Michael Couey Memorial Fund

Dear Friends:

I am writing this with a very heavy heart. This morning, at 5:39 A.M., our
beloved leader and friend, Michael Couey, quietly passed away in Sacramento,
California. He died as a result of cardiac arrest. Mike was hospitalized on
Sunday morning and never recovered.

If you wish to express your condolences and support to Cat, below is a link
to the Michael Couey Memorial Fund.

Mike and Cat have been staunch supporters and organizers in the California
affiliate for many years. Mike has helped to organize many chapters and
served on the NFB Corp Team back in the early 80′s. He was at every state
and national convention that he could get to over the last forty years. He
greeted many, many new people as they entered the convention hall for the
first time and made sure that they felt welcome and met other
Federationists. He then became lifelong friends with all that he met.

Please join me in remembering Mike Couey.

Mary Willows


Greetings Fellow Federationists,

“Surround yourself with the dreamers and the doers, the believers and the thinkers, but most of all, surround yourself with those who see greatness within you, even when you don’t see it in yourself.”- anonymous

First Annual Crab Feed
Happy New Year! We are starting off 2014 hitting the ground running. The Davis Canes & Tails Chapter is hosting a Crab Feed to beat all crab feeds on January 5. Everyone is invited to attend an evening of fun and food. We will be serving all you can eat crab, salad, bread, and enjoy musical entertainment from a live band. In addition, there will be a raffle for a round trip ticket on United Airlines. Tickets are $50 and can be purchased online by going to www.crabfeedcanesandtails.eventbrite.com or by phone by calling Therese Retherford (707) 290-1517 or Lisa Hilas (415) 606-8775.

At-Large Chapter
The purpose of the At-Large Chapter is to give blind people the opportunity to attend a regular monthly chapter meeting if they live in a location where there is not an in-person meeting. Every month on the second Thursday at 7 p.m. the At-Large Chapter meets by conference call to discuss current issues dealing with blindness in the state of California. We invite everyone to attend the call and ask that you encourage any blind people you know who do not attend regular meetings to give it a try. The conference all in number is 712) 432-0175 and the code is 184220. This month we will talk about the 2014 Washington Seminar agenda topics.

To All Chapter Presidents
On the second Monday of each month all Chapter Presidents come together on a conference call to talk about issues concerning leadership; fundraising; and planning agendas. This informal meeting will be chaired each month by one of our members of the Board of Directors. This month Rick Watson, President Davis-Canes and Tails Chapter, will facilitate the discussion concerning ways to bring more members to the state convention in October. Rick attended his first NFB meeting at a state convention and has never looked back. He shares his passion for our organization with all the chapter presidents. Please join him on January 13 at 7 p.m. The dial-in number is 605-475-4700. The access code is 405682#.

2014 Chemistry Camp
Would you like to learn how blind people tackle the very visual subject of organic chemistry successfully? Do you have a general love for science? Do you want to learn how you can do chemistry as a blind person just as successfully as your sighted peers? Do you want to apply the chemistry you learned to food such as olive oil? Are you interested in how blind professionals use science in their careers every day? Then the 2014 California Chemistry Camp is for you!

Come join Accessible Science for an Educational, exciting, and Fun-Filled weekend of hands-on science!

When: Friday, May 2, 2014 through Sunday, May 4, 2014.
Where: Enchanted Hills Camp near Napa, California.
Who: Up to fifteen blind high school students ages 14-18 will be selected to participate.
Cost: There is no cost to apply for the program.

We hope to see you this spring at Enchanted Hills!
If you have any questions, contact:
Angela Fowler
Director of planning, Accessible Science
Email: fowlers@syix.com

Phone: 530-902-0987

Mary Willows, President
3934 Kern Court
Pleasanton, CA 94588
(925) 462-8575


Greetings Fellow Federationists,

“May peace be your gift at holiday time and your blessing all year through”- anonymous

Join us to celebrate the New Year and the promise of hopeful resolutions for positive growth in 2014. The newly organized Davis Canes and Tails Chapter warmly invites everyone to attend an event which will bring community members and federation leaders together to celebrate our accomplishments.

