BLINDED VETERANS ASSOCIATION (BVA)
FLORIDA REGIONAL GROUP, INC.
3801 Coco Grove Avenue
Miami, Florida 33133
FRG NEWSLETTER, August 2010
FRG President's Message: Here we are once again, preparing for the Orlando luncheon the first of 7 luncheons that we shall be holding, prior to our State convention, in 2011. Details on the upcoming luncheon shall be covered later in this newsletter. Last year I started listing items of aids and devices that are available through prosthetics for eligible veterans, and I shall continue the practice this year also. The following is a device that I had seen at our state convention last May, and thought it would be excellent for those veterans considered to be low partials. Solo- LV Concept & Features One simple device for both auto-reading and magnification. Read mail, books and newspapers without headache and getting dizzy. Easily accomplish everyday tasks that require both reading and magnification, like filling out a form or writing a check. Easy to use, Compact design , needs no computer. The Auto-reader is Fast and Accurate with No tedious scanning and Magnifies to 12X. Solo-LV IS a "self-contained auto reader that also magnifies. It allows low vision people to use as much of the remaining vision they have and eliminates unnecessary stress for their eyes by using a unique combination of Voice, and the right magnification. Also can be used in speech only mode with no display, or magnification. Reading and magnification are two very different tasks. Simple magnification may not be the best solution for reading. For those whose sight is deteriorating, Solo-LV is the perfect Solution because they can choose larger font sizes as required and transition to comprehending their printed material through listening rather than viewing. Solo-LV is not only great for reading, but also for everyday tasks. For instance, use Solo-LV to read the text on a form, then with the push of a button fill out the form under magnification up to 12X. Instantly reads from any book or printed material. Hand-motion activated and Light weight. For further information, contact your VIST Coordinator, and/or your BROS.
The following board members have been appointed as Chairman of the committees listed below, and those chairman shall appoint there own committee members. Chuck Kays, Chairman of West Palm Beach BRC Committee, Which is responsible for identifying and locating Members and Non members, and BRC information gathering; George Stocking, FRG newsletter editor , Legislative committee, Membership Chairman, and FRG Annual State Convention Chairman; Darryl Goldsmith, Leadership Committee Chairman; Bill Burgess, Horse Shoe Chairman; Gigi Mathis, Liaison to the FRG Auxiliary; Ralph Cantrell, Bylaws Chairman; Bob Walczak - FRG Convention Vendors Committee Coordinator; Bill McDermott, Chairman of aids and devices that are available through prosthetics and determine consistency of said aid and devices throughout the state; Bill Stockslager, List Serve Chairman, plus membership list breakdown by districts and keeper of the results of the BRC exit survey. I have decided not to appoint a transportation chairman, as in the past, because I believe that we all have finally realized that the best solution is the empty back seat of another veteran coming to the convention.
During the early part of 2010, the FRG kicked off its own list serve. This now allows us to send out information to the veterans immediately and at any time that information becomes available. The only requirement is that you are a blinded veteran living in Florida, and have a computer in your home or apartment. The easiest way to sign up is to contact Bill Stockslager at: (941) 743-8364 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. This newly developed List serve, is not only for disseminating Information to the veterans that are signed up, but the veterans is able to also respond to the information about which they may have questions. You can also exchange emails with other veterans freely. I would like to strongly urge Blinded Veterans to use this list serve as much as possible, that way it shall remain a very effective instrument for bringing all veterans up to date with what is happening throughout the state. The board would also like to encourage comments concerning the FRG list serve, so that we may develop it into an even more viable information source for all BV's. I am looking forward to the Orlando luncheon, and meeting once again the veterans in the Orlando area. You may also contact any member of the FRG Board of directors and there phone numbers and email address are listed below. President Terry King (941) 505-7747 email email@example.com; Vice President- Chuck Kays - West Palm Beach (407)873-7993 email firstname.lastname@example.org; Secretary-Treasurer George Stocking - Miami, (305) 446-8008 email email@example.com; Northwest District Darryl Goldsmith - Pensacola (850) 554-7819, email dandv5@cox. net; Northeast District Bill Burgess -Palm Coast (386) 445-4987 email firstname.lastname@example.org; Central West District Gigi Mathis - Lakeland (863-255-9275 email email@example.com; Central East District Ralph Cantrell - Orlando (407) 857-1908 email odyerc.aol.com; Southwest District- Bob Walczak - Port Charlotte) (941) 875-9876 email firstname.lastname@example.org; Southeast District Bill McDermott - Stuart (772) 287-2105 email email@example.com. Terry King, FRG President
