East Bay Center for the Blind


Spring 2011
Newsletter of
The East Bay Center for the Blind, Inc.
2928 Adeline St.
Berkeley, CA 94703
Phone: 510-843-6935
Fax: 510-843-6006
E-Mail: ebcb@pacbell.net
Web site: www.eastbaycenterfortheblind.org

Editor's Corner

By Daveed Mandell

Welcome to the Spring issue of "Keeping in Touch"! In this issue, the Center's newly elected President Steve Fort writes his first letter to the membership; Loralee Castner rewards us with a brilliant, humorous account of one of her first attempts at what is sometimes known as "travel training"; A fashion designer unveils a new braille fashion collection; Grace Rodriguez muses wryly about new phone and computer technology; Dorothy Donaville and Patricia Nash update us about the Center's book and writing clubs; and Preston Moses tickles our punny bones with another installment of "Know Pun Intended".

Please contribute stories, articles, announcements and ads to the Newsletter, via email at ebcb@pacbell.net, or by phone at 510-843-6935.

President's Letter

Dear Friends:

Last January, I was truly honored to be elected President of The East Bay Center for the Blind, Inc., whose officers and Board of Directors are elected by us, the membership. I am privileged to coordinate my duties as President with those of our newly appointed General Manager, Jan Santos, who has guided EBCB as President with extraordinary tact, skill and poise. She has set a standard of excellence that is challenging. With Jan as General Manager, I can focus more intently on presidential duties, working with all of our members to forge a concensus regarding the direction in which we would like to continue to move and shape the Center.

Ongoing discussions at Board meetings, and inquiries from members, culminated in a motion at last July's business meeting, which passed unanimously, to purchase a new public address system. Working with me were Dorothy Donaville and Anita March, who continued to keep the matter alive. Leo's Pro Audio's Vice-President agreed to come to the Center to offer an estimate, and the Board of Directors unanimously approved the purchase of the new sound system. My thanks to Anita and Dorothy, whose skillful negotiation and continued support helped make this possible, and thanks to all of you. I couldn't have done this alone.

We have a number of exciting activities mentioned later in this issue. These include our Oldies Dance in May, with music in stereo for the first time in years, and our June Bake Sale and EBCB Chorus performance of songs from "Show Boat", directed by our wonderfully accomplished accompanist, Diana Perry.

On a different subject, several committees actively participate in the work of the Center. Feel free to contact Jan or me, if you wish to serve on committees that interest you. If there are topics and speakers you would like to suggest for our business meetings, please let Jan or me know.

In conclusion, I hope in the coming months and years to be worthy of your continued support.

Steve Fort

Upcoming Events

Quarterly Business Meeting: The Center's next quarterly business meeting will be held on Saturday, April 23, from 1 to 4 PM. We will read, discuss and vote on three amendments to the Center's Bylaws regarding the duties of the General Manager. Lunch -- Jan's hamburger casserole, green beans, rolls and cake -- costs $10 across the board, and must be ordered no later than Wednesday, April 20.

Oldies Dance: The Center will hold an Oldies Dance, with Deejay Mike Gorman, on Saturday, May 21, from 2 to 6 PM. Lunch -- fried chicken, potato salad, carrot and celery sticks, and pudding -- costs $10 across the board, and must be ordered by Wednesday, May 18.

Annual Bake Sale: The Center will hold its annual Bake Sale on Saturday, June 25, from noon to 4 PM. We are looking for more bakers this year. Please call the Center and let us know that you plan to bake. If we don't hear from enough members and friends, we will have to cancel the Bake Sale. Prepare and bring your favorite cakes, cookies, pies, breads, candies and frozen main dishes for other Center members and friends to savor and enjoy. Indulge in a variety of tempting sweet and savory morsels that other people will bring to share. Lunch, taco salad, costs $6 across the board, and must be ordered no later than Wednesday, June 22.

Where Did I Go?

Submitted By: Loralee Castner

Travel training. I heard that term for the first time during lunch at boarding school in Berkeley when one of the older girls said, "I have travel training this afternoon." Her tone suggested that she might be going somewhere wonderful. Where was she going and why was she going there, I yearned to inquire. But since I was only in sixth grade, I kept my mouth shut.

One day two years later, I stood grasping a long, clumsy cane, with a stern instructor mumbling behind me. That day, I longed to return to sixth grade. Instead, I crossed streets without understanding intersections, and followed exact routes without knowing what was to my right or my left. If I took a wrong turn along the way, how would I return to my route or get back to school?

However, somehow I avoided problems until the Wednesday when I strayed two feet from my path and bravely stepped around a

saw-horse. On that day, I began my lesson standing at the crosswalk of College and Derby, memorizing the route my instructor demanded: cross five streets, turn left, cross four streets, walk about fifty feet; wait for him outside the donut shop, and definitely do not buy a donut.

As I approached the corner where I was to turn left, my cane bumped something; I reached out my free hand and inspected a plank attached to a post. What was that thing in front of me? How should I proceed? Who could I ask? As usual my instructor sauntered somewhere blocks behind me. Anxious to reach my destination before he could criticize me for not knowing what to do, I moved to my left around the end of the strange object, extended my cane and stepped into emptiness.

As I plummeted into somewhere, hard concrete scraped my right leg and wet dirt smeared my blue blouse. Without time to ask myself what had happened, I landed astride a man's shoulders; "Uhh!" he exclaimed.

Before I could speak, move, or attempt to extricate myself, at least three pair of hands grasped, lifted, and hauled me upward until I felt my feet touch solid pavement. An official-sounding voice asked my name and address, and even though I attended boarding school I recited the location of my home wishing I were there.

