, President
General Inquiries regarding the activities of MCBVI may be made by calling toll-free 888-956-2284, or we can be contacted by email at:

Donna Rose, Editor
Toll Free: 877-254-6397
Malaina VanderWal, Asst. Editor

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Deadlines for Newsletter Submissions:
• February 1, 2012
• May 1, 2012
• August 1, 2012
• November 1, 2012

Included In This Issue
The latest on the Governor’s executive orders.
State Convention Dates
Bus to Louisville
Summary of January Board Meeting
And Much More  

From the President
By Joe Sibley

This newsletter has been delayed a bit with all of the unfolding information about Governor Snyder’s executive order 2012-2 which was signed on February 24. We, the board, decided to hold the presses so to speak on this issue to bring you the very latest updates. Things will likely be changing in the next few weeks from this writing but it is time to bring you up to date, plus all of the rest of the information that Donna has put together. This is the third version of my president’s report as well. Here is an update as of this writing.

On February 24, 2012 Governor Snyder issued executive order 2012-2. In short EO 2012-2 would have abolished the Michigan Commission for the Blind and moved blind rehabilitation services from Licensing and Regulatory Affairs  (LARA) to the Department of Human Services (DHS). It also put the Business Enterprise Program (BEP) into the Department of Technology Management and Budget (DTMB). Michigan Rehabilitation Services (MRS) the general rehabilitation agency also would move to DHS. This order was scheduled to go into effect 60 days after it was issued on April 24, but was rescinded on April 23 in order that a more acceptable executive order may be issued soon.

Like everyone else I was shocked when the original order was issued. Many in the blind community including other organizations immediately began to picket, protest, and criticize this order in the media. My approach, with the support of our board, was to step back and examine the situation carefully and to determine exactly what our concerns were and where we saw problems. We then developed a position statement which you will read after my message. No, we did not demand that the order be overturned, but we did point out the serious potential problems with the EO as it was written. We sent that position statement to the Governor’s office prior to releasing it to the public. 

Let me be clear that MCBVI will never tell its members how they should feel about an issue. Unlike some other organizations we give you the right to think for yourselves. MCBVI did not participate as an organization in any of the protesting or picketing. We have taken the approach that we wish to be at the table in a spirit of cooperation to express our concerns and to make sure that quality blind rehabilitation services are maintained for all of Michigan’s citizens. Restructuring will happen, that will not change, but we need to insure that people who need it can receive quality service, and the many amazing people that now work for the Commission for the Blind can continue to do their work.

I am pleased to report that our approach of positive cooperation was extremely well received at all levels. Michael Geno, Casey Dutmer, and myself met with officials from both LARA and DHS and they have welcomed us to the table and have included us in the process as they work to create the new model for blind rehabilitation services. Details are being finalized for the new executive order but major improvements will be made. One of our serious concerns was the concept of combining the blind rehabilitation service with the general rehabilitation agency which historically has not worked well because of the unique issues of blind rehabilitation. I am pleased to report that the new order will keep blind rehab as a separate bureau within DHS from the MRS bureau. There are other improvements to watch for as well, but overall I believe you will find the new executive order when issued to be a much more acceptable reorganization of rehabilitation services. 

I would like to recognize Mike Zimmer, chief deputy director of LARA, and Brian Rooney, deputy director of DHS, and other officials who have been very generous with their time and cooperation. We will continue to be involved in this process as much as we can, but I believe I can safely say that when the dust settles we will have very fine rehabilitation services in Michigan for those who are blind or visually impaired. Stay tuned…

Totally changing gears, take a look at the announcement in this issue about the bus we are planning to charter to attend the ACB national convention in Louisville in July. If you have never attended a national convention it is life changing. The bus will make about 4 stops across the state before heading down to Louisville. We get to enjoy the fellowship of this group on the trip, save a little money over flying, and totally skip the whole airport hassle as the bus will take us right to the hotel. This would be a great year for you to consider the national convention.

Included with this issue you will find a directory of officers, committee chairs, and chapter contacts for MCBVI. Please keep this handy for reference during the next year.

I have already run a little long on this message, but after this message please read our position statement issued in response to executive order 2012-2, followed by the press release announcing the rescission of that order. Much more after those items to read. As this newsletter is a little late, the next newsletter will be out soon thanks to Donna and malaina.

