Palmetto Blind

The Palmetto Blind

The voice of the National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina



Picture Caption:

Five Decades of NFB of SC Statewide Seminars – Informative and Energetic!


The PALMETTO BLIND, published twice a year in large print, in digital format, email and Braille by the National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina. David Houck, Editor. The National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina is chartered under the laws of the state of South Carolina to promote the spiritual, social and economic well-being of all blind South Carolinians. The state organization is an affiliate of the nation’s oldest and largest organization of the blind–the National Federation of the Blind.

The PALMETTO BLIND is the voice of the National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina and is available free of charge to any blind individual or member in large print, Braille online, or text email format. Other subscribers are encouraged. If readers desire to do so, donations to cover the annual subscription cost of $10.00 per year may be made payable to the National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina and sent to: Valerie Warrington, Treasurer, National Federation of the Blind of SC, 119 S. Kilbourne Rd., Columbia, SC 29205. Upon request, we can email a color photo version in a pdf format. This version is not useful to adaptive technology like JAWS or Guide. Braille or large print copies may be retained for personal libraries.

Giving A Dream – One of the great satisfactions in life is having the opportunity to assist others. Consider making a gift to the National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina to continue turning our dreams into reality. A gift to the NFB of SC is not merely a donation to an organization; it provides resources that will directly ensure a brighter future for all blind people.

Seize the Future – The National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina has special giving opportunities that will benefit the giver as well as the NFB of SC. Of course the largest benefit to the donor is the satisfaction of knowing that your gift is leading a legacy of opportunity. However, gifts may be structured to provide more.

  • Helping the NFB of SC fulfill its mission
  • Realizing income tax savings through a charitable donation
  • Making capital gain tax savings on contributions of appreciated assets
  • Providing retained payments for the life of a donor or beneficiary
  • Eliminating or lowering federal estate tax in certain situations
  • Reducing estate settlement costs

NFB of SC programs are dynamic:

  • Making the study of literacy and technology a real possibility for blind children and adults
  • Providing hope and training for seniors losing vision
  • Promoting state and local programs to help blind people become first class citizens
  • Educating the public about blind people’s true potential
  • Advancing technology helpful to the blind
  • Creating a state and national library on the progress of blindness
  • Training and inspiring professionals working with the blind
  • Providing critical information to parents of blind children
  • Mentoring blind job seekers. Your gift makes you a partner in the NFB of SC dream. For further information or assistance, contact the NFB of SC, 119 S. Kilbourne Rd., Columbia, SC 29205. 803-254-3777 or



5       50th Annual Statewide Seminar Successful By Frank Coppel


6       Sweethearts, Sweet Steps, and Sweet Success! By Debra Canty


8       Zooming Around with Successful Transitions By Jennifer Bazer


9       Midlands Gives By Frank Coppel


9       “CRISIS” By David Houck


11     Love Conquers Hate: An Open Letter to the Members of the National Federation of the Blind By Mark A. Riccobono, NFB President


13     The 64th Annual NFB of SC Convention – A First – Going Virtual! By Frank Coppel


14     State Convention Awards and Scholarships


15     Lighthouse Clock By: Dominic Calabrese


16     February 19, 2020 Legislative Breakfast Very Successful By Frank Coppel


17     From the President’s Desk By Frank Coppel


18     From the Editor’s Desk By David Houck


19     Successful At Large Chapter Launch By Ed Bible


19     Final Thought


50th Annual Statewide Seminar Successful

By Frank Coppel


(Editor’s Note: The following is taken from the January 8 Positive Note for the benefit of our expanded Palmetto Blind readers.)

I want to thank all of you who attended the 50th annual Statewide Seminar this past Saturday, January 4. Just prior to the start of the seminar, you could feel the energy and enthusiasm permeating throughout the meeting hall. 155 Federationists from across the state were in attendance. I was told every seat in the room was nearly filled when the Seminar was called to order at 10:00 a.m. All three heads of agencies who provide services to the blind, Zuneira Wasif, Director of Consumer Services of the SC Commission for the Blind, Dr. Paige McCraw, President of the SC School for the Deaf and Blind, and Kristin White, Director of Talking Book Services of SC, gave presentations.

