East Bay Center for the Blind


Spring 2012
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 2012 issue of "Keeping in Touch". We begin with a comprehensive and informative letter from Center President Steve Fort. Following the Upcoming Events, Board member Charlotte Criddell tells us what the Center means to her. The Center's new computer instructor, Leah Gardner, invites Center members and friends to a beginner's workshop on Microsoft Excel. We next examine HICAP's role in assisting Medicare recipients. Loralee Castner then gives us some tips for blind bakers. We next offer a brief article about the Internal Revenue Service's accessible website. Finally, Preston Moses entertains us with several Irish puns.

I want to thank those people who have been helping to format, assemble, collate and mail this newsletter, quarter after quarter. Thanks, in no particular order, to Lynne Laird, Connie Skeen, Anita March, Ida Johnson, Lisa Kamino, Craig Sheridan-Krongard, Jan Santos, Patricia Nash, Elaine Gerber and Josephine McDoal.

Because of the recession, the Center's annuity is now earning less than half the interest it used to earn. Therefore, I would like to encourage more Center members and friends to request email subscriptions to the newsletter. Please email or call the Center if you wish to continue to receive hardcopy Braille or print newsletters. Please also contact the Center if you would like to switch to email. Thank you for your cooperation.

As always, I welcome newsletter contributions from members and friends. Please contact me at the Center via email or by phone.

President's Letter

Dear Friends:

Spring is upon us already, and there are exciting new developments coming to fruition at the Center.

I would like to take this opportunity to welcome Leah Gardner, our newly hired computer instructor, with whom I have had the pleasure of meeting a few weeks ago. She is warm and engaging with a can-do spirit, one who is very approachable and inspires the best in others. Patty Nash, our long-time member, Braille instructor and expert computer user, will ably serve in her capacity as assistant computer instructor.

Many thanks to Connie Skeen, Patty Nash and Jan Santos, who comprised the Computer Instructor Interview Committee. They worked diligently to formulate questions and conduct interviews in order to evaluate and select an instructor to recommend to the Center's Board of Directors for approval.

Many thanks to Center members attending January's quarterly business meeting and participating in the Center's annual election of Officers and Board of Directors. I want to thank Connie Kelley, long-time dedicated Center member and out-going Director, whose dedication to the Center is truly inspirational. It is also my pleasure to welcome Grace Rodriguez, who is in charge of the Center's daily adult classes, past president and past Director, who was again elected to the Center's current Board of Directors.

February 25 of this year was a fun-filled occasion for all who put together and attended the Center's Mardi Gras fundraiser. Lizz Deeff, Dorothy Donaville and Ida Johnson, who comprised the Mardi Gras Committee, spent much time planning and coordinating this festive event. I want to thank Dorothy Donaville and the rest of the kitchen crew for preparing such delicious food, along with the many volunteers under the direction of Anita March and Jan Santos, who served it. Thanks also to Liz Klein and Peter Pardini for setting up and hosting the bar. Our Mardi Gras celebration would not have been complete without Mike Gorman, our DJ, for providing the music and honoring our many requests. Thanks to all of you, our members and friends, for joining in our Mardi Gras celebration and making it a success.

We are pleased to have received a small transportation grant from the Red Oak Opportunity Foundation, for which we are very appreciative. In addition to the funding help, the foundation invited all grant recipients to a reception where we were able to meet various community groups. We were able to exchange information and learn about groups working with children, teens, seniors, low-income families and at-risk populations, to name a few. It was great letting people know about the Center, as well as finding out about a lot of resources for our membership.

We have recently made a connection with the Delta Gamma Sorority at UC Berkeley. Two of their wonderful members volunteered for our March Pasta-Bingo Party. Early last month, Jan went to speak to their house. A woman with glaucoma talked about prevention of that eye disease, and another visually impaired woman and her dog guide came to share their experience of living and working together. All were well received. It was another fine opportunity for our Center to interact with the community at large. We hope Delta Gamma will help us to be able to have more outings, assist us with fundraising, participate in our events and more.

Please let us know what kinds of outings and events would interest you, to help us in our planning. And remember, if you have projects you'd like to actively work on, to be sure to contact us.

My sincere thanks to all Center members and friends for your continued input, participation and support.

-- Steve Fort

Upcoming Events

Quarterly Business Meeting: The Center's next quarterly business meeting will take place on Saturday, April 28, 2012, from 1 to 4 PM. Casey Kho, with the California Telephone Access Program (CTAP), will be our speaker. We will also hear reports from the Center's several committees. Please attend this meeting. The lunch menu has yet to be decided. The meal costs $10 across the board, and must be ordered by Wednesday, April 25.

May Event: Saturday, May 26, 2012 -- to be announced.

Annual Bake Sale: The Center's annual Bake Sale will be held on Saturday, June 23, 2012, from 12 to 4 PM. Please notify the Center if you plan to bake and bring your favorite sweet and/or savory delicacies to share with other Center members and friends. Please also let the Center know if you plan to prepare your most tempting and tasty casserole dishes to sell. Lunch, yet to be determined, costs $6 across the board. Please reserve your meal no later than Wednesday, June 20.

The East Bay Center for the Blind: a Haven of Refuge

Submitted By: Charlotte Criddell

Having visited the East Bay Center for the Blind on several occasions, I had experienced the love and friendly atmosphere there. There came a time in my llife when I really needed a friend. My world had crumbled beneath me; confused and perplexed, I didn't know where to turn. I felt like I had been tossed out as "worthless".

