Spring 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

Spring has finally sprung, bringing with it beautiful, warm weather. Welcome to the Spring issue of "Keeping in Touch."

In this issue, Grace Rodriguez introduces a new column which will offer alternative techniques and tips to make everyday living easier and more productive for blind and visually impaired people. We know that many of our members have learned or invented their own methods for accomplishing many life tasks without sight. Therefore, I welcome and encourage your active participation in making this new column possible.

Thanks to Grace for also contributing a poem about success, and to Connie Skeen for submitting her recipe for Irish bread pudding. Your contributions to the newsletter are essential for its continued existence. Please contact me via e-mail at, or by phone at 510-665-9260.

Presidentís Letter

Dear Friends:

I would like to remind all of you that our quarterly business meeting is next month, on Saturday, April 26. Please bring your suggestions for upcoming events, as well as ideas for outreach to bring in new members. Remember also that we need and want your participation to keep the Center going.

Please stay in touch with us, and give us any feedback, or bring up any issues, that will help us function in the best ways possible. Feel free to contact me or any of the EBCB Boardmembers with your thoughts and concerns at any time. A list of the officers and directors can be found elsewhere in this newsletter. Call or email us at EBCB.

Thanks for each of your unique contributions, and I hope to see you at the April business meeting. Be well until then.

Jan Santos

Upcoming Events

Quarterly Business Meeting: The Center will hold its next quarterly business meeting on Saturday, April 26, from 1 to 4 PM. Attendees will talk about such issues as improving outreach, and finding and enlisting more volunteers. Lunch will be served after the meeting. Members pay $8, guests $9. Please order your lunch no later than Wednesday, April 23.

Movie Day: Join us for an audio-described movie on Saturday, May 24, from noon to 4 PM. We'll also serve lunch, -- and don't forget the popcorn! Lunch costs $6 across the board. Please request your meal no later than Wednesday, May 21.

Bake Sale: If you crave some mouth-watering homemade cakes, pastries, cookies, candies and breads, you won't want to miss the Center's annual Bake Sale, which will take place on Saturday, June 28, from noon to 4 PM. Of course, you'll want to bring your favorite baked goods to share with others as well! The Center's chorus will entertain the gathering with songs from the musical "Paint Your Wagon". Lunch, which costs $4 across the board, will also be served. Please reserve your lunch no later than Wednesday, June 25.

Why I Am a Member of the East Bay Center for the Blind
By Grace Rodriguez

(Editor's Note: For nearly thirty years, while working as a living skills instructor at the Orientation Center for the Blind in Albany, Grace Rodriguez gave the gift of independence to thousands of blind persons. She possesses tremendous expertise in teaching blind and visually impaired individuals.)

During my 27 years of teaching at the [California] Orientation Center for the Blind in Albany, I saw many wonderful things happen. Newly-blinded individuals found their way back into society with new skills and hope. The program offered basic daily living skills, such as cane travel, communications (braille and typing), cooking, sewing and child care. A well-equipped shop gave students access to manual and power tools.

I was fortunate to be a part of that remarkable OCB, and was thrilled to see young blind people acquire new skills and confidence, which would carry them through a busy and successful life. Many lives were changed from doubt, fear and dread, to hope, determination and pride.

After retiring in 1983, I still had quite a bit of energy, and was ready to become involved in a worthwhile project. I found my wish here at the East Bay Center for the Blind, and soon discovered that this other Center believed in, and practiced, the OCB's positive philosophy of blindness.

The Center offers classes taught by highly qualified instructors in computer training, ceramics, moderate exercise, arts and crafts, and music appreciation. In addition, the Center provides social activities, outings and entertainment.

A well-known leader of one of the organized blind movements once said that blindness is not so much a disability, as it is an inconvenience. Many of our members often prove that assertion to be true.

Over cups of coffee, there is often much discussion and a lot of brain-storming and exchange of ideas and support. Members are anxious to share information pertaining to blind people. There may even be a "show and tell" discussion about products and services useful to the Center's blind members. They may bring up blindness-related issues and problems to which suggestions or solutions are offered.

Most of our members are well-read and keep in touch with what's happening in the world around them. As with all intelligent groups of people, political discussions often occur, and together we solve the world's problems, which is stimulating and fun.

Perhaps the answer to the question why I am a member of the Center is that I enjoy seeing blind persons moving, learning and, as the title of our Newsletter says, KEEPING IN TOUCH. It has been suggested that we add a "helpful hints" column to the Newsletter. As I have already said, among our members are many who have solved problems and are willing to share solutions and information with others.

The Center is a great place to meet people and make new friends. It is a joy to see many of my former students, and to realize they have fulfilled my expectations and are now productive men and women, working in their chosen fields and contributing to society in many ways. The Center has come a long way, but we still have a long way to go. I am confident that we will eventually accomplish our mission. In time, rather than becoming a haven for blind people, may the Center become a starting place for new adventures.

Mission Statement:
The East Bay Center for the Blind, Inc.

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, social 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.

Unwanted Calls?

If you are receiving unwanted telemarketing calls, the California Attorney-General's Office can help you. Call 888-382-1222.

Irish Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce
Submitted by Connie Skeen

1/4 cup butter
1  10-oz. Loaf French bread or baguette cut into 1-inch slices
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup Irish whiskey
1 3/4 cups milk
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp vanilla
1 12-oz. Can evaporated milk
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
Cooking spray
1 tbsp sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1 recipe Caramel Whiskey Sauce (see recipe below)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brush melted butter on one side of French bread slices and place bread, butter side up, on a baking sheet. Bake bread at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until lightly toasted. Cut bread into 1/2-inch cubes and set aside.

Combine raisins and whiskey in a small bowl. Cover and let stand 10 minutes. Do not drain.

Combine regular milk, sugar, vanilla, evaporated milk and eggs in a large bowl. Stir well. Add bread cubes and raisin mixture, pressing gently to moisten. Let stand 15 minutes.

Spoon mixture into a 9 by 13 inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Combine 1 tbsp sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over pudding.

Bake at 350 degrees 35 minutes or until set. Serve warm with caramel whiskey sauce or whipped cream. Makes 12 servings.

Caramel Whiskey Sauce:

1 1/2 cups sugar
2/3 cup water
1/4 cup butter
2 oz. Cream cheese
1/4 cup whiskey
1/4 cup milk

Combine sugar and water in saucepan over medium heat. Cook until sugar dissolves, stirring constantly. Cook an additional 15 minutes or until golden (do not stir). Remove from heat. Carefully add butter and cream cheese, stirring constantly. Cool slightly and stir in whiskey and milk. Yield: 1-1/2 cups.

In Memoriam

We are sad to announce that several Center members have recently passed away.

Brooksine Barrington attended many Center functions.

Janet Rogers was a Center member. She worked as a licensed practical nurse for many years.

Beverly Hammer once taught a health and nutrition class at the Center. During the 1960s, she served as the California Council of the Blind's paid lobbyist in Sacramento. In the 1980s, Beverly was employed as Disabled Students Coordinator at Vista Community College in Berkeley, and assisted numerous blind people of all ages to become gainfully employed.

We send our condolences to the families of these three women.


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.

Poem: "Success"
(Author Unknown)
Submitted by Grace Rodriguez

  It's doing your job the best you can
  And being just to your fellow man;
  It's making money, but holding friends,
  And staying true to your aims and ends.
  It's figuring how, and learning why,
  And looking forward and thinking high,
  And dreaming a little and doing much;
  And keeping always in closest touch
  With what is finest in word and deed,
  It's being thorough, yet making speed;
  It's daring blithely the field of chance
  While making labor a brave romance,
  It's being clean and playing fair,
  It's laughing lightly at dame despair.
  It's looking up at stars above,
  And drinking deeply of life and love.
  It's struggling on with the will to win,
  But taking loss with a cheerful grin;
  It's sharing sorrow at work and mirth,
  And making better this good old earth.
  It's serving, striving through strain and stress,
  It's doing your noblest -- That's success.

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

"Be still when you have nothing to say; [but] when genuine passion moves you, say what you've got to say, and say it hot."
-- D. H. Lawrence