BLINDED VETERANS ASSOCIATION

Chartered by the United States Congress

FLORIDA REGIONAL GROUP

3801 Coco Grove Avenue

Miami, Florida 33133

 

BVA-FRG web site:www.bvafrg.org††

 

 

FRG Newsletter - June 2011

 

†††† Editor's Note:For 30 years, the Talking Book Library in Daytona Beach has recorded, duplicated, and mailed our FRG Newsletter in cassette form.Some BV's do not want the cassette Newsletter and return the container to the TB Library requesting to beremoved from the cassette list.The labels for both the print and cassette versions are prepared by the BVA Headquarters in Washington.The TB Library is not set up to delete a BV's name from the Cassette list.Further, the TB Library is experiencing some difficulty in obtaining new cassettes as the Talking Book Program is moving to the digital format.This FRG Newsletter is available on line at www.bvafrg.org and for those on the list serve, it is distributed in that format.If you do not want the cassette version, please tear your name label off of the print envelope and send it to the BVA-FRG at 3801 Coco Grove Avenue, Miami, FL 33133.In that way the BVA computer can be program not to print your name label for the TB Library's mailing.This will be most helpful.†††

 

†††† FRG President's Message:Greetings to the members of the Florida Blinded Veterans Association.I am honored and grateful to all of you who voted for me to become your President.I will do my very best to follow in the tradition of my predecessors, Terri King and Paul Kaminsky.I am very fortunate two have such a pool of wisdom to draw from.I salute them both, no one except George Stocking ever worked harder†††† for you.If possible I would like to start volunteer offices in the local VA hospitals, and clinics where a support group meeting is held.This will primarily be the duties of the district directors, but if anyone wants to get off their back side and help out by manning a volunteer†† office as little as one day a month, we can make a difference.My congratulation to all of the other officers and District Directors that were elected. They are: Vice President Gigi Mathis,

Lakeland, 863 255 9275, Gigig285@aol.com; Secretary-Treasurer George Stocking, Miami, (305) 446- 8008, gstocking@bellsouth.net; Past President Terry King, Punta Gorda, 941 505 7747, tnking18@earthlink.net; Northeast District Director Joe Brack, Glen St. Mary,904 259-1404, eocjoeb@nefcom.net; Central East District Director Charles Brooks, Kissimmee, 407 847-0461, chpontiac1@aol.com; Southwest District Director Bob Walczak, Port Charlotte, 941 875-9876, milwallygator@comcast.net; Southeast District Director Jerry Abney, Miami 305 270-1739abneyj@bellsouth.net.I welcome†† all ofthe new district directors, whom I feel are a fine group of talented men.They all want to help make a difference.Northwest and central west are in need of district directors.If you have computer training,and live in one of the two areas in need of a director, please contact me, if you would like to fill the position.The mission is the same and itwill never change.We as a group, all of us together must vigorouslyattempt to locate, identify, and inform, the veterans and the general public, that the Blinded Veterans association (BVA) exists and that we are to help any blinded veteran (BV) learn about and take advantage of the many services and benefits about which they may not be informed.Just to give you an example of the challenge ahead.The VA has over 5000 BV's on the VIST roles, but we only have 1500 members in the FRG/BVA.There are probably many other BV's about whom we and the VA are unaware.It doesnít takelong to understand that we are not reaching, or are somehow missing out on locating a very large number of BV's.These are the lost Veterans who do not know of the Vistprogram, support groups, or other services available to them.the many VAbenefits help†† us in dealing with the great challenges that are a part of the difficult world of blindness.Blind rehab is one of the most important things that a BV can do to prepare themselves for the new world they are about to face.The VA blind rehab centers staffs areby far thefinest in the world.The training is world class.We must ensure that the young warriors that we sent off to preserve our freedom, if God forbid they receive an injury that takes their sight, it is our reasonable responsibility to fight for the rights and benefits We BV's, through the BVA, has earned.There isrealpower in numbers.We must do better at letting the community of Blinded Veterans†† know that we are here for them.We haveto figure out who isnot on our roles and must add them to our roles.I proclaim that everyone is charged with this effort.Your duties are simple,just buy a BVA cap, so that other people can see that you are a member of the BVA.if you hear of a BV aroundyou or if someone that you knowis aware of a BlindedVeteran in their church, synagogue, country club, or other veterans organizations, let us know. If you belong to a Lions or Rotary Club or have any political or business contacts that, are aware of a BV have them get the blind person in touch with you.If you donít feel comfortable about speaking to groups about the BVA-FRG, just ask your district director if they would, if I can,I will.We need to create a lot of publicity.There are a lot of radio stations and local newspapers that we can utilize by holding interviews.we can accessthese mediums toget our message to the many ears of the public.The FRG, the largest group in the BVA, has a little over 1500 members.We must reach those lost Blinded veterans to keep our membership the highest in the BVA.We have a lot of work to do to get the Korea, Vietnam, Gulf War , Iraq, and Afghanistan vets to participate volunteering to help others, and themselves.A healthy body makes a healthy mind.I believe that sports, exercising,and yoga for stretching should some how be incorporatedinto the BRC course.When one is blind, an individual is very likely to quit a lot of beneficial exercise.I will be trying to make this happen.Keep supporting the BVAA for all of their hard work and their support of the BVA.Thanksto Terry King for all of hisvery hard work.Support the Troops!This is all for now.Darryl Goldsmith, FRG President 850-554-7819 dandv5@cox.net

 

