Summer 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:

Important Notice

A memorial for Alice Chavez Pardini, who passed away on June 10, was held at the Center on Saturday, June 28, from 1 to 5 PM. The Center's annual Bake Sale will take place, along with the next quarterly business meeting, on Saturday, July 26, from 10:30 AM to 4 PM. See the "Upcoming Events" section for more details.

Editor's Corner
By Daveed Mandell

Welcome to the summer issue of "Keeping in Touch".

June has been a particularly sad month for the Center this year, with the passing of two wonderful women and valued members, Patricia Byrnes and Alice Chavez Pardini. We send our condolences to their loved ones. Needless to say, we will miss them both very much.

Our heartfelt thanks go to O. Romano, who has worked diligently to maintain the Center's website. Every quarter he puts the newsletter on the site. He has also assisted in placing several pictures of the Center on our web site.

Summer is a time for outdoor leisure activities. In this issue, you will find information about several recreational organizations serving people with disabilities in the Bay Area. Thanks to Josephine McDoal for introducing a new column offering tips, tricks and alternative techniques for living with blindness or visual impairment.

I will be happy to discuss ideas with anyone, and help write appropriate pieces for the newsletter. Please feel free to contact me via e-mail at , send braille or recorded contributions to the Center, or phone me at 510-665-9260.

President's Letter

Dear Friends:

As I sit down to write to you this morning (June 16), I am thinking about the fact that EBCB is such an important center of community for us. This has been particularly on my mind in the last few days, in the face of the recent loss of two of our members, Patricia Byrnes and Alice Chavez Pardini. I am greatly saddened by the loss of both Patricia and Alice, and each of them will be greatly missed by many people, including myself.

In the past year our Center has lost close to ten of our members. This has brought about many changes in how the Center is run, and has changed significantly many of our lives.

For me this is a time which underscores the importance of our community and our support for each other. Loss can sharpen our awareness of the importance of enjoying and appreciating those around us each day, and give perspective to our lives and the things that are good in them.

In terms of our EBCB community, in this time of change we need to find ways to help each other continue on, both as individuals and as the entity that is our Center. We must balance making room to grieve with the need to keep ourselves and the Center nurtured and growing. This is not an easy balance, and we need the help of each other along the way.

We carry in our hearts and minds the spirit and knowledge given to us by those who have come before in our lives and in the Center. Often they give us a strength and understanding of life that we would not have had without those we love and respect. As we are able, each of us uses that added strength to continue in our lives, and in the case of our Center, to build for the future.

As we gain new members and look for new ways to reach out to the community at large, we remember our history and the people who made it what it is. It occurs to me that it might be a healthy and very useful thing to give some consideration to the development of a more extensive history and archives for EBCB. This both preserves the past, and guides and strengthens our future. If anyone is interested in contributing to such a project or helping to develop this idea, it might be very interesting to discuss.

Though this letter has a somber tone to it, my hope is that these thoughts might help to bring us closer together, and encourage open communication and healing. I appreciate the Center community in my life, and I hope each of you will find your own particular value in being involved and a part of EBCB. Thanks to all of you for listening. It lifts my heart to write to you this morning, and I would welcome talking with any of you about these or other issues as you might wish.

Jan Santos

Upcoming Events

Bake Sale and Quarterly Business Meeting: The Center will hold its annual Bake Sale, along with the next quarterly business meeting, on Saturday, July 26, from 10:30 AM to 4 PM. The Bake Sale will start at 10:30 AM. The meeting will begin at noon. The Center's chorus will present songs from the musical "Paint Your Wagon" at 1 PM. We will serve lunch at 2 PM. Lunch will consist of salad, meatloaf, potatoes, vegetables and rolls. Members pay $8 for each plate, and guests pay $9. Please reserve your meal no later than Wednesday, July 23.

Picnic: The Center's annual picnic will take place on Saturday, August 23, from noon to 4 PM. Lunch costs $9 across the board. Please make your reservation no later than Wednesday, August 20.

September Event: To be announced.

Center Announcements

Book Reading: The Holman Society will hold a book reading at the East Bay Center for the Blind on Friday, June 27, at 8 PM. Participants will listen to excerpts from "Selected Reflections on the Physical and Moral Condition of the Blind (1825)" by Therese-Adele Husson. Group discussion will follow. Actor Carrie Paff will read, and Professor Catherine J. Kudlick -- the manuscript's re-discoverer and translator -- will place Adele Husson in her proper historical context. The event costs $5-$20, sliding scale, at the door. For more information, visit on the web, or call Joshua Miele at 415-345-2113.

