East Bay Center for the Blind


Winter 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 Happy New Year to all our members and friends. Welcome to the Winter 2012 issue of "Keeping in Touch". In this issue, you will find the usual information about upcoming Center events. General Manager Jan Santos tells us what's been happening at the Center. We give you a Social Security update for 2012. Loralee Castner presents us with two eloquent poems. Preston Moses entertains us with another installment of "Know Pun Intended". Finally, we provide a schedule of classes for your reference.

I have been editing this newsletter since October of 2003. Center member Connie Skeen asked me if I would like to take on this responsibility as she was teaching me Windows XP and Microsoft Word. She believed that the best way for me to reinforce these new skills would be to take on a project for the Center. Because I had worked for many years as an editor, I agreed to produce the newsletter. My sincere thanks to Connie for giving me this great opportunity. I will miss her very much, now that she has decided to retire, after working since 1997 as the Center's Senior Computer Instructor. She has contributed immeasurably to the Center. I look forward to working with her in the coming years, as she continues her participation as an active Center member.

As always, we welcome your contributions to this newsletter. Send them via email to ebcb@pacbell.net and put "For Newsletter" in the Subject line. Send braille or audio copy to the Center, and add "Attention: Newsletter Editor" to the Center's address.

President's Letter

Dear Friends:

The holiday season reminds me once again how important friends, family and community are to us. I'm very grateful that we have our EBCB community in this season, and all year round. For many of us the folks at the Center are like extended family.

We've been sharing time and fun together at our Harvest Festival in November, our Holiday Party in December, as well as our class, work, and play time during the regular week days at the Center. For those of you who only attend our weekend events, I will add here that there is a lot of socializing that takes place between our great classes during the week. You might give some thought to expanding your participation to include a class or two, or exploring doing some volunteer work weekdays at EBCB.

Along with all our fun at the November and December parties, we also have been doing some necessary fundraising, which entails a great deal of work on the part of those who make it happen. Our baked goods, ceramics, candy sales and other donated items cleared over $850.00 for the Harvest Festival. Our fundraising Committee (Dorothy Donaville, Anita March, Ida Johnson, Sandra Kramford and Sandra Fancher) put together a great raffle for our Holiday Party with fabulous prizes. A special thank-you to Sandra Kramford's friend Susan DeVine for her help in cutting and stapling our sweepstake tickets with Sandra. A financial report on the holiday raffle will be forthcoming at the business meeting later in January.

The Fundraising Committee works ongoing to support our Center and does a tremendous job. Fundraising is a continuous job for all of us, that EBCB depends on for its very survival. So thanks to you members and volunteers who help with all aspects of fundraising, from buying and selling raffle tickets, to working for our Bake Sales, and all the other things you do to bring us financial or in-kind donations. Further, my ongoing and heartfelt thanks to our members and volunteers for the endless tasks you do for EBCB. Many of these volunteers quietly do jobs behind the scenes that go unnoticed by the general membership, but our Center could not function without these important people and their work. They deserve much appreciation.

EBCB has applied for a grant with a local foundation called R.O.O.F. (red Oak Opportunity Foundation). We're hopeful we'll get at least a small grant from this foundation. They like to give to local nonprofit organizations such as EBCB. We're keeping our fingers and toes crossed.

Coming with the new year we'll have a major change in our computer lab. Connie Skeen is retiring after fourteen years of excellent work as our Computer Instructor. We'll miss her in this position and are very glad she'll be continuing as an active member and participant at the Center. It's been my pleasure to work with Connie all these years, and she's done a tremendous amount for many of us with computer instruction and in countless other ways. Plans for continuation of our computer instruction are in discussion and will be announced as they progress.

Don't forget to come to our quarterly business meeting on Saturday, January 28. We'll be holding elections for the following officers and Board of Directors positions: First Vice-President, Recording Secretary, Treasurer and three Director positions. Bring your dues if you haven't paid already so you can cast your vote. Remember that nominations can be made from the floor, in addition to the slate proposed by the Nominating Committee. Give some thought to whom you'd like to see in office; talk to folks to see if they're interested in running. Or maybe you'd like to run yourself. I look forward to seeing you at the meeting.

I wish each of you Happy Holidays and everything good in the coming year.

Jan Santos

Upcoming Events

Quarterly Business Meeting: The Center's next quarterly business meeting will take place on Saturday, January 28, from 1 to 4 PM. Members will elect the following officers: First Vice-President, Recording Secretary, Treasurer and three Directors. Please attend the meeting and participate in the elections. Nominations are always welcome from the floor. Lunch (to be announced) costs $10 across the board, and must be ordered by Wednesday, January 25. Orders will not be taken after that date.

Annual Mardi Gras: The Center's annual Mardi Gras will take place on Saturday, February 25, from 2 to 6 PM. Dinner (to be announced) costs $10 across the board, and must be ordered by Wednesday, February 22. Orders will not be taken after that date.

Annual Pasta-Bingo Fundraiser: The Center's annual Pasta-Bingo Fundraiser will be held on Saturday, March 24, from noon to 4 PM. Lunch (to be announced) costs $10 across the board, and must be ordered by Wednesday, March 21. Orders will not be taken after that date.

2012 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 $1640 of gross earned income during 2011. In 2012, earnings of $1690 or more a month, before taxes, for a blind SSDI beneficiary, will 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 2011 the amount was $720, and in 2012, this amount will be unchanged. 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.

Social Security Benefit Amounts: For the first time since 2009, there will be a 3.6 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for beneficiaries in 2012. Increased payments to beneficiaries began on December 20, 2011 and will apply to everyone receiving benefits in 2012.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Benefit Increase: Beginning January 2012, the federal payment amounts for SSI individuals and couples are as follows: individuals, $698 per month; couples, $1,048 per month.

