FALL 2016

Michigan Council of the Blind
and Visually Impaired

Affiliate of the
American Council of the Blind

John Jarzyna, President

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Highlights of This Issue Include:

§ President's Message

§ 2017 Membership Campaign

§ Update on 2016 Convention

§ Restaurant Discounts for Seniors

§ Committee Reports and Chapter Activities

§ More

President's Message

John Jarzyna

Although the heat of summer, 2016, may be in the past, things are just beginning to warm up for MCBVI. We just finished our 43rd annual convention in Kalamazoo in October. The convention was a huge success for all who attended including our special guests from Illinois, Ray and Karyn Campbell who participated in all our events.

Friday morning there were two sessions. The first was presented by the technology Committee who did an outstanding presentation relating to Windows 10. The second session was a panel discussion regarding new policies regarding the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA). Thank you to the Bureau of Services for Blind Persons BSBP staff Shannon McVoy and Leamon Jones for explaining the changes. In the afternoon there were opportunities to go through a variety of exhibits.

On Saturday, participants enjoyed the opportunity to meet the new Director of BSBP, William Robinson and his wife Gigi. I am looking forward to working with him in the future.

Our business meeting was held Saturday afternoon and the feedback I received regarding this change was positive. We passed the Bylaw Amendments that were published in the previous issue of this newsletter, and a number of committee representatives gave reports on activities that they have been involved in. There is one new committee chair that was appointed during the convention. Casey Dutmer is assuming the duties of Legislative Committee Chair. Look for more information from him. When he asks you to contact your representatives, take it seriously. If we don't advocate for things we need, why should anyone else?

At the July Board Meeting the Board voted to make an investment in our future. We are contracting with the Michigan Society of Association Executives (MSAE) to learn best practices for running a non-profit organization and Board. A lot has to do with accountability to each other and the public. Board members, Committee Chairs, and Chapter Officers will participate in this meeting. I look forward to the results. We will learn best practices and make decisions together regarding things that need to change.

Another priority for our organization is serious fundraising efforts. We talk but no one step forward to do anything about it. Look for opportunities in the very near future.

I hope everyone has a safe and Happy Holiday Season! Please contact me with any concerns or ideas you may have at 586-781-3646.

2017 Membership Campaign

Charis Austin

The time is now to renew your membership in MCBVI for 2017! MCBVI is your organization; our strength is in our members! If you belong to a local chapter, pay your annual dues to your chapter treasurer. If you are a member at large or if you are not yet a member, you can pay on line at , or contact Membership Chair, Charis Austin, directly at 616-532-4737. You can also mail a check to

Charis Austin

2426 Thornwood SW

Wyoming, MI 49519

Dues for members at large are still only $10 per year and if paid now will count for all of 2017. This includes membership in both the Michigan Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired, and the American Council of the Blind. Dues paid to local chapters will be slightly higher. Don't miss out on information, networking, the MCBVI News, the ACB Braille Forum and more. You are also a part of working together to make Michigan a better place for those who are blind or visually impaired.

Please, please make sure we have your correct contact information including address, phone, and email address, as well as your choice of formats for both the MCBVI News, and the ACB Braille Forum. This can be email, large print, Braille, or audio CD.

The deadline for membership renewals is February 15. Renewals received after that date will be returned and you will not be able to renew until the 2018 membership campaign in September 2017. Membership is not complete until dues are received. Local chapters please have your complete lists and money submitted by February 15 as well.

You are a vital part of the Michigan Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired! Please get your membership renewed, how about today?

UPDATE: 2016 State Convention Takes On New Look

Kyle Austin Convention Chair

A good time was had by all at this year's 43rd MCBVI annual Convention. It began with an ice breaker event Thursday night. We all learned how to make a rope out of yarn. We each were able to take a sample of it home.

Friday morning was spent learning about Window's ten, followed by a session regarding changes in rehab services and funding. After lunch everyone visited the exhibit area.

Friday night was the opening session where by-law changes and the nominating reports were given. This was followed by presentations regarding updates for ACB and non-24-Hour Sleep Wake Disorder . The evening ended with the auction where we made $724.00. Thanks to all who contributed.

Saturday morning we were able to meet and hear a presentation from Bill Robinson, the new director of the Bureau of Services for Blind Persons. We look forward to working with Bill. The rest of the morning was devoted to presentations regarding giving back to our community. The Business meeting was held on Saturday afternoon which was a change from our old schedule of Sunday morning.

The banquet was great. Dr. Gary Anderson, past International Director of Lions Clubs International gave a presentation regarding what Lions are all about.

Sunday morning, we held the annual memorial service. We then ended the convention with a presentation regarding the importance of giving back to our communities. This was given by Ray Campbell, Secretary of ACB. It was great having Ray and his wife Karen with us for the weekend. Thanks to Ray for all of his help during the convention.