Thom Spittle did an excellent job as auctioneer as we raised $1,000 for Rocky Bottom. This is probably one of the highest totals we have earned from the statewide seminar auction, and I want to thank each of you who donated an auction item or who financially contributed to Rocky Bottom during the day. At the NFB of SC Board of Directors meeting, which was held during the two hour lunch break, the Board elected Frank Coppel to serve as the official delegate and Debra Canty to serve as alternate delegate to the NFB National Convention in Houston, Texas. Since there appears to be a lack of interest to charter a bus to Houston, the board voted to equally disperse the monies raised from the sale of bus tickets to those individuals who will be attending the convention. The requirements to receive a stipend are as follows; the individual must be a dues paying member of the NFB of SC, must have sold bus tickets, and must register for the convention. The stipends will be distributed the first day of the general sessions which will be Friday morning, July 17. The board discussed the 2020 state convention which will be held at the North Charleston Marriott August 21-23. The cost of a room will be $115 per night. There will be an additional 14 percent tax added to each room. The board also voted to increase preregistration for this year’s state convention to $85 for adults, $55 for college students and $25 for children under the age of eighteen.

During the RBRCCB board of Directors meeting, the board voted to move the 2020 Fun Day Festival to Saturday, May 2 (which was later cancelled due to the Covid 19 virus shutdown.

During the afternoon session of the seminar, the audience heard excellent reports from Rocky Bottom and the Federation Center. Jennifer Bazer did an excellent job reporting on the progress of the Successful Transition program and the audience heard from two students, Matthew Duffell Hoffman and Derique Simon who participated in a Mentoring program recently held at the SC Commission for the Blind.

Also during the afternoon session of the seminar, the “100/100 club” (100 people contributing $100) was established in an effort to raise $10,000 to purchase a much needed freezer and refrigerator for the commercial kitchen in the conference center at Rocky Bottom. Since the NFB of SC Seniors Division spearheaded this fund raising project during the fall senior camp in October, checks need to be payable to the NFB of SC seniors division. Thus far, $2,300 in cash and pledges have been raised. Let’s keep the momentum going and let’s try to raise the remainder of the money by Friday, February 28.

Congratulations to Annie Johnson from Cheraw, SC who was the seller of the winning bus ticket and to Richard Johnson from Cheraw who purchased the winning ticket. Also, congratulations to the Columbia Chapter for selling 908 Houston national convention tickets and finishing in first place. The Cherokee County Chapter finished second selling 256 bus tickets and the Rock Hill Chapter finished third selling 205 tickets. A grand total of 2,869 tickets were sold.

I want to take this opportunity to thank Isaiah Nelson and his group of volunteers for preparing and serving a delicious lunch. I am very pleased to announce this was the first time the NFB of SC has ever streamed the state wide seminar and I would like to thank Thom Spittle and Steve Cook for their efforts in this area. Finally, I want to especially thank David Houck for all of his hard work prior to the Seminar and all day Saturday to ensure the meeting was a success.


Picture Captions:

NFB of SC President Frank Coppel presides

Dorothy Barksdale’s invocation

50th Statewide Seminar Audience

Columbia President Tiffiny Mitchell greets all

Thom Spittle, Rocky Bottom auctioneer

Shelley Coppel, Senior Division President

Ike Nelson announces the Luncheon

RBRCCB Report by Ed Bible

RBRCCB Report by Shelley Coppel

Jennifer Bazer presents Successful Transitions

Matthew Duffell-Hoffman recounts his Successful Transitions Project

Derique Simon speaks about the NFB of SC Student Division



Sweethearts, Sweet Steps, and Sweet Success!

By Debra Canty, Chairperson of the National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina Fundraising Committee


It was a gorgeous evening with the temperature at 54 degrees on Saturday, February 15, 2020, for the Fifth Annual Sweethearts Dance hosted by the National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina.

There was chatter and laughter among the guests as we prepared to have some “Icebreakers” to set the tone for an evening of games, fellowship, food, and giveaways. The mood was also set for some fancy footwork and we anxiously awaited the opportunity to dance the night away.

Observations came from Frank Coppel, President of the National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina. Frank noted, “On Saturday evening, February 15, Shelley and I had a wonderful time attending the fifth annual Sweethearts Dance sponsored by the National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina.” Approximately 57 individuals were in attendance, and it was very apparent everyone enjoyed all the festivities of the evening. The Federation Center was beautifully decorated with alternating white and red table cloths enhanced by a balloon bouquet on each table.

Individuals enjoyed a delectable dinner and afterwards many of us had a great time participating in a few games and contests, listening to the music, dancing or just talking with each other.

Many great door prizes were given which greatly magnified the festivities of the evening. Additionally, I am very proud to announce approximately $1,100 in net proceeds were raised for the NFB of SC, which met our goal for the evening.