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 2012 is $451 per month.

In 2012 the Medicare Part B (medical insurance) deductible will be $140. This is an annual deductible amount. The Medicare Part B monthly premium rate charged to each new beneficiary or to those beneficiaries who directly pay their premiums quarterly for 2012 will be $99.90 a month, although higher-income consumers may pay more. For those receiving Social Security benefits, this premium payment is deducted from your monthly benefit check. Individuals who remain eligible for Medicare but are not receiving Social Security benefits because of working, must directly pay the Part B premium quarterly -- 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.


Submitted By: Loralee Castner

We read about Laura Ingalls
And thrilled when Almanzo
Slowly drove her home.
We dramatized their courtship
Adding romance and delight
Speculating about their future
In those happy golden years.

We marveled at Anne Shirley's rage
When she broke her slate
Over Gilbert's head
Just because he called her Carrot-top.
But then we saw their future,
Glimpsed as the first book ended.
We could not find the other books
So dreamed their adulthood on our own.

We taught each other dance steps
And practiced them together
Preparing for the Halloween Dance
Only six months away.
We knew from reading novels like
_Cross _My _Heart and _Senior _Year
The utter joy of finding love
Still boys seemed far away
As distant as marriage, children,
And silver anniversary day.

But she met him that October.
They spoke briefly at the dance
And swayed to several melodies
That promised undying love.
She did not share with me her new emotion
How suddenly books were not enough
To electrify her heart and
Feed adolescent dreams.
Instead she whispered with older girls
Barely spoken to before
Asking about lipstick shades, a more alluring hairstyle
Ways to catch his eye on Monday.

I saw her still in math and French
and sometimes we studied together
To solve equations, conjugate verbs.
After school while they shared a milk shake
Or roamed holding hands around the mall,
I made new friends in Girl Scouts
or read _Little _Women alone.

Silenced Voices

Submitted By: Loralee Castner

She ran into the restaurant
And reported
Robert Kennedy had been shot.
In his hour of glory,
This second brother fell
His pregnant wife beside him
As crowds screamed
Camera bulbs flashed.

Eating a donut,
I heard her account;
Chocolate changed to sawdust
As I chewed.
I sat in a booth,
Coffee untouched,
Unable to swallow,
Unable to ask
How could this happen twice?

Waiting for updates,
Would he survive?
Some of us gathered
In a friend's dorm room
To watch on her portable tv set
The allnight broadcast
With black-and-white footage
Of gunshots, the capture,
One reporter's anguished shouts.
Between, they ran clips from
The Senator's speeches,
Appeals for racial integration,
Peace in Vietnam,
Relief for Americans in poverty.
Two brothers silenced
In less than five years.
Could the dream carry on?

I heard of his death
The next afternoon.
Too weary for grief,
Too young for despair,
I told one professor
My zealous decision
To become an English teacher
And transform the world;
To convey through discussions
Of significant writers
The need to make choices
With daily commitment
To integrity, equality,
Humane responsibility.
Making pertinent those insights
From authors I loved,
Emerson, Hemingway,
Twain and Camus,
My efforts would impact
A new generation,
And achieve the ambitions
Of two fallen men.

Forty years later,
I work in an office,
Answering inquiries
Phoned in by strangers,
Explaining procedures
Day after day.
Each month from my earnings,
I respond to the pleas
Received in my mail
From nonprofit groups
Giving dollar upon dollar
To lessen the loneliness,
Hopelessness, inequity,
Of humans lacking means.
With every signed check,
I commemorate goals
Defined in the sixties
By Bostonian voices.

Late every evening,
I watch TV news,
With stories of shootings,
By adults, even children,
By former employees,
Anonymous gangs;
With pictures of homeless
Who wander the streets,
And of swastikas marring
The gleam of store windows--
Expressions of hatred
Toward Oriental owners.

Yet anchors run segments
On community action.
Unnamed volunteers
Serve meals at shelters.
Tutors train teens
To read simple phrases.
Neighbors join forces
To save streets from crime.
Too young for remembering
Kennedy speeches,
They accomplish their visions
And keep hope alive.

My friends tell their children
In reverent voices
Events of the Friday
John Kennedy died
And what they were doing
When they heard the sad news.
But I seldom join in
To describe one warm evening,
That Tuesday in June
When the second voice stilled
And left us in silence
To cherish their words
And fulfill fragile dreams
In the small ways we can.

Know Pun Intended

Submitted By: Preston Moses

Why did the skeleton have problems getting to the party? Because it had no body to go with.

Patience is a virtue. It carries a lot of wait.

Why did the tomato go out with the prune? Because it couldn't find a date.

How do you make a honeymoon sandwich? Lettuce alone.

What did the lettuce say to the cellery? Are you stalking me?

What kind of dance can you take a hamburger to? To a meat ball.

Why did the tomato blush? Because it saw the salad dressing.

What was the outcome of the race between the lettuce, the water and the tomato? The lettuce came out ahead, the water kept on running and the tomato had to catch up.

What is Lassie's favorite vegetable? Collie flower.

Class Schedule

Ceramics: Tuesday, 10 AM-noon. 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.

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 people who are blind and with low vision, by providing a supportive environment, while encouraging one another through leadership, social interaction, and the sharing of information, resources, and skills. The Center's activities enhance independence, dignity and self-determination. As a self-governing membership organization of primarily people who are blind and with low vision, 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 ___were to be used for its worthy purposes on behalf of blind persons." Thank you for your tax-deductible donation.

"People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." -- Maya Angelou