The East Bay Center for the Blind, Inc.
2928 Adeline St.
Berkeley, CA 94703
Web site: www.eastbaycenterfortheblind.org
By Daveed Mandell
As I put this summer issue of the Center's newsletter to bed, I realize we are already halfway through 2007. It is truly unbelievable how quickly time passes!
This issue contains a variety of information and articles. Sadly, two of our members passed away in May. You can read more about Jewel McGinnis and Beryl Knighton in these pages. Patricia Nash has submitted an intriguing book review, which we are pleased to include. Although this issue contains no recipes, it does provide substantial food for thought!
I welcome your contributions to this newsletter. Please contact me either by phone, at 510-665-9260, or via email, at email@example.com.
Our Center is in a time of change. At our quarterly business meeting this past April, our members shared ideas about present and future activities and classes at the Center, outreach and fundraising, to mention a few. I was very pleased to hear from all of you who were present, and hope others will attend our next business meeting in July for more conversations about the Center.
The idea was introduced of having a health and nutrition class, an area which needs improvement for most of us. It was suggested that we might consider a living skills class, (which could evolve into various topics and forms depending on what you all want the class to be). The thought was raised to have a Spanish class again. If you are interested in any new classes, and/or would like to begin attending our current classes, please let us hear from you and get signed up.
At our next business meeting, we will have a speaker from BORP, Bay Area Recreation and Outreach Program. Lori Gray will tell us about the activities of this recreational group for people with disabilities.
Speaking of BORP, in another part of this newsletter you will hear about an event in July at Tilden Park in which EBCB is participating. We are delighted that BORP is going to make transportation available for the excursion, to whatever extent they can, by sharing their van space with us.
Let me mention some particular ways the Center needs your help. If you can help or recruit any friends or family to volunteer at various Center events, please do. We generally need to recruit more volunteers to help with guiding and driving for outings and the heavy kinds of work involved in setting up for the picnic etc.
In fact, if we do not find people to do the heavy work of setting up outside for the picnic, we will be picnicking inside this year. So, please do what you can to offer your own help or round up some strong volunteers. We are also looking for a maintenance person to help out around the Center, whom we would be able to pay for their work.
One other thing is that we are slowly making the files and resources at the Center more accessible. Anyone who can read print, or help braille items, such as our rolodex, please let us know. I thank you in advance for any help you can offer in all of these areas.
I am sad to say that some of the changes at our Center are not happy ones for us. In May, two of our EBCB members, Jewel McGinnis and Beryl Knighton, passed away after difficult illnesses. Jewel brought many ideas and much support to EBCB as well as many other places in the community. Beryl came to many of our events, and was a talented artist with the ability to make loving and lasting friendships. Jewel and Beryl, you will each be missed by us.
I am saddened that Jewel, Beryl and others along the way must leave us. I believe it is an honor to these unique and strong people that we continue to make positive change in our own ways, carrying them with us in our hearts and taking actions that reflect what we have learned from who they were and what they did in the world. This is how we can keep them alive and continue their work.
-- Jan Santos
Quarterly Business Meeting: The Center's next quarterly business meeting will be held on Saturday, July 28, from 1 to 4 PM. Lori Gray of BORP (Bay Area Outreach and Recreation Program) will be our speaker. We will also discuss various issues concerning the Center. The lunch menu is yet to be determined. Please order your plate, which costs $8 for members and $9 for guests, no later than Wednesday, July 25.
Annual Picnic: The Center's annual picnic will take place on Saturday, August 25, from 12 to 4 PM. We have yet to decide if it will be held outside or inside. We need help putting up the canopy, and carrying tables and chairs. The menu will be announced later. The cost of the picnic lunch is $9 across the board. Please order your meal no later than Wednesday, August 22.
Please note that the September event has yet to be determined. Stay tuned for an announcement.
