3801 Coco Grove Avenue  
Miami, Florida 33133
April 2010


     FRG President's Message:   We are once again approaching our FRG State Convention.  A lot of work has gone into setting up more activities.  Last year, we added the Thursday evening Pizza Party, with the Hospitality Room being open one day earlier than at previous Conventions.  this year, we have added an additional activity in order to make the Convention more enjoyable.  A tour of the Talking Book Library has been arranged at 2 PM on Thursday afternoon.  Others who have previously taken this tour say that it is something that you don't want to miss.  We are asking all of those who are planning to take the tour, to meet in the hotel lobby at 1:15 PM.  We also urge all who plan to take the tour to add this information when they register for the Convention.


     On another note.  The new FRG List Serve, that was established recently, is replacing the Distribution List with which many of you are familiar.  Unlike the Distribution List, this List Service has the capability of two way communication.  This means that all BV's who are signed up, can send out emails on this new FRG List Serve.  All relevant information, pertaining to Blinded Veterans, from now on, will be put out over this FRG List Serve.  Which permits all BV's to respond accordingly and can spread the word to others about new aids and devices that can make your lives just a little bit easier.  Those who have not yet joined the new FRG List Serve, may do so by emailing Bill Stockslager at,or call Bill at (941) 743-8364 or Terry King at (941) 505-7747.


     Now, that brings me to the Talking Thermostat.  A few weeks ago, I informed those BV's on the FRG List Serve about this Talking Thermostat and for its advantages for those who can no longer see the numbers on their home thermostat.  The VIP is the first digital with audio playback giving the day, time, in door temperature, temperature setting, and programming instructions.  This permits blind users can easily manage their indoor comfort.  Talk to your VIST Coordinator or BROS and see if you qualify for this aid for those who no longer can see their existing thermostat.  This thermostat is in the LS and S catalog.  If anyone has any questions, they may qualify either me at (941) 505-7747 or their District Director.  I am hoping to enjoy your company at the FRG State Convention.  Terry King, FRG President.     .       .                 


     FRG Auxiliary President's Message: Our FRG State Convention is really expanding with its activities this year.  Wow!  It won't be long before we expand the days in the future for even more exciting events.  Stay tuned.  This year beside the Talking Book Library tour and Pizza Party, as well as, the Dinner Dance and Banquet, the FRG Auxiliary is having a coffee kloutsch .  Yes, just like we used to have with our neighbors.  So, bring your cup and join us in the Hospitality Room on Friday morning at 10 for some good old fashion chit-chat.  The big thing is that you don't have to be an Auxiliary member to attend.  Just be a family member or friend of one of our very impressive Blinded Veterans.  This might be the first of many coffee kloutsches for the future.  So, all of you Auxiliary members, grab a friend and bring them along.  Remember, at 9 AM on Saturday May 1, the Auxiliary will hold our Annual Business Meeting.  At that time, we will be holding elections for the Board and Chair Persons.  Since the FRG is state wide, other than the FRG Scholarship Program, it is hard to have a particular project.  However, it is important to be a member of the FRG Auxiliary because what we do to help Blinded Veterans in our home town is important.  Plus, with this stifling economy, we need to stick together with the BVA in order to stand strong for the benefits that are necessary for the Blinded Veterans.  You cannot believe how important it is for you to be a member of the FRG Auxiliary.  Please do yourself a favor, as well as your Blinded Veteran and join the Auxiliary.  See you at the FRG Convention.  Joanne King. FRG Auxiliary President.              


     FRG 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 April 30-May 2.  The low guaranteed group rates of only  $79 per day, for 1 to 4 persons per room will be in effect 3 days before and 3 days after the Convention.  All rooms are equipped with refrigerators and microwaves and All rooms have ocean view balconies.  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 only on a space available basis.  Better yet, as time is short, you should make your reservation by calling the toll free reservation number  at: (800) 874-7420.  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.  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 for the Florida Regional Group Blinded Veterans Association Convention.  If you have any problem , call George Stocking at (305) 446-8008.


     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, Hospitality Room, and the 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.


     For those who get to Daytona Beach on Thursday, April 29, there will be a tour of the Talking book Library at 2 PM. That evening,  the BVA Hospitality Room will be open from 6 to 10 PM and will host a Pizza Party from 6-8.  If you will take part in the TB Library tour or the Pizza Party add that information to your early registration information so that we can plan properly.  AT 9 AM on Friday, the fourth annual horseshoe pitching contest will be held on the beach behind the hotel.  If you wish to participate call coordinators Bill Burgess at (386) 445-4987 or Paul Kaminsky (904) 291-0576. 


     The Convention Late Registration Desk will open at 1 PM on Friday, April 30, in the hotel lobby.  If you have not pre-registered, you may pay your late Registration at that time.  If you have pre-registered, please 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, with a presentation on Prosthetics and Sensory Aids for the Blind  by Dan Fields, Prosthetics Representative from the Bay Pines VAMC.  Then, Ron Lester, BVA Southeast Field Representative (FSP) from Atlanta will describe the BVA FSP Program.  The Dinner dance will begin with dinner at 7 PM followed by dancing. 


     Saturday, May 1, The Annual Florida Regional Group Business Meeting will be held at 9 AM in the 2nd 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 will be held.  According to the BVA guidelines and the FRG By laws, The election and instruction of a Delegate and Alternate Delegates to the 65 BVA National Convention  in August, will also be held.  Possible Amendments to the FRG By-Laws may be considered.  The FRG Auxiliary will also hold its Annual Meeting at 9 AM on Saturday.


     At 2 PM on Saturday, the second Informational Seminar will be held,  starting with a presentation by Mike Gunde, Chief of the Bureau of Brail and Talking Book Services, who will bring us up to date on Talking Book Program.  Michael Helper the new  VA Regional Office Liaison for the Florida VIST Program will provide information on veterans benefits.  David Johnson, Lake City BROS, will demonstrate the Victor Stream Reader for use in down loading Talking Books.       


     The Hospitality Room will be open from 5 to 7 PM.  At 7 PM, the Installation Banquet will be held in the Ball Room.  Terry King, BVA President will be Master of Ceremonies.  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. 


     New VIST and BROS in Florida:  During the past several months, two new VIST Coordinators and one new BROS has been added to serve BV's in Florida.  Mandy Petroski-Moore has recently  been assigned as part time VIST Coordinator in Tallahassee.  The Jacksonville VA Outpatient Clinic had a Blind Rehabilitation Outpatient Specialist (BROS) allocated to the Clinic as part of the 35 new BROS the BVA got funded through the 110 Congress.  There was a space problem at the Clinic and the position has recently been filled by Lauren Brooks.  Due to the large number of BV's in the Tampa VAMC area, Rick Brown was hired to work with Charles Nieberding in December 2008.  However, following Charles Nieberding's retirement in mid 2009, the 2nd VIST position remained open.  recently, Jessica Buccolo was hired for that position.  This brings to 14 the number of VIST Coordinators in Florida, 13 of whom are full time.  We now have 10 full time BROS in Florida.  Below, you will find brief biographies of the new VIST Coordinator and BROS.


      New Jacksonville BROS:   A native of Philadelphia, Lauren Brooks entered East Carolina University after high school.  Upon earning a BS degree, she returned to Philadelphia, where she worked a year as a Special Education Teacher.  Returning to the East Carolina University, she qualified as a Physical Education Teacher with additional courses in adaptive courses for the disabled.  After working a number of years in that field in Durham, North Carolina, she returned to Philadelphia where she worked as a Special Education Teacher for students with emotional disabilities.  In2007, she earned a Master's Degree in Orientation and Mobility from the Pennsylvania School of Optometry ( now Salus University).  Then, she moved to Arizona where she worked 3 years as an O & M instructor.  She came to Florida as the New BROS at the Jacksonville VA Outpatient Clinic in December 2009.  She and her 3 children (ages 7, 10, and 13) live in the Jacksonville area.  In her spare time, she practices yoga and karate.


            New Tampa VIST Coordinator:  Jessica Buccolo was born and raised in Deland, Florida.  After high school, she earned an Associate Degree from Hillsborough Community College.  While there, she worked as a reader and escort for some blind students.  Then, she attended the University of West Florida (UWF) in Pensacola where she earned a Bachelor's Degree in Social Work.  While at the UWF, she worked as a counselor in an inpatient facility for juvenile offenders, some of whom were disabled.  Then, she worked for Community Solutions a family agency out of Orlando, where she did family counseling.  Subsequently, she earned a Master's Degree in Social Work from the University of Central Florida.            While in school, she did some volunteer work with the Division of Blind Services in Daytona Beach.  Then, she returned to the inpatient facility in Pensacola where she worked as a case manager and therapist.  Remaining in Pensacola, she worked as a counselor in a Hospice for a year.  She took up her duties as VIST Coordinator in Tampa on January 19, 2010.  She says that she is looking forward to working with Blinded Veterans in the Tampa area.  Through some of her experiences at the hospice and rehabilitation facility, she has worked with the multiple disabled individuals and will also be working with the Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Center at the Tampa VAMC, where she is looking forward to the challenge.


     New Tallahassee VIST Coordinator:  Mandy Petroski-Moore took up her duties as part time VIST Coordinator at the Tallahassee VA Outpatient Clinic in January 2010, following the retirement of Luis Hernandez who had been VIST Coordinator for many years.  A native of Tallahassee, Ms. Petroski-Moore earned a Bachelor's Degree from FSU.  Subsequently, she moved to Oregon with her husband where he was completing his degree.  Following several years of work, they returned to Tallahassee where she enrolled in graduate school in 1999.  upon earning her Master's Degree in Social Work, in 2001, she worked 5 years as a therapist for Big Ben's Hospice.  In 2006, she was employed as a Social Worker in the Mental Health Clinic at the Tallahassee VAOPC.  This January, she transferred to Primary Care and is now working as the part time VIST Coordinator.  She, her husband and children (ages 5 years and 9 months) live in the Tallahassee area.  At present, her main activities outside of work are taking care of her 2 Children.  On behalf of the FRG and Blinded Veterans in Florida, We welcome you to your new position as VIST Coordinator and look forward to working with you in the future.


     We look forward to meeting you at the FRG State Convention at the Plaza Ocean Club Hotel  in Daytona Beach.  Remember to contact the hotel for your reservations and to send your registration fee and information to the BVA in Miami.


     BVA-FRG Meeting Schedule

April 30- May 2           FRG State Convention Plaza Ocean Club Hotel Daytona

August 24-29                          BVA National Convention in Washington, D.C.

Newsletter Staff

Terry King                       FRG President

Joanne King                     FRG Auxiliary President

George Stocking                      Editor