Featuring live music “The Rhythm Method Band”. Tickets are available for $40 each if purchased before December 15, 2013. All tickets purchased after December 15, 2013 will be $50 each. Tickets will not be available at the door. Tickets can be purchased online or by phone.
Terese Retherford (707) 290-1517
Lisa Hilas (415) 606-8775
Purchase tickets online at www.crabfeedcanesandtailseventbrite.com

Washington Seminar 2014
Once again, California federation members are preparing for a trek to Washington D.C. to introduce ourselves and our mission to members of the House of Representatives and Senate. We will be making appointments with members of the 113th congress first session on January 28, 29, and 30, 2014. We would like to ask anyone who has contacts with local representatives to call the home office and recommend that the representative schedule time to meet our advocates.

Amongst the topics we will discuss are the TEACH Act (H.R. 3505) introduced by Congressman Joe Petri and The Fair Wages for Workers with Disabilities Act of 2013 (H.R.831) introduced by Gregg Harper.

The TEACH Act stands for Technology, Equality and Accessibility in College and Higher Education Act will direct the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board to develop accessibility guidelines for electronic instructional materials and related information technologies in institutions of higher education, and for other purposes. Blind college students must be equipped to compete on the basis of equality which means having access to text books and research materials.

H.R. 831 will repeal section 14(c) of the Fair Labor Standards Act and phase out the discriminatory practice of paying disabled workers less than the federal minimum wage. There are many examples of individuals with significant disabilities who, when provided the proper training and support, have acquired a competitive job skill to earn at least minimum wage. Very few, if any, disabled or nondisabled individuals acquire a competitive job skill through performing menial tasks in sheltered, segregated, subminimum-wage work environments.

At-Large Chapter Meeting
The At-Large Chapter will meet on the second Thursday of each month. In December the meeting will be held on December 12 at 7 p.m. The purpose of the At-Large Chapter is to give those who cannot attend regular monthly meetings an opportunity to stay connected and up-to-date with the latest issues concerning blind people in California and across the nation. The call in number is 712) 432-0175. The passcode is 184220#.

Dr. Marc Maurer Announces His Retirement
The following is taken from a message sent by Dr. Fredric Schroeder, first vice-president, National Federation of the Blind: “As you know, Dr. Marc Maurer has been our national president since 1986. He has served as president longer than any of our previous presidents and has guided us through a period of unprecedented growth and change. It was under Dr. Maurer’s leadership that we established the Jernigan Institute and all of the programs that have been so successful in demonstrating the truth of our assertion that given proper opportunity and training, blind people can live and work as others. In particular we have developed many programs designed to provide blind children and youth with the skills and confidence they need to compete fully in their education and to develop their life ambitions. We have conducted the Youth Slam, Science Academy, and more recently the BELL programs.

In the area of technology under Dr. Maurer’s leadership we developed the KNFB Reader Mobile allowing blind people to have immediate access to print with nothing more than a cell phone and special software. And then there was the Blind Driver Challenge. There is no question that lack of access to reliable transportation remains a major barrier for blind people.
Yet, the Blind Driver Challenge showed that we could develop the technology to enable a blind person to drive a car, not simply sit passively in a car that drives itself.

These are the expressions of Dr.Maurer’s leadership. Yet at the heart of his leadership is his spirit and his belief in every blind person. He has inspired and encouraged us, faced the most difficult challenges with resolution and strength, and he has kept us together, and never let us waiver in our belief in our own right to live normal, productive lives.

On Saturday afternoon Dr. Maurer told the board that it is his intention to not seek reelection to the presidency next summer at our national convention. He feels the time is right to transition to the next president, the next individual who can lead us for a quarter century or more. Dr. Maurer is in good health and believes that it is important that he step down from the presidency while he is able to assist with the transition. Dr.
Maurer told the board that he, Dr. Maurer, plans to support Mr.
Mark Riccobono as the next president of the National Federation of the Blind.

Mr. Riccobono presently serves as the Executive Director of the Jernigan Institute. He is an accomplished individual with the strength and wisdom to assume the serious responsibility of leading our movement. He has brought to his work the imagination and competency we demand from our president.
We are truly fortunate that within the Federation we have individuals who are able and willing to give all they have to furthering our move toward true equality. The demands of the NFB presidency are unimaginable. We require our leader to give all of his time, all of his imagination, and all of his personal reserve of judgment to leading our organization. This is what Dr. Maurer has done for the past 27 and a half years, and it is what Mark Riccobono will do for the time of his presidency.

The transition brings to an end one chapter in our history and what a glorious chapter it has been. We cannot face the loss of Dr.Maurer’s leadership without a sense of sadness; but the transition to a new president is not just the absence of what we had before. The transition heralds a new chapter in our history and with it, new opportunities-the chance to take all that has come before and build something bigger and more powerful than we have ever known.

Please join me in thanking Dr. Maurer for his leadership, his friendship and his faithful devotion to our cause; and please join me in wishing Mark Riccobono the very best as he seeks to take the foundation that is all that has come before and build upon it the next great chapter in our history.”

Mary Willows, President
3934 Kern Court
Pleasanton, CA 94588
(925) 462-8575


Greetings Fellow Federationists,

The month of November is always a time of reflection. I would like to share this quote from Cicero, “A thankful heart is not only the greatest virtue, but the parent of all the other virtues”. I am so thankful for all of the people in the National Federation of the Blind of California who have come together to pass on the message of equality, security, and opportunity for the blind. It is because of you, with you, and for you that we hold annual statewide conventions such as our recent successful convention held in October. I am so grateful to all of the people who worked so hard to make the convention informative and fun.

Meet the Blind Month
Many chapters have participated in “Meet the Blind Month” activities in local communities throughout the state to help spread the word to blind people and their families that it is okay to be blind. Our newly formed Davis Canes and Tails Chapter conducted a public education event at the Davis Farmer’s Market. Members circulated through the crowds and passed out literature while others put the names of children in Braille for them show off to their friends. The Escondido Chapter also participated in a street fair where they sold several items and informed the community about the programs and services of the National Federation of the Blind of California. The Pathfinders Chapter and the Guiding Lights Chapter made a presentation at the Second Baptist Church of Los Angeles. They told the congregation about our successful Braille Enrichment in Literacy and Learning (BELL) Program, which was held at that church in July.

Catch Our Dreams
Congratulations to our southern California friends, family, and chapter members who came together to celebrate our fundraising effort called Catch our Dreams. The event was coordinated by Cheryl Thurston, President Inland Empire Chapter and Robert Stigile, President San Fernando Valley Chapter. We now have a new auctioneer in our midst. Hoby Wedler and EverLee have been our notorious auctioneers and as of this past Saturday, Rochelle Houston, President Pathfinders Chapter is added to the list. EverLee got the crowd inspired and Rochelle Houston kept it going with humor and spontaneity. There was dancing, laughter, and support for one another and the work of the National Federation of the Blind of California. We will definitely continue the Catch our Dreams theme for our statewide fundraising effort.

Celebrating 50 years of Service to Los Angeles
On Saturday, November 9 the Pathfinders Chapter will celebrate their 50th anniversary of the chapter and all of the accomplishments of federationists in the Los Angeles area. President, Rochelle Houston, will preside at a dinner held at Marie Calendars located at 21211 Hawthorne Blvd., Torrance, CA from 5 to 8 pm. Donation is $30. There will be speakers to recognize the long-time dedication of members in Los Angeles who have helped to change what it means to be blind. For more information, contact Rochelle at 323) 754-9689 or email rhouston58@gmail.com.

Parent Leadership Program at 2014 Washington Seminar
I am seeking the names of parents who show leadership potential for supporting parents of blind children. Do you know a parent that shows the commitment to help build the parents division in our state? If so, please send me, Mary Willows, the name and contact information by November 12, 2013. We hope to send two parents to the Parent Leadership Program (PLP), which is held annually in conjunction with the Washington Seminar. The dates are January 26 through January 30, 2014.

California Supports Minimum Wages for Disabled Workers
On October 31, 2013 newly elected board member and president of the Davis Canes and Tails Chapter, Rick Watson, delivered 5,300 pages of names of people who signed a petition to end the discriminatory practices of Goodwill Industries paying sub-minimum wages to disabled workers. The petition garnered 170,000 signatures of Americans who demand that Goodwill pay its workers with disabilities a real wage. Follow the story at www.nfb.org.

There’s More than One Way to be Okay: A Blind Woman’s PURRspective on Life”
Congratulations to Lauren Merryfield, who has written her second book, There’s More than One Way to be Okay: A Blind Woman’s PURRspective on Life”. The ebook versions are at amazon and other companies. Contact Lauren at bizcats@catliness.com for the print version.

Happy Thanksgiving to Everyone.

