VETERANS ASSOCIATION (BVA)
FLORIDA REGIONAL GROUP, INC.
3801 Coco Grove Avenue
Miami, Florida 33133
FRG NEWSLETTER, March 2008
FRG President's Message: The count down to our State Convention is swiftly approaching. Make a special effort to attend this year's activities. April 13 is the deadline for the guaranteed low room rate price and the early discount registration fee. As this Newsletter goes to print, there is but one District Luncheon Meeting left and that is the Pensacola meeting on April 5. It has been a full and busy year, as you have all probably surmised from reading these Newsletters over this past year. In summary, I'd like to note that at last year's State Convention, I asked all to be ambassadors for our Blinded Veteran community and the end of each Newsletter, have asked you to keep the mission statement alive. As we come to this year's Convention, that tasking is never more necessary. With the aging population, we are experiencing a significant growth in our Blinded Veteran community. This is of course in addition to our newly blinded warriors defending our country in the war against terrorism. What inspires me to work hard as an ambassador for our BVA is that I'm constantly running into Blinded Veterans (no pun intended) that do not know what or who is a VIST Coordinator, nor are they aware of their benefits through the VA or state. Some are entitled to VA Pensions and don't know that either. It is our responsibility to find these individuals and link them up with their respective VIST Coordinators. This is a must! I have been reviewing our membership data base and was surprised to find that over 800 listed on it were not currently members of the BVA. This is a puzzle that I seem to have difficulty piecing together. I tend to always look for the positive, so it must be an oversight to those who have not joined as dues paying members. One person wrote me and stated... "The BVA is like the French", there when they need you! That statement can't be further from the truth. The BVA, I've come to know, is there before you. Sure, it can't be there for us every instant and for any want, but within its limited capabilities, it has forged the past for us to travel. Today, our National BVA is chopping away at the most important of issues. For the BVA to do more, there needs to be some participation on our part. Becoming a life member is the first step. Life membership in the BVA is the lowest life membership dues of any veterans service organization out there. We can even lessen the burden by paying $10 down and paying the remainder over the next 2 years. Life membership has another distinct advantage, dues paid for life membership are deposited into the BVA Life Membership Fund (LMF ), every penny. The principal of the LMF is never touched. Only the interest and dividends produced from the LMF are apportioned back to the individual Regional Groups, like Florida, based on the number of current Life and Associate Life members. These are funds we use to pay expenses of the Regional Group including District meetings, Newsletters,and getting informational materials to you all throughout the state. So, in effect, dues paid to the LMF could more precisely be defined as your contribution (donation) to your fellow Blinded Veterans forever. This is a gift, a giving that will keep on giving for the entire life of the BVA. In closing, I'd like to mention that from a previous Newsletter, I wrote of passing the torch to other BV's. The other day, I found out that George C. (Curt) Mild had passed away. Curt was a Past President of the BVA-FRG. In talking with George Stocking about Curt's passing, George mentioned that Curt was the FRG President that first started these President's Messages, as part of our Newsletters. The little things that we all do that get carried on through time that has much meaning to our lives. Thank you, Curt. To all of those who have made the BVA what it is today, we owe a great debt of gratitude. Let us all stand united and together as life members, and go into the future with one strong and loud voice representing our Blinded Veteran community. Keep the mission alive and help one another to help each other. Hope to see you at the FRG Convention in Daytona Beach. Paul W. Kaminsky, FRG President. (904) 291-0576 email email@example.com.
FRG AUXILIARY PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE: The first item on my list is to correct something I included in my message in the last Newsletter. It appears that I mentioned a silent auction at our State Convention. Sorry, I meant the regular raffle and not a silent auction. However, bring your gift for the raffle to help the FRG Auxiliary with our Scholarship Fund. If you are interested in the Scholarship, call Cathie Cotton, Scholarship Chairman, at (305) 235-2313 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Do it soon as the completed application must be received by April 15. I hope that many of you are planning on attending the FRG Convention in May. It is so nice to see everyone again. I hope to see you who attend at the Auxiliary meeting on Saturday morning. We will hold elections for Officers for the coming year and plan our activities. We do need everyone to keep our goal of support for Blinded Veterans and their families. I also hope that all of you have a blessed Easter. Joyce Thornton, FRG Auxiliary President
US Legislative Up-Date: The BVA's legislative program has been successful in getting legislation passed as reported in previous Newsletters. This has included additional Funding for the Blind Rehabilitation Service and additional Blind Rehabilitation Outpatient Specialists (BROS) and Visual Impairment Service Coordinators (VIST). As a result of the BVA's efforts, Florida will gain two new full time VIST Coordinator positions in Daytona Beach and Pensacola. In addition, BROS positions have been approved for Ft. Myers and Jacksonville. Recruiting for these positions should begin in the near future. Additional funding for the Blind Rehabilitation Service was recommended for FY 2009. It is understood that a BROS for the Miami Dade - Broward Counties will be recommended for FY 2009.
FRG District Meeting: Last year's first time District meeting in Pensacola was a huge success and brought results. The FRG will hold a District meeting on Saturday, April 5 at the Mesquite Charlie's Steak House, 5901 North W Street in Pensacola. Northwest District Director Darryl Goldsmith and FRG Vice President Terry King have worked to schedule this meeting. The meeting will begin at 11:30 AM with a period of socializing, followed by lunch at noon. For lunch, you may select from a 10 ounce Rib Eye Steak, 16 ounce T bone steak, Tombstone Chicken, or Fried Shrimp and salad, baked potato, western beans, rolls and butter, and ice tea or coffee. Although the cost to the FRG is $15 per person, those in attendance will pay only $5 including tax and tip. BV's in the panhandle are served by the Biloxi VA Medical Center and in recent years, have had little service. At last year's meeting, those in attendance signed a Resolution requesting to have a full time VIST Coordinator assigned at the Pensacola Clinic. Along with other material, the BVA took those Resolutions to Congress. When the VA appropriations for Fiscal Year 2008 was recently passed, through the efforts of the BVA, it included additional funding for Blinded Veterans. As a result, a full time VIST Coordinator has been approved for Pensacola. We have just learned that the Biloxi VAMC has accepted that position in Pensacola and will begin recruiting for a full time VIST Coordinator. We urge all BV's in the Panhandle to attend this important meeting so that we can organize advocacy for BV's. Make plans to attend this important meeting. Paul Kaminsky, FRG President, will preside at the meeting following lunch. Information about services and benefits of interest to BV's and their families will be available. Please come and add your support to better services in the panhandle. We need to notify the restaurant how many will be attending by April 2. To make your reservations, write Darryl Goldsmith, 7190 Rampart Way, Pensacola, FL 32505 or call: (850) 554-7819, email email@example.com. Please make an effort to attend, we need to work together to improve services in the panhandle. If you make a reservation and can't come, please call Darryl Goldsmith and cancel before April 2 so we won't pay $15 for reservation made and not used. Join us on April 5 and help to improve services for Blinded Veterans in the panhandle.
FRG State Convention Reminder: This is your final reminder that The FRG State Convention will be held at the Plaza Ocean Club Hotel , 640 North Atlantic Avenue, Daytona Beach, FL 32118, May 2-4. The Plaza Ocean Club is a 190 room hotel directly on the Atlantic Ocean. Your Convention Committee secured the low guaranteed group rates of only $77 per day, for 1 to 4 persons per room. The Plaza Ocean Club Hotel has completed its renovations since our last Convention and all rooms are equipped with refrigerators and microwaves . All rooms have ocean view balconies. These low convention rates will be in effect 3 days before and/or 3 days after the Convention. So, you may come early or stay late for an extended vacation. The low Convention rates are guaranteed for reservations made on or before April 13th. Reservations made after April 13th, will be at the low Convention rate but on a space available basis. We encourage you to make your reservations soon to insure your accommodations as another group is at the hotel that weekend. You may cancel your reservation and receive a full refund of your deposit, if you cancel 24 hours before noon on the day you were scheduled to arrive. You may send your reservation to the Hotel along with your check for one night's room rate and 12.5% tax or you may use your credit card number to guarantee your reservation. Other than your deposit, the hotel will not accept checks for your remaining charges. You must have a credit card or cash. Better yet, as time is short, you may make your reservation by calling the toll free reservation number at: (800) 874-7420. There are 22 hotels using that reservation number. Be sure to specify the Plaza Ocean Club Hotel and that you want the guaranteed group rate, indicated above, for the Florida Regional Blinded Veterans Association Convention. If you have any problem with the reservation clerks, call George Stocking at (305) 446-8008, evenings and weekends.
Convention Registration Fee: The Convention Registration Fee will be $35 per person (for each BV, family member, or friend attending). However, an early registration fee of only $30 per person will be in effect for registration received on or before April 13th. The registration fee will cover general Convention activities, including the dinner-dance on Friday night, 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, FL 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 assistance will be greatly appreciated.
The Convention Late Registration Desk will open at 1 PM on Friday, May 2, in the hotel lobby. If you have not pre-registered, you may pay your late Registration at that time. If you have pre-registered, stop by the Registration desk and pick up your name tags and Convention Program. We need everyone to check in so that we can give the chef the proper count for the dinner dance and Banquet.
The opening session will be held in the second floor Ball room at 3 PM on Friday, May 2. The Informational Seminar will be open with a presentation on Prosthetics and Sensory Aids for the Blind by Donald Freyberger, VISN 8 Prosthetics Representative. this is the time to get questions answered.
The Dinner dance will begin with dinner at 7 PM followed by dancing. Again, this year, Marsha Summers will provide the music, both during the dinner and for dancing afterwards. Those of you who have attended before will remember what a great job she does playing music for good listening and good dancing. New conventioneers will be pleased with an enjoyable musical interlude. A cash bar will be available for liquid refreshment. this should be a fun evening, so join in the good times.
Saturday, May 3, The Annual Florida Regional Group Business Meeting will be held at 9 AM in the 2 floor Ball Room. In addition to reports on the past year and planning the FRG Program for the coming year, you will have the opportunity to share your thoughts and comments on future FRG activities. Elections for FRG Officers and District Directors, for the coming year, will be held. The election of a Delegate and Alternate Delegates to the 63 BVA National Convention in Phoenix, Arizona in August, will also be held. Proposed resolutions for presentation to the BVA National Convention will be considered.
The FRG Auxiliary will also hold its Annual Meeting at 9 AM on Saturday in the Osprey Room on the first floor. The BVA Auxiliary is not a "Ladies Auxiliary" but is open to all family members and friends of the BVA.
At 2 PM on Saturday, the second Informational Seminar will be held. It will start with a presentation by Mike Gunde, Chief of the Bureau of Brail and Talking Book Services. Mike will bring us up to date on innovations in the Talking Book Program.
The Hospitality Room will be open from 5 to 7 PM. The Installation Banquet will be held at 7 PM in the second floor Ball Room. Paul Kaminsky, BVA President will be Master of Ceremonies. Prior to the end of the Banquet, the FRG Auxiliary will hold the drawings for its raffle. The Banquet will close with the Installation of FRG Officers and District Directors and 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.
Remember to send your hotel reservation slip and deposit to the Plaza Ocean Club in Daytona Beach and your Convention registration fee to the BVA-FRG in Miami. We look forward to meeting you in Daytona Beach May 2-4. Please join us for a productive meeting and enjoyable weekend.
FRG-BVA Meeting Schedule
April 5 FRG Meeting in Pensacola
May 2-4 FRG State Convention, Plaza Ocean Club, Daytona Beach
August 12-18 BVA National Convention in Phoenix, Arizona