Join us at Tilden Park for a day of nature exploration with a naturalist. This excursion is especially for people who are blind or visually impaired. It will take place on Friday, July 27, from 11 AM-2:30 PM. Travel 1/2 mile on a gravel road to Jewel Lake, and discover regional wildlife and plants. Tour the visitor center after lunch. Bring your own sack lunch, sunscreen and water. This event is for people ages 15 and older. If you plan to attend, please call the Center, no later than Friday, July 20, to sign up. Limited transportation will be provided on a first-come, first-serve basis, so please reserve your ride as soon as possible. Two vans will leave the Center at 10 AM and return at 4 PM.
The Center was closed on Wednesday, July 4, and re-opened on Thursday, July 5. The Center will also be closed during the week of August 6-10, and re-open on Monday, August 13. Finally, the Center will also be closed on Labor Day, Monday, September 3, and re-open on Tuesday, September 4.
The Center's library contains more than a thousand titles on cassette and in braille. Available for perusal and loan for a two-week period, these books are a source of listening and reading pleasure.
If you like mysteries, try HASTY WEDDING, by Mignon Eberhart! It's a hand-copied book of four volumes of one-sided braille, published in 1938.
Dorcas Whipple, very rich and sheltered, with a frail mother and her father gone, was soon to marry Jevan Locke, a long-time family friend, rather against her will. Was she in love with him? She had her doubts. Dorcas had been seeing a suave, sophisticated and mysterious stranger, Ronald Drew. Did she love Ronald Drew? The night before her wedding to Jevan, Dorcas came to Ronald's apartment, at his insistence, and rather against her better judgment. He was later found dead. Why? Was it murder? Suicide? If murder, who killed him?
You will want to keep reading this gripping and chilling mystery to its end. Enjoy!
Cerrito Speakeasy Theater, which is connected with Parkway Theaters, is able to offer audio-described and captioned movies. For more information, call 510-814-2400, or visit their website at: www.speakeasytheaters.com.
Google now offers business directory assistance over the phone. To use this new free service, call 800-GOOG-411, or 800-466-4411.
Tellme also provides a free business search service. Call 800-555-TELL, or 800-555-8355.
Center member Beryl Knighton died peacefully at Saint Francis Hospital last May, after a valiant battle with emphysema. Visually impaired from birth, Beryl was born in Essex, England in 1923. She attended the Barkley School for Blind Girls where she learned how to read and write braille.
Beryl was a prolific sculptor, painter and jewelry maker; she produced a large body of exquisite art. Beryl had the soul, heart and inner vision of a true artist. Her use of mixed media, vibrant colors and insight produced a profound portfolio of work that will live on. Beryl loved to write and recite poetry. In England, she acted in many community plays.
Beryl leaves a cherished granddaughter, Sarah Richardson, and family in England and Spain, as well as a host of devoted friends here in the Bay Area who will sorely miss her. Persons wishing to make donations in Beryl's name are requested to direct them to Sarah Richardson, in care of the East Bay Center for the Blind, Inc.
Many blind people throughout the State of California were shocked and saddened last May, when long-time San Francisco rehabilitation counselor-teacher and blind community advocate Jewel McGinnis died at St. Francis Hospital of heart failure. She was 82 years old.
Born legally blind in Los Angeles in 1925, Jewel Basse McGinnis began attending the California School for the Blind in Berkeley in the ninth grade. She received her B.A. degree from the University of Redlands, and her M.A. from San Francisco State University.
Jewel began working for the California Department of Rehabilitation in 1949. For more than forty years, she taught thousands of blind people various blindness skills and alternative techniques, and helped them become socially integrated into San Francisco's blind and mainstream communities.
Jewel was a stellar advocate on behalf of blind Californians. For more than half a century, she was an active member of the California Council of the Blind, the National Federation of the Blind, and later the American Council of the Blind. Among Jewel's many responsibilities in the CCB, she chaired the organization's Budget and Finance, Fundraising and Employment Assistance committees.