FRG Auxiliary President's Message: Hope you are having a wonderful summer! Going on vacation can present its own set of challenges, cant it? John and I were reminded of this when we took a trip to New Orleans in June. The airport security wasnt too much of a hassle. Either the TSA people are getting better training at dealing with blind people or we have developed a better routine. Probably both. Then came the choice of a place to stay. Should we pick the uniformity but blandness of a chain or be a bit more adventurous? We chose a hotel that comprises several historic buildings. The location was ideal, but our room lay beyond a courtyard with uneven cobblestones and hanging branches. The room itself was not a square. It was an irregular shape with strange angles. We were on the second floor. Fortunately, there was an elevator. Was the quirkiness worth it? Would we do it again? Probably, but we would specifically ask for a first floor room. Just like most things in life, it was a trade-off. John sacrificed some ease of navigating the room and the grounds for the ease of a quick walk to get to wherever we wanted to go. Now we are back, and wearing out our computers. For those of you who embrace technology, did you know that the Auxiliary has a website? It is www.frgbvaauxiliary.org. We are also on Facebook (Florida Regional Group Blinded Veterans Association Auxiliary) and Twitter (@FRGBVAAuxiliary.) Fran Thomas, FRG Auxiliary President
FRG Meeting Notice: The first Informational Meeting of the Florida Regional Group, for this year, will be held on Saturday, September 4, at the Rosen Plaza Hotel 9700 International Drive in Orlando. Kirk Harmon has made the arrangements for this luncheon. The meeting will begin with a period of socializing at 11:30 AM, followed by lunch at noon. For lunch, you may have either Miami Beach pan seared breast of chicken with mango cilantro salsa, toasted almonds with brown rice pilaf or sliced roast sirloin with wild mushroom sauce and cheddar mashed potatoes each with garden salad, rolls and butter, ice tea or coffee, and double chocolate cake or assorted fruit bowl. The price of the lunch will be $5 per person, including tax and tip.
FRG President Terry King will preside at the informational meeting following lunch. Kurt Kelly, Member of the Florida House of Representatives and Chairman of the Legislature's Vision Caucus will be our Guest Speaker. Representatives from the Department of Veterans Affairs will be on hand to provide information about services and benefits of interest to BV's and their families. A National Legislative Up-Date will be presented. A report will be presented regarding the BVA National Convention in Washington, D.C., August 24-28. Future FRG activities will be discussed. Information about the FRG Auxiliary will be presented. Kirk Harmon has made Arrangements with the reservation office at the hotel, at $79 per night for Friday and/or Saturday nights. If you are coming from out of town and wish to stay over night call the hotel reservation office at (407) 996-1703 and make a reservation giving the BVA-FRG as the organization which made the arrangements. Cut off date for reservations is August 14. Be sure to make your reservations before that date.
The hotel has asked us to notify them as to the number who will be attending and the type of lunch desired before September 1. Please make your reservations prior to that date by writing to Kirk Harmon at 1031 Lenmore Court, Orlando, FL 32812, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call Kirk at (407) 380-3371, cell (407) 404-0001. You may also make your reservation by calling Rick Cassidy (407)877-8448 or Central East District Director, Ralph Cantrell (407) 857-1908 email odyerc.aol.com. Please give the name of each person who will attend and the choice of meal desired. The restaurant needs the reservation information in order to prepare properly for our meeting.
To get to the Rosen Plaza Hotel from Tampa and the Gulf Coast, take I 4 East to exit 72, take 528 East (Bee line Expressway) to exit no. 1 - International Drive. Turn right on International Drive, the Rosen Plaza will be on your left after the Convention Center. From Daytona or the East Coast, take I 4 and continue as above. From the North or South on the Turnpike, go to exit 259. Take I 4 West to exit 72 and continue as above. Note: The Orlando Convention Center is between the Rosen Plaza Hotel and the Rosen Center Hotel. Our meeting is in the Rosen Plaza, so be sure you have the correct hotel. Free Parking is available behind the hotel. Check with your fellow Blinded veterans, family members, and friends and make plans to join us in Orlando on Saturday, September 4.
