BLINDED VETERANS ASSOCIATION (BVA)
FLORIDA REGIONAL GROUP, INC.
3801 Coco Grove Avenue
Miami, Florida 33133
NEWSLETTER - March, 2006
NEWSLETTER - March 2006
FRG President's Message: Here we are again after closing another successful chapter in the history of the Florida Regional Group. The only regret that I have concerning the past year, is that we were unable to hold an informational luncheon meeting in Pensacola. With the new clinic being built in a joint partnership with the current Naval Hospital, which I understand is the first of its kind in the country, I feel that's one of our goals for next year should be for the FRG to hold a meeting in Pensacola. That objective is of course for next year. Now, we are looking forward to the 32 Annual Florida Regional Group State Convention. This year's Convention is going to be like no other previous one. First of all, we have moved back to the hotel where we held our Convention for many years. It has been completely renovated and is much more spacious, than the hotel which we have used for the past several years. Being in the middle of Daytona Beach, gives us more restaurants within walking distance and many more Daytona Beach activities. Let us not forget our most difficult problem, that is, transportation. This hotel is located much closer to the Greyhound Bus Station and other transportation facilities. There is also going to be a very large display of aids and devices for your convenience with "hands on" experience. The distributor that is providing this large display will also provide refreshments. The room location will be announced at the end of the opening meeting. Read on, and later in this Newsletter, George Stocking will give you more details on this our 32 Annual FRG State Convention.
Empty Seat: Let's all of us make the empty back seat work this year at the FRG State Convention. This is how it can work; If you have an empty back seat and you have a computer, just send an email message with your name, telephone number, and address to firstname.lastname@example.org and it will be sent out to BV's on the Distribution List. If you do not have a computer, then call Dwight Sayer, FRG Transportation Chairman, at: (407) 877-1970. Now, for those who need a ride, same as above but just indicate that you are in need of a ride. Of Course, give your name, telephone number, and address.
The FRG Distribution List, by the way, is coming along very nicely. It has allowed us to disseminate information immediately as events are occurring. For those of you who have not yet heard of this list, all you need to do in order to received up-dated information concerning veterans services and programs, is to send an email message to email@example.com and just indicate that you would like to be placed on the Distribution List.
Now, in closing, this will be my last Newsletter after serving as President of the Florida Regional Group for the past 5 years. Now, I have decided to step down and allow someone else to bring forth new ideas and continue the work of making our Regional Group one of the most outstanding in the nation. I cannot put into words to express how enjoyable it has been in serving as President of the Florida Regional Group over the past 5 years. I wish to publicly thank our VIST Coordinators and BROS for their cooperation in making many of our gains possible. I feel that we have established a tri-parti agreement between the FRG, VIST, and BROS. That's how well the cooperation has been. I wish to further expend my gratitude to all of our Blinded Veterans who have also contributed to making the job of President, for me, one of the most enjoyable that I can honestly say that I have ever had. Now, but not least, one who has worked behind the scenes to assist and provide me with information about the Department of Veterans Affairs and Blinded Veterans Association - Florida Regional Group, yes, Dr. George Stocking. If it was not for his knowledge, the job of President would have been extremely difficult. What he does not know yet, of course, is that my passing of his knowledge is not yet ended. I have decided to continue to work for the Florida Regional Group for as long as I am able. I guess that you might say that after 40 some years of organizational work, I have found an organization that has real meaning and is paramount to the continued welfare of our Blinded Veterans in Florida. Once again, to all of the Blinded Veterans, VIST Coordinators, BROS, and Dr. George Stocking, thank you for your cooperation in making my job serving as President most enjoyable. Terry King, FRG President
FRG Auxiliary President's Message: Just like Terry King, my worser half, I too, need to step down as President of the FRG Auxiliary and let someone else lead the FRG Auxiliary into new endeavors. I have enjoyed being President of the FRG Auxiliary and feel that we have accomplished a lot, during the last several years. I hope that you are part of our election process and throw your hat into the ring. I cannot tell you how important and interesting it is to be on the FRG Auxiliary Board. Like I always say, if you are a member of an organization, you will get more pleasure if you participate. On Saturday, May 6 at 9 AM, the FRG Auxiliary will hold its annual meeting. At that time, elections will be held. Please attend and take part, even if you don't run for a position on the Board. Thanks again for all of your cooperation and support. Joanne King, FRG Auxiliary President
FRG State Convention Reminder: This is your final notice that the 2006 Florida Regional Group State Convention will be held at the Plaza Ocean Club Hotel, 640 North Atlantic Avenue, Daytona Beach, Florida 32118, May 5-7. The Plaza Ocean Club is located directly on the ocean and has its own beach, pool, patio area, snack bar, lounge, and restaurant. Your Convention Committee has arranged the low rates of only $69 per day for standard room for 1 to 4 people. There are a limited number of rooms with kitchenettes at the same rate of $69. These rates are in effect for reservations made on or before April 13th. Send your check for one day's room rate plus 12.5% tax, or your credit card number to guarantee your reservation. Since time is short, you are urged to call the Plaza ocean Club Hotel, toll free, at: (800) 874-7420. There are several Plaza Hotels in the Daytona Beach area and they use the same toll free telephone number for reservations. Be sure to tell the reservation clerk you will be staying at the Plaza Ocean Club and will be attending the Florida Blinded Veterans Association State Convention. The hotel has guaranteed these rates until April 13th. Consequently, you should secure your reservations at the guaranteed low Convention rate as soon as possible. The hotel will accept reservations up to the day of the Convention, at the same rates, but only on a space available basis. However, if you wait, all of the rooms may be taken. These low Convention rates will be in effect 3 days before and/or 3 days after the Convention. So, you may come early and/or stay late for an extended vacation. If you make a reservation and are unable to attend, the hotel will refund your deposit if you cancel by 24 hours before noon on the day you were to arrive. There are two optional charges available at the hotel: a $2 per person bellman charge; and a $2 per day room safe charge. The hotel will waive these charges at your request. If you do not want those services, be sure to notify the hotel so those charges won't be placed on your bill.
