Fall 2008
Newsletter of
The East Bay Center for the Blind, Inc.
2928 Adeline St.
Berkeley, CA 94703
Phone: 510-843-6935
Fax: 510-843-6006
Web site:

Editor's Corner
By Daveed Mandell

Fall has finally arrived, and with it this issue of "Keeping in Touch"! I hope you all had a pleasant summer.

We wish to express our appreciation to Lynne Laird, who produced the large print edition of this issue.

Thanks so much to all those who helped to make our August picnic such a wonderful success. We are especially grateful to those members and volunteers who prepared huge quantities of beans and potato salad, set up, wrapped plasticware, served food, moved tables and chairs outside, put up the canopy and cleaned up.

Congratulations to long-time members Ruth and Manuel Arellano, who have served the Center faithfully for many years. Every week, they have cleaned the Center. Every month, they have set up for events large and small, and done many other tasks too numerous to mention here. The Center membership and Board of Directors are deeply grateful for all of their time, service and devotion that have contributed immeasurably to the Center's growing impact on both the blind community and the community at large.

The Center welcomes Marina Sanchez, who has recently been hired as our new janitor. For several years, Marina has served food and cleaned up during the Center's monthly events.

Regrettably, the Center has lost another member. Rose Harter passed away last July. We already miss her.

The Center recently received some information on how to advocate with the Social Security Administration, which I thought would be helpful to most of us. I have included it in this issue. Likewise, thanks to Joyce Ishii, who has submitted some invaluable information about using a cell phone to request emergency assistance.

Thanks to Katrina McCurdy for contributing a recipe. Finally, Sharon and Patricia Nash have submitted a review of an unusual and interesting Braille book, which is available from mainstream stores.

If this newsletter is to remain afloat, it badly needs contributions from members. Please send me short articles, tips and techniques, poems, recipes, announcements and informational items. Contact me via email at, or by phone at 510-665-9260.

On behalf of the Board of Directors, I wish you all a joyous Holiday Season: Merry Christmas, Happy Kwanzaa, Happy Hanukah and a very healthy, fruitful, prosperous New Year.

President’s Letter

Dear Friends:

My congratulations to all of you who made it possible for us to again have our picnic outside this year. Members and their friends and families pitched in to set up our shade canopy, tables and chairs, as well as helping to serve and more. We were fortunate to have a beautiful day for the picnic. You all wanted the picnic outside and you made it happen. Thanks very much to all of you.

In July the Center was honored to be asked to hold the memorial for Rose Harter by her family. I was very saddened by Rose’s passing, and pleased that the Center could be a place where her life was celebrated and some comfort sustained by those close to her. Rose contributed much to our Center over the many years she was involved here, and we will miss her laughter and presence. She was a role model for me of someone who could always find joy in life and make the best of a situation.

Just a reminder that we’ll be having our business meeting on October 25th, at which time we’ll be choosing three members of the nominating committee that will propose a slate of officers and board members for our elections in January. I hope to see all of you there, as well as at our Harvest Festival coming up on November 22nd. Crafts, knitted items and baked goods are welcome from any who can contribute to help with our fund raising at the festival, and you can look forward to shopping for the holidays there also while supporting the Center.

Be well each of you, and I look forward to seeing you soon.

Jan Santos

Upcoming Events

DeYoung Museum Tactile Tour: Events Committee Chair John Morin has arranged a tactile tour of the DeYoung Museum in San Francisco. It will take place on Friday, October 10. Transportation to and from the Museum will be provided. Participants will leave the Center at 9 AM and return at 4:30 PM. Bring a sack lunch, or you can buy lunch at the museum's restaurant. There will be a nominal charge for transportation. Please contact the Center if you wish to attend.

Quarterly Business Meeting: The Center will hold its next quarterly business meeting on Saturday, October 25, from 1 to 4 PM. We will elect three members of the Nominating Committee, which will choose a slate of officers for next January's elections. Lunch cost $8 for members and $9 for guests. Please reserve your lunch plate no later than Wednesday, October 22.

Harvest Festival: The Center's annual Harvest Festival will take place on Saturday, November 22, from noon to 4 PM. We will be selling holiday craft items and baked goods. Please call the Center if you plan to bring your favorite hand-made ornaments or other wares to sell. Please also let us know if you wish to contribute your most tempting taste treats to be purchased by members and friends of the Center. We have yet to decide what will be served for lunch. The $6 lunch plate will be available for those who order it no later than Wednesday, November 19.

