East Bay Center for the Blind


Winter 2014
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: eastbaycenterfortheblind@gmail.com
Web site: www.eastbaycenterfortheblind.org

Editor's Corner

By Maureen Schulz

Another New Year is dawning, But what can we do that's new? Can we start something we have never done, Or discard what is no longer true?

Can we give our days meaning in spite of so many things that are wrong? Can we break a few rules, sing many more songs, and know that only together, we're strong!

To all our readers, a wonderful 2014!

General Manager's Letter

By Jan Santos

Hello Everyone,

Here we go with another New Year! As always, EBCB's January business meeting will give us a chance to elect new board members and officers. In even-numbered years, we elect the First Vice-President, the Recording Secretary, the Treasurer and three Directors. According to Steve Fort, Chair of the Nominating Committee, The slate of nominees for 2014 is: First Vice-President: Dorothy Donaville Recording Secretary: Connie Skeen Treasurer: Elizabeth Deeff Board of Directors: Michael Castner, Leah Gardner and Ida Johnson. Remember you can nominate people from the floor as well as pick from the slate presented by the Nominating Committee. Make sure your $10 dues are paid so you will be eligible to vote for the people of your choice, (which of course can include yourself).

Our other major task to start off 2014 is to find a new stove for our Center. As those of you know who came to our holiday party, make-shift arrangements had to be made because our ovens no longer work. It is a huge undertaking to find the right stove for our Center, as well as a great financial expenditure. Please be patient about our meals until we obtain our new stove.

As I write about our cooking woes, I reflect on 2013 and how all of you have pitched in to keep our Center afloat during these difficult economic times. New members and our long-time reliable members have continued to actively participate in work and fun to grow our Center and support each other. All I can say is: Keep it up! I know I repeat myself, but I must say again: I am very pleased to be a part of this Center!

I am sad to report that two of our long-term members, Susan Lewis and James Richardson, have passed in the last few months. Both Susan and James will be missed by many, and we were fortunate to have them as EBCB members.

Speaking of long-time members, Grace Rodriguez is moving out of the area and will no longer be able to regularly participate at EBCB. Grace has made countless contributions of work, support of many kinds, and offered lots of ideas for improving our Center for many years. We're hoping to have an interview with her in the spring issue of "Keeping in Touch". Grace, we'll miss you, and look forward to your coming to see us whenever you can, which we hope will be often.

I wish each of you all the best in 2014, and I am confident we'll continue together to strengthen our Center and enjoy activities and social time with one another.

Upcoming Events and Center Announcement

Quarterly Business Meeting: The Center's next quarterly business meeting will take place on Saturday, January 25, 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.

Annual Mardi Gras: The Center's annual Mardi Gras will take place on Saturday, February 22, from 12 to 4 PM. Center deejay Mike Gorman will play a variety of music, including oldies and country from the 50s, 60s and 70s. Lunch (to be announced) costs $10 across the board, and must be ordered by Wednesday, February 19. 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 22 from noon to 4 PM. Lunch (to be announced) costs $10 across the board, and must be ordered by Wednesday, March 19. Orders will not be taken after that date.

Book Club: First Friday of the month, 10 to 11 AM, with the exception of January, when the Center will be closed. Books to be discussed:
February: A Time To Dance, by Karen Kingsbury
March: Pigs In Heaven, by Barbara Kingsolver
April: Family Tree, by Barbara Delinsky
May: Ken and Joni -- A Love Story, by Joni Erickson

Writing group: Third Friday of the month, 10 to 11 AM

Bingo: First Thursday of the month, 1 to 3 PM, with the exception of January, when Bingo will be Thursday, January 16, from 1 to 3 PM.

Email Address Change: Note that The new Center email address is: eastbaycenterfortheblind@gmail.com for all Center email correspondence.

In Remembrance Of Susan Lewis

Submitted By: Patty Nash

Susan A. Lewis -- March 18, 1956 to October 7, 2013 Susan A. Lewis passed away peacefully in Alameda after a long and courageous battle with lung cancer. Susan was the loving wife of Anthony Lewis of Alameda, and a loving aunt to a niece and nephew.

She was a very good friend, and her house was always open during holidays to those whose families were far away or who were lonely. She was very generous with her time and would unstintingly and without fail take anyone anywhere at the South Shore Mall to do errands, because she always knew her way around, even with all of the changes in bus routes and store locations.

She loved to take long walks. I teasingly chided her that she should be Woman of the Year, because her house was always scrupulously clean, she kept all appointments without fail, and she always had good food to eat, but then I said she would probably get this award every year.

Susan was born in Jerusalem, and she attended a Christian School for the Blind from kindergarten to high school. Susan moved to California in 1983. After her marriage to Tony, she moved to Alameda in 1988, where she remained till her death.

Susan was a receptionist for Silicon Graphics in Sunnyvale. She received many awards for her customer service and for her ability to solve difficult issues. She was active in her church, and she had a beautiful singing voice.

She was also active in many choruses, including our Music Appreciation class at the East Bay Center for the Blind. She was much loved by all, and she is greatly missed by all of her friends. We all remember her fondly, and she was too soon taken from us.

"Working Together is The Ticket!"

Submitted By: Dorothy Donaville

Major construction began at the Ashby BART station in early October, which caused passengers to have to detour and change their usual routine. These changes would have created a problem for those who used BART to get to the East Bay Center. We cannot thank Leah Gardner, our Computer Tech Instructor, enough for the action she took to help those who needed assistance during this major BART construction. Leah contacted BART management, and this is what she had to say about her experience:

"I feel that, when situations beyond our control create obstacles, we really need to work together to assist everybody involved. I don't want to see anybody frustrated or feeling overwhelmed because they cannot reach us for a social event or an educational workshop at the Center.

"I also want to try and help the BART workers," she continued, "who have really gone above and beyond duty to ensure the safety of everybody trying to navigate Ashby BART and the surrounding area at this time. These types of instances can be a lot less stressful when we create a team to make what could be difficult a more enjoyable experience. I have learned a great deal from the BART personnel involved in this project, and I think I have taught them some things about how visually impaired pedestrians travel and make their way in this world. More than one BART employee has told me that they will really think about how they design their projects and how they approach those with disabilities in the future."

Her Conclusion: "We can achieve solutions without threatening legal action; I am not saying that legal remedies are not necessary to bring about change at times, but I have found that explaining the problem and giving an opportunity to companies or organizations to participate in resolutions is really an effective approach."

To show our appreciation, we invited members of the project team to our second Friday Luncheon. We also presented them with boxes of Cees Candy. They very much enjoyed meeting EBCB members, and they promised to keep in touch.

Announcement from Social Security

As of February 2014, the Social Security Administration will no longer offer Social Security Number (SSN) printouts and benefit verification information in our field offices. However, to ensure a smooth transition, we will continue providing these services if requested, until April 2014. We are making these changes to meet the increasing demands for our services at the same time that our agency budget has been significantly cut by over $1 Billion in each of the last three years. During this same time period, we have invested in technology that offers more convenient, cost-effective, and secure options for our customers to obtain certain services without visiting a local office.

Because the SSN printout is not an official document with security features, and is easily duplicated, misused, shared illegally, or counterfeited, eliminating it helps prevent fraud. Employers, Departments of Motor Vehicles, and other entities requiring SSN verification, can obtain this information in real time or overnight using online government services such as E-Verify and Social Security's Business Services Online. Beneficiaries and recipients needing a benefit verification letter can obtain one immediately by registering for a "My Social Security" account at www.socialsecurity.gov/myaccount, or through the mail within 5 to 7 business days by calling our national toll-free number, 1-800-772-1213.

2014 Benefit Information

Social Security Benefit Amounts: There will be a 1.5 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) for beneficiaries in 2014.

Supplemental Security Income (SSI): Beginning January 2014, the Federal payment amounts for SSI individuals and couples are as follows: individuals, $721 a month; SSI couples, $1,082 a month. Asset limits are unchanged.

Exempt Earnings: The monthly earnings exemption is calculated as a person's monthly income before taxes, minus any unearned (or subsidy) income and any impairment-related work expense deductions. In 2014, this amount will increase to $1,800 per month.

Trial Work Period Limit: The amount of earnings required to use a trial work month will increase in 2014 to $770. In cases of self-employment, a trial work month can also be used if a person works more than eighty hours.

Medicare: The Part A hospital inpatient deductible will increase to $1,216 in 2014. The co-insurance charged for hospital services within a benefit period of no longer than sixty days will stay at $0 in 2014. From the 61st day through the 90th day, the daily co-insurance amount was $296 a day in 2013, and will increase in 2014 to $304 a day. Most Social Security beneficiaries have no monthly premium charge for Medicare Part A coverage.

The annual deductible amount for Medicare Part B (medical insurance) in 2013 was $147. That amount will not change in 2014. Neither will The Medicare Part B monthly premium of $104.90.

For further information, contact your local Social Security office or Social Security's toll-free number 1-800-772-1213, or, for Medicare questions, call your local Health Insurance Counseling Program at 1-800-434-0222 to schedule an appointment.

Recipe for Cranberry Bread

Submitted By: Jan Santos

Stir together:
4 cups flour
2 cups sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp salt

Add and stir together until partially mixed:
1 cup orange juice
1/2 cup water (I substitute more orange juice for water)
2 eggs
grated rind of 1 orange

Add to above and mix:
1 cup chopped walnuts
2 cups halved or whole cranberries
2 tbsp melted butter

Place batter in two greased loaf pans. Let rest until batter starts to rise (20 to 30 minutes). Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans.

Center Class Schedule

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

Exercise and Movement: Tuesday, 2:00-3:15 PM. Instructor: Kathleen Davis.

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. Senior Instructor: Leah Gardner. Assistant Instructor: Patricia Nash.

Memory Support: Thursday, 10 AM till noon.

Know Pun Intended

Submitted By: Preston Moses

What is green and sings? Elvis Parsley.

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: Anita March

First Vice-President: Liz Deeff

Second Vice-President: Steve Fort

Recording Secretary: Daveed Mandell

Corresponding Secretary: Patricia Nash

Treasurer: Ida Johnson

Directors: Dorothy Donaville; Claude Everett; Katrina McCurdy; 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 ___) to be used for its worthy purposes on behalf of blind persons." Thank you for your tax-deductible donation.

"Each New Year, we have before us a brand new book containing 365 blank pages. Let us fill them with all the forgotten things from last year -- the words we forgot to say, the love we forgot to show, and the charity we forgot to offer."

-- Peggy Toney Horton