BLINDED VETERANS ASSOCIATION (BVA)
FLORIDA REGIONAL GROUP, INC.
3801 Coco Grove Avenue
Miami, Florida 33133
FRG NEWSLETTER, June 2010
President's Message: I Believe the 36th
FRG state convention must ranks among the great conventions, previously held, in Daytona
Beach. On Thursday afternoon, the convention
was kicked off with a tour at the Talking book library.
Then later that evening the pizza party was an even greater success than the
previous year. On Friday morning the
horseshoe tournament was held, and I have incorporated the following article written by Jim Tiller a local reporter
about the tournament. *** Blind veterans compete in horse shoes - DAYTONA BEACH - Never mind that these military
veterans are blind. When they hear clanging
metal pipes, they can still take aim in that direction - not with bullets - but with
horseshoes. Ralph Cantrell of Orlando helps
Dominick Sileo of Port Orange, who is legally blind, line up his shot during the 4th
annual Blinded Veterans horseshoe tournament. More
than 125 blind veterans - members of Florida Regional Group, Blinded Veterans Association
- are in town this weekend for their state convention, which included Friday's Horseshoe
Pitching Tournament. While competing against
dozens of blind former sailors, soldiers, airmen, and
marines from across Florida, David Dixon, 74, of Daytona Beach pitched "ringers" around the metal pipe on the beach behind the Plaza Ocean Club Hotel. The former staff sergeant, who flew secret 24-hour "Red Ring" missions around Russia during the Cold War, upheld his title as last year's totally blind tournament champion. "It's fun, and a way to still compete," said Tim Thrift, 33, of Lake City, a former Marine corporal. I played horseshoes before I lost my vision, so I have had to learn to adapt. He listened as volunteer Phyllis Cassidy, the wife of blind Army veteran Rick Cassidy of Oakland, near Orlando - banged a metal pipe against the target metal pipe stuck in the sand. The pipe, framed by a square of PVC pipes, substituted for a regulation horseshoe pit. Players earned points when the horseshoe landed within the PVC frame, extra when the shoe touched the target pipe, and even more for a "ringer." Korean War-era veteran Dominick Sileo, 81, of Port Orange once maintained military communications equipment with the 7th Signal Battalion at Versailles, France, during the early 1950s. He flung a horseshoe 30 feet in the right direction despite having macular degeneration that has robbed him of his vision. "I had to quit driving, but I can do most things," said Sileo, a Pennsylvania native who managed bowling lanes locally when he moved to Port Orange in 1972. His sight began to falter in 1978 but blindness didn't take over until 2001. "I joined Blind Vets and still bowl to this day," Sileo said. "This is my first try," said Army veteran Don Snow of Naples, who served in Germany for 27 months during the early 1950s. He won the championship title for the partly blind category. Former Army Corporal Terry King, president of the Florida Regional Group of Blinded Veterans, said nearly 1,500 members make up the Florida Blinded Veterans. The Florida Blinded vets plan to send a delegation to the annual BVA National Convention in Washington, D.C. in August. they expect to return here to Daytona Beach next year for their State Convention and tournament in the sand.
On Friday afternoon the first of two seminars was held. Cynthia Carson, Prosthetics Representative from Lake City, provided information about prosthetics and sensory aids for the blind. Among other issues, Questions were raised concerning the problem of different standards occurring in the various VA catchment areas in Florida. She indicated that she would make a report of the issues that were brought up by the veterans. Yvette Hill acting BRC chief, gave several statistics of the improvements, and also elaborated on the exit survey that the BRC and the FRG had agreed upon. This agreement allows the FRG to conduct an exit survey with the veterans that have completed their training. Saturday morning, the FRG business meeting was held, and will be covered in the minutes, later in this newsletter. Saturday afternoon the second Informational Seminar was held. Mike Gunde, Chief of the Bureau of Braille and Talking Book Services, was the first speaker and covered the latest issues concerning the new digital library machines. Afterwards, Mike Gunde was presented with a plaque, for his dedication over the past 25 years to the FRG. Michael Helper, VARO Liaison with Florida VIST Coordinators, presented information and answered questions about benefits of interest to Blinded Veterans. The installation banquet went off without a hitch. Dr. Tom Zampieri legislative director national BVA was our guest speaker. He elaborated on current legislation which will remove the co-payments for certain non service connected veterans to attend in patient Blind Rehabilitation training and the establishment of scholarships for Blind Rehabilitation Specialist to qualify for employment in VA Blind Rehabilitation. The Convention closed with the Installation of Officers and District directors.