†††† FRG Auxiliary President's Message:The FRG BVA Auxiliary's annual business meeting was held Saturday morning at the FRG state convention in Daytona Beach.The officers are the same as last year.I was honoredto be re-elected as President. Beverly Godfrey is Vice President, Pat Taylor isSecretary, and Diane Walczak is Treasurer.New member Dawn Brooks is theMembership Chair. Maureen Kaminsky is Raffle Chair.Beverly Godfrey and Pat Holcomb will continue as Scholarship Co-Chairs. Through their efforts along with the proceeds from the fifty/fifty raffles thispast year, we were able to award A $1000 FRG Auxiliary Scholarship to Samantha Hynes.She is a student atthe University of Central Florida majoring in psychology with the goal ofbecoming a zoologist and learning how to use animals in rehabilitation.We also discussed and agreed on a number of changes to our by-laws. These have been sent to the BVANational Auxiliary for approval.In addition to the business meeting, we held a coffee hour on Friday morning. This informal time allowed us to connect as friends.After all, that's what it's all about, isn't it?

Fran Thomas, FRG Auxiliary President telephone (239) 283-1708 email PghFran9@aol.com†††††

†† FRG State Convention Business Meeting Minutes:The meeting was called to order at 9:02 AM on April 30, by President Terry King.The pledge to the flag was led by Terry King and the invocation was given by George Stocking.A motion was passed to waive the reading of the 2010 Annual Business Meeting Minutes and to accept them as published in the June 2010 FRG Newsletter.The Treasurer reported an openingbalance of$21324.78 in the FRG checking account in April 2010.During the year, income totaling $23246.67 was received, making a total of $44571.45 available in the checking account for FRG use.Expenditures during the year totaled 25239.01, leaving a balance in†† the checking account, prior to the 2011 Convention, of $19332.44.During the year, two fund raising events occurred .Bob Walczak, Southwest District Director, Terry King and†† Joyce Thornton VIST Coordinator†† led a White Cane Walk-A-Thon in Ft. Myers raising $1000 and Gigi Mathis raised $1000 from the Lakeland area each of which went for bus transportation to the State Convention.The value of the CD's in the general fund, in April 2010 was $97557.08.Interest on all General Fund CD's was $923.28.†††† The total funds in General account CD's as of April 2011 was $98480.36.in April 2010.the FRG Auxiliary Scholarships Fund CD , a restricted account, was valued at $11240.21.During the year $122.41 was received in Interest, leaving a balance of $11362.62available for future FRG Auxiliary Scholarships.The total Certificates of Deposit, including the Scholarship fund was $109842.98. Total cash assets including the checking account and all certificates of deposit in April 2011 was $129275.42.The Convention accepted the Treasurer's report.

 

†††† The District Directors provided information about 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 1505 Members and Associate Members as of April2011.This is an increase of 25 Members and Associate Members since the time of the 2010 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 954 BV's on the FRG - BVA mailing list who have not paid their dues for 2011.The FRG - BVA new mailing list contains a total of 2459 Blinded Veterans in the State of Florida.Over the past 18 months, the FRG has increased its mailing list by over 325 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.

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†††† 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 writingto 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. AS the FRG Representative on the Florida Dept. of Veterans Affairs Veterans Service Council, Paul Kaminsky reported on activities with that Council.He reported on the efforts of the Council to establish a non profit organization to raise money to fund the various Veterans' Nursing Homes operated by the FDVA.Presently, with some assistance from the VA, these facilities are funded by the State of Florida.Such a plan might encourage The Florida Legislature to reduce funding for these facilities, saying that they can be funded by donations.The BVA-FRG voted against the establishment of a non profit organization to fund the Florida Veterans' Nursing Homes.

 

†††† 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 2011 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 - Darryl Goldsmith from Pensacola;Vice President - Gigi Mathis from Lakeland;Secretary-Treasurer - George Stocking from Miami;Northeast District Director - Joe Brack from Lake City;Central East District - Charles Brooks from Kissimmee; Southwest District - Bob Walczak from Punta Gorda; and Southeast District - Jerry Abney from Miami.Terry King will serve as Past President. An election was held to select the Florida Regional Group Delegation to the BVA 66 National Convention , as follows:Delegate - Dr. George Stocking;Alternate Delegates:1. Mike Taylor, 2. Darryl Goldsmith, 3. Mike Nagelberg, 4. Ron Mackie. Mike Taylor 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 increase annual dues to $15; 2. Vote for the Amendment to increase life dues to $50 for BV's age 66 and over, $63 for BV's age 61-65, $75 for BV's age 55-60, $88 for BV's age 45-54, and $100 for BV's age 44 and under.3. 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.4. Vote against the Amendment to establish a low vision category of membership by paying a $100 Low Vision Life Membership and have the right to participate in Regional Group activities but not on a National level. 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 FRG By-Law Amendment was passed to change the quorum of the FRG Board of Directors to conduct business from 6 to a majority of those serving on the Board.††† This would permit the Board to conduct business when there are vacancies on the Board with the participation of a majority of the remaining Board members.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 of Directors, the responsibility to move the funds to another bank if more advantageous interest rates can be obtained.†††††††

†††† The 2012 FRG State Convention was discussed.When the Convention Chairman George Stocking, met with the hotel management the hotel offered to maintain the same contractas in 2011 with the exception that an increase to $80 for ocean view rooms and $90 for ocean front rooms for the 2012 convention would be in effect. The membership voted to accept the contract for the 2012 FRG State Convention.The meeting was adjourned at 11:45 AM.(Note: For the first time, the FRG Convention was broadcast on the inter net.Paul Kaminsky made the necessary arrangements to accomplish this broadcast.Next year, this alternative will be more widely publicized.)

 

Respectfully submitted,††††††††††††††††† George E. Stocking †††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Secretary