Holiday Party: Our annual Holiday Party will take place on Saturday, December 20, from noon to 4 PM. Details about the lunch will be announced later. We will sell craft items, and our chorus will entertain us with songs and readings. Our Holiday lunch is free for all those people who pay their $10 dues before, or on the day of the party. Please reserve your lunch no later than Wednesday, December 17.

Center Announcements

Craft Items and Baked Goods: The Center's Harvest Festival and Holiday Party are coming up this quarter. If you are making craft items to sell at these events, please call Dorothy Vallerga at 510-352-0522. If you plan to offer baked goods to sell, please contact the Center.

Dues Reminder: 2009 dues are now due and payable. Please remit your $10 to the Center as soon as possible. If you pay your dues on or before December 20, the date of our Holiday Party, your meal will be on the house.

Library Matters:

Library Committee Chair Grace Rodriguez reminds Center members that they can borrow Braille volumes for three weeks. She asks members to return Braille volumes to their proper places on the shelves.

Mind Aerobics Class: Sarabeth Emet, an instructor with the Berkeley Adult School, is interested in teaching a new class at the Center, called Mind Aerobics. Here is her description of the class. Sing, play word games, create stories, solve puzzles, play interactive games, and exercise your mind. Have fun, while developing concentration and awareness in a community setting. The games are fun, easy, and stimulating! Have a good time while developing the ability to think more clearly.

If you would like to participate in this class, please notify the Center no later than Friday, October 10. Sarabeth says she's willing to offer an hour-long demonstration class for prospective participants.

New Center Hours: From now on the Center will be open Tuesday through Friday, from 10 AM to 3 PM.

Center Closures: The Center will be closed for the Thanksgiving Holiday from Wednesday, November 26 through Friday, November 28. It will re-open on Tuesday, December 2. The Center will be closed for the Winter Holiday from Tuesday, December 23, through Friday, January 2. It will re-open on Tuesday, January 5, 2009.

Hints for Prospective Social Security Disability and SSI Claimants

Social Security law defines disability as the "inability to do any substantial gainful activity by reason of any medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death, or which has lasted, or can be expected to last, for a continuous period of not less than 12 months". To meet this definition, you must have a severe impairment which makes you unable to do your previous work or any other job available in the national economy.

Applying for and obtaining Social Security Disability or SSI benefits can be a tedious and difficult process. San Rafael Attorney Patrick Kelly offers the following tips, which might help you along the way.

  1. Always apply for benefits as soon as possible after the onset of a disability, in order to avoid losing many months of eligibility.
  2. Never take "No" for an answer. Always appeal a denial.
  3. Likewise, never take "Yes" for an answer. Do not accept a late onset date for starting to receive benefits, because that would reduce the amount of your back award.
  4. Never miss appeal deadlines. However, if you do miss such a deadline, always apply again.
  5. Always request that prior applications be reopened.
  6. Always consider depression as an aspect of an illness.
  7. Always verify that all medical records are in your file.
  8. Never believe that a simple note from a doctor saying you are "disabled" is sufficient documentation for you to win a benefit award.
  9. Always fill out claim forms or online applications before talking to a lawyer.
  10. You can be eligible for workers' compensation, VA benefits and other private insurance programs at the same time as Social Security Disability payments.
  11. When appealing a denial of a request for benefits, never think you cannot afford a lawyer. Always remember that fees are only paid if you win.

Calling for Help from Your Cell

Because many of our members spend a significant amount of time here at the Center in Berkeley, we thought the following information would be helpful.

Did you know that if you call 9-1-1 from your cell phone, your call could be routed to the California Highway Patrol in Vallejo? For a faster response in an emergency, the Berkeley Police Department strongly recommends that you program 510-981-5911 into your cell phone for a direct connection to Berkeley's Communications Center. For non-emergency police matters, please call 510-981-5900 from a cell or land line.

Book Review

The Black Book of Colors
Submitted by Sharon and Patricia Nash

I discovered this book when a classmate brought it in for an assignment in one of my classes at Merritt College. Having a blind mother, I fell in love with the idea: A picture book with no color, describing color. Having a blind mother, this book was the perfect find for me. Containing both print and Braille, it's something my mom and my son Kael could share to help him understand that his grandma uses all of her senses, except sight, to "see".