As this was a fundraiser for the state affiliate, it is befitting to recognize those state board members and leaders who were present for the Sweethearts Dance. They were Second Vice President, Debra Canty; First District Board Member, Loretta Green; Fifth District Board Member, Linda Dizzley; and At-large Board Members: Ed Bible, Tiffiny Mitchell, and Isaiah Nelson. Also, in attendance were David Houck, Director of the Federation Center of the Blind and Jennifer Bazer, Director of Successful Transitions.

Thanks goes to Kerry “Butch” Thompson, a member of the Sumter chapter, for doing an excellent job providing the music for the evening. Many thanks also go to Jennifer Bazer and Valerie Warrington for securing an assortment of door prizes. A very special thanks goes to Debra Canty, our Fundraising Chairperson and her planning committee for putting together this event. Many kudos for a job well done!

Mega thanks, because “Teamwork makes the dream work!” Well-done to the committee: Jennifer Bazer, Shannon Cook, Linda Dizzley, Loretta Green, Tiffany Mitchell and Valerie Warrington. A hearty applause to you for the following supports and/or services: The welcome table by Dr. Tremain and LaKia Singleton, The head host, Michael Wells, decorations by Corey and Tanisha Gibbons, the dinner by Green and Green Caterers, the music by DJ-B, and most of all the 57 individuals present and others who supported with a door prize or donation to bring the 2020 fundraiser to its goal.”

“Let us continue to build the Federation!!!”


Picture of attendees seated at decorated tables.






Zooming Around with Successful Transitions

By Jennifer Bazer


Remain flexible, life is forever changing


In February, Successful Transitions received the exciting news that we would be hosting Summer Teen 2020 and we began planning for an amazing summer full of activities, outings and trips. We would be spending several weeks at Rocky Bottom and several weeks in Columbia at the Federation Center.

And then, Covid19 changed all of our plans! As time passed and it got closer and closer for in-person camp, we had to make the difficult decision to have summer teen 2020 and Children’s camp virtually. Some were very disappointed and others were thrilled that camp would be virtual because of health concerns that would not allow them to be away from home. We jumped in and began planning in a different way to address all needs through virtual camp.

We decided to combine Children’s camp and summer teen 2020 for the first week and what an amazing experience it has been. Summer teen 2020 will continue virtually until July 31!

The first week consisted of 12 children under the age of 13 and over 20 teenagers between the ages of 13 and 21. The week was full of exciting activities including yoga and mindfulness, technology show and tell, scavenger hunt, and other self-advocacy and work-readiness activities. The main project for both children and youth consisted of developing a personality board which they presented later in the week. This exercise helped them illustrate through photos and tangible items their dreams for the future. They would be able to keep the board and refer to it often to continue striving for their goals or revise their dreams based on life experiences.

During career exploration on Thursday, a martial artist who is blind from Pennsylvania shared with the campers about his business and founding Lehigh Valley Martial Arts. Paul Miller has been practicing martial arts for 50 years and now is the Chief Executive Officer. He revealed that once he lost his sight, he became a more skilled martial artist because he relied on his sense of touch, rather than, his sight. Paul reminded the campers to “never give up” and to keep persevering, even when things seem impossible. The campers were engaged and asked fantastic questions and left with possibilities of practicing martial arts themselves.

Staff from the South Carolina Commission for the Blind (SCCB) observed and participated in the virtual sessions. “I have so enjoyed sitting in on some of the sessions” said Rhonda Thompson, Director of Children Services. “It is definitely a new way of doing things, and I am so glad they have the opportunity to engage in learning, to meet new friends and reconnect with old ones.”

Personality Boards:

Rebeckah Breece

Destiny Thompkins

Alyssa Bushnell


Midlands Gives

By Frank Coppel


I want to take this opportunity to thank those of you who participated in the Midlands Gives fund raising event which was held Tuesday, May 5, in Columbia. As all of you know by now, we received an email from Midlands Gives on Friday afternoon stating an anonymous donor was contributing a matching grant up to $3,000 to the NFB of SC. Because of this generous contribution, we switched gears from Rocky Bottom and we put all of our efforts into raising contributions for the NFB of SC this past Tuesday, May 5. With the money we raised during Midlands Gives, the NFB of SC will make a donation to Rocky Bottom.