Thanks for all you do!


First, here is the position statement from MCBVI in response to executive order 2012-2:


Contact: Joe Sibley, president

March 11, 2012

We are the Michigan Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired (MCBVI), the Michigan affiliate of the American Council of the Blind (ACB). After careful review we wish to make the following statements in response to Governor Rick Snyder’s executive order No. 2012-2 which was issued on Friday, February 24, 2012.
While historically it has been demonstrated that vision rehabilitation programs are most successful when operated as stand-alone agencies separate from the general rehabilitation agency, we recognize that there are times when adjustments have to be made to the structure to make the department more efficient. This is acceptable provided that there is no violation of any state and federal laws, PA 260 and the Randolph Shepard Act, and there is no reduction in the scope and quality of services. 

Michigan Rehabilitation Services is transferred to the Department of Human Services (DHS) with its mission essentially intact. On the other hand, the blindness agency is not well defined in terms of roles, functions, and accountability. This could mean that services for blind people will be absorbed into either the general rehabilitation agency or somewhere else in DHS. We are concerned that services to people who are blind will be adversely affected. The two agencies differ significantly in the scope of support and sponsorship offered to clients. It has been proven that the training needs of people who are blind are unique. In order to achieve success, people who are blind require intensive support during rehabilitation that general rehabilitation counselors are not trained to provide. 

While it appears to make sense to move the Business Enterprise Program (BEP) to the Department of Technology Management and Budget (DTMB), the order does not clarify who will be the licensing agency as directed by the Randolph Shepard Act. It also must be clarified just how the Business Enterprise Program will coordinate efforts with the agency serving the blind.

The executive order does not clarify the rights and responsibilities of the five- member Advisory Board as it does the Michigan Rehabilitation Council. This Advisory Board must have MCBVI membership representation, and have a direct impact on the quality of services to blind and visually impaired consumers. 

As Governor Snyder has always promoted open accountability and results oriented execution of programs, we trust that this will continue in reporting the successes and shortfalls of this new restructured vision rehabilitation program, and any problems in the quality execution of these programs will be corrected. 
While we are disappointed that we did not have any warning or involvement in the design of this reorganization, we do maintain that a successful program must include direct involvement by consumers who are living daily with the challenges that the new vision rehabilitation program must help citizens to overcome.

In summary, while we have many serious concerns as expressed above about executive order 2012-2, MCBVI stands ready to collaborate to insure that people who are blind continue to receive quality services. We are taking Governor Snyder at his word and trust that quality services will continue, and trust that he will be accountable for the results of this reorganization. 

MCBVI Executive Committee
Joe Sibley, President
John Jarzyna, First Vice President
Pamela Berryman, Second Vice President
Deb Wild, Secretary
Charis Austin, Treasurer
Michael Geno, Immediate Past President
Mary Sibley, Assistant Secretary
Wayne Lepiors, Assistant Treasurer

Now read the press release from April 23 when the order was rescinded:

Monday, April 23, 2012

Governor, advocates for the blind

working to enhance delivery of services

LANSING, Mich. – Gov. Rick Snyder today rescinded a recent executive order that would have transferred and reconfigured responsibilities of the Michigan Commission for the Blind and Michigan Rehabilitation Services, as he works with advocates to ensure the best possible service for residents who are blind or visually impaired.

Executive Order 2012-6 rescinds an earlier executive order that was to take effect Tuesday, April 24. Following discussions with federal officials and advocacy groups across the state, it was determined that certain outstanding issues could best be resolved by issuing a replacement executive order. The first step in doing so is to rescind the existing order, E.O. 2012-2, which was issued Feb. 24.

“We now have more time to work collaboratively with advocates and our federal counterparts to ensure that Michigan’s system is effective, efficient and accountable,” Snyder said. “We are committed to meeting the needs of Michigan residents with disabilities. I want to thank those who have been willing to work in partnership to improve Michigan’s program structure.”

Richard Bernstein, an internationally known advocate for protecting the rights of people with disabilities stated, “We continue to work toward an agreement that will protect the interests of the blind community throughout our state. I thank the governor for his willingness to work together on this process. I am also pleased that we were able to resolve our concerns as a partnership and team.”

Joe Sibley, president of the Michigan Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired said, “The governor has worked proactively to engage representatives of the blind community in a deliberative process that will ultimately result in quality services for our residents.”

