East Bay Center for the Blind


Winter 2010
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

Happy New Year to one and all! Welcome to the Winter issue of EBCB's newsletter.

January is an important month here at the Center. This year, members will elect the following officers for a two-year term: First Vice-President; Recording Secretary; Treasurer; and two Directors. Please attend the upcoming quarterly business meeting this month and participate in the election.

I would like to expand this newsletter and target it toward the blind community, both inside and outside the Center, as well as the general public. We need to reach out to more people and let them know about the Center.

I must correct the last name of one of our volunteers mentioned in the fall issue. His name is Greg Fernbacher.

I am thrilled to include in this issue three poems by poet and Center member Dorothy Donaville. The Center is privileged to have many talented and gifted members, and Dorothy certainly ranks among them. Sincerity, humility, strength, conviction, warmth and love permeate her poems. Her captivating and descriptive narratives are sensitive and powerful.

I am pleased that Preston Moses has once again contributed an article for this issue. Contributions to the newsletter are always welcome. Please contact me by email, at daveedm@sbcglobal.net, or by phone, at 510-665-9260.

President's Letter

Dear Friends,

Many thanks to all of you who worked so hard to make the Center holiday party so wonderful. Pam Almeida provided a delicious meal; and those of you who helped with its preparation and serving, as well as with set-up and all the other many aspects of making things run smoothly, here's to a job well done. Members and volunteers, we really appreciate you.

A sad note about our party, though, is that we were forced to stop taking reservations before all who wanted to sign up were on the list. This was due to limited space in the Center; we must keep the number of people within certain limits to make the Center safe for those present, in case of fire or other emergency. If you have ideas as to how to deal with this problem in the future, we're open to suggestions. One thing is that it's imperative to make your reservation as soon as you possibly can, as we always have a crowd for the holiday party.

We're moving along with the kitchen remodeling. We have found a very good contractor in Ryan Phelps; and our electrician, David Gabriel, continues to be very helpful also. Both have good connections with others necessary to consult and provide materials, specialized labor and information. We expect to put in new sinks, a dish washer, garbage disposal, and added counter and shelf space, as well as a gas water heater, which will be more energy efficient and save on space. This work will hopefully be completed in January. Longer-term, but also in progress are plans for a new fan and ventilation system for the kitchen.

We've hired Valerie Vivona to help with fundraising, grant writing and outreach plans for the Center. We're encouraged by her work so far, and feel a gain in our momentum and focus in these areas. We'll have her for at least six months more, and anticipate much progress in our strategizing and coordination of this work in the coming period.

If things go according to plan, we'll be having a Spanish class at EBCB, likely beginning the middle of January. Maria Cardenas, a volunteer who has been working with us for close to a year, has offered to teach a class here with the help of Josie McDoal. Both are fluent in Spanish, and very enthusiastic about doing this class. We'll keep you informed as to when this will be starting. If you're really interested in taking this class, please let me know. It will be on Thursdays from 1:00 to 2:00, with the exception of the first Thursday of the month when we have bingo.

A reminder that elections will be held at our upcoming business meeting on Saturday, January 23. Bring your dues (if you haven't already paid), so you can come cast your vote for the officers and Board positions that are up for this election. It's your Center, so come and have your say.

I wish each of you all the best in 2010, and look forward to working with you in making our Center all we want it to be.

Happy New Year to you and yours!

Jan Santos

Upcoming Events

Quarterly Business Meeting: The Center's next business meeting will be held on Saturday, January 23, from 1 to 4 PM. Members will elect several officers and Directors, who will serve for the next two years. As usual, lunch will be provided. The menu will consist of chili, salad, garlic bread, ice cream and cookies. Please order your meal no later than Wednesday, January 20. Lunch costs $8 for members, $9 for guests.

Annual Mardi Gras: The Center's Mardi Gras dinner and dance will take place Saturday, February 27, from 2 to 6 PM. There will be lots of drink, food and fun for everyone! Please order your dinner no later than Wednesday, February 24. Cost for both members and guests is $10.

Annual Bingo-Pasta Party: Come win a bundle of bills at the Center's Pasta-Bingo Fundraiser, to be held Saturday, March 27, from 12 to 4 PM. Enjoy yourself while supporting the Center's activities and services. Please order your pasta plate no later than Wednesday, March 24. The cost is $8 for members, $9 for guests.

From the Nominating Committee

By Patricia Nash

This year's Nominating Committee has submitted its suggested slate of officers for the Center's upcoming two-year term. The Committee Chair is Patricia Nash, and the other members are Sandra Fancher, Steve Fort, Preston Moses and Grace Rodriguez.