I am very pleased to announce this year’s fund raising event was very successful as we were able to raise $4,164 with eighty donors contributing. I am also very pleased to report we were able to receive the $3,000 matching donation from an anonymous donor making the NFB of SC’s final total $7,164. Rocky Bottom received $749 in donations with eighteen donors contributing. Although we did not win the $2,000 prize for having the most unique contributions during the 12:00 to 1:00 “power hour”, I am very proud to say we were able to collect sixty-two unique contributions during the “power hour”. Last year, we collected a total of fifty-seven unique contributions of which thirty-nine were collected during the 12:00 to 1:00 “power hour”. A very special thanks goes to Valerie and Larry Warrington for all of their hard work during the past few months with this project which made it possible for the NFB of SC and Rocky Bottom to again participate in this program. Finally, I would like to thank all of you who contributed or who assisted others to make their contributions during this event. I am very proud of our Federation family as members from throughout the state made significant contributions during the entire day. It has been said on many occasions that awesome things can happen when individuals pull together and work as a team. This cannot be more clearly demonstrated than what occurred on Tuesday, May 5, during our Midlands Gives fund raising campaign.



By David Houck


Picture of Chinese Character for “Crisis” meaning both Danger and Opportunity


The Chinese symbol for crisis consists of two concepts written together, one of danger and one of opportunity.

With the Covid-19 pandemic, we have all seen the crisis. We have sheltered in place, observed “social distancing,” wore masks at times and watched the media constantly tell us about the instances of the virus, proposed treatments and even of the mounting death rates. All of this was to prevent the danger which the virus presents.

The NFB also instituted policies about appropriate standards concerning the Covid virus, using ZOOM and other platforms to hold meetings, limiting exposure with others, revamping the national convention, etc. All of these things forced us to look at innovative opportunities to continue providing service without endangering anyone.

Here in South Carolina the NFB of SC had to adapt as well. Chapters used social media to conduct meetings, Boards met via ZOOM. While Rocky Bottom Retreat and Conference Center of the Blind, located in the mountains of northern Pickens County was shut down by SC DHEC due to the virus, revenues were lost. Guests were told they could not visit. A planned fishing trip for the Upstate blind was cancelled. The Spring Senior Blind Camp was cancelled. However, Chairman Frank Coppel, Vice Chairman Ed Bible and Treasurer Valerie Warrington rallied and Midlands Gives and other contributions raised in excess of $8,000 for the camp. Time was used to conduct renovations, meet DHEC requirements and get the swimming pool and mini golf course ready for summer activities.

The Federation Center of the Blind, the hub of activity for the NFB of SC, had to shut down all group activity. Jennifer Bazer and the Successful Transitions team worked from home and only the Center Executive Director worked from the Center. However, our four blind computer instructors still worked from home, connecting with their blind students from their home over the internet on a secure line and taught the use of adaptive technologies in Windows and Microsoft Suites software. Barry Chavis continued to perform maintenance work and renovations at the Center. Payroll was met, funds were raised, renewal of our Secretary of State Public Charities registration was made, registration renewed and even application for the Payroll Protection Plan was achieved during this time. Even local chapter memberships were updated and sent to the national office. In order to avoid the danger of the virus, we undertook precautions and yet found opportunities to continue serving the blind.

Now that we are positioning ourselves to once again be fully “open for business,” we will still keep in mind the rules of “social distancing” and cleanliness procedures and all that entails. However, we must keep in mind not to be afraid to resume our former level of activity. We still have a job to do in this “big program of work with the blind.” as the late Dr. Donald Capps used to say. The Columbia Chapter had 67years of a barbecue established by Dr. Capps. Rocky Bottom Retreat and Conference Center of the Blind must also continue to grow and develop its programs for the blind of all ages. The Federation Center of the Blind must continue to grow and expand its service to blind South Carolinians as we approach our sixtieth year of service. Local chapters across the state must support the effort of the Federation in all areas. Our Chesterfield County Chapter, while a smaller chapter in number, sets a good example by giving to all aspects of Federation endeavors. Successful Transitions must continue to affect the future of blind high school and college age blind students. The NFB of SC must also encourage the energy and enthusiasm of our members in supporting local, state and especially national efforts of the Federation. This includes free white cane referrals, PAC Plan contributions, SUN Shares, Washington Seminars, national convention registrations, recruiting members, etc. If you want to “Change what it Means to be Blind,” “Live the Life You Want,” and to “Transform Your Dreams into Reality” for yourself and others, you must avoid the danger of a crisis and seize the opportunities. Let’s get busy!

Chinese character logo from


Love Conquers Hate: An Open Letter to the Members of the

National Federation of the Blind By Mark A. Riccobono, NFB President


Sunday, May 31, 2020


I write this message to you as the elected President of the National Federation of the Blind. I also write it to you as an American who is struggling this week. I call upon members of our organization to recognize the solidarity we share as blind people and that the value we place on love within our movement is needed more today than at any other time in our history.