Attention, Old-Time Radio Enthusiasts!: If you enjoy listening to programs broadcast during what is known as the "golden age" of radio, you won't want to miss the Center's new class! If demand warrants, the Center will offer an old-time radio class to be held on Thursday, from 10 AM to noon. Please call the Center by Monday, July 14, if interested in attending.

Craft Items: If you knit, make jewelry, or work in other forms of arts and crafts, it's time to start preparing for the Center's November Harvest Festival and December Holiday Party. Please call Dorothy Vallerga at 510-352-0522.

Picnic Volunteers Needed: The Center's annual picnic will be held inside the building, if we don't have volunteers to move chairs and tables, set up and dismantle the canopy, serve food, and clean up. Please help make our picnic a success by volunteering, so we can enjoy the beautiful summer weather outdoors. Please enlist your relatives and friends to give us a few hours of their time as well. Thanks so much for your cooperation and assistance.

Center Closures: The Center will be closed on Friday, July 4, and re-open on Monday, July 7. The Center will also be closed from Monday, August 4, through Friday, August 8, and re-open on Monday, August 11.

Tips, Tricks and Techniques

Center member Josephine McDoal introduces this new column with the following suggestion:

To remove gum or adhesive residue from carpets or other surfaces, wipe surface with a paper or terrycloth towel dipped in cooking or mineral oil. Let stand for a few minutes to soften residue. Wipe clean and dry.

Spotlight on Recreation

Bay Area Outreach and Recreation Program (BORP): This Berkeley-based organization offers a wide array of outdoor recreation activities, group adventure trips, and urban outings that appeal to a variety of ages, interests and abilities. Whether it's sailing on the bay, skiing in Tahoe, hiking Mount Tam, watching the elephant seals at Ano Nuevo, picnicking in Tilden park, or taking in a play at the Orpheum Theater, BORP has something for everyone. Serving several hundred participants annually, this group's Activities take place nearly every weekend on a year-round basis and include families and friends. Through these recreational experiences, BORP creates new friendships, builds social connections and links people to nature and to their communities. This group challenges participants to try new things they never thought possible. For more information, contact BORP by phone at 510-849-4663, via e-mail at, or on the web at

Environmental Traveling Companions (ETC): This San Francisco-based organization opens the beauty and challenge of wilderness adventures to everyone, regardless of physical or financial limitations. Every year, over two thousand people with disabilities join ETC to raft whitewater rivers, ski across alpine meadows, sea kayak the waters of the Golden Gate, and sleep beneath the open sky. ETC trips enable participants to access the wilderness, gain environmental awareness, and share in the adventure. For more information contact ETC by phone at 415-474-7662, via e-mail at, or on the web at

Bay Area Association of Disabled Sailors (BAADS): Sailing is an exciting, elemental experience. With the wind brisk and the waves washing against the hull, there's an undeniable feeling of camaraderie as all aboard become part of the triad of nature, boat, and crew. BAADS strives to make this experience accessible to all of its members, their families, friends and attendants. This San Francisco-based organization exists to open this exhilarating sport to both its disabled and able-bodied members. For more information, contact BAADS by phone at its events hotline, 415-282-0212, or on the web at

Tandems Across the Bay (TAB): Tandems Across the Bay is a San Francisco-based organization that links cycling enthusiasts with blind cyclists. Anyone can volunteer to captain a tandem bike. Every Sunday the group leaves San Francisco near the Marina and generally heads across the Golden Gate Bridge. Each week the route is different and can vary in difficulty. For more information, contact TAB by phone at 415-568-7601, or via e-mail at

Braille Tattoos

A student project at the University of the Arts in Berlin has resulted in the creation of braille tattoos. The student in question has designed a series of implantable steel, titanium or medical plastic materials that can be placed under the skin to allow one to read a tattoo by touch. The student proposed this idea as a "meaningful body alteration" for people who are blind or visually impaired.