New Chief for the WPB BRC: On July 1, 2010, Zaskia Diaz-Marrero took up her duties as Chief of the Blind Rehabilitation Center (BRC) at the West Palm Beach (WPB) VAMC. A native of Puerto Rico, Ms. Diaz-Marrero earned a Bachelor's Degree in Occupational Therapy from the University of Puerto Rico. Subsequently in 1990, she was part of the team which opened the BRC at the San Juan VAMC. She served as a Blind Rehab Specialist, teaching various subjects to Blinded Veterans at the San Juan BRC. In 2000, when services for Blinded Veterans at the WPB VAMC were to be expanded with the opening of the Blind Rehab Center, she was selected as one of the two Blind Rehabilitation Outpatient Specialist (BROS) assigned to provide BROS services to the Blinded Veterans in the five Southeast Florida Counties. She served as a BROS at the WPB VAMC from 2000 to 2006. At that time, she was selected as the Program Coordinator/Supervisor at the Blind Rehab Center. While serving in that capacity, she completed the Veteran Integrated Service Network (VISN) 8 Competency Development for Leaders (CDL) Program. Recently, Zaskia Diaz-Marrero was selected as the new Chief of the WPB VAMC Blind Rehabilitation Center. As such, she will direct the provision of rehabilitation services to Blinded Veterans receiving in patient treatment at the WPB BRC. In her position as Program Coordinator at the BRC, she was instrumental in helping the BVA-FRG in getting its Exit Survey Program started. This program will assist the BVA-FRG in its advocacy responsibilities. We thank her for that assistance. On behalf of Blinded Veterans in Florida, We congratulate Ms Diaz-Marrero on her new position as Chief of the BRC and look forward to working cooperatively with her to insure quality services for Blinded Veterans.
FRG Southwest District Walk-A-Thon: Attention FRG Southwest District members! The annual Walk-A-Thon will be held in Ft. Myers on Saturday, October 16, 2010 from 9 AM to 2 PM. We urge all Blinded veterans to participate in this fund raising venture. The entire share amount of the funds received by the BVA-FRG shall be used toward the cost of bus transportation to the FRG Convention in Daytona Beach next spring. Last year, we received $1300 from the Walk-A-Thon and hope to receive at least $1500 this year. Please help us reach this goal. For information, contact VIST Coordinator Joyce Thornton-Gilbert at (239) 939-3939 ex 6284 or Terry King at (941) 505-7747.
New BVA Field Service Program (FSP) Representative: Douglas M. Brooks has taken up his duties as the new BVA FSP Representative in Atlanta, effective May 31, 2010, following the retirement of Ron Lester. Douglas Brooks was born in Portsmouth, Virginia where he attended school. Following high school , he entered the Marine Corps in 1973. While in the Marine Corps, he incurred a visual disability which ultimately left him legally blind. In 1978, he used his VA training eligibility to entered Charleston Southern University where he earned a bachelor's degree in Psychology. Following college, he worked 7 years as a math and science teacher. Subsequently, he attended graduate school at Old Dominion University. For 15 years, he worked as a counselor for the South Carolina School System. Over the years, he has done significant volunteer work, primarily in little league baseball. In 2005, he moved to Georgia where he continued his volunteer work. In January 2010, he began working as a volunteer with Ron Lester at the BVA FSP Office in Atlanta. Doug is married and has two sons. They live in the Atlanta area. In addition to his work as our new FSP Representative in Atlanta and volunteer work, he is a model train enthusiast. We welcome Douglas Brooks to his new position as the BVA Southeast Field Service Program Representative in Atlanta. If BV's need his assistance with VA claims, call him at (404) 929-5338.
Remember to mark your calendar for Saturday, September 4, so that you, your family members, and friends, may attend the FRG meeting at the Rosen Plaza Hotel in Orlando. Be sure to call those listed above and make your reservations, before September 1. If you make a reservation and can't come, please call and cancel your reservation before that date . The FRG will pay $15 for each meal we guarantee. We don't want to pay for meals not used. Join us at the Rosen Plaza Hotel in Orlando on September 4 for an informative, interesting, and enjoyable afternoon. Help us make this, the first of seven District Luncheon meetings before our State Convention, the best yet.
FRG Meeting Schedule
September 4 FRG Meeting Rosen Plaza Hotel in Orlando
October 2 Proposed FRG Meeting in Jacksonville
November 6 FRG Meeting at the Palm's Restaurant in North Ft. Myers
December 4 Proposed FRG meeting in the St. Petersburg-Clearwater area
January 16 Proposed FRG meeting Hilton Hotel in Ocala.
FRG Newsletter Staff
Terry King FRG President
Fran Thomas FRG Auxiliary President
George Stocking Newsletter Editor