I want to thank all members of MCBVI who attended this year's convention. Also, thanks to everyone who assisted me during the weekend. Finally, thanks to those who donated door prizes and auction items.

Next year the 44th MCBVI convention will be held again in Kalamazoo. The dates are: October 6-8. You will be able to check into the hotel beginning October 5. More information will be available in future issues of the newsletter.

Public Relations, Everyone's Job

Joe Sibley, PR chair

Do you realize that you too are the face of MCBVI? Every member is in the front lines, representing MCBVI in their communities, to their friends, and families. You are especially valuable in finding new members and educating the public about the Michigan Council and what we are all about.

To help you with this outreach we offer some tools:

1. 1. The MCBVI website at . There you can find information about MCBVI, our local chapters, contact information, resources for the blind and much more. We are working on new elements for the website so check back often!

2. The MCBVI Facebook page. Search for Michigan Council of the Blind to find it and, then like it, and share it with your friends. As of this writing we have 158 people following our Facebook page, and it is growing. Many of those following our page are not yet members. We frequently share valuable articles and resources for the blind and visually impaired in Michigan and beyond.

3. 3. We are currently working on developing an updated brochure which will be available soon in both print and Braille. The print version will feature our new logo as well as some pictures of our members in action. Please help us share these as they are distributed.

4. 4. The MCBVI News is a great tool to share with others about the benefits of this organization. You can share the email version, or people can read it from the website.

5. The best public relations tool is our members. You can invite people to chapter activities, as well as statewide activities such as our annual state convention.

Public relations are everyone's job! Take a moment to think about what this organization means to you, and then, take another moment to share that with someone new.

Cost of Living Increase for Social Security Recipients

The Social Security Administration just announced there will be a Cost of Living Allowance increase for SSA and SSI Beneficiaries in 2017 of 0.3%. SSI recipients will see this increase with their December 2016 check.

Under SSDI, the Substantial Gainful Activity (SGA) level goes up to $1,950 a month for blind individuals, $1,170 for non-blind workers. The Trial Work Period (TWP) amount goes up to $840 per month.

Discounts for seniors at Restaurants Nationwide

Sharmese Anderson sent me the following website which offers good information to seniors about discounts, including restaurants. Some start at age 50 and some later. I have personally used some of these and they really work. Hope you have as much fun with this website as I have been having!

Committee Reports

Constitution and Bylaws Report

Wayne LePiors, Chair

At our annual business meeting all amendments passed as published in the July newsletter with one minor change. The minor change is that Officers cannot serve as chapter delegates or alternate delegates. Chapter officers, please take note of this amendment. "Beginning January, 2017, each chapter shall submit to the Secretary the names and contact information for a delegate who will serve a two-year term and an alternate who will serve a one-year term. In January, 2018, the chapter will submit a name of an alternate delegate who will then serve a two-year term. As of January, 2018, terms for delegates and alternates will be staggered." The sooner we have this information the easier it will be to compile a list of board members. Board meetings are held in January, April and July. The forth meeting is our annual business meeting at the convention.

Thank you for your cooperation with making this switch.

Please submit your information to:

Debbie Robinson

616-235-8189 or by email at .

Finances and Fundraising

Charis Austin, Treasurer

The following information was reported at our annual business meeting held on October 8. 2016. The numbers shown below reflect year-to-date income and expenses.

Our reconciled checking account: $5,259.10

Total investment portfolio balance as of September 30, 2016 was $41,115.36
Total Income $3,426.46

Total Expense $2,318.80

Resulting Net Gain is $1,107.66

I'm sure that this net gain is temporary as the Board voted to hold a meeting in November relating to best practices to operate a non-profit organization and board. We will be incurring travel expenses that we have not seen in some time since we changed to having board meetings by conference calls.

It is nice to not be reporting deficits; however, if we don't make a serious effort to do some fundraising activities, we will soon be out of business. We need to do fundraising on two levels: the first is to pay for daily operation expenses such as phone, newsletters, postage, accounting fees, etc. The second is grants that we can apply for to different foundations. Remember that grants cover new programs and if we start them then MCBVI needs to be able to keep funding them after the grants run out.

Once again this year, my efforts for fundraising were to attract exhibitors and sponsors for the convention. Preliminary figures indicate that this year we raised $1,550.00 through exhibits and sponsor fees and the auction raised $724.00 a little lower from 2015.

The Executive Committee is exploring some options. In the coming weeks you will be receiving information. Please help us support the work that MCBVI is doing.

Charis Austin, Treasurer



Karla Fields, Chair

As you may know elections were held for the following officers during the 2016 MCBVI convention. They were President, Secretary and Assistant Treasurer.

The Nominations committee presented one candidate per officer. The candidates were John Jarzyna for President, Debbie Robinson for Secretary and Wayne Lepiors for Assistant Treasurer. I asked if there were any nominations from the floor and there were none. Each candidate was elected by acclimation!

The nominations in 2017 will be for the following officers: First Vice President, Second Vice President Assistant Secretary and Treasurer. Please give some thought as to who you wish to see fill these positions.

Contact any of us on the Nominations committee. The members are Arlene Moore 517-374-8681, Lora Leggett 586-791-4243, Debbie Robinson 616-235-8189 and myself Karla Fields 586-465-2338 if there are any suggestions.


Donna Rose, Co-Editor

Once again you will be paying membership dues and choosing formats for the MCBVI News. The newsletter comes in several formats; braille, email, large print and audio disk. You can also read it once it is posted to our webpage. You can choose which format you would like for the MCBVI News and the ACB Braille Forum, but if you sign up for email for the Forum you will need to register for that yourself online at .

Don't forget, if you don't read these publications you can opt out of receiving one or both, but if you are going to be an active member, we encourage you not to opt out. We encourage everyone who can to get the email version because it is the least expensive way to provide you with the information you need to be an active participant. You can print it out yourself if you would like a paper copy.

As you know we have been discussing a survey about what you would like to see in the newsletter, and although we have a lot of the questions put together they have changed a couple of times due to changes the Executive Board has made to reduce the cost of our mailings and the production of these materials. Malaina and I will revamp and redo our questions, submit them to the Executive Board and discuss with them about the distribution by the next Board meeting in January. We apologize for the delay. I guess when any of us sets a goal the Board should expect a deadline that is set to make sure plans don't linger like this. Otherwise, it is easy as volunteers to put things on the back burner.

Malaina and I want to thank everyone for getting items in on time. It helps us get the newsletter out timely. We need to thank Charis, Joe, Mary and Wayne for doing the production once the newsletter is written. Please give us a contact phone number for your chapters that we can place in your chapter's update in case someone would like to contact you. Have a blessed holiday!

Chapter Activities

Blue Water League - Port Huron Area

Phyllis Magbanua, President, 810-966-9185

The BWL had a very good summer. In both June and July we went to different parks for picnics. In August we had an ice cream social. In September we visited the apple orchard and had a picnic sponsored by the Port Huron Host Lion's. Some of our members went to the October MCBVI State Convention in Kalamazoo. We have several activities planned for the future including a Halloween party, Thanksgiving celebration, and a Christmas party offered by our Lion's Club.

The BWL has a new look! Go to our new website and take a look. Visit

We hope you have a great fall and warmest holiday greetings from all of us.

Capitol Area Council - Lansing

Donna Rose, President, 517-489-2233

Our chapter had a small picnic in August which was a nice time to get together and talk to people we don't see often. It was one of the few days that wasn't so hot and quite enjoyable. In September our local transit authority, CATA, came to explain services and answer questions for us. We decided last spring to meet five times per year, so our next meeting will be November 1. Brenda Henige has agreed to come and speak about the Adaptive Technology Loan Fund. We will elect officers and see if people would like to serve on an activities committee so we can plan some activities to boost our chapter morale and perhaps draw new members. I am hoping to have speakers of interest to our members each meeting.

All of us wish all of our MCBVI friends a happy fall and holiday season.

The Northerners - Cadillac

Cathy Daily, 231-876-2188

Not too much has been going on lately. However, at the end of October we will once again be doing a bake sale and another in December. In November we will be making Thanksgiving food baskets for DHS to have them delivered to those in need. We will also be adopting a family in need this holiday season. Hopefully next year we will be able to adopt two families.

Unfortunately, this year we were unable to do our stuff the bus event but we hope to once again to do that event next year! From all of us in The Northerners have a happy and blessed holiday season!

VIPP - Grand Rapids

MALAINA VANDERWAL, President, 616-308-9644

In August VIPP held their annual picnic at Wedgewood Park despite the possibility of bad weather. Fortunately, the weather cleared up from earlier in the morning that day. Those who attended said it was an enjoyable time!

In September we had our first business meeting after taking off the summer months. We discussed our fundraisers we did back in May. One of them was a "31 Totes and bags" party and the other was a fundraiser through Culvers. We also discussed other potential fundraising opportunities. In November we will be having elections for President and Secretary. We reminded members of the upcoming MCBVI convention in October.

Many of our members attended the MCBVI convention in Kalamazoo. The Technology Committee along with one of our guests Ray Campbell Secretary of the American Council of the Blind gave a presentation on Windows 10 the latest operating system from Microsoft. They also talked about the new IOS 10 for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch devices. Thanks to the technology committee and Ray Campbell for an interactive presentation.

All of the other speakers were great as well! Thanks to the convention planning committee for all your work to make 2016 a great convention!

Next MCBVI News Deadline

March 15, 2017

Submissions received after this date will be saved for the next newsletter

To Contact the Editors:

Donna Rose (note there is a dash between wild and rose)


Malaina VanderWal


Our Mission: To act as a catalyst in changing the lives of people who are blind and visually impaired and their families through education, advocacy, and camaraderie.

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