The Convention Registration Desk will be located in the hotel lobby and will be open for late registration from 1 to 3 PM on Friday, May 5. If you have not pre-registered, you may do so then. If you have pre-registered, please check in and pick up your Convention Program and name tags at that time. We need to have you check at the registration table so that we can give the proper count to the chef for the dinner-dance and banquet. The opening session will be held in the second floor Ball Room and will begin at 3 PM on Friday, May 5. The Informational Seminar will open with a presentation on Veterans Benefits by Suzanne Murray, VARO Liaison to the Florida VIST Coordinators. Then Donna Maitland will provide an up-date on Social Security Benefits.
Dinner-Dance: The Dinner-Dance will begin with dinner at 7 PM followed by dancing from 8 to ?. Again this year, the music will be provided by Marsha Summers. Those of you who have attended before will remember what a great job she does playing music for good listening and good dancing. Those new conventioneers will be pleased with an enjoyable musical interlude. A cash bar will be available for liquid refreshments. This should be a fun evening, So join in the good times.
Saturday, May 6: The annual Florida Regional Group Business Meeting will be held at 9 AM in the second floor Ball Room. In addition to reports on the past year's activities and planning the FRG program for the coming year, you will have the opportunity to share your thoughts and comments on future FRG programs. Elections for FRG Officers and District Directors, for the coming year, will be held. The election of a Delegate and Alternate Delegates to the BVA's 61 National Convention in Buffalo, New York in August, will also be held. Proposed resolutions for presentation to the BVA National Convention will be considered. Proposed Amendments to the FRG By-Laws, will be considered.
The FRG Auxiliary will also hold its meeting at 9 AM on Saturday in the 1st floor Osprey Room. The BVA Auxiliary is not a "Ladies Auxiliary" but is open to all family members and friends of the BVA. The Auxiliary will receive reports on the past year and make plans for next year. It will also elect officers for the coming year.
At 2 PM on Saturday, a second Informational Seminar will be held in the Ball Room. The session will begin with a presentation by Mike Gunde Chief of the Bureau of Braille and Talking Book Services about new innovations in Talking Book Services . Terry King has arranged to have a movie shown about our military personnel in the conflict in Iraq, with emphasis on the women veterans.
The Hospitality Room will be open from 5 to 7 PM. The Installation Banquet will be held in the Ball Room at 7 PM. Terry King, FRG President, will be Master of Ceremonies. Craig Kiser, Director of the Florida Division of Blind Services will be our Guest Speaker. Prior to the end of the Banquet, the FRG Auxiliary will hold the drawing for its raffle. The Banquet will close with the installation of Florida Regional Group Officers and District Directors and the FRG Auxiliary Officers for the coming year. Join us in the Hospitality Room, after the Banquet, for more socializing and refreshments. Sunday will be the time for goodbyes and travel home.
Convention Registration Fee: The Convention Registration Fee will be $35 per person (for each BV, family member, and/or friend attending). However, an early Registration Fee of only $30 per person will be in effect for registrations received on or before April 13th. The Registration Fee will cover general Convention activities, including the Dinner-Dance on Friday night, and the Hospitality Room and Banquet on Saturday night. Please make your check payable to the BVA and send it to 3801 Coco Grove Avenue, Miami, Florida 33133. Please include the first and last name of each person registering, so that we will be able to make name tags prior to the start of the Convention. It will be helpful if you will send your Registration Fee in advance. This will greatly speed up the late registration at the Convention. It takes a lot of volunteer work to put on this Convention and your help will be greatly appreciated. Remember, contact the Plaza Ocean Club to make your hotel reservations and send your Convention registration fee to the BVA FRG in Miami.
West Palm Beach Convention Transportation: Paul Mimms, VIST Coordinator at the WPB VAMC, is attempting to arrange transportation to the State Convention. If arrangements can be made, they will leave the West Palm Beach VAMC on Thursday Morning May 4 and return Sunday afternoon. For information call Paul at (561) 422-5260.
Directions: To get to the Plaza Ocean Club Hotel in Daytona Beach, take I 95 to exit 261, International Speedway Blvd., go East to Atlantic Avenue (Highway A 1 A) then North one half mile. The hotel will be on your right, directly on the ocean. From I- 4, go to I 95 then north a short distance to exit 261 then repeat as above.
VIST Coordinators Meeting: Again this year, the Florida Regional Group will share its Convention facilities with the VIST Coordinators and Blind Rehab Specialists in Florida for an in-service training meeting prior to the start of our Convention. This year, it will begin at 8 AM on Friday and continue until our opening meeting at 3 PM. We are happy to have the VIST Coordinators and BROS with us and appreciate their taking part in our Convention. We greatly appreciate the dedicated service they provide to Blinded Veterans. Let's express our appreciation for the wonderful work they do for us.
While you have this Newsletter in hand, make your arrangements to attend our FRG State Convention. Please remember to send your Convention Registration Fee to the BVA FRG in Miami and your hotel reservation to the Plaza Ocean Club Hotel in Daytona Beach, or better yet, call them at: (800) 874-7420. Remember, if you need to cancel your reservation, you will receive a full deposit refund, as long as you cancel 24 hours prior to your scheduled arrival date. Join with us and renew old friendships and make some new ones.