In 1963, Jewel founded Blind San Franciscans, an advocacy and social organization run by blind persons to improve the quality of life for blind individuals in San Francisco and the Bay Area. The group engaged in a wide range of activities. Among its many projects, the group established broadcast Services for the Blind, a radio reading service, during the 1970s. In the 1980s, it produced and distributed braille BART schedules and braille maps of San Francisco. Blind San Franciscans is best known in recent years for raising money for interest-free loans to help blind people throughout the Bay Area acquire assistive technology equipment.
Jewel was a knowledgeable, dedicated, passionate, sincere and hard-working activist and advocate for expanded transportation options for blind and disabled people. She worked tirelessly to establish San Francisco's paratransit program, and insisted that the city's Paratransit Coordinating Council be an independent body responsible for its own meetings, surveys, procedures and policies. She felt that paratransit should be available and affordable to everyone, regardless of income.
Jewel strongly advocated for taxi scrip to allow people to travel when and where they wished within the City. She taught sensitivity training to cab drivers and police officers, so they would know how to assist blind and disabled people. She was also active on Muni's Accessibility Advisory Committee.
Jewel worked actively to promote braille and increase access to books for blind people. She served for many years on the Board of Directors of the Braille Revival League of California and on the Advisory Committee of San francisco's Library for the Blind and Print Disabled.
Jewel was a firm believer in the self-determination of blind persons. She felt that only we blind people have the right to determine our own destinies and programs.
Jewel used to say that a good advocate shouldn't be concerned about being liked by the powers that be. She said that being a good advocate doesn't necessarily mean winning a popularity contest. Instead, she said, an advocate should concentrate on working and fighting for civil rights and social and economic justice. Jewel didn't just spout rhetoric. She lived and breathed these principles, and brought them to life every day, both in word and in deed.
Jewel deplored the passivity of many blind people, and felt that if they were really concerned enough about a particular issue, they would and should take action to make things right. She had little patience with people who complain and grumble, but never act.
During most of her long, busy and productive life, Jewel was a high partial. Yet, she always respected totally blind people. She did all she could to instill pride, independence and dignity in the people she taught and with whom she worked. Several years ago, Jewel lost all of her vision. That's when she developed an even greater respect for blind people. She said it's one thing to teach someone how to cut meat or travel using a white cane, but it's another thing entirely to actually perform these tasks oneself and live as a blind person.
Jewel has asked that donations in her name be sent to the East Bay Center for the Blind, Inc., in which she was active during the 1950s, especially serving as its Treasurer. In recent years, she was very much concerned about the Center's leadership, operation and service delivery.
We have much to learn from Jewel McGinnis about how to work for increased opportunity and accessibility in all aspects of daily life for blind people. We will miss her greatly.
The following members and volunteers have rendered services, or donated equipment, to the Center during the past several months.
Pam Almeida; Manuel Arellano; Ruth Arellano; Bill Barker; Marilyn Bogerd; Cole Clayton; Evan Clayton; Reggie Clayton; Ben Deeff; Lizz Deeff; Peggy Duncan; Shirley Dyer; Becky Ellery; Sandy Elliot; Dan Eversz; Sandra Fancher; Deborah Fong; John Fong; Lil Fong; Aaron Ford; Steve Fort; Sarah Gillett; Risa Gibson; Barbara Googins; Frances Halleman; Barney Howell; Jerry; Kat; Hiroko Katsumata; Yuji Katsumata; Liz Klein; Lynn Laird; Susan Lewis; Katrina McCurdy; Gina McGaughey; John Morin; Preston Moses; Patricia Nash; Phil Ortega; Grace Rodriguez; Brenda Swanson; Jim Swanson; Peter von Schaeffer; Dorothy Vallerga
The following persons have made financial contributions to the Center.
Patricia Byrnes; John and Lil Fong
The Center's annual June Bake Sale was a resounding success, thanks to all of our members and friends who donated such tasty cakes, breads, cookies and casseroles!. By the end of the day, almost everything was sold!
Center member Susan Lewis was hit by a car last month, and sustained a broken pelvis. Susan, on behalf of all of our members, we wish you a speedy recovery. May you soon be free from pain and discomfort.
"What lies behind us and what lies before us
are small matters compared to what lies within us."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson