BLINDED VETERANS ASSOCIATION (BVA)
FLORIDA REGIONAL GROUP, INC.
3801 Coco Grove Avenue
Miami, Florida 33133
NEWSLETTER - June, 2006
NEWSLETTER - JUNE 2006
FRG Post Convention President's Message: A new gate has just opened in my life, and one that I hope for coming years will provide well being for our Blinded Veterans of Florida. First a short background of myself: Born in Johnson City, New York, moved to St. Petersburg, Florida when I was 12. Joined the Navy as an enlisted recruit in 1965. Held enlisted grades from E 1 to E 9 and officer rank from O 1 to O 5. Began losing my eyesight subsequent to a viral infection in 1976 and was classified legally blind in 1987. After two Medical Board reviews, I remained on full active duty, remained professionally competitive, and proved that visual impairments are only a challenge, not a handicap. In 1995, after a 30 year active career , I retired from the Navy, and attended college obtaining a degree in business and paralegal. Upon graduation, I worked as a legal research technician for an attorney in Jacksonville. In 1997, I joined the BVA, taking on an active role as FRG Northeast District Director in 1998. Since 2001, have served as Vice President. In 2004, I was awarded the David L. Schnair Volunteer Award for my work with Blinded Veterans at the Jacksonville VAOPC. Last year, I was elected as National Treasurer of the BVA. Most recently, received the honor of Volunteer of the Year at the Jacksonville VA Clinic. So, enough about me! Where do we go from here? Following in the footprints of my predecessor, Terry King, is not going to be an easy task. I can promise that I will give it all my efforts. Everyone who knows or knows of me or has listened to me speak at our business luncheons, pretty much knows where my focus is directed. That is membership. More precisely Life Membership. There are specific reasons why my focus is on membership, and none of them are to get a name on a mailing list. The primary reason is once a person is a member of the BVA, that individual is now knowledgeable of VA benefits. He or she always has a place to turn, a place to ask a question, or get help or direction where help can be obtained. Membership numbers mean clout when talking to our legislative leadership in Washington, Tallahassee, or local level. Membership numbers mean clout when passing a Florida agenda to the BVA National level. Membership numbers determine the apportionment of dues revenue Florida receives from BVA National. When Florida speaks, everyone listens. That is why Florida has the largest number of VIST Coordinators and BROS of any state in the US. Our membership strength helps us secure better services for Florida Blinded Veterans. State Convention Summary: Well, we survived another FRG State Convention. If you were there, hope you had a great time. If you were not, hope to see you there next year. There is no way to condense all that happened within the confines of this Newsletter, but in an attempt to summarize it is 2 days of solid business activity and social interaction. This year, we returned to the site of many of our previous Conventions. The hotel staff was very courteous and everything seemed well accessible. The weather was absolutely incredible and the ocean breeze refreshing. The rooms were very nice. At 3 PM, on Friday, the Convention was kicked off with an Informational Seminar. Donna Maitland from Daytona Social Security, presented a very interesting briefing on what is new in Social Security. Following her discussion, Suzanne Murray, VARO Liaison for Florida VIST Coordinators, provided the Group with an enlightening up-date on veterans benefits. That evening, we all had an incredible evening of dining and dancing. On Saturday morning the Annual FRG Business Meeting was held. The minutes for that meeting appear later in this Newsletter. The second Informational Seminar was held that afternoon with Mike Gunde, Chief of the Talking Book Library giving us an update on Talking Book services. Then, Dwight Sayer demonstrated a small hand held scanner, which should be available this summer and will also be demonstrated at the BVA Convention in August. Next Paul Kaminsky encouraged all BV's with internet access to visit the FRG web site- bvafrg.org, which contains information about our organization. The Seminar closed with a video about women in the military serving in Iraq. The Convention closed with the Installation Banquet. After dinner, the Convention turned to a more serious note, two awards were presented to two individuals who have served the BVA-FRG with nothing less than honor and dedicated service. First, Dr. George Stocking was given a beautiful plaque for his total support for the FRG, not to forget his personal initiative making the entire BVA National as strong as it has become. Second, was his wife Barbara Stocking who was instrumental in establishing the BVA Auxiliary National Scholarship Program by naming the FRG Auxiliary Scholarship Program the Barbara Stocking Scholarship Program. Both individuals received lengthy standing ovations. It was a very emotional event, long time overdue. The final award was to Terry King in recognition for his 5 years in serving the FRG, as President. The Banquet closed with the Installation of the FRG Officers and District Directors and the FRG Auxiliary Officers. Following the Auxiliary raffle, newly elected President Paul Kaminsky adjourned the Convention. Paul Kaminsky, FRG President.
FRG Auxiliary President's Message: Dear
Auxiliary and BVA members, First of all, I
would like to express my appreciation to the planners of the FRG State Convention. It was like old time, going back to the hotel that
held so many memories for many of us. The
staff at the hotel was accommodating and the rooms and other services were really an
improvement. The meeting rooms were very
convenient. I think that everyone who
attended had a good time. I hope that more of
you can come next year. Even my guide dog,
Amy, loved it because she had a great place for doggy relief and space in the room to play
with her ball. The other FRG Auxiliary
Officers are: Vice President - Nancy Geden, Secretary - Pat Taylor, and Treasurer -
Maureen Kaminsky. I realize that I have a
tough job to bring you the quality leadership you enjoyed with Joanne King, but will do my
best to carry on the purpose of the BVA Auxiliary of supporting each other, as well as,
assisting the Blinded Veterans. In my prayer
at the Auxiliary meeting, I said "as far as the Blinded Veteran is concerned, we
consider ourselves with you, not below you, and not above you, but with you in your
efforts to create a solid front on behalf of Blinded Veterans in Florida and
nationally". Feel free to contact me
when ever you wish. My email address is email@example.com. My home address is 5883 Wyldewood Lakes Court, Ft.
Myers, FL 33919. Home telephone (239) 433-7722 and cell phone (239) 839-5825. I hope to hear from you with suggestions and news
about things that might be happening in your community or concerns if you have them. Thank you for electing me as your Auxiliary
President. The 2 students that were awarded
the Barbara Stocking Auxiliary Scholarship were Douglas Kern - Daytona Beach and Lilly
Lesley Bean - Ft. Myers. Congratulations
to these two. Our raffles and work are made
worthwhile when we can award scholarships to deserving students. The contributions to the raffle at the Banquet
will go a long way in keeping the Scholarship Fund
alive. I hope that all of you have a
wonderful summer. Sincerely yours, Joyce
Thornton, FRG Auxiliary President
Minutes - FRG Annual Business Meeting, May 6, 2006: The meeting was called to order at 9:04 AM by President Terry King. The pledge to the flag was led by FRG Vice President Paul Kaminsky and the invocation given by George Stocking. A motion was passed to waive the reading of the 2005 Annual Business Meeting Minutes and to accept them as published in the June 2005 FRG Newsletter. The Treasurer reported a balance of $7834.05, in the FRG checking account on April 20, 2005. During the year, income totaling $33525.49 was received, making a total of 41359.54 available in the checking account for FRG use. Expenditures during the year totaled 18220.44. Thus the balance in the checking account, available for FRG use on April 20, 2006, was $23139.10. During the year, three major fund raising events occurred . Willie Menendez, Central West District Director coordinated a White Cane Walk-A-Thon in Homosassa raising $7991; Dwight Sayer, Central East District Director raised $3750 through speaking engagements in the Orlando area; and Mike Toomey, Southwest District Director coordinated a White Cane Walk-A-Thon in Ft. Myers raising $1056. The value of the CD's in the general fund, on April 20, 2005 was $25718.90. Interest on the two CD's during the year was $609.31. After a $2000 transfer from the checking account, this left a total in the 2 CD's of $28,328.21 on April 20 2006. The total funds available, excluding the Scholarship Fund, on April, 20, 2006 was $51,467.31. On April 20, 2005 the FRG Auxiliary Scholarships Fund CD was valued at $10349.10. Interest of $301.88 was added. After a $2000 transfer from the FRG Auxiliary checking account, the balance of $12,650.98 was available for used for future FRG Auxiliary Scholarships. As of April 20, 2006, the FRG had $64,118.29 in total assets. The Convention accepted the Treasurer's report as presented and gave a standing ovation to Willie Menendez, Dwight Sayer, and Mike Toomey for their fund raising efforts.
The Membership Committee reported the Florida Regional Group had a total of 1298 Members and Associate Members as of May2, 2006. This is a decrease of 17 over the 1315 at the time of the 2005 FRG State Convention. The FRG continues to have the largest membership of any Regional Group in the BVA. It will take a significant effort on the part of all BV's in Florida if the FRG is to exceed the 1350 we had at the end of the 2005 BVA Fiscal Year, June 30, 2005. In addition to those Blinded Veterans who actively support the BVA, there are a total of 907 BV's on the FRG - BVA mailing list who have not paid their dues for 2006. The FRG - BVA new mailing list contains a total of 2205 Blinded Veterans in the State of Florida. A discussion was held regarding those Blinded Veterans who were not Members or Associate Members of the BVA. Those in attendance were encouraged to become actively involved in recruiting new Members and Associate Members during the coming year. President Terry King expressed appreciation to the VIST Coordinators in Florida for their on-going Cooperation.
The District Directors presented reports regarding activities in their Districts. This included information about their Assistant District Directors to expand contacts with Blinded Veterans in the six Districts.
The Legislative Committee presented information regarding National legislation of interest to Blinded Veterans. All Blinded Veterans in attendance were encouraged to become actively involved in writing to their Senators and Representatives regarding legislation. President King encouraged all BV's with computer access to add their name to the BVA-FRG Distribution List. BV's on that list receive legislative and other current information of interest to BV's in Florida.
Mike Taylor reported on his activities as the FRG Representative on the Rehabilitation Council of the Florida Division of Blind Services (DBS). The Rehabilitation Council is established by Federal Law to advise the DBS on services to Florida's blind citizens. Mike Taylor made a presentation regarding activities at the Talking Book Library. Those in attendance made positive comments regarding the Talking Book Library.
President King opened the floor for discussions of Old Business. The format of the FRG Newsletter was reviewed. There were no recommendations regarding the Newsletter. Consequently, it will continue with the same format as in the past. The FRG District meetings were discussed. With the exception of making an attempt to hold a meeting in the Pensacola area, no recommendation was made to change the schedule or location of the District meetings. Announcements regarding the remaining activities at the 2006 FRG State Convention were made. A discussion was held regarding those activities.
President King opened the floor to New Business. A motion was passed to donate $1000 to the Talking Book Library. A motion was passed to take out a one page ad ($100) in the BVA National Convention Program.
The 2007 FRG State Convention was discussed. The Convention Chairman George Stocking reported on contacts with the management of the Plaza Ocean Club Hotel. The proposed arrangements for the 2007 FRG Convention will be essentially the same with an increase from $69 to $72 per day for rooms. A number of other hotels in the central part of Florida were contacted with similar or higher prices. A motion was passed authorizing the Convention Committee to negotiate with the Plaza Ocean Club Hotel and accept the contract if it continues to meet the FRG needs. It was the consensus of the Membership that we remain in the Daytona Beach area .
A resolution was passed to maintain FRG accounts in the First National Bank of South Miami, with the President and Secretary-Treasurer as co-signers on all FRG accounts.
The following were elected as Officers and Directors for 2006-2007:
The following were elected as Officers and Directors for 2006-2007:
An election was held to select the Florida Regional Group Delegation to the BVA 61st National Convention as follows: Delegate - Dr. George Stocking; Alternate Delegates: Terry King, Paul Kaminsky, Mike (Myron) Nagelberg, Dwight Sayer, Mike Taylor, Ben Barnhart, Bill Burgess, Bill Geden, and Calvin Ellis. Terry King was elected as FRG Representative on the By-Laws and Resolutions Committee, with the Delegate and/or Alternate Delegates, in the order listed above as Alternate Representatives on that Committee.
A motion was passed to send the Delegation to the BVA National Convention, uninstructed.
The Business Meeting adjourned at 11:43 AM.
George E. Stocking