Every image in the book is raised so that it's beautiful to see and feel; and the objects that the author uses to describe each color match perfectly. The book's only downfall is something I knew about, being sighted. The Braille on its pages wasn't meant for a blind person to read, because the dots are extremely faint. I'm sure it can be deciphered, but only with careful hands. However, the book includes a Braille alphabet, so that if you are purchasing it for a sighted person, they get a good impression of the Braille dot configuration.

Overall, I loved this book, and I recommend it to anyone who wants to imagine how a blind person "sees" color. Now, here's Mom:

The Braille in this book is rather hard to read, but you can read it, if you work at it. Winner of the New Horizons Prize at Bologna in Mexico, "The Black Book of Colors" was written by Menena Cottin and Rosana Faria, and translated by Elisa Amado. Published by Groundwood Books, it costs $17.95.

Although it's hard for a sighted person to imagine what it's like to be blind, we see the colors through a blind boy's perception, with his senses of touch, taste and smell. Raised black line-drawings display the pictures, which depict the colors that Thomas "sees".

My favorite pictures are a strawberry, raindrops and Thomas's mother's hair. This is indeed a charming book.


Submitted by Katrina McCurdy

1 lb ground beef or turkey
3/4 cup yellow corn meal
1 1/2 cups milk
1 egg, beaten
1 pkg chili seasoning mix
1 tsp seasoned salt
1  1-lb can whole tomatoes, cut up
1  1-lb can whole kernel corn, drained
1  2 1/4-oz can sliced ripe olives, drained
1 cup grated cheddar cheese 

In a skillet cook meat until crumbly and drain. In a large bowl mix corn meal, milk and egg. Add drained meat, dry chili mix, seasoned salt, tomatoes, corn and olives. Pour into crockpot. Cover and cook on high for 3 to 4 hours. Sprinkle cheese over top. Cook another 5 minutes. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Remembering Rose Harter

Rose Harter passed away last July from a blood clot on her leg that moved to her lung. She was 48 years old.

Since June of 2006, Rose had been fighting a staph infection and other complications she suffered after an operation on her leg. A year before, she had been hit by a car. Rose spent some nine months in the hospital and several more months in a nursing home.

Rose rallied after months in a coma. It seemed as if nothing would stop her. She often came to the Center using a walker or a wheelchair.

For over six years, Rose worked for the IRS as a customer service representative. She was involved with the Center for many years. She also actively participated in the California Council of the Blind. During the past several years Rose served as President of the CCB's Alameda County Chapter.

Despite numerous health problems throughout her life, Rose was always determined to live life to the fullest. She was always on the go, laughing, talking and enjoying people.

Throughout her many years of involvement with the Center, Rose did everything from cleaning the kitchen and washing dishes, to labeling tapes and CDs and organizing the Center's audiobook library.

Rose is survived by her son, Sam Turner, her parents and brothers. We will certainly miss her very much.

Mission Statement

The mission of the East Bay Center for the Blind, Inc., is to develop quality programs and services for blind and visually impaired people by providing a safe and supportive environment, while encouraging one another through leadership, interaction and the sharing of information, resources and skills. The Center's activities enhance independence, dignity and self-determination. As a self-governing organization of primarily blind and visually impaired persons, The East Bay Center for the Blind, Inc., is committed to remaining a living, working foundation of strength, as we participate in the larger community in all areas of our daily lives.

Center Officers and Directors

President:  Jan Santos
First Vice-President:  Daveed Mandell
Second Vice-President:  Dorothy Vallerga
Recording Secretary:  Patricia Nash
Corresponding Secretary:  Connie Skeen
Treasurer:  Lizz Deeff
Directors:  Claude Everett, Steve Fort, Joyce Ishii, Ida Johnson, John Morin


If you or a friend would like to remember The East Bay Center for the Blind, Inc., in your will, you can do so by employing the following language: "I give, devise, and bequeath unto The East Bay center for the Blind, Inc., a nonprofit charitable organization in California, the sum of $___ (or ___) to be used for its worthy purposes on behalf of blind persons." Thank you.

"I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be."
--Douglas Adams