Those desiring to get on the FRG, BVA List Serve, for instant communications, and information, call Bill Stockslager at (941) 743-8364, or email email@example.com Terry King, BVA, FRG, President
FRG Auxiliary President's Message: Those of you unable to attend the FRG State Convention just held in Daytona missed lots of fun along with the chance to catch up with old friends and make some new ones. At the business meeting of the FRG Auxiliary, new officers were elected. We have an exciting mix of new faces and seasoned members who will serve this term. I am delighted to have been chosen as the President. Having been Vice President last year, I had the opportunity to learn the ropes from Joanne King. Your new Vice President is Beverly Godfrey of Silver Springs. Continuing as Secretary is Pat Taylor of Jacksonville. Diane Walczak of Port Charlotte has assumed the office of Treasurer from Maureen Kaminsky. We owe a big thanks to Joanne, Pat, and Maureen for all their hard work and dedication. Joanne has agreed to head the membership committee. Beverly will co-chair the Scholarship Committee along with Pat Holcomb who also lives in Silver Springs. Vernea Goldsmith of Pensacola will be the Raffle Chairperson. Maureen will be one of the raffle co-chairs in the Jacksonville area. Speaking of raffles, we are off to a good start in selling those all-important raffle tickets as sales were brisk at the registration desk for the Convention and during the Banquet on Saturday evening. The proceeds from those tickets primarily go towards the two scholarships we award each year. The Scholarships will go to Steven Goldsmith and Samantha Hynes, this year. Keep in mind that the scholarships are not limited to young college students. Spouses of Blinded Veterans who are seeking further education for a career change or to upgrade skills in these tough economic times are also eligible to apply. Although the membership of the FRG is 1480, , the membership of the auxiliary is only 37! What is wrong with that picture? The stated purpose for the auxiliary in our bylaws is as follows: 1. To aid and support the Blinded Veterans Association Florida Regional Group. 2. To join with the BVA in their endeavors as a part of the National BVA Auxiliary. 3. To develop a deeper interest in the Blinded Veterans Association by family members, friends, and blindness professionals. 4. To preserve and strengthen a spirit of fellowship among Auxiliary members so that they may give mutual aid and assistance to one another. What becomes apparent at each convention is how important that fourth section is. While the Blinded Veterans face challenges, their spouses and loved ones also face challenges that are not as obvious but equally valid. Being a member of the Auxiliary is a way to form bonds with others who share what you are going through. Of course, I am preaching to the choir. If you are reading this, you are probably already a member. But lets all reach out to the spouses and other family and friends when we see them at one of the local support groups or at one of the monthly BVA luncheons around the state and see if we cant sign them up for membership. The Auxiliary has an important part to play and greater numbers can help us reach greater achievements. Contact Joanne at firstname.lastname@example.org or call her at (941) 505-7747 for membership applications, or contact me at PghFran9@aol.com or (239) 283-1708 with suggestions. Fran Thomas FRG Auxiliary President
FRG State Convention Business Meeting Minutes: The meeting was called to order at 9 AM on May 1, by President Terry King. The pledge to the flag was led by FRG Past President Paul Kaminsky and the invocation was given by George Stocking. A motion was passed to waive the reading of the 2009 Annual Business Meeting Minutes and to accept them as published in the June 2009 FRG Newsletter. The Treasurer reported an opening balance of $22320.79 in the FRG checking account in April 2009. During the year, income totaling $24264.17 was received, making a total of $46581.96 available in the checking account for FRG use. Expenditures during the year totaled 24115.18, leaving a balance in the checking account, prior to the 2009 Convention, of $22466.78. During the year, one fund raising events occurred . Don Werth, Southwest District Director, Terry King and Joyce Thornton VIST Coordinator led a White Cane Walk-A-Thon in Ft. Myers raising $1300 for the bus to the State Convention. In addition, Gigi Mathis raised funds to assist with bus transportation to the Convention for BV's in the Central West District. The value of the CD's in the general fund, in April 2009 was $95,898.81. Interest on all General Fund CD's was $1658.27. The total funds in General account CD's as of April 2010 was $97557.08. in April 2009. the FRG Auxiliary Scholarships Fund CD , a restricted account, was valued at $12275.03. During the year $165.18 was received in Interest, and $1200 was distributed to Scholarship recipients, leaving a balance of $11240.21 available for future FRG Auxiliary Scholarships. The total assets including the checking account and all certificates of deposit in April 2010 was $131,267.07. The Convention accepted the Treasurer's report.