My instructor's all-too-familiar voice intervened, scolding the men for their lack of proper barricades. Before one of them could reply, he ordered me to continue on my route. Bewildered, I hastened across the street and turned left glad to avoid a scolding.

An hour later, I told my classmates in Home Ec that I had fallen into some kind of hole. The teacher inquired whether I had any scrapes or bruises I could show her, and I explained that my skirt covered all the abrasions. Did she wonder if I had wounds that needed tending or was she merely curious?

About a month after my accident, when I was home for the weekend, my mother unexpectedly stated, "Two men from PG&E came by this week; they said you had fallen in a manhole where some construction was going on. Why didn't you tell me about this?"

"What did they want?" I asked hoping that my travel instructor would not learn of their visit.

"They wanted to pay us fifty dollars to compensate you because you could have been badly hurt. I advised them I would have to ask my husband what he thought."

She paused then added in an amused tone, "When one of them called the next day I told him your dad said he did not know PG&E was so cheap." Her tone assured me she had had the last word.

When she informed me that I would receive a check for

two hundred and fifty dollars, I remained silent.

She also revealed, "When I found out you had fallen in the manhole I phoned your instructor, and he said you were using your cane incorrectly."

Before I could defend myself, she continued, "So I said to him 'well aren't you the teacher?'" Again my mother had the last word.

Soon my scrapes healed, my parents opened a savings account in my name, and I continued following prescribed routes to strange locations during travel training. Then one Friday, my instructor lost me in the busy crowded San Francisco Greyhound depot and another adventure began.

Braille Spring 2011 Fashion Collection

Denise Lasprogata is a fashion designer inspired by braille and how blind and vision-impaired people experience the world of fashion. Each piece in her debut collection for DLASPROGATA includes a braille signature, either in the texture of the cloth or with beadwork. Previously, Lasprogata developed washable braille and large print garment labels that could be used to identify the color and other attributes of a garment. Her work has been featured in "People", "Glamour" and "Entrepreneur" magazines. Watch for news of this braille collection, or visit www.dlasprogata.com.

A Technological Dumbo

Submitted By: Grace Rodriguez

You may think you've lost your hearing
As through a silent world you walk,
But it's just that everyone is texting;
They've forgotten how to talk.
Today it's just a crude invention
Compared to all e-mail,
But when I want to greet a friend
I'll stick with dear old Alex Bell.
We can throw away the encyclopedia,
There's a better way to go;
Just click on someone else's website
For all you want to know.
You can do a heap of shopping
And never leave your chair;
All you do is click the keys:
You know you'll find it there.
I know some brainy genius
Is working on a link;
It will scare us all half to death
In revealing what we think.
This fly-away technology
Will eventually blow your mind,
For when you want a cup of coffee
You'll have to go online.

Keeping Up with the Center's Book and Writing Clubs

Submitted By: Dorothy Donaville and Patricia Nash

After the January quarterly business meeting, several new people joined the Center's book club and actively took part in discussing the book "Still Alice." They brought more excitement and energy to an already energized group.

Suggested books for our March meeting were "A Painted House", by John Grisham, and "The Horse Whisperer", by Nicholas Evans. Both are excellent choices. Some people read "The Horse Whisperer". The comments and thoughts of our club members were very interesting.

The group decided the next book for discussion would be "Tuesdays with Morrie", by Mitch Albom, for Friday, April 1. It is short, yet has a lot to say.

We hope to discuss "A Painted House" in the future, for this is a book that many have already enjoyed, and others would like to read. We have it now available here at the Center. You can check with Connie Skeen about getting it in your preferred format.

We hope to begin posting upcoming books on our website for future reading. Anyone interested in joining the book club shouldn't hesitate to contact either one of us, or come to the Center the first Friday morning of each month, from 10:00 to 11:00.

Although our writing club is small, consisting of some eight people, we share a common bond. We all enjoy writing and believe it is safe to say writing may very well be our passion. Each person has shared some work with us, and all were well-written and enjoyable.

Everyone has a story within. Come share your story with us! If you love to write, but find you have writer's block, join us and let us help you get started again. We meet the third Friday morning of each month from 10:00 to 11:00.

Know Pun Intended

Submitted By: Preston Moses

Two waitresses were talking to each other in a restaurant. One said that a man came in and ate 27 pancakes. The other replied, "Oh, how waffle!"

Dogs are wonderful story tellers. They have tails to tell.

What do you call a frog who makes baked goods?
Betty Croaker.

Did you hear about the hit man who advertised in the newspaper:
"Arty chokes three for a dollar"?

What kind of eggs do wicked chickens lay?
Deviled eggs.

What form of transportation does the Easter bunny take to go to work?
Rabbit transit.

A rabbit got lost in a forest and couldn't find his way in a heavy rain storm. The rabbit never found his way, so it was a bad hare day.

What do you call a group of rabbits moving backwards?
A receding hare line.

Where do they send orphan chickens?
To foster farms.

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

General Manager:  Jan Santos
President:  Steve Fort
First Vice-President:  Lizz Deeff
Second Vice-President:  Anita March
Recording Secretary:  Daveed Mandell
Corresponding Secretary:  Patricia Nash
Treasurer:  Ida Johnson
Directors:  Charlotte Criddell; Dorothy Donaville;
Sandra Fancher; Connie Kelley; Connie Skeen


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 for your tax-deductible donation.

"An integral being knows without going, sees without looking, and accomplishes without doing."

-- Lao-tzu