That support is echoed by Dr. Fredric K. Schroeder, first vice president of the National Federation for the Blind. “We appreciate the governor’s interest in strengthening employment-related services for the blind of Michigan and his willingness to involve blind people in the planning process,” he said.

E.O. 2012-2 would have transferred the duties of the Michigan Commission for the Blind and Michigan Rehabilitation Services to other state departments, which better leverages the expertise and resources of these departments.

The full text of E.O. 2012-6 is available online at


Bus Trip to Louisville
By Charis Austin, Treasurer
Come one, come all: board the bus to Louisville, Kentucky to attend the ACB National Convention. Don’t miss this opportunity to have good fellowship with MCBVI friends, make new ones, and learn about new equipment and advocacy opportunities.

In January, an email was sent to determine interest in chartering a bus to go to Louisville, Kentucky to attend the national convention. Approximately 20 people indicated interest. During our February Executive Committee conference call we voted to charter a bus using Lenger Travel Center as the agency to charter the bus and collect all money. 

The bus will leave on Friday, July 6 and return on Saturday, July 14. It will leave from Grand Rapids and make additional stops in Kalamazoo, Lansing, and Detroit. It will take us 8-10 hours to get there.

Cost for the trip with a bus with 47-55 people is $198 per person. This will change if we get less than 39 people. Lenger Travel must receive your non-refundable $50 deposit for each person you are registering to attend by Monday, May 21, 2012 and the remainder of the money must be received by Friday, June 15, 2012. After the deposit is received you will receive an additional form from Lenger Travel which needs to be completed and returned with your remaining payment. Type of payment accepted is check, money order or credit card: MasterCard, Visa, or Discover.

When contacting Lenger Travel, indicate that you want to make reservations for the MCBVI bus trip to Louisville. Contact information is:
Lenger Travel Center, 2290 - 28th Street SW, Wyoming, MI 49519, 
(616) 534-9625.

Please note that Lenger Travel is only responsible for bus trip arrangements. Individuals are responsible for their reservations at the Galt House Hotel in Kentucky, meals, etc. MCBVI is unable to provide sighted guides. If you feel you will need assistance from a sighted guide, please ask a friend to go with you.

If you have questions, please contact Charis Austin at (616) 532-4737 or Joe Sibley at (616) 724-1650.

2012 MCBVI State Convention Scheduled For September
By Donna Rose, Editor

The 2012 MCBVI State Convention will be held from September 15th through the 18th once again in Lansing at the Causeway Bay Hotel which has been renamed Best Western Plus.  The committee is planning a great convention for you this year and more details will be included in the next newsletter issue.  Be sure and save the date since the convention is earlier than usual.

My Experience at the MCBVI 2011 State Convention 
By Malaina VanderWal, Assistant Editor

Last October I attended the Michigan Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired State Convention.  It was not my first convention but, it was the first convention I attended from start to finish.  It was also the first convention I helped plan.

One of the convention highlights for me was the River Boat Cruise!  It was great to have an evening on a river Boat, because I had never been on one before, and it was fun and low key.  I did not know if I would like the music but surprisingly I knew many of the songs.  Two exciting events took place for me that night!  The first one happened just after I arrived at the hotel.  A friend I corresponded with for years but never met called.  She wanted to know if there was still time to purchase a ticket for the riverboat.  Fortunately she was able to make it at the last minute and I spent the evening getting to know her in person instead of just on the phone or through Facebook!  The second one was actually being able to meet and shake hands with the President of the American Council of the Blind (ACB) Mitch Pomerantz!
Saturday afternoon MR. Pomerantz spoke about one item in particular that I can identify with because I had experienced a similar situation.  The issue he spoke of was the need for accessible prescription labeling.  A few years ago I was taking two different medications which looked and felt very similar.  I never thought to use my color identifier and therefore had to keep them in separate locations.  One day I was in a hurry and took what I thought was my morning pill.  After taking it I thought shoot may be that was the wrong one.  It wasn't until a half hour later I began to feel the effects of my sleeping medication!  Fortunately I was with my family and they were able to help me.  I couldn't just sleep it off and it was a scary situation!   MR. Pomerantz reinforced for me if I want something done I need to be part of the solution.  I cannot just wait and hope in my life time this accessible prescription labeling will be available.

