BLINDED VETERANS ASSOCIATION (BVA)
FLORIDA REGIONAL GROUP, INC.
3801 Coco Grove Avenue
Miami, Florida 33133
NEWSLETTER - September 2004
FRG President's Message: For those who were not able to attend the BVA National Convention in Reno, we the Blinded Veterans in Florida have a lot to shout about. The FRG received three awards at the Saturday night Awards Banquet. The first one was the Gold Gavel Award, which is given each year to the Regional Group which has the largest numerical increase in membership during the past year. Thanks to all of those who worked so diligently, and particularly to the VIST Coordinators who so graciously assisted us in the massive mailing operation. I would not be surprised if we keep it for at least one more year. As of now, we have almost 150 new members since July 1st. It would be a most appropriate place to receive the Gold Gavel Award again, in our own back yard, at the 60th BVA National Convention in Miami Beach, next August. Second, the David L. Schnair Volunteer Award went to Paul Kaminsky for his volunteer work at the Jacksonville VA Outpatient Clinic giving encouragement and support to his fellow Blinded Veterans. Paul is also the creator of the Computer Users Group and one of the creators of the FRG BVA web site. People like him who think about his friends rather than himself. I would personally like to thank those in the FRG BVA for being responsible for my having received the Irving Diener Award, the second highest award of the National Blinded Veterans Association. This award actually belongs to those Blinded Veterans within the Florida Regional Group whose cooperation helped me to win this award on behalf of all BV's in Florida. There is one more highlight that I would like to mention concerning the Convention. When there was a roll call vote taken, Our Delegate, Dr. Stocking responded with 1145 votes for the Florida Regional Group, the room became very quiet. That's because Florida has more than twice the number of members of any other Regional Group. In summing up, the 59th BVA National Convention was not only awe inspiring but was also a momentous event. Next year, the Florida Regional Group will have the honor of hosting the 60th BVA National Convention in Miami Beach and with the cooperation of our Blinded Veterans in Florida, I am confident that we will also have an extraordinary Convention. Terry King, FRG President.
FRG Auxiliary President's Message: Did you hear about the Golden Gavel Award? The golden Gavel is a special Award to the Regional Group which had the largest increase in membership during the past year. Congratulations to our FRG members who accomplished this goal. They worked hard for this great success. I would like to recommend a Pink or Platinum Gavel for the Auxiliary Regional Group. That is the primary subject for my article. The FRG has way over 1000 members. Don't you think that we could have half that many to recruit as members of the FRG Auxiliary. I am in the process of having on floppy disc or in print, the names and addresses of BVA members in your community. I will be handing these out at our monthly luncheons. I hope that when I ask for a few volunteers, to print and mail these applications to the spouses, I will be over run by volunteers. Another project we are trying to do is to take part in a White Cane Day Walkathon. The National BVA Auxiliary has Auxiliary Flag. I am trying to get a special price, so that perhaps, we can have an Auxiliary flags for each of our Auxiliary walkers to waive for recognition. I would appreciate any feed back you may have concerning this idea. I will bring one to the luncheons for you to view. Please think about it. Don't forget about our 60th National BVA Convention in Miami Beach in August 2005. The Auxiliary will be taking a big part in that Convention. We certainly can use your help next year. After all, don't we want to make a big splash?
We have a lot to do this year and I am ready, hope that you are as excited as I am. I will be eager to hear your feed back, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or write me at 24243 Pirate Harbor Blvd., Punta Gorda, FL 33955. I am very proud to announce that the FRG Auxiliary had the largest representation of any Auxiliary Regional Group, at the BVA National Convention in Reno. At the National Convention the National Auxiliary announced that one $2000 Scholarship would be dropped from the 2005-2006 Scholarship Program. Many of the Auxiliary members present made donations to keep that Scholarship going. The FRG Auxiliary had 3 out of the 4 Board members present, therefore, we voted to donate $100 toward this fund. With additional membership to the National Auxiliary, could give the Auxiliary additional money to insure that Scholarship from being dropped. If anyone would like to donate money to the National Auxiliary for this purpose, please designate your donation for the Scholarship Program for 2005-2006. Giving these Scholarships to hard working and deserving people is extremely important to the future of your country, s well as, helping one of our Blinded Veterans family members. Joanne King, FRG Auxiliary President.