RoboBraille is a European e-mail-based service that translates electronic documents to and from contracted braille and into synthetic speech. Founded in Denmark, it has received several awards for technical innovation and accessibility. Funded by the European Union, RoboBraille's consortium of founding agencies includes organizations in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Italy, Portugal and Cyprus. RoboBraille currently handles documents in plain text, rich text, HTML and Microsoft Word files. Its development team will soon add PDF documents to the list of formats. For more information, visit

Braille Without Borders

The group Braille Without Borders has launched the International Institute for Social Entrepreneurs. It aims to give people who are blind or visually impaired the opportunity to receive training in management, public speaking, fundraising and other skills, in order to establish social projects in their own countries or regions. BWB is now accepting applications from persons interested in enrolling in the 11-month course. The deadline is September, 2008. For more information, visit

Remembering Patricia Byrnes

It is with deep regret that we announce the passing of veteran Center member Patricia Rose Byrnes on June 4. For forty years, Patricia gave thousands of newly-blinded Californians the gift of literacy by teaching them braille and typewriting at the Orientation Center for the Blind. Her impact on the blind community was tremendous.

Patricia was born and raised in Nebraska and attended the Nebraska School for the Blind. She moved to California as a teenager.

Patricia was a very private person. She exuded joy from, and love of life that was infectious. She played several instruments, including mandolin, flute and guitar, and attended folk music conventions around the state.

Patricia was an outspoken progressive, and she never hesitated to let people know where she stood politically. As a member of the California Council of the Blind and the Center, she demonstrated her great concern for the welfare of blind persons. Her generosity was boundless.

Patricia was a magnificently proficient braillist and a voracious reader. She felt that without braille skills, blind persons were functionally illiterate. In recent years, Patricia tutored sighted elementary school children in reading.

For many years, Patricia served on the board of Blind San Franciscans which, among other things, provided loans to blind persons for the purchase of adaptive technology equipment and software.

Patricia was proud of the Center's braille library, and worked diligently and tirelessly to organize the books, label the shelves and write the catalog cards. She was one of the staunchest advocates for wider use and teaching of braille in California and the nation.

Please send donations, in memory of Patricia, either to Amnesty International, or to the Berkeley Humane Society of the East Bay, whose address is 2700 9th St., Berkeley, CA 94710.

Patricia was a devoted Center member. She donated both time and money to help it grow and prosper. We appreciate her many and varied contributions throughout the past several decades, and will miss her very much.

Alice Chavez Pardini Remembered

We are deeply saddened to announce that Center member Alice Chavez Pardini passed away of cancer on June 10. She was 52 years old.

Alice was born and raised in Castroville. Throughout her exciting life, she was a survivor. She lost her sight at the age of three. When she was ten, Alice entered the California School for the Blind, where she demonstrated her strength, courage and extraordinary mobility skills by frequently leaving the campus and exploring the neighborhood on her own.

Alice was bright and unstoppable. If she was determined to accomplish a certain task, she usually succeeded in doing it. After high school, she took classes in word and data processing at Laney College, found herself a job, got help buying a house in San Pablo and raised two children. Tragically, she lost a third child, two-year-old Violet, when they were both hit by a car.

Alice was tender, loving and generous. She cared deeply and sincerely about her family and friends. Alice lived life to the fullest. She worked very hard, but she also enjoyed herself immensely and had lots of fun. Alice was an avid shopper and traveler. She loved parties and put people at ease with her warmth, bubbly personality and infectious laughter. She was always the "Belle of the Ball".

Alice's enthusiasm knew no bounds. Whether it was staffing the registration table at a Berkeley Council of the Blind technology seminar, or labeling dozens of audiobooks at the Center, her energy was phenomenal.

About two years ago, Alice began working as a customer service representative for the IRS. She studied hard and soon became one of the top reps in the Oakland office. Alice received a couple of awards and was written up in the IRS employee newsletter. She was so proud of being able to take call after call without stopping, an incredible achievement for someone who hadn't been on the job for a long time.

In recent years, Alice lived with, and later married, former CCB Treasurer and Board member Peter Pardini. Their strongly bonded and loving relationship blossomed and quickly grew throughout their six years together. They each brought out the best qualities in one another. Friends and relatives who witnessed this intense demonstration of deep mutual affection, admiration and respect couldn't help but be extremely moved after spending time with Alice and Peter.

Alice is survived by her loving husband Peter; her daughter Melodie Tarr and husband Zach; her son Rico Fountain; her mother, stepfather, father and many siblings; and her seven grandchildren: Bobby, Christopher, Conner, Isaac, Ariyana, Vivian and Rico.

Alice's family asks that donations be made to the Center in her memory. She will be greatly missed by many people. May her soul rest in peace!

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, 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.

"Anger and intolerance are the enemies of correct understanding.... Anger is the enemy of non-violence and pride is a monster that swallows it up."
-- Mohandas Gandhi