The Friday night Auction is always fun and exciting.  I laugh so much at seeing how much a dozen cookies will go for, or a pie.  Of course there are more than just food items on the auction block.  Kyle Austin the mC was entertaining as always and kept the auction moving.  On Friday and Saturday nights my roommates and I spent time in the hospitality room.  There was food and drinks of all types and I think it is safe to say everyone enjoyed themselves!
Over the last few years I have even been attending the business meeting which takes place on Sunday the last day of convention.  The first few years I attended an MCBVI convention I only went to what I considered the fun stuff.  Now that I am a little older and beginning to take more of a participation roll in MCBVI, I realize thee importance of the business side of the organization.  I am sure no one considers it fun but it is necessary to know where we stand on finances and resolutions we are trying to pass.
I would like to encourage those who may read this to consider attending a state convention, especially if you have never visited one.  Bring a friend if you’re concerned about feeling alone.  We are very welcoming and may be of a great network or support to you.  More importantly perhaps you may bring something to our organization we do not currently possess.

Setting Healthy Boundaries
By Donna Rose

Part of healthy communication is setting defined boundaries with those around us.  Boundaries help us feel safe and comfortable with others and them with us.  When we set good boundaries we avoid resentments and reduce the risk of miscommunication.   

We deserve to be treated with the same respect we would lend to others.  We have a right to set boundaries with family, friends, acquaintances, strangers and anyone else.  Some general ways people violate the boundaries of others include when they:

Become physically abusive
Become verbally abusive
Play mind games with us or try to be manipulative
Back stab or gossip about us
Ask more from us than we are able to give with little attention to our needs

Blatant physical and even some verbal abuse are easy to identify.  But the other forms of boundary violations may be more subtle.  Only you can define where your boundaries begin and end.  You might want to write out a list so you can actually decide what you are willing to accept from others before you are confronted with the challenge of asserting yourself after the fact.  Such a list could include, having people call before they drop in, limiting phone calls or texts, a policy against lending money, maintaining your privacy by protecting your personal information until you get to know someone better, etc.  You might even have a different set of boundaries for one group or person over another.  

Most people don’t ignore your boundaries on purpose, but if you have defined and discussed them and disrespect becomes a pattern it might be healthier to cool that relationship off.  Accepting boundary violations over and over again can leave you bitter and resentful of the offenders and erode your self esteem.  Plus, you don’t deserve to become a victim of someone else’s poor boundaries.

Nobody wants to hurt the feelings of others by being too direct, but if you use “I” statements when explaining your boundary needs to others it will be a much more gentle conversation.  For instance, a friend calls you after you have gone to sleep.  It is late and you decide not to take the call.  You know the caller knows you were at home, so the next day when they inquire about it you tell them, “I am sorry I missed your call, but you always call me too late.”  Instead it sounds much better and less hurtful if you say, “I am sorry I missed your call.  I go to bed around 10 PM and I usually don’t take calls after that time because I need my sleep, but I am usually available to talk before then.”  Sticking to your needs with “I” statements instead of accusing the offender, is much nicer and also will generally bring positive results.

Long-Time Advocate Casey Dutmer Receives Award from GR Lions
By Charis Austin, Treasurer

Join us in offering congratulations to Casey Dutmer. On March 6, he received the Access In Vision Award from the Grand Rapids Lions Club. He is being recognized for the many years of community advocacy he has provided. 

Casey was born in Grand Rapids, the second of six children. He attended school at Burton Elementary School and eventually transferred to the Michigan School for the Blind, from which he graduated in 1970. Throughout the first 18 years, his family and teachers stressed the value of independence and initiative. Another important influence on his development was the services he received from ABVI since the age of two years. They included a pre-school program and summer programs (recreation and rehabilitation services). After graduation from the Michigan School for the Blind, he attended one year of college at Grand Rapids Junior College. This was followed by 31 years of successful employment as a vending stand operator in the Business Enterprise Program of the Michigan Commission for the Blind. 

Throughout his life he has been a tireless advocate for improving services for people who are blind or visually impaired in Grand Rapids and throughout the State of Michigan. In addition to many hours of helping in his church and at the Kent County Reconciliation Center, he has dedicated many hours of service to the Interurban Transit Partnership (The Rapid), Concerned Citizens for Improved Transportation, Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired, Michigan Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired, Opportunities Unlimited for the Blind, and Lions Clubs International on the local, district and State levels.

Accessible Prescription Drug 
Labeling Bill to be Introduced in House
Received via E-mail by Eric Bridges, ACB Director of Advocacy and Governmental Affairs

I am very pleased to announce that on Monday Representative Ed Markey (D-MA) will introduce H.R. 4087, Accessible Prescription Drug Labeling Promotion Act of 2012!

Under H.R. 4087, representatives of consumers and pharmacies and federal regulators will convene a working group. This group will 
establish "best practices" for pharmacies to ensure that people who are blind or visually impaired have access to prescription drug labeling. In other 
words, the group's recommendations would provide guidance to pharmacists on actions they can take to ensure that the blind or visually impaired understand the information on their prescription and they can access this information independently.  The guidelines should provide pharmacies a range of options they can choose to offer consumers. Many of these options are low-cost, widely-available, and compatible with equipment already in pharmacies.

The working group would consider options including:
Enhanced visual aids such as large-print font, sans-serif font, and high-contrast printing.
Non-visual aids such as Braille.
Auditory aids such as digital voice recorders attached to pill
bottles, "talking bottles" that provide audible label information, and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags or auxiliary smart labels, which are programmed, printed, and affixed to a prescription label container by a pharmacist. These labels can then be accessed by the consumer privately and independently, using a hand-held device that reads out the label information.

After pharmacies have had the opportunity to implement the guidelines, the
Government Accountability Office (GAO) will review the degree to which pharmacies are in compliance. They will examine whether the blind or
visually impaired still lack safe and independent access to prescription
drug labeling and issue a report to Congress on the remaining gaps and the scope of the problem.

As you can imagine, this issue will be covered at length during 
the Legislative Seminar. Our sincere thanks go to Rep. Markey and 
his staff for championing this issue.

Exciting Update and screening results for the Vanda Non-24-Hour Studies in the Blind

Editor’s Note” I received this via e-mail from Annie Gallagher with The Vanda Outreach Team
As many of you know, Vanda has been conducting research on a sleep problem related to total blindness.  We have received many questions asking for information about how the study is progressing and if it is working.  In a press release on January 26, 2012, Vanda announced “tasimelteon was shown for the first time to reset the body clock and to align it to a constant 24-hour day in patients suffering from Non-24-Hour Disorder (Non-24-Hour).”

In addition, we are pleased to be able to share some information from the screening stage of the 3201 study that you may find interesting.  Examples of the results include the fact that over 70% of those who are totally blind with a sleep complaint were confirmed to have Non-24-Hour.  In addition, 50% of patients experience an almost sleepless night (<2 hours of sleep) the equivalent of once per month. This data shows how severe the sleep problems can be in those who are affected and how common this condition is among individuals who have no light perception.  
We want to thank everyone again for the support and participation that makes this research possible and let you know Vanda has donated over $30,000 to various organizations chosen by participants in the survey.  
Please share this information with any friends, family or colleagues who may benefit from knowing about Non-24-Hour and encourage them to consider participating.  We are close to completing enrollment but we need several more people at each of our 23 research sites across the US to complete the study.  Working together, we can help bring a treatment for Non-24-Hour to those who need it.  More details on the data are below and the study announcement with contact information is at the bottom of this message.
Vanda has submitted abstracts to the annual scientific sleep meeting planned for June 2012 in Boston, MA.  Below are highlights of some of the information that is planned for presentation at the sleep meeting.

Vanda has completed over 1,000 surveys of totally blind, no light perception individuals.  Over 75% of participants taking the survey report one or more of the following: trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, staying awake and/or difficulty with napping.

For the 143 patients analyzed to date in the Non-24-Hour diagnosis stage of the study, 70% received a confirmed diagnosis of Non-24-Hour.  The median amount of time patients’ body clock moved was over 3 hours per week, with some people moving more than one hour every day. 
During the screening and diagnosis part of the trial, sleep diary information highlighted some of the sleep problems caused by Non-24-Hour. Over 50% of individuals with a Non-24-Hour diagnosis have the equivalent of 1 night per month with almost no sleep (<2 hours) and almost 10% have the equivalent of 1 night per week with almost no sleep (<2 hours). 
In addition to the severe sleep problems, Non-24-Hour patients report daytime napping that comes and goes depending on where their body clock is relative to the normal day.  This napping is increased only when their body clock is out of alignment with the normal day/night cycle and those with Non-24-Hour do not show increased napping at times when their body clock is aligned.

For more information on clinical studies and to take the survey, call 888-389-7033, visit or Email

Protecting Your Kidneys
By Donna Rose, Editor

March is National Kidney Month.  As an advocate I feel I should share with you some ways to keep your kidneys healthy and functioning well.  This is especially important if you already have reduced kidney function.  The National Kidney Foundation offers information on five surprising ways you might be damaging your kidneys: 
1. Long term use of Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (over-the-counter painkillers, known as NSAIDs): As many as 3% to 5% of new cases of chronic kidney failure each year may be caused by the overuse of painkillers. Long-term use, especially at high doses, has a harmful effect on kidney tissue and structures. These drugs can also reduce the blood flow to the kidney. 
2.  Cigarette Smoking: People who smoke are more likely to have protein in the urine, which is a sign of kidney damage. Smokers are also more likely to need dialysis or kidney transplants.
3. Exposure to contrast dye commonly used in x-ray procedures such as angiograms and CT scans: Sometimes the dye can cause serious problems in the kidneys. This is known as “contrast induced nephropathy (CIN).” CIN is a rare complication and may be preventable but it’s important to discuss any concerns you may have with your doctor before the procedure.
4. Consuming large quantities of salt: Diets high in sodium increase blood pressure levels. High blood pressure damages the kidneys over time, and is a leading cause of kidney failure. 
5. Drinking large amounts of cola-based soft drink beverages: Studies have shown that drinking two or more colas a day—diet or regular—is linked to a higher risk of developing chronic kidney disease.

For more information on keeping your kidneys healthy, visit the National Kidney Foundation at 

MCBVI Committee Reports

Editor’s Note” If you don’t see a report listed here it is because it is covered in another part of this newsletter or there is nothing to report at this time.

Karla Fields, Chair

There will be three offices open for re-election at our State convention in September.  Those are; president, secretary and assistant treasurer.   

Publications and Public Relations
By Donna Rose, Chair

Once again I need to remind members, committee chairs and chapter representatives to make sure to get your items for the newsletter to me by the deadlines specified.  They are listed at the beginning of this newsletter.  I only have time on weekends to put it together, so the faster you get stuff to me the less delay there will be getting it produced and mailed out to you.  When submitting reports and chapter updates please make sure they are spell checked and in a finished form.  This way it will be less time consuming for me to do any editing.  The next deadline for submissions is May 1, 2012.  I have nothing to report on publications at this time. 

By Jackie Boomstra, Chair

The committee met twice since the convention in October 2011. Our committee meetings are held free on Skype. We have added one new member starting in January of this year. Our web site has been updated.  Please visit it at A training on DuxStream will be held in February which will give all committee members  the ability to assist with streaming the convention and other programming on the internet. Last year some of our committee members were of limited assistance in streaming the convention due to a lack of training on DuxStream. This large responsibility needs to be shared across the whole committee.    

Our goals for 2012 include:
1. Conduct software training for committee members on programs necessary for audio editing and streaming on the internet. 
2. Add new members to committee to assist with committee work. Anyone interested in serving on this committee, please email me at
3. Keep web site updated as needed. 

So far, we have been making good progress on our goals and will continue to work on them throughout the year. 

MCBVI Chapter Updates

Blue Water League of the Blind
(Port Huron Area)
By Gerald Clay, President

Gerald Clay was voted as our new president.  We would like to thank Jeanette Geno for her years of service as president to our chapter.  Phyllis Magbanua remains as vice president.  Wayne Lepiors will still wear two hats as chapter secretary and treasurer.
We will be discussing future activities at our valentine’s dinner this February 16th 2012 at Fuel Firewood Grill in Port Huron.
We had a good catered Thanksgiving dinner and a very good Christmas dinner   put on by the Port Huron Host Lions Club. Some people brought dishes of food to pass too.  We had 34 members as well as Lion’s members in attendance. We had it at the Grotto Hall where we meet for our monthly meetings.                                         Stay tuned for future upcoming events in our club. We wish to make this an exciting year for all members.