The slate is as follows: First Vice-President, Lizz Deeff; Recording Secretary, Daveed Mandell; Treasurer, Ida Johnson; Director, Dorothy Donaville; Director, Anita March.

Of course, as always, nominations from the floor are encouraged during the election.

Center Class Schedule

The Center continues to offer a number of instructive and entertaining classes. We hope to add others as interest and demand dictate. Please contact the Center with suggestions.

2010 Social Security Information

Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) Exempt Earnings: The monthly earnings exemption referred to as Substantial Gainful Activity for blind people who receive disability insurance benefits was $1,640 of gross earned income during 2009. In 2010 earnings of $1,640 or more a month, before taxes, for a blind SSDI beneficiary, will again apply and indicate substantial gainful activity, once any unearned (or subsidy) income is subtracted and all deductions for impairment-related work expenses are applied.

Trial Work Period Limit: The amount of earnings required to use a trial work month is subject to annual increases. In 2009 the amount was $700, and in 2010 it rises to $720. In cases of self-employment, a trial work month can also be used if a person works more than eighty hours; this hour limit remains the same each year unless expressly adjusted.

Benefit Amounts: In 2010, all Social Security benefits will not be increased by a cost of living adjustment (COLA).

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Benefit Increase: In 2010, the federal payment amounts for SSI individuals and couples will not increase.

Medicare: Most beneficiaries have no monthly premium charge for Medicare Part A coverage. Those who become ineligible for Social Security Disability Insurance cash benefits can continue to receive Medicare Part A coverage without paying premiums for at least ninety-three months after the end of a trial work period. After that time the individual may purchase Part A coverage. The premium rate for this coverage during 2010 is $461 per month. This is reduced to $254 for individuals who have earned from thirty to thirty-nine quarters of Social-Security-covered employment.

In 2010 the Medicare Part B (medical insurance) deductible rises to$155. The amount for 2009 was $135. This is an annual deductible amount. The Medicare Part B monthly premium rate charged to each beneficiary for the year 2010 rises to $110.50 from the $96.40 amount for 2009. For those receiving Social Security Benefits, $96.40 will continue to be deducted from your monthly benefit checks. Individuals who remain eligible for Medicare, but are not receiving Social Security benefits because of working, must pay the Part B premium directly on a quarterly basis -- one payment every three months. Like the Part A premiums mentioned above, Part B is also available for at least ninety-three months following the Trial Work Period assuming an individual wishes to have it and, when not receiving SSDI, continues to make quarterly premium payments.

Further information about Social Security is available from your local Social Security office, or by calling the Social Security Administration at 800-772-1213. For more information about Medicare, contact the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) at 800-633-4227.

Read How You Want

According to the Library of Congress and other book producers serving blind and vision-impaired Americans, only about 5% of the books published in this country are provided in accessible formats. Many of these aren't even available in a timely manner. However, thanks to the Sydney, Australia-based organization Read How You Want, founded in 2004, thousands of additional books are now available for purchase at amazingly low prices in electronic braille, Daisy audio and large print. Several of its employees live in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom. In fact, the organization's Chief Executive Officer, Tricia Roth, resides in Oakland.

During the past several years, Read How You Want has made contact with more than eighty publishers throughout the world, and continues to add several more each month. United States copyright law now permits both nonprofit and for-profit entities to produce publications in what are called "specialized formats", such as braille, Daisy audio and large print. Book producers are no longer required to request permission from publishers.

Read How You Want has developed technology that allows rapid production of books in various formats from one file, using a mark-up system to differentiate, for example, between braille and Daisy audio. Thanks to partnerships with publishers, these books are released concurrently with the print editions. The books are inexpensive. For example, the electronic braille edition of "War and Peace" costs $4.99.

For more information, contact Read How You Want by visiting its website, www.readhowyouwant.com, by email at tricia@readhowyouwant.com, or by calling 917-434-6144.

A New Year, a New Beginning

Submitted by Preston Moses

It is always nice after Christmas, with all of its music, food and memories, to look forward to a New Year. It is also a time for reflection and memories, just like Christmas and Thanksgiving. We reflect on the year just passed, along with memories of many years before, and look forward to next year and a new beginning.

As midnight approaches, while listening to "Auld Lang Syne", there is excitement when the new year arrives in other parts of the world. This is followed by horns honking and fireworks. Then, you open the window to smell and feel the cold air, as the New Year begins.