From past experiences, I knew the answer was not resorting to self-pity. I thought about the nice people I met at the Center. They had asked me to come visit on several occasions. So one day in April, 2006, I decided to take them up on their offer.

When I walked in the door, I felt like they were expecting me. I felt the love and compassion. I poured out my frustrations. They listened and responded with encouraging words, patiently allowing me to "vent".

After that initial visit, I attended the Center on a regular basis. Now I feel like a first class citizen! I am productive, working as a volunteer. I am enrolled in the classes offered here. I especially enjoy talking with others who are in need of an encouraging word.

I'll be forever grateful for this Center. It was a lifesaver for me. Whatever your needs are, try the East Bay Center for the Blind. I love it here!

Thriving at Excel

Submitted By: Leah Gardner

On Wednesday, April 18, from 1-3 PM, join Leah Gardner at the Center for an introduction to the Excel spread sheet. Do you want to create a simple budget, keep track of your personal contacts, or catalog your music collection? Excel is an easy solution for these tasks and much more. We'll also discuss writing simple formulas to complete calculations in Excel.

This two-hour beginner's workshop is for those who have not worked with Excel previously, or those who have been introduced to this spreadsheet application in a limited form. So bring your questions, ideas and willingness to learn. Space is limited, so please RSVP by April 13th by phone or via email to the attention of Leah Gardner.

HICAP and Medicare

HICAP (the Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program) provides unbiased information and assistance to those who have questions or problems with Medicare or related health insurance issues. HICAP helps Medicare beneficiaries of any age make informed choices, and provides advocacy when their health care benefits and rights are threatened or denied.

HICAP Counselors are highly trained to provide these services, and are registered with the California Department of Aging. Services are free of charge.

HICAP is a program of Legal Assistance for Seniors in Alameda County. It is funded by the state and federal governments and administered through the Alameda County Department on Aging and Adult Services.

If you have questions about Medicare and related health insurance issues, please call the HICAP office at 510-839-0393 to request an appointment.

Keep Baking

Submitted By: Loralee Castner

When my friend, Dee, baked items for our church's coffee hour, I knew we would be eating something special because no one baked brownies, lemon cake or cookies like Dee's. However, one Sunday when we were sharing recipes, she said, "I'm not going to make cake any more because I can't hold the bowl to pour the batter into the pan; my hands just aren't strong enough now that I'm getting older."

I immediately gave her a solution, "Oh, when I have to get batter into a pan, I use a measuring cup to scoop it from the bowl because it's hard to hold the heavy bowl with one hand and feel where the batter is going. Plus, when I bake a layer cake, I can measure equal amounts into each pan." A few weeks later, Dee told me that she had baked a bundt cake and how well this idea had worked.

But at another coffee hour, she explained that she was now having trouble cutting brownies into bars and getting them out of the pan without breaking them.. So I told her that I used to have difficulty removing the bars with a spatula until I began lining the pan with tin foil. I greased the foil instead of the pan, and poured the batter onto the tin foil. After the brownies had cooled, I lifted the foil from the pan, and it was much easier to cut the brownies on a flat surface and get the spatula under the squares.

Again, Dee tried this suggestion and said how well her brownies had turned out. I felt great pleasure that ideas that simplified tasks for me as a blind baker had also enabled my aging friend to continue using her culinary skills and share her delicious homemade treats with others.

IRS Accessible Website

Individuals who are blind or visually impaired can download hundreds of the most common tax forms and publications in various accessible formats from irs.gov's Accessibility page. For example, Publication 907, Tax Highlights for Persons with Disabilities, explains the tax implications of certain disability benefits and other issues. You can also access a video highlighting IRS products and services that are available for people with disabilities.

People who are unable to complete their tax return because of a physical disability may get assistance from a local IRS Tax Assistance Center or through a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance or Tax Counseling for the Elderly site (VITA or TCE). To find a Tax Assistance Center near you, click Contact IRS on irs.gov or call 1-800-906-9887.

Irish Puns

Submitted By: Preston Moses

What is Irish and sits outside?
Paddy O'Furniture.

Why are the Irish always rich?
Because their capital is always Doublin'.

Why do the Irish put 238 beans in their chili?
Because two more would make it too farty.

What is green and sings Irish songs?
Elvis Parsley.

How do you keep an Irishman off the roof?
Tell him that the drinks are on the house.

2012 Center Class Schedule

Ceramics: Tuesday, 9:30 AM-1 PM; Instructor: Michelle Muennig.

Exercise and Movement: Tuesday, 2:15-3:30 PM. Instructor: Kathleen Davis.

Music Keyboarding: Thursday, 10 AM-noon. Instructor: Diana Perry.

Chorus and Music Appreciation: Friday, 1-3 PM. Instructor: Diana Perry.

Braille: Please call the Center for more information. Instructor: Patricia Nash.

Computer Instruction: Please call the Center for more information. Instructors: Leah Gardner and Patricia Nash.

Book Club: Meets on the first Friday of the month from 10-11 AM. The moderators are Dorothy Donaville and Patricia Nash.

Writing Club: Meets on the third Friday of the month from 10-11 AM. The moderators are Dorothy Donaville and Patricia Nash.

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, Grace Rodriguez, 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 ___were to be used for its worthy purposes on behalf of blind persons." Thank you for your tax-deductible donation.

"Horse sense is the thing a horse has that keeps him from betting on people." -- W. C. Fields