October 4, 2017
Memo To: Executive Officers, Board Members, Chapter & Division Presidents & Others
From: Frank Coppel, President
Positive Note 1625
Greetings Fellow Federationists:
Yesterday, October 3, I had the pleasure of attending and participating in a day long workshop entitled “Insight into Blindness; A Celebration of Blindness Awareness Month” sponsored by the SC Talking Book Services. Robbie Copp, Director of Advocacy and Community Access; ABLE SC, discussed the ADA and Accommodation. I along with Shannon Cook and Cali Sandel participated on a panel entitled “Blindness Sensitivity and Service Animal Etiquette “. The keynote speaker for the workshop was Erica Powell, Inspirational Professional Speaker, Disability Advocate, and EQUIP Coordinator; ABLE SC. Many of you may remember Ms. Powell speaking at our 2016 State Wide Seminar on her experiences as a blind cheerleader for Clemson University. The last agenda item of the day was a presentation by Steve Cook entitled “JAWS and Computer Accessibility”. The NFB of SC and NFB of SC Successful Transitions were two of the many exhibitors who were present at the workshop. Hats off to Kaitlyn Hodges, staff member of the SC Talking Book Services, for doing an excellent job planning and conducting this very worthwhile event.
We have an announcement from Loretta Green, President of the Upper Dorchester County Chapter, regarding her chapter’s activity for Meet the Blind Month. “The Upper Dorchester Chapter will sponsor their annual walkathon on Saturday, October 7 at 9 AM at the Woodland High School track field. We are asking for five dollars for every half mile walked. Our goal is to walk 2 miles. Anyone interested in pledging or participating in the walk please contact Loretta Green, chapter president.” We also have an announcement from Lenora Robertson, President of the Rock Hill Chapter regarding her chapter’s activities for Meet the Blind Month. “The Rock Hill Chapter kicked off Meet the Blind Month Saturday evening, September 30, by participating in “Dancing with the Stars”. The chapter also plans to sell World’s Finest Chocolate bars, and they will hold a pancake breakfast at Fatz Café on Saturday morning, October 14. I believe hosting a Meet the Blind Month activity in your community is extremely important and this is why I take time to share this type of information with all of you in the Positive Note.
I apologize for not reporting who won the Fun Day ticket raffle held on September 2, during the Fun Day Festival held at Rocky Bottom. Jim Carter, a friend of the Rock Hill Chapter, won $50 as he sold the winning ticket to his five month old granddaughter. The Carter family donated their $550 winnings to the Rock Hill Chapter van fund.
The National Federation of the Blind knows that blindness is not the characteristic that defines you or your future. Every day, we raise the expectations of blind people because low expectations create obstacles between blind people and our dreams. You can live the life you want: blindness is not what holds you back. Joining me for comments in this Positive Note is the President Emeritus of the NFB of SC. Here is Dr. Capps.
Today we are pleased to spotlight another excellent chapter President in the Positive Note, namely Constance Miller, President of our Belvedere Chapter. You will recall a few years ago when RBRCCB began to raise funds for the new mattresses and box springs in the Ellenburg Lodge bedrooms that Constance Miller and the Belvedere Chapter members were the first to chip in, raising $500 toward this worthy project. The Belvedere Chapter has always loved and supported Rocky Bottom over the years. Constance Miller was raised in Augusta, Georgia, and graduated from Westside High School in 1981. She had worked in retail for many years. When she lost her driving privileges due to Retinitis Pigmentosa, a co-worker from another job recommended that she apply for Housekeeping at University Hospital so that she could move to the downtown area of Augusta, and be within walking distance of her job, and public transportation. Constance applied and eventually was hired for employment with the hospital. It was during this time she met her husband, Carey Miller, and with great support from him, family and friends, she went through adjustment with blindness training, eventually graduating from Augusta State University in 1999.
Constance Miller moved to North Augusta in 2000, and met Mrs. Kaney, who was then President of our Belvedere Chapter, and she encouraged Constance to join. Constance also started to work with the Older Blind Program at the SC Commission for the Blind in 2001. She learned many valuable lessons in the Older Blind Program and through the Belvedere Chapter. She left the Belvedere Chapter in 2004 and left the Commission in 2005.
Her husband Carey has two sons, Kevin is married to Tomasina and they live in New Ellenton, SC. Tomasina has helped our Chapter from time to time with fundraisers. Carey’s other son is Jason, and his wife is Robin, they live in Seneca, SC. Jason had served in the Army Reserves for many years. Carey and Constance have enjoyed their travels throughout the United States and have met many people along the way. They both enjoy photography and helping out wherever they could. They support the NFB, as well as community organizations.
Throughout all of this time, Mrs. Kaney maintained contact with Constance and Carey, demonstrating and talking about the benefits of coming back to the NFB. Constance and Carey both joined in 2013. They went to the National Convention this year, and it was a blessing to see so many Federationists in one area, with great enthusiasm and independence, as well as relying upon each other for support. They also attended the State Convention in Greenville, and listened to our dedicated members and keynote speakers informing us of what is going on with our Federation and the other opportunities that are available to us. Taking note that we must continue to build membership to get the word out about the NFB, we cannot be individual chapters without continuing the movement and being a part of the State and National. We discussed the need to continue to support Rocky Bottom Retreat and Conference Center as well.
Carey and Constance attend Grace United Methodist Church in North Augusta, SC. This is the church her husband grew up in and they were married in 2004. During their last NFB Belvedere Christmas gathering the chapter attended our church for “Return to Bethlehem”. A joyful time indeed. At this writing Constance Miller says there are times when she reflects back on who our past chapter presidents have been, and all of our members. She is truly in awe of them, and of their dedication through the years to the NFB of SC and the Belvedere Chapter. Yes, like the rest of our fellow Federationisst she is still learning, and that’s the best mode to be in!!!!
Final Thought: When was the last time you spoke to a blind person about the Federation and how they can learn to “Live the life they want?’