President King called upon the District Directors to present reports regarding activities in their Districts. This included information about their Assistant District Directors and their plan to expand contacts with Blinded Veterans in the six Districts. The Membership Committee reported the Florida Regional Group had a total of 1480 Members and Associate Members as of April 2010. This is an increase of 105 Members and Associate Members since the time of the 2009 FRG State Convention. The FRG continues to have the largest membership of any Regional Group in the BVA. In addition to those Blinded Veterans who actively support the BVA, there are a total of 964 BV's on the FRG - BVA mailing list who have not paid their dues for 2009. The FRG - BVA new mailing list contains a total of 2444 Blinded Veterans in the State of Florida. Over the past 18 months, the FRG has increased its mailing list by over 500 with the help of The VIST Coordinators. They have assisted in notifying BV's not on our mailing list, of the opportunity to receive the BVA Bulletin and FRG Newsletters.
Th 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. All BV's with computer access were encouraged to add their name to the BVA-FRG List Serve so they can received information on legislation as it is being considered by Congress. The floor was opened for the discussion of old business. The format of the FRG Newsletter was reviewed. There were no recommendations regarding changes in the Newsletter. The FRG District meetings will continue as in the past year. A discussion was held regarding the remaining activities at the 2010 FRG State Convention.
The floor was opened for New Business with the election of Officers and District Directors as the first item of business. The following BV's were elected as Officers and District Directors.
President Terry King
Vice President Chuck Kays
Secretary-Treas. George Stocking
Northwest Darryl Goldsmith
Northeast William (Bill Burgess
Central West Gilda (GIGI) Mathis
Central East Ralph Cantrell
Southwest Robert Walczak
Southeast William McDermott
An election was held to select the Florida Regional Group Delegation to the BVA 65 National Convention , as follows: Delegate - Dr. George Stocking; Alternate Delegates: 1. Terry King , 2. Paul Kaminsky, 3. Mike Nagelberg, 4. William Geden, 5. Israel Chance. 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. The following instructions were given to the Delegation to the BVA National Convention: 1. vote for the amendment to add or Associate Member to the requirements for Executive Director of the BVA. Vote for the Amendment to give the Board of Directors the responsibility to set Annual dues. Vote against the amendment to give the Board the responsibility to establish Life and Associate Life dues. Vote against the amendment to distribute the proceeds of the Life Membership Fund with 80% to go to the Regional Groups and 20% to BVA National. With the exception of the instructions above, a motion was passed to send the Delegation uninstructed on other items to be considered at the BVA Convention.
After the election, the floor was open to other New Business. A discussion was held regarding the motion passed in 2008 to send a donation, up to $500 per tournament, to the Iowa TEE Tournament, the Winter Sports Clinic, and Golden Age Games. A motion was passed to postpone any decision until the 2011 FRG Convention. A motion was passed to authorize the amount of $451 to purchase a new small, light sound system with portable microphone to be used at the FRG District meetings. A Resolution was passed to maintain, on an on going basis, the FRG funds in the First National Bank of South Miami and to have the President and Secretary-Treasurer as co-signers on all accounts. Further, the Resolution, gave the President and Secretary-Treasurer, with the approval of the Board, the responsibility to move the funds to another bank if more advantageous interest rates can be obtained.
The 2011 FRG State Convention was discussed. When the Convention Chairman George Stocking, met with the hotel management following the 2009 Convention, the hotel offered to maintain the same contract and prices for the 2011 convention if accepted by the BVA-FRG in May 2009. The Board of Directors approved and the contract for 2011 was signed. The meeting was adjourned at 11:55 AM.
Respectfully submitted, George E. Stocking Secretary