Later, after sleep, the day is complete with many College Bowl games and people wishing each other New Year greetings. It is a pleasant time, because if you are in good health, you have a lot to look forward to. So may this New Year grant everyone good health and prosperity.

Changes to Alameda County's IHSS Program

The Homecare Registry has a NEW number for In-Home Support (IHSS) Consumers. From now on, IHSS Registry services will be provided by Public Authority staff. IHSS consumers will now call one phone number to request a list of pre-screened IHSS homecare workers. Call 510-577-1980. This service is FREE! IHSS Registry services will no longer be provided by community agencies. This change is being made because the State reduced funding to Public Authorities. Private pay registry services will no longer be provided or funded by the Public Authorities.

In the future, the State will implement a requirement that to receive IHSS services, Consumers must get fingerprinted for identification purposes only. Consumers should wait for instructions from the county on how to get fingerprinted. Unannounced home visits will be made by IHSS staff to help prevent fraud. The visit will verify that the consumer lives at the address listed, and that from the appearance of the home and the consumer, there is a homecare worker providing services. The chore provider does not have to be present. The consumer still has the right to schedule the provider's work hours. The consumer should continue to go to appointments and other outings as usual.


Submitted by Dorothy Donaville

Feeling Good

I woke up this morning feeling good, Feeling good about me;
About who I am, Where I came from, Where I've been and Where I'm going.
I feel good about my Blackness, my Black body Its deep Ebony Hue,
My Black hair and big deep Black-like eyes,

Ah, yes! I feel good about My Blackness.
I feel good about my Blackness, when I think about the beautiful, precious jewels,
the Black Diamond, The Black Opal and the Black Pearl;
All that are treasured Or longed to be possessed by most folk in this world,

Ah, yes, I feel good about my Blackness... When I
Think of the rich, dark earth that has been plowed
And turned to receive the seed buried deep within
To grow the grains, the food, that nourishes man, woman
And child in every land.

Ah, yes! I feel good about my Blackness.
I feel good about my Blackness when I step into the night, Look into the sky,
I see silver, twinkling stars against a Black Sky that holds the golden moon that lights the way,
That captures Our hearts and minds, and reminds us that without night there could Be no day.
Ah, yes! I'm proud of my Blackness.
I congratulate myself for being proud to be Black,
for I know who I am, where I am and where I am supposed to be right now at the right time:
Feeling good about me and my Blackness...

God's Gift

I Am a gift of God,
Child of the Universe,
Sent from afar to bring
The message, To share peace, to share love,
To Teach the children,
To help the needy,
To comfort the elderly,
To share a smile,
To lend An ear,
To hold someone dear,
To dry a tear,
I am a gift of God,
A child of the Universe,
Waiting with an open heart,
Mind and arms to comfort,
To nourish a lonely one In
need of love and care.
Come to me,
God's Gift of Love,
Child of the Universe...

Sweet Saturday Mornings

I lived for those mornings, Saturday mornings.
I lay close beside you,
Feeling safe, secure, protected from all life fears,
You gently take me in your arms, you caress me, you whisper sweet love in my ear.
You love me strong.
I open up to you;
I am like putty in a molder's hand about to be created, molded,
Into a life time of memory.
I am like the young virgin
About to be taken into a world she has never known,
Soaring to the highest of sweet ecstasy.

Those sweet Saturday mornings.
I lived for those Saturday mornings,
When we poured our hearts out to each other, expressing feelings,
Touching minds, going deep inside,
Being honest, truthful, open, crying, laughing...

Sweet Saturday mornings.
We were like one, never to part,
melting into each other like hot butter on sweet corn.

Sweet Saturday mornings.
I open my eyes to gaze upon you,
lying there beside me like a bronze statue.
You open your eyes; we cannot speak.
You draw me near, you hold me close.
What is this strange thing that is happening to me?
I feel good, I feel joy;
I am no longer me.
I am you; you are me; we are one.
I am yours completely.
Sweet, sweet Saturday mornings.

Frank Silva Remembered

We regret to announce the recent passing of Frank Silva, founder in 1939 of The East Bay Center for the Blind, Inc. He was 91 years old. Frank served as President and Director of the Center for decades. His official involvement with the Center continued until 1997. Frank attended his first California Council of the Blind convention in 1938, and served for decades as President of the organization's Alameda County Chapter. During the Spring 2007 convention, Frank was inducted into the CCB Hall of Fame. Frank is survived by his former wife Georgina.

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.


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.

"Art is transferring feeling from one heart to another."