Michigan Council of the Blind

and Visually Impaired

An Affiliate of the

American Council of the Blind

John Jarzyna, President

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Highlights of This Issue Include:

President’s Update

John Jarzyna

After the 2016 MCBVI state convention a group of individuals in MCBVI attended a special seminar conducted by Cheryl Ronk from the Michigan society of Association Executives (MSAE.) The seminar addressed many issues concerning leadership, communication within an organization and ideas on running more efficient business meetings to name a few. Over the course of this year MCBVI will work to streamline our board meetings and adopt some of the procedures outlined during the seminar. Following the seminar we prepared to celebrate the holidays and looking forward to 2017.

As the New Year approached MCBVI began tackling issues of importance in regards to our organization and the blind and visually impaired community. In January MCBVI had its first board meeting of the year. One of the items discussed was the future of our organization and more participation from our members!

Also, during the board meeting our membership chair reminded us that MCBVI is here for the members and not just for the officers. It has also come to my attention that this year membership has dropped significantly for one reason or another. MCBVI will need to work on recruiting new members and member retention to remain a viable affiliate within the American Council of the Blind.

In addition, as many of you know ACB had their annual MidYear Legislative seminar in Washington D.C. This year MCBVI had three members from our affiliate attend the meetings and go to Capitol Hill! The members who attended were Gary Wood, Malaina VanderWal and I. This was Gary and Malaina’s first time on Capitol Hill and attending MidYear. We were able to speak with staff from our senator offices, and we went to three House of Representatives for Michigan. We visited the offices of representatives from districts 3, 8 and 10. If anyone wishes to learn more about our experience on Capitol Hill please contact me and I will gladly share. My number is 586-781-3646.

Also, by the time this issue is published there will have been a town hall meeting scheduled for March 18 2017, by conference call. This meeting will address the future of MCBVI, growing and retaining membership as well as other issues concerning the members who called in and participated in the discussion.

To sum up, MCBI has much work ahead of us in advocacy and strengthening our organization as a whole! Each member not just the Executive committee needs to take more of an active role to insure MCBVI will be able to survive and thrive well into the future!

Assistive Technology Loan Fund

Do you need assistance purchasing assistive technology (AT) devices or services? If so, you may want to consider looking into the Michigan Assistive Technology Loan Fund and/or the Michigan Employment Loan Fund, both of which provide loans for equipment and services for people with disabilities who qualify. The AT Loan Fund program is a loan, not a grant, which means you will have to re-pay your loan in a timely fashion.

To learn more about loans and the application process contact the Loan Funds Manager Brenda Henige.


Phone: 517-203-1200 Ext. 303

Toll-free Phone: 800-828-2714 Ext. 303

Application Deadline Extended to April 24!

Leader Dogs for the Blind is Accepting Applications for their Free 2017 Summer Experience Camp

Summer Experience Camp is a week of outdoor fun, friendship and skill building. The program combines physical activities like kayaking, rock wall climbing and tandem biking with things exclusively Leader Dog—GPS training and the opportunity to spend time with future Leader Dogs. The combination will help increase your independent travel skills!

The free program is for boys and girls ages 16 and 17 who are legally blind. Leader Dog covers all costs including airfare to Michigan—and everyone receives a free HumanWare Trekker Breeze+ GPS device. Summer Experience Camp is scheduled for June 23—June 30, 2017. Applications are due by April 24, 2017

For more information and to download an application, go to or call the Leader Dogs for the Blind client services department at 888-777-5332.

Leader Dog client Shannon Columb attended Camp several years ago, check out this video to find out what she is up to now.

Convention Update

Kyle Austin, Chair

Save the dates: October 6, 7, and 8 for the MCBVI Convention. We will be returning to the Four Points by Sheraton Hotel in Kalamazoo again this year. You will be able to check in beginning October 5. The cost for the hotel is: $75.00 plus 11% tax.

Information regarding convention activities will be included in the summer newsletter. If you want to be a sponsor or know of someone who would like to be a sponsor please contact Charis Austin. Also, if you would like to have an exhibit at this year’s convention contact Charis at 616-532-4737.

If you have questions regarding convention please call at 616-532-4737. I look forward to seeing all of you in October.

MCBVI Committee Updates

Accessible Prescription Labeling

Malaina VanderWal, chair

After taking some time to regroup the Accessible Prescription committee will be working again on materials which can be used to educate and inform those who are blind and visually impaired who may not be aware of the availability of accessible labels for their prescriptions. There is much work that needs to be done in education and encouraging those who are able to take advantage of accessible labels and breaking down the barriers for those who do not use an accessible label. The committee is aware of some of the barriers why people do not use accessible labels however, in order to understand the full scope we want to hear from you. If you do not currently use an accessible prescription label tell us if a barrier is preventing you or if there are concerns. We want to understand why accessible labels are not used. My contact info is below. I will share barriers to accessible labels with the committee and together we will work to eliminate them.