FRG Meeting Notice: The second meeting of the year for the Florida Regional Group will be held on Saturday, October 2nd at the Holiday Inn - Commonwealth, 6802 Commonwealth Avenue in Jacksonville. Paul Kaminsky, FRG Vice President, has made the arrangements for this meeting. Paul has arranged for Senator Stephen Wise to be our Special Guest Speaker. Senator Wise has served in the Florida House of Representatives and Senate since 1988.
The meeting will begin at 11:30 AM with a period of socializing, followed by lunch at noon. For lunch, you may select between: Boneless Breast of Chicken or Roast Beef and Salad, Potatoes, Southern Style Green Beans, Rolls & Butter, Iced Tea or Coffee, and Dessert. The price of the lunch will be $7 per person including tax & tip.
FRG President Terry King will preside at the meeting following lunch. A National Legislative Up-Date will be presented. A discussion will be held regarding FRG activities for the coming months. Representatives from the Department of Veterans Affairs will be on hand to provide information about services and benefits for Blinded Veterans and their families. The FRG Auxiliary will also provide information about their activities.
To get to the hotel, take I 10 East or Highway 301 North to I 295. Continue East on I 295 to exit 22, which is Commonwealth Avenue. Exit there, the hotel is a short distance on your right. From the South take US 17, US 21, or I 95 north to I 295 and continue as above. From the North, take I 95 South and merge with I 295 at exit 360 B to exit 22. Keep left at fork in ramp, turn left on Commonwealth Avenue and the hotel will be on your right. Free parking is available at the hotel.
The hotel has asked us to notify them as to the number who will be attending and the choice of lunch desired by September 27th. Please make your reservations prior to that date by writing to Paul Kaminsky at: 1495 Powderhorn Ct, Middleburg, FL 32068 or call Paul at (904) 291-0576. You may also make your reservations by calling: Bruce Davis, VIST Coordinator, Gainesville VAMC, at (800) 324-8387 ex. 5560, Louise DiGennaro, VIST Coordinator Jacksonville VA Outpatient Clinic, at: (904) 232-2751 ex 3015, Judy Hayes, VIST Coordinator Lake City VAMC at: (800) 308-8387 ex. 2088 or Teresa Sanchez, VIST Coordinator Daytona Beach VAOPC at: (386) 323-7528. Although the cost of the meal to you is only $7, each meal guaranteed will cost the FRG over $12. If you make a reservation and can't come, please call Paul Kaminsky and cancel it by September 27. Otherwise the FRG will have to pay over $12 for each meal guaranteed.
US Legislative Up-Date: On September 7th, Congress returned from its Summer recess. With all of the 435 House of Representatives and one/third of the 100 Senate seats up for election, it is understood that they plan to adjourn about October 1st to campaign for re-election. To date none of the 2005 Fiscal Year appropriation measures have been passed. With such a short time to act, it is probable that Congress will pass Continuing Resolution (CR) to fund the government until the end of the year. When a CR is in effect, funds are provided at the FY 2004 level. Due to inflation, this would result in a reduction in available funding.
New Miami VAMC VIST Coordinator: Vision loss is a condition that affects every aspect of a persons life. Roberta Goldstein was recently chosen to become the new full time Coordinator for the Visual Impairment Service Team at the Miami Veterans Medical Center. She follows in the footsteps of Trudy Rothenberg who retired on July 2nd after 34 years of service in that position. Trudy will be greatly missed. Roberta is very excited about her new position and is looking forward to meeting and working with her new patients. Since earning her Master's Degree in Social Work from Hunter College, Roberta has worked 32 years as a Social Worker. During twenty-two years of that experience, she has worked in several capacities with the Miami VAMC. She is a Licensed Social Worker and also belongs to the Academy of Certified Social Workers (ACSW). For over 16 years, she was employed as an outpatient Social Worker at the Oakland Park VA Outpatient Clinic. During that time, she was the VIST Social Worker and was acting VIST Coordinator for several periods of time. Roberta has been directly involved with Blinded Veterans for over 8 years. In addition, Roberta has worked in the Alcohol and Drug Program and was the Administrative Coordinator of the Ex-POW Program. The EX-POW Program was modeled after the VIST Program, so that gives her additional experience in a program similar to VIST. More recently she has served as the Senior Social Worker for the inpatient Spinal Cord Injury Unit at the Miami VA Medical Center. Roberta is married to Alvin Goldstein, Computer Instructor at the Miami VAMC. They have one daughter who is a Rehabilitation Psychologist in Gainesville. Roberta, on behalf of Blinded Veterans in Florida, particularly those in the Miami VAMC catchment area, we welcome you to the VIST Program. We look forward to many years of cooperative work with you.