Capital Area Council of the Blind
Lansing Area
By Donna Rose

Our chapter had a Christmas party in December.  We have changed the location of our meetings since the place where we were meeting moved and then it didn’t have a place quiet enough which was suitable for a meeting.

Kalamazoo Council of the Blind
Kalamazoo Area
By Sharmese Anderson

Our president Pat Baily resigned, so Sharmese Anderson is now acting president for KCB.  We have 31 members and we are hoping for a lot of member participation.

KCB selected a Community Project to feed the hungry.  We collected non-perishable items for the food pantry at Mt. Zion Baptist Church.

Visually Impaired Persons for Progress (VIPP)
Grand Rapids Area
Submitted by Deb Wild

VIPP met in January of 2012 at the Grand Villa Restaurant. We had about 38 people present.  Our officers for 2012 are: Doug Koster, president; Tom Shangle, vice president; Tressa Conrad, secretary; and Casey Dutmer, treasurer. VIPP made $270 at our annual Tastefully Simple party fundraiser hosted by Doug and Vicki Koster and around $270 on our annual soup and sub sale fundraiser. We had a couple guests from Lansing: Karen Carter and her business partner Charles (Chuck) W. LeVeque, who gave a presentation regarding Life Team.

The VIPP board presented a proposed budget for 2012 which was approved as submitted. No changes were made to the VIPP bylaws which, at the November meeting, members were asked to study.  A new scholarship committee discussed an opportunity for members who were not VIPP officers or not serving on a committee to earn a scholarship to attend the ACB convention in Louisville. It would partially cover expenses. Each member would have to come up with a service project to work on, formulate goals as to how they would accomplish these tasks, and submit an application to the committee detailing all this information. Information was shared about purchasing personal MoPix headsets. In December our Christmas party was going to TGI Fridays at Rivertown Crossings for dinner and afterward to Celebration Cinema Rivertown to a MoPix movie The Muppets. The social committee discussed some activities like a game night and pizza in February at a member’s community room and going to a zoo where you could pet some of the animals in Alto, MI, in March or April.
If you have any questions about VIPP, please contact our membership chair Trina Edmondson at (616-243-0154.)  

Summary of the MCBVI Winter 2012 Board Meting
Prepared by Deb Wild

The winter board meeting by teleconference on 01/21/12 was called to order at 10:13 a.m. and adjourned at 1:35 p.m. About 20 members attended. All officers were present. We had a quorum. Both the agenda and the minutes from the summer board meeting were approved, with one correction to the minutes.  President Sibley reported that at convention,  while meeting with Mitch Pomerantz, we discovered we  were out of line with ACB’s bylaws by paying Matt a stipend for  performing accounting services and his being treasurer. Charis resigned as assistant treasurer and became treasurer. Wayne Lepiors accepted the appointment as assistant treasurer. Matt will still keep the books in order and perform accounting services.
Our web guy Bill Creswell removed a lot of outdated material from the web site and is awaiting new material. He will make it easier to upload newsletters and other items.  At our Saturday morning Goal setting session at convention, increased communication was considered very important. We now have a Facebook page and an “announce only” e-mail group through Google Groups.  We are still looking for a chairperson for fundraising/fund development. Ways for members to participate were in our last newsletter.
The three longstanding vacancies on the Commission board   are not filled.
 Joe has not received a response from Norm Saari from the governor’s appointments office. , Some members think we should take a more aggressive stand. Joe prefers a more positive approach with respect when addressing the Commission board. This has been very well received. Director Pat Cannon was given a very poor performance review to which Joe objected. The March Commission meeting may be in the newly opened Training Center for the Blind.

Charis forwarded the resolutions we passed last fall to ACB which they received.  We need people to get involved with Casey on legislative issues.
The ideas of allowing more time for the auction and auctioning off the more expensive items first were mentioned and deferred to the convention committee. A calling campaign inviting members to convention this year was mentioned.

Charis read the financial report submitted by Matt, with figures as of 01/20/12. The checking account balance is $1,289.57, with a net loss of $4,473.94. We may need to liquidate some of our investments to add more funds. Raising the dues was suggested which requires a bylaw change. This may be discussed at April’s board meeting. Charis has a check for Matt from the convention reimbursement fund for $1,400.00 to deposit in the checking account. After that, if Matt thinks it necessary, it was approved we sell the Oppenheimer fund, if no penalty would be incurred. Its balance is $1,236.00. Heritage for the Blind may be explored. We continue to research ways through our web site where people can use credit cards online for membership dues and making donations.
The proposed 2012 budget was reviewed. Total Expenses is $9,400.00. Total income is $3,800.00, with a deficit of $5,600.00. The proposed budget was approved with commendations to Matt and Charis.