I watched the horrific video shot by a brave seventeen year-old of the killing of George Floyd, a citizen of our great nation. Before I watched the video, I wondered what I could do and how I could contribute to healing the pain. I had no answers. After I watched the video, I realized I still did not have the answers and I was sad, angry, scared, frustrated, and without hope. Then I realized that we share tools in the National Federation of the Blind that can help. We cannot look away and we need to share what we know from our experience in this people’s movement.

Our movement has been sustained for the purpose of serving as a vehicle for collective action by the blind of the nation to promote the vocational, cultural, and social advancement of the blind; to achieve the integration of the blind into society on a basis of equality with the sighted; and to take any other action which will improve the overall condition and standard of living of the blind. While racial equality in our nation is not within our mission, we also recognize that blindness affects all races and that the society we live within has an impact on our membership.

The Federation’s Code of Conduct specifically emphasizes our commitments to diversity. In short, “We respect differences of opinion, beliefs, identities, and other characteristics that demonstrate that blind people are a diverse cross section of society…In promoting a diverse and growing organization, we expect integrity and honesty in our relationships with each other and openness to learning about and experiencing cultural diversity. We believe that these qualities are crucial to fostering social and intellectual maturity. Intellectual maturity also requires individual struggle with unfamiliar ideas.” This week, I have been struggling to comprehend the fear and anger that black members of my Federation family are experiencing. I do not, and never can, have the authentic lived experience that you have, but yet I am also completely outraged by the hate and injustice that fell upon George Floyd on Monday. I recognize there are many centuries of painful layers wrapped up in that moment. I recognize that George is neither the first nor the last in a chain of injustices that need to be addressed. I want you to know I stand with you in facing the injustice that persists against you because of the color of your skin. I want you to know that I love you and I struggle with not being able to fully know your pain and fear. I want you to know I am prepared to be guided by you as to how I can make a difference. I cannot say that I have not become desensitized in times past, but I can tell you I will never turn away again.

While our organization is dedicated to advancing the rights of blind people, we should not act as though race does not exist. As our chapters attempt to do business, as we urge our members to take up our priorities, we should recognize that thousands of our members are impacted by the painful realizations of this week. As a people’s movement, we cannot pretend that our people only have one characteristic. Now is the time to let each member know we love them and we recognize their hurt. Now is also the time for us to recognize, as individuals, that we carry implicit bias learned from the society around us, and to seek the training that will enhance our awareness. Now is the time to give love to our black members so that we might learn how we can do better in building the understanding that powers the organized blind movement.

Now is not the time for us to use our organizational communication tools to offer position statements about the activities playing out on the streets of our nation. it is easy to write messages and posts of solidarity without having a true understanding of the issues. It is easy to suggest that we share the concerns of our black members. The harder thing for us to do is to consciously listen and seek understanding while supporting others in their pain and frustration. The Federation has never been known for merely doing what is easy. The priority today is to ensure all of our black members know they are welcomed and loved in this movement. In fact, we should extend that same truth to any others who feel the real pain sweeping our nation. Please do not use organizational assets to enter the dialogue around race. That is not our purpose as an organization and we may unintentionally make it worse. We need to continue to coordinate messaging and to be guided by the wisdom of our diversity and inclusion committee. As leaders of our movement, we should also be conscious that our public posts may be misunderstood as representing the Federation. Our personal feelings and misunderstanding around the death of George Floyd, the protests sweeping our nation, and the underlying systemic discrimination may hurt and divide members of the organization. We cannot let that happen and we must be careful as leaders not to add to the pain our members are experiencing. As it relates to our public messaging, let us stay focused on the priorities of the organized blind movement. As it comes to our cherished friends, let our priority be to reach out personally to listen and offer our hands in support.

I have had the opportunity to gather virtually with some of our top black leaders—a group who will continue to guide my actions related to these issues. I asked them for wisdom and love in finding ways that I could guide our membership during this trying time in our nation. Their message was clear. Our movement is built on love and love always conquers hate. The Federation family needs to shine a light for the rest of the nation by continuing to demonstrate that the love, and solidarity that we share with each other in this movement makes all the difference. They also noted that our organization has always valued civil disobedience and persistent pursuit of equality. They urged that we continue to pray for peace, justice, and equality. I could not agree more with these friends I have been blessed to learn from in our movement. Furthermore, I am thankful that we have a movement that provides us a meaningful opportunity to know people whose lived experience is so different from our own while sharing a common bond as blind people.

In the National Federation of the Blind we know that blindness is not the characteristic that defines us or our future. Blindness is the thing that brings us together but it is not the thing that makes us want to stay together. That, in a word, is love. We have love in our movement and we strengthen it by giving it. We have some wisdom and we strengthen it by continuing to seek greater understanding. We need more of both love and wisdom at every opportunity. Let’s continue to share love, hope, and determination with each other so that together we transform our dreams into reality. One of those dreams still left to be transformed is that of a nation where we can join together regardless of our unique characteristics. That is a dream I am struggling to help my own children understand so they may do better than I in making it come true. I speak for all of our national board members when I say we sincerely believe that the love and togetherness demonstrated in our movement can go a long way in contributing to that dream. It can be hard to remember that in this moment when so many of us are hurting, angry, frustrated, and scared. Let us continue to support each other in the Federation family. Let us avoid the harmful language that will only serve to divide us in this time. Let us go forward together, love one another, and change the world for the better.


The 64th Annual NFB of SC Convention – A First – Going Virtual!

By Frank Coppel


The 64th annual State Convention of the National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina is only weeks away! The 2020 NFB of SC state Convention will be held August 21-22. As you may recall, the 2020 state convention was initially scheduled to be held at the North Charleston Marriott. However, as a result of Covid 19 and that the NFB of SC Board of Directors’ desire to ensure the safety and health of our members, the state board voted Monday evening, June 1, to hold a virtual state convention this year. Although this year’s state convention will be virtual, I am confident this will be our best Convention to date.

There will be no cost for registration. To register online for the 2020 NFB of SC state convention, go to our website, If you need assistance with the online registration, call Steve and Shannon Cook (803) 254-0222 or David Houck at the Federation Center (803) 254-3777and they will be happy to assist you. The deadline for registration is July 31, 2020. If you do not register you will not be eligible for door prizes and you will not be able to participate in the election process.

The 2020 NFB of SC state convention will include most of the elements our members expect, with some new variations. Division and Committee meetings will be held on Friday August 21, as well as the third quarter meeting of the NFB of SC Board of Directors.

The Convention will be called to order Saturday morning, August 22, and will adjourn at the conclusion of the banquet on Saturday evening.

I am very excited regarding the prospects of holding a virtual state convention. It will take all of us working together if we are to have a successful event. I am asking chapter presidents, or someone in the chapter, to assist any member who may need help to participate via the Zoom platform in this year’s convention.

I look forward to a great convention and to be with my federation family August 21-22!


State Convention Awards and Scholarships


Each year at the NFB of SC convention during the Saturday evening Banquet, scholarships and awards are distributed. Even though this year we are hosting a virtual convention, the same applies. Here is a synopsis of these honors and awards and how you can be of assistance before the state convention in August. All award nominations should be turned in by no later than August 1 to give time for decisions about recipients and plaques to be made.


Donald C. Capps Award – This award will be given to the member (either blind or sighted) who demonstrates going the extra mile “and then some” on local, state and even national levels. To nominate, write David Houck, Chair, at the Federation Center of the Blind, 119 S. Kilbourne Rd., Columbia, SC 29205 or by email at by August 1 telling the committee why your candidate should be selected for this award which includes a plaque and a $100 bill.


Employer of the Year Award – This award is given to a deserving company or agency which has demonstrated a track record of hiring the blind in competitive employment. Please send in your nominations in writing to Steve Cook, Chair, at 2446 Harrison Rd., Columbia, SC 29204 or by email Steve at This award includes a plaque.


Educator of the Year Award – This award goes to a deserving teacher of the visually impaired or other educator of the blind in South Carolina who has accomplished much in shaping the lives of young blind students. Marty McKenzie is the Chair and you can send in your nominations by August 1 in writing to 1516 Lucky Rd., Lake City, SC 29560 or by email to This award includes a plaque.


Scholarships – Although the time to apply for an NFB of SC Scholarship expired on June 19, please also remember that the scholarship program operates on donations exclusively. If you or your chapter would like to contribute a scholarship or make a donation to the Metro Fund, please get in touch with both me, NFB of SC Scholarship Chair, Shannon Cook, 2446 Harrison Rd., Columbia, SC 29204 or by email at cookcafe@sc.rr.con, and Valerie Warrington, NFB of SC Treasurer, 384 Cannon Ridge Lane, Newberry, SC 29108 or by email at Also, please help us get the word out about the program. Scholarships will be presented during the Saturday evening portion of the convention on August 22.


Lighthouse Clock

By :Dominic Calabrese


Editor’s Note: (Ed Bible – “In February, Julie and I were involved in a ceremony at the Statehouse to present Governor Henry McMaster a customized clock made by the blind in the Chicago Lighthouse to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the American with Disabilities Act. The Irmo Lions Club was hosting it, and Lions state leaders were there as well. I just received word that this story will be published in the Lions International magazine. This reinforces the close relationship the NFB of SC has with the state’s Lions Clubs.”)

To celebrate the wide-ranging accomplishments of people who are blind and to thank him for his support, the Greater Irmo Lions Club (GILC) presented South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster with a special clock made by employees who are blind at The Chicago Lighthouse Industries program.

The event, which took place at the Governor’s office in the State Capitol on February 5, was attended by nearly 20 guests including many Lions from across the state as well as leaders in the blind community. Among them were Ed Bible, Board Member of the South Carolina Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind.

USC Adjunct Professor Dominic Calabrese, a GILC member who recently retired from The Lighthouse as senior vice president of public relations, noted that the organization operates one of the few remaining clock factories in the U.S. and has the exclusive contract to make clocks for the federal government, including military bases like nearby Fort Jackson.

“We also wanted to recognize the 30th anniversary of the passage of the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act,” Calabrese said. “While much has improved for the disabled community since the Act was enacted in 1990, we realize that more needs to be done before we have a truly inclusive society.”


Picture Captions:

South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster proudly displays The Chicago Lighthouse clock.


South Carolina Lions Club members pose with USC Adjunct Professor Dominic Calabrese as he showcases the Lighthouse clock he presented to the Governor. Shown left to right are first Vice District Governor Judy Scott, Lion Trey Dymock, Dominic and Second Vice District Governor Jim Barbare.


February 19, 2020 Legislative Breakfast Very Successful

By Frank Coppel


On February 19, the NFB of SC hosted a very successful Legislative breakfast from 8:00 to 10:00 in room 112 of the Solomon Blatt building located at our state capital complex. We were extremely pleased to have approximately 200 legislators and staff personnel attend the event. The purpose of the breakfast was to reestablish our relationship with the legislature and to ask for increased funding for the SC Commission for the Blind’s Older Blind program. Kudos to the NFB of SC Legislative Committee and its Chairman, Ed Bible, for a job well done! I would also like to recognize Catherine Williams and Dondra Bible for their outstanding work manning the registration table as well as David Houck for all of his hard work in preparing for this event.


Picture Captions:

Right to left: Jennifer Bazer and Ed Bible at podium with Darlene Houck seated.

President Coppel and others in receiving line

NFB of SC slide show


February 19, 2020


Open Letter to the South Carolina General Assembly


Greetings and we trust that you are enjoying your Legislator Appreciation Breakfast. We are the National Federation of the Blind of South Carolina, a non-profit organization of blind people serving blind and visually impaired South Carolinians since 1944.

Beginning in 1958 we have advocated for forty-four pieces of legislation regarding many aspects of life for the blind. These include braille literacy, creation of the SC Commission for the Blind, the right of blind people to work, have equal access to wherever the public can go, blind people serving on juries, voting rights for the blind and visually impaired, preventing taxes (set-aside fees) from being levied on blind vendors, the Right to Parent Act, and many more.

It is our intention to get to know the General Assembly members again as it has been nine years since we last held such a legislator appreciation function. We are also eager to advise you of an important point or two concerning beneficial funding for the elderly blind. For every South Carolina tax dollar invested in services to the Older Blind Program at the SC Commission for the Blind, the agency receives $9 in federal matching funds. By modestly increasing this line item under the Commission for the Blind’s budget, you will do much to increase federal matching funds for independent living, white cane travel and orientation, adaptive computer training and much more to the 55 and older blind and visually impaired population. Independence means living on our own longer and having communication with others which increases our quality of life.

We stand ready to lend our advice with legislation and budgeting for agencies serving the blind. We want what is best for all blind and visually impaired South Carolinians, turning tax dependent citizens into tax paying, contributing members of society.




Frank Coppel



From the President’s Desk

By Frank Coppel


As I begin writing the “From the president’s Desk” article, it is amazing to me how our lives have changed during the past twelve weeks. On March 12, Shelley and I attended the monthly meeting of the Columbia chapter. Little did we know March 12, would be the last time we would be able to have an in person meeting with our federation friends. Although the Covid 19 virus has made it necessary to do things differently, the activity and enthusiasm in our organization has been awesome both nationally and on the state level.

Nationally, we are eagerly anticipating the first virtual NFB national convention which is scheduled for July14-18 2020. I believe we will have more than 150 South Carolinians registered for this convention. The 2020 NFB national convention promises to be one of the best ever and will have many of the same elements we have been accustom to having over the years.

On the state level, nine of our chapters have held monthly meetings via the Zoom platform. I would like to strongly encourage those of you who have not held chapter meetings via the Zoom platform to do so as this tends to keep our members connected and informed as to what is happening both nationally and in our affiliate. Throughout the spring, our Successful Transitions program, under the leadership of Jennifer Bazer, has continued to provide services to students virtually via the Zoom platform and this summer will be hosting a virtual children’s camp and summer teen program.

On May 30, Rocky Bottom held a virtual senior camp under the direction of Shelley Coppel and Shannon Cook. Twenty-four Seniors participated, and activities consisted of playing bingo, a group discussion, and much needed fellowship.

During the past twelve weeks, we have held NFB of SC Connects, a weekly meeting designed to keep members informed regarding national and state activities.

Of course, on August 21-22 we will be holding our first ever virtual NFB of SC state convention. I fully realize putting on a virtual convention could be challenging at times. However, there is no doubt in my mind with all of us working together and doing our part, this event can be a huge success.

In closing, it has been my pleasure to serve as your state president for the past five years. I will still be available to do whatever I can in this organization and I look forward to having a new state president who will have the energy, enthusiasm, and vision to lead this affiliate for years to come.


From the Editor’s Desk

By David Houck


We got off 2020 to a good start with an outstanding Statewide Seminar directed by NFB of SC President Frank Coppel. As usual, Debra Canty, Second Vice President of the NFB of SC and Chairperson of the 5th Annual Sweetheart Dance, was able to raise $1,000 for the NFB of SC by providing beautiful decorations, excellent dining and dancing including great door prizes.

The February 19 Legislative Breakfast reacquainted the General Assembly with the Federation and promoted increased funding for the Commission for the Blind’s Older Blind Program. Attendance surpassed expectations and next year’s event is scheduled for February 17, 2021.

Ed Bible, Federation Center Board Chairman, headed up a delegation to exhibit at the March 3 Assistive Technology Expo and distributed information packets about the Federation Center and its services. A few days later on March 6, the annual Vision Summit was well represented by the Federation, extolling the 2019 NFB of SC scholarship and award recipients and featured former NFB of SC President and Administrative Law Judge Parnell Diggs who spoke before the audience.

Events were curtailed somewhat by the Covid-19 virus situation later in March. While we were all are following “social distance” during the Covid-19 virus situation, the Federation Center office still was staffed by the Executive Director David Houck to make certain information gets out statewide about the virus situation, meeting postponements or cancellations and to service the needs of the state’s blind at this time.


Picture Captions:

Center kitchen before photo

Kitchen under renovation

New hall closet doors


Our four blind computer instructors continued to teach virtually over the internet and Barry Chavis continued Federation Center renovation and maintenance work.   This includes a renovation of the office hallway closets and hanging new closet doors. We are also undergoing a complete renovation of our kitchen facilities from floor to ceiling with new appliances as the kitchen can be used for cooking classes, etc. Also, although schools were temporarily closed, Successful Transitions found ways to continue its operations in a safe working environment. Successful Transitions is moving its office to West Columbia because of the need for more space. Of course, Linda Bible was doing a good job at Rocky Bottom as Resident Manager while improvements continued to be performed by volunteers and others. All our Federation officers and board members stood ready to be of any possible assistance. We began at this time to hold board meetings and chapter functions by ZOOM, keeping our “social distance” in mind. Below is an interesting last minute submission.


Successful At Large Chapter Launch

By Ed Bible


In April the first meeting of the newest chapter, the At- large chapter met. The word had spread throughout S.C. regarding date and time and how to join the meeting by using Zoom. This allows you to attend by using and old land line, a cell phone or device or by using your computer.

After we introduced our selves and discussed the purpose of the chapter we had elections. Ed Bible was elected President, David Bundy as Vice President and Dondra Bible as Treasurer. The constitution of the chapter was presented to be attendees for a vote on its acceptance. It was discovered that many had not received the constitution and it was to be postponed until the following month.

At the May meeting Mary Sonksen was voted in as Secretary. The Constitution was approved and the Chapter was off and running. You are always welcome to join a meeting which meet on the second Tuesday of the month at 7 PM on the Zoom platform.

Please spread the word regarding our newest chapter. We wish to offer the benefits of being a Federationist for their sake. Let’s build the NFB of SC.


Final Thought


Transforming your dreams into reality: It’s not the crisis that counts, only your reaction to it.