Mary Willows, President
3934 Kern Court
Pleasanton, CA 94588
(925) 462-8575


October Bulletin

Greetings Fellow Federationists,

2013 Convention News
The 2013 annual statewide convention of the National Federation of the Blind of California is upon us. Federationists will gather beginning on Thursday, October 10 at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel located at 2001 Point West Way, Sacramento, CA 95815. If you haven’t already made a room reservation, please hurry and get it done by midnight October 1. After that, there is no guarantee that there will be a room in the hotel for you. The hotel has rooms with one queen-sized bed and one king-sized bed left. Room rates are as follows: $89 + taxes per night. You will need a hotel confirmation number in order to complete the convention registration form.
Go to: http://doubletree.hilton.com/en/dt/groups/personalized/R/RLSA-DT-NBF-20131010/index.jhtml?WT.mc_id=POG

If you choose to make your reservations by phone, you’ll need:
Group Name: NFBC – 2013 Convention
Group Code: NBF
Group Dates: 10/10/13 – 10/13/13
Reservations: 800-686-3775 or 916-924-4900

Once you have your hotel reservation, you can purchase convention registration and meal event tickets by going to

Please be aware that if you do not plan on staying at the hotel, you will still need a hotel confirmation number to complete the NFBC 2013 Convention Registration form online. Use code: 0000 0000. Pre-registration online will cost $100 for: Convention Registration; Diabetes Action Network (DAN) Lunch; Monte Carlo Night; California Association of Blind Students (CABS) Lunch; and the Banquet. Each event ticket can be purchased individually. Prices will go up by $10 at the door. There will be a few meal tickets available at the Registration Table on a first come, first served basis.

We are proud to welcome our national representative, Cathy Jackson, who will deliver the keynote address at the banquet. Cathy will also update us with news from the national office.

The 2013 agenda will be posted to our website and available on the NFBC-Info list serve on October 1.

Drawing for an iPad Mini!
You can purchase a $10 ticket now for an iPad mini Wi-Fi 16GB. Contact your local chapter president or board member to buy tickets and they will be happy to sell them to you for 3 for $20. Drawing will be held at the annual convention banquet. Winner need not be present. Buy tickets now! Click on this link: http://www.formstack.com/forms/?1560761-uA47O5jjNw

Davis Canes and Tails Wine Tasting October 6
This tasting experience explores how flavors and aromas in wine are heightened by figuratively turning off the lights and tasting wines in complete darkness. The program begins with a sensory examination of distinct aromas including a few primary scents generally found in wine. Next, a flight of four Coppola wines are introduced on the palate, each guest busy distinguishing what familiar tastes are being encountered. Tasting in the Dark aims to break down some of the preconceived barriers to wine tasting, while allowing guests to enjoy wine in an uninhibited environment.

Limited Tasting: 1951 Chateau Latour
Patrick May has donated a 62 year-old bottle of Latour wine, which is valued over $2,000 on the open market. The mystery with a wine that old is whether it is turned or if it is amazing. Either way, it will be unique.

Thank you for your participation! All proceeds for both tastings will benefit the National Federation of the Blind of California “Canes and Tails” Chapter of Yolo/Solano County and Accessible Science, which puts on a chemistry camp for the blind. Ticket prices start at $43. In addition, a limited tasting of the the 1951 Chateau Latour is available for $66.09. Make reservations for both event items online at www.tastinginthedark.eventbrite.com or purchase tickets at the Vini Wine Bar, 611 2nd Street in Davis.

Chapter Basket Auction at State Convention
NFBC Chapters have spotlighted theme baskets to bring to the convention for an auction which will be held during the banquet Saturday, October 12. Coordinators Debbie Worstman, President Shasta Cascade Chapter and Karen Steele, member of the Board of Directors request that donations labeled in print and Braille with the value of the basket and the theme. Contact Debbie at debsphilly1@gmail.com and Karen at karenjsteele@yahoo.com so that they can organize labeling and presentation of baskets at the convention.

Door Prizes
Door prizes for the convention should be brought to the hotel and given to Chairperson Rochelle Houston, member of the Board of Directors. Items should be labeled in print and Braille, unwrapped, and given to Rochelle at the convention. Items should be valued at approximately $25 and identified by donor or chapter name.

October is Meet the Blind Month
Chapters are organizing events in local areas to celebrate Meet the Blind Month. Please let me know if your chapter will be participating in a local event to introduce Braille and other resources which the NFB can offer to your local community. Such events as a local Farmer’s Market, church, festivals, or street fair quite often allow non-profit organizations to have a table at a discount or for free. Check with your local Chamber of Commerce to see how the NFB can serve your town.

Mary Willows, President
3934 Kern Court
Pleasanton, CA 94588
(925) 462-8575