Video interviews of blind and visually impaired folks in Grand Rapids and the West Michigan area by DSE TV/MCBVI member Ann Bratsberg with other MCBVI members assisting was discussed. This material will be shown on her programs. It was suggested these video presentations be on our web site. Some pictures of a few members may be on our new brochures.

Casey reported it has been asked how the convention committee spends money.  They are given $1,500 from MCBVI for start-up seed money. He presented a long list of deposits and expenses.  Hotel rates will be $79 per night plus 13% tax per room. The convention will be in September this year due to a wedding in the Dutmer family. Some interest was expressed in the Riverboat cruise. Interest was expressed in the Friday morning CEU seminar. An invitation was extended to a possible banquet speaker. There was no activity for grants or scholarships.

Regarding legislation, Casey reported not much was going on for the blind on the state level. There are questions on implementing the 21st Communications Accessibility Act passed last year. There are some Changes in exemptions which blind and disabled folks and seniors can claim on their taxes. He discussed some very complicated changes   in pensions of State retirees. Social Security and/or Social Security Disability income may be taxed after age 67. MCBVI needs to watchdog this. There is much concern about rising out of pocket prescription costs and healthcare. This year all the state legislators are up for election. Deductions are going away regarding nonprofits. It was suggested MCBVI members meet with legislators in July or September    when in Lansing. Phone calls, letters and e-mails were also encouraged.
Get dues and membership information to Charis by 02/15/12 so she can get it to ACB by 03/15/12. MCBVI has 163 members. Member Sara Conrad attended the legislative meetings in February, some of which will be broadcast on ACB radio.
No requests for brochures have been received. The new brochures need to be created and printed. Adding MCVBI newsletters and archiving them to the web site was mentioned. The newsletter went out, and Donna is ready to do the next one. There was no activity for Constitution and Bylaws or Resolutions. The offices of president, secretary and assistant treasurer are up for election this year.

Technology Met twice since convention. They added a new member. The web site   was updated; this will continue. Training is scheduled in streaming on the internet. Goals are to conduct software training for streaming, updating the web site and adding new members. 
Casey reported Planning and Quality (PAQ) met in October. They went over the strategic plan. Phyllis reported the Consumer Involvement Council (CIC) has a couple new members from NFB. They will be discussing transportation. They have discussed issues regarding Newsline. They will meet in March in Kalamazoo and encourage as many MCBVI members as possible to come or listen by phone. Sharmese Anderson is interested in being an alternate, so Joe appointed her. Phyllis requested her contact information. 

Issuing charters as certificates to MCBVI chapters was discussed. 
Casey is the new Chair of Opportunities Unlimited for the Blind (OUB). OUB runs programs at Camp Tusmheta. The camp no longer has a director. OUB no longer has a lease with the state. OUB needs to explore its future and raise money. They need to get a copy of the trust to see how it reads. John Jarzyna is willing to partner with Casey and research this to see if there are any violations. Casey will come to the February executive committee conference call.

Regarding the 2012 ACB national convention in Louisville, Charis is exploring with a travel agent from Lenger Travel the cost of chartering a bus and the cost of flying. They are discussing starting in Grand Rapids and making stops in Kalamazoo, Lansing and Detroit to pick up members. Tentatively the bus will leave on Friday, 07/06 and return on Saturday, 07/14/12. If 50 people were interested, the rate would be $150.00 per person; if 35, $200.00 per person. We can pay with credit cards. Everyone is responsible for their own hotel reservations/meals. Travel time with stops is between 8-10 hours. It was asked if the travel agent could attend the executive committee phone conference on 02/12/12. We need to decide quickly. Ordering personal headsets for use with   MoPix was discussed. They are the same as you get in theaters. See newsletter for details. 

The dates for upcoming MCBVI board meetings are 04/21/12 (by teleconference) and 07/21/12 (in person in Lansing at the Best Western Plus Hotel at 6820 S. Cedar Street).

The End