FRG PR Director: With a great deal of interest and some dismay, I found my name in last month's Newsletter. FRG Director of Public Relations? Miami, Jacksonville, and Tampa represent a lot of people a long way from North Port, Florida. This position is a new creation and comes with no job description or rules of engagement. This dismay came with the feeling akin to that of swimming in marshmallows, until I realized that we have six District Directors around the state, plus we have a complement of over 1000 members. You folks are going to be the promoters of the BVA throughout the state. To those of you who are reading or listening to this article already know of the benefit of and the work this organization does on behalf of us Blinded Veterans. Our job is to insure that this organization will be as viable for the men and women returning from Iraq and Afghanistan, along with all of the rest of upcoming men as they age and fall victim to various eye problems. I was watching CNN one day and saw a soldier lying there with patches on his eyes and was struck with the realization that this will bring a new round of patients to Blind Rehab Centers around our nation. Our job, each and every one of us, is to push, promote, advertise, and recruit for the BVA and to let as many people as possible know that these services are available and how much they can benefit a Blinded Veteran. How? Grass roots involvement - one on one contact is one of the ways that each of you can be involved regardless of your individual circumstances. Many of you are also members of other service groups such as: American Legion, VFW, and others. Others of you are also involved in civic organization such as: Kiwanis, Rotary, Lions, Elks, Moose, etc. Even ethnic social groups are to be viewed as potential sounding boards or recruiting fields for men that need the services of the VIST Program. I do volunteer work for the Manasota Lighthouse and I am constantly discovering that men going through this program have never heard that the VA has a program also. I believe that it is this one on one contact which will help spread the necessary information to those who need it. First, I thank you in advance for your help in promoting the BVA and its programs. Secondly, if you have any ideas on promoting or publicizing the BVA, I would be glad to hear them. Finally, if there are new items, happenings, or events going on in your area, send them along to me, no pun intended, and I will share them with the rest of the state. I can visualize this position as a conduit for information around the state. Thank you. I no longer have that feeling of dismay. Now I have the help of many good people around the state . Mike Toomey, FRG Southwest District Director.
FRG Auxiliary Scholarship Winner's Message: To the Scholarship Committee: I want to take a moment to thank you very much for choosing me to receive one of the FRG Auxiliary 2004-2005 Scholarships. The only thing I have found almost as challenging as returning to college, is the funding. Your award really helped to make the challenge less daunting and I wanted to let you know how much I appreciate your consideration and selection. I should have my BA in history by December 2005 by the latest and will be entering the Teacher Credentialing Master's Program. If I choose to continue the program at San Jose State, I will then be working in a high school part time, teaching, while continuing classes to acquire my Secondary Teaching Credentials, in tandem with my master's in history. This process should be complete in 3 years. I am looking at other programs at other universities, but presently, that is my plan. Once again, I would like to whole heartedly thank the Committee. Have a wonderful summer. Warmest regards, Karen Clementi. Note: Karen's father lives in Florida but she is attending college in California. Joyce Thornton, FRG Auxiliary Scholarship Committee Chairperson. .
Florida Regional Group Meeting Schedule
September 11 Rosen Centre Hotel Orlando October 2 Holiday Inn Jacksonville
November 6 Palms Restaurant No Ft. Myers December 4 Bill Irle's Restaurant Clearwater January 8 Ocala Plaza Hotel February 5 MacDill AFB E Club Tampa
March ? Elks Lodge Pompano Beach April 29-May 1 State Convention Daytona Beach