If you are someone who wishes to find a pharmacy that provides accessible labels please contact me. I know from personal experience changing pharmacies can seem a little scary but switching pharmacies may be easier than you think. I can be reached at 616-308-9644 or at for more information.

Constitution and Bylaws

Wayne LePiors, chair

As a Reminder for the MCBVI chapters beginning in January 2017, each chapter will vote for a Delegate for their Chapter and pick or appoint an Alternate Delegate to serve one year. Next year (2018) the Chapters will pick or appoint a new Alternate Delegate to serve for two years and the Delegate will serve years 2017 and 2018. Then in 2019, each chapter will vote for a Delegate to serve a two year term and so on and so forth.

If you have any Questions about it call or email me or Charis.

Also, if you have any changes or amendments for the Constitution and Bylaws let me know by phone or email. My contact is as follows, 1-810-982-2378 or


Karla Fields

Our elections this year will be for four officers. They are First-Vice President, Second-Vice President, Treasurer and Assistant Secretary.

As of this writing we have one candidate for First-Vice President, Phyllis Magbanua.

If anyone has candidate suggestions for these positions please contact me. I can be reached at 586-465-2338.


Donna Rose, Chair

We are working on a survey about your preferences for the newsletter. It will be an accessible survey posted on Survey Monkey. If you don't have Internet we will have volunteers to help you fill it out online via phone. We still need one more volunteer to help. Malaina and I will not be doing this to protect everyone's privacy. Your answers to the survey are anonymous. We will leave it up for a month or so. We will announce when it is up and running and how you can participate. We hope all members will take a few moments to fill it out so we can learn more about your MCBVI News content and format preferences.

Chapter Updates

Blue Water League of the Blind Update

Phyllis Magbanua

We hope everyone's winter has gone well. By the time you get this spring will be on its way. The BWL members celebrated Valentine's Day at a new pizza restaurant and the pizza was very good. In March we celebrated St. Patrick's Day following a short meeting. One of our chapter's goals for this year is to explore local and county organizations to find out what each of them does and how we might partner with them to help others. We are hoping to participate in our town's International Day parade to gain exposure for our chapter and hand out flyers. We plan to work with the Port Huron Host Lion's Club too.

There is an update about one of our members who most of you know, David Ellingwood. Although he is still a member of the BWL, he had to move to Bay City for health reasons where he resides in a foster care home. We wish him only the best. He always attended State and National conventions and says he will really miss doing that. Dave has been a BWL member for 40 years. Have a happy Easter and spring.

Capital Area Council of the Blind Update

Donna Rose

In December we celebrated with dinner and Karaoke at Buddies Restaurant in East Lansing. It was actually a lot of fun. At our last meeting, members heard about local accessible prescription options. In April we are hoping to have an informational talk from the Tri County Office on Aging which provides many services to people who are 60+ and people with disabilities. February was Low Vision Awareness Month, so I wrote a letter to the editor of the Lansing State Journal who then asked me to expand it with local information. I talked about local resources for people with low vision, and our chapter actually may have picked up a new member as a result. My phone number was included in the article and I got a call from a new person. I am hoping to have more karaoke evenings before the end of the school year when it ends for the summer break. Chapter information is available by calling Donna Rose at 517-489-2233.

Northerners Update

Cathy Daily

As spring approaches the Northerners look forward to warmer weather and we hope to be able to do some fundraising soon. Money we raised last year went to help a family in need during the holidays. We hope to be able to do this again as well as finding ways to give back to the blind and visually impaired community. Other than that not much is going on but as nicer weather approaches we hope to plan more activities. From all of us in the Northerners chapter we wish everyone in MCBVI a blessed 2017.

Visually Impaired Persons for Progress Update

Malaina VanderWal

Back in December some of the VIPP members attended the play Beauty and the Beast at the Grand Rapids Civic Theater. The play was audio Described and everyone in attendance had an enjoyable time. Big thanks go out to the Thornapple Lions Club for their generis gift which allowed our members to see this production.

In February VIPP had their annual game night. Those who were able to participate had fun spending time with one another and playing the games people brought to the event. Thank you to those who brought games and to the Social committee for their work putting everything together.

This year we hope to have some of the same fundraisers this spring as we have in previous years such as Tastefully Simple and Culvers but nothing has been finalized yet. We are also considering other possible fundraising opportunities.

In addition, VIPP began recently working on setting goals for our chapter which will give our members direction for the future of VIPP. We want it to be a bright one!

Next MCBVI News Deadline

June 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.

© Copyright 2017 Michigan Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired