WE ARE ON THE MOVE!
The East Bay Center for The Blind is owned and operated by blind people for blind people. Sighted and blind people provide service, referral of people to proper service providers including for eye care, instruction, and creating a gathering place where you are welcome. Come to the Center and be part of what we do.
The new year is when active members renew their membership by paying dues. Some members pay their dues by using PayPal.
The sounds of people busy and engaged are becoming almost normal again. People are working at the tables, in the computer lab, and in the office area. The board is taking initiative to organize and bring ideas to fruition, getting the word out, and raising needed funds. We are having a wonderful time with classes back in full swing; come and join us! We have an active program committee now. President Emeritus Dorothy Donaville has taken the lead on a taco margarita event, March 25, from 1:00 PM to 4:00 PM. Come for music and great food!
Join us during the week for our Berkeley Adult education classes!
On Tuesdays from 10:00 AM to noon, join us for Ceramics with Kat Rowe and EBCB board member David Cook to receive hands-on instruction as well as a great chance to express your creativity and make craft and art. Come put on an apron and have some fun!
Thursdays from 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM we have Meditation class with David Cook. The ringing of beautiful bells starts each class. David says he’s not in the business of promoting Buddhism; his class focuses on practicing mindfulness and grounding ourselves in the present. He tells us, “do yourself a favor: live in the moment and a certain calm can be yours.”
Following meditation, we hold a low-impact Exercise class with Kathleen Davis, on Thursdays from 11:30 AM to 1:00 PM. The class is a “hybrid”, so Kathleen can help people calling in from home, seen on our large screen TV. When members are in the room, Kathleen brings her teaching right to your side, explaining and showing you how the exercise is performed. We have many who love joining us for the entirety of Thursday mornings to experience both meditation and exercise classes. Berkeley Adult Education will test a pilot class in nutrition with Kathleen. If the response is good, there is a chance that a cooking class might be developed.
On Fridays from 10:00 AM to noon, join us remotely for a support group facilitated by Patty Overland. This is a great chance to share experiences of life as a visually impaired person. Call the center for instructions in how to join, currently by phone.
Note: Technology and Braille lessons are by appointment.
Technology instructor Fran Franks is a dedicated teacher with years of experience. She works with people on the phone and in person. Fran knows the road from more vision to no vision because she has lived it; her counseling with students is as important as her patient teaching of iPhones and computers with adaptive technology. Fran has offered to teach guitar for interested folks; she can perform guitar maintenance too. If you are interested, contact Fran about scheduling.
Braille teacher Vileen Shah welcomes students who want to begin their Braille journey or brush up on their skills. In addition to teaching his students, he hosts a national and indeed international seminar known as I Love Braille every Thursday from 9:00 A.M. to 10:00 on Zoom. Each week, participants, old pros, and newcomers to Braille gather to learn and discuss Braille. It’s always a lively program. Check it out and feel free to call in. We are proud to announce that the program is now a series that can be accessed here on the East Bay Center’s website. The sessions can also be heard on ACB Radio on your Victor Stream.
We have entered an alliance with the Pittsburgh Lions Center for the Visually Impaired and the Lions Vision Resource Network, to share funds intended to keep services coming to residents of the East Bay. Each of our organizations works with deserving people who do not get sponsorship from regular sources of funds to nonprofit organizations. If someone calls needing help, staff at each agency puts them in touch with service providers who can address people’s needs and wishes. The Vision Support Network is an alliance of East Bay service providers, filling the void left by the departure of the Oakland Lions Blind center and the devastating effects of COVID-19 on services.
We have made friends with the world-famous women’s singing group Kitka. They have used the center for rehearsals of their community choir, and they plan to bring the varsity group in for rehearsals, perhaps even performances.
Within EBCB, we’ve had many opportunities to enjoy instances of friendship and great support. For example, we celebrated the 75th birthday of Dirk Neyhart, an enthusiastic member who used the center for his party.
ENERGY AT THE BOARD LEVEL
Board members Barbara Lassen and Maureen Schulz are collecting ideas for in-person activities at the center. Stay tuned for announcements.
Board member and MacArthur Fellow Josh Miele appeared on the National PBS News Hour. Dr. Miele chairs our constitution and bylaws committee. He is launching a class in electronics held at the Center, making things with computer chips called Arduinos, every month for anyone who is interested. Josh is a woodworker, a professional scientist, and a teacher. Josh’s day job is as a research scientist for Amazon. Come to the Center no matter your skill level; Josh will inspire you.
Board member Anita Aaron chairs the Center’s newly activated membership committee. She has made donations of her time and resources. Anita is a leader in our community with decades of experience. She is known for heading up the Bay Area Outreach and Recreation Program (BORP), the birth place of the Bay Area’s Goal ball, the San Francisco Lighthouse, and the World Institute on Disability. She brings experience, skills, and friendship to our center. We are proud she has chosen to join us.
The center has benefited from the generosity of board members and the community. Membership is up, but with positive trends occurring, remember that we need help, enthusiastic support, and participation.
MORE THAN SURVIVAL and THE PRICE OF COVID
The pandemic has threatened the center’s very existence. Not only has it kept people away, but with new variants arriving one right after another, people have missed the Center’s presence, and fellowship, our activities remaining largely virtual for more than two years. We have relaxed our COVID-19 rules a bit: masks are now optional, and we strongly urge people to be up to date with vaccines. We hope members will come to the center and help fill the place with laughter and warmth, a most wonderful East Bay Center tradition.
A year ago, Board President Dorothy Donaville, Director Jan Santos, Board member Vileen Shah, and nominations Committee Chair Marie Jenkins saw desperate times ahead for the Center. Living off the organization’s savings could only last so long, and participation, including in the matter of board member recruitment was down. So, an advisory committee was appointed including staff and community residents with a background in programs for the blind. By April, a new board was seated, and President Donaville could finally relax with at least some assurance that the center would carry on. Just as in 1986, Center staff and board members knew that the very survival of the center was at stake.
Since then, the center has raised money and has seen some rebuilding efforts initiated. For example, the Board has activated a finance and budget committee chaired by Treasurer Connie Skeen. They are working on a budget process for the Center. The constitution and bylaws committee, chaired by Josh Miele, is taking a deep look at our governing documents. At regular intervals, the board has made changes to better reflect how the Center works and to incorporate modern technology such as websites, email, and methods donors can utilize to make money transfers.
If you have been a member for a long time, you might notice some changes. East Bay Center needs more money, and a coordinated volunteer effort, but mostly we need enthusiastic participation and the future is ours.
The Center community has joined to honor members who have passed away in the last few months. The Family of Steve Fort and Center members gathered on-site and over Zoom on August 20, 2022, to share food, memories, and stories about this leader who was our friend, our technical and parliamentary mentor, who left us after a difficult few years fighting illness.
Another Center leader and friend was Lizz Deef. A memorial was held at the center on October 23, 2022. Lizz was EBCB’s energetic and able director for several years; memories of Lizz, how she cooked and sang, and helped the center’s community in good times and hard times. Lizz’s family has made a generous donation in her name.
The center mourns the loss of longtime member and all around good person Leland Clark who died after many medical setbacks. Leland was sighted; he assisted with shopping and cooking along with being supportive, involving himself as a fine member willing to give of himself to the work of the center.
We have also lost longtime member Liz Klein. Liz regularly attended EBCB events and was very active in serving food and helping with general duties necessary to make our events a success. Liz was a member of the San Francisco CCB chapter for over 25 years and after retiring, she generously volunteered her time to the chapter, the East Bay Center for the Blind, the San Francisco Lighthouse and numerous events. A Zoom get together to talk about Liz is scheduled by the San Francisco Chapter of the California Council Of The Blind (CCB) for March 11, 2023 at 11:00 AM. Contact us for information on how to join the Zoom meeting.
George Christian (Chris) to most of us, passed in early February; Chris brought laughs and stories to us, and was an active member of our center for many years. A service has already been held for Chris.
No newsletter can be complete without mention of our wonderful volunteers. The UC School of Optometry has provided us with youthful energy, but then we have a volunteer who says he’s 92 and going strong. Volunteer Alan Wick comes every Wednesday to help staff by reading, and helping with forms, mailings, and the requirements of all nonprofits. Peter Goldstein met us at the Solano Stroll and approached the staff with his willingness to lend his considerable talents, especially in the financial area to the Center. Right off he helped with the need for an update on our vital status with the Secretary of State; our Articles of Incorporation have been brought up to date, ensuring our nonprofit status. Gwen Graham loves the center, and the Center loves her back. In a word, Gwen is our great friend, as are all of our volunteers.
We are currently planning to have our volunteers available at select times during the week for our members to utilize for services such as reading or signing documents.
We greatly appreciate the countless individuals who have donated their time and resources to our organization. If you or those you know are looking to make meaningful donations to an agency that believes in blind people, let them know about this organization that has been contributing to the life of our community since 1938.
East Bay Center For The Blind
2928 Adeline Street, Berkeley CA 94703
Phone: (510) 843-6935