[Community-service] Workshops

Mary Ann Mendez maryann at jmendez.us
Wed Apr 9 22:05:24 UTC 2014

Hi Cheryl.

Forgive the duplicate response. I realize my first reply did not include the

Thank you very much for your thorough response to the questions I shared
with the group. I welcome and appreciate the feedback.

See my responses in your e-mail below. 

-----Original Message-----
From: Cheryl Fields [mailto:cherylelaine1957 at gmail.com]
Sent: Tuesday, April 08, 2014 6:04 PM
To: maryann at jmendez.us; Community Service Discussion List
Subject: Re: [Community-service] Workshops

I am delighted you asked these important questions! Yes I would attend
workshops, teleconferences that include meaningful topics, speakers, and
offer interesting and timely round table discussions.
 Topics, my preferences are, building community connections, leadership
skills, fund raising and how to create diverse volunteer groups.

Mary Ann: I posted information about my first workshop on March 2. Can you
tell me if you saw this e-mail? Perhaps if you are not seeing my e-mail, you
may be missing important e-mails from others that help keep everyone updated
on the events of the division.

 Roundtable discussions, can be a wealth of knowledge for discussion list
participants if guided properly. A friendly, mature, knowledgeable and
engaging moderator is key to the success of any roundtable discussion,
especially one that is held over the telephone. Providing opportunities for
participants to share experiences, how they solved problems/ barriers and
sharing future plans. Some on the list may have a grander idea for service
and connecting with grant writers, and how to write a business plan could
assist them greatly. Maintaining a list of locations in each state that
provide other workshop opportunities for larger community projects to
participate in may be helpful. For example I live in Cleveland and we just
hosted the Cleveland International film Festival, this event could not
happen without a vast amount of volunteers. This summer Cleveland will host
the Senior Games and an annual jazz festival again a huge number of
volunteers will be recruited for these events. Who do we contact to become
involved, what is needed for that involvement and how can we best represent
the NFB by becoming involved?

Mary Ann: Our current group is spread far and wide across the country. This
is why you have noticed a flurry of activity about a service project at
convention. Convention is a time when many in the group come together to
collectively run a community service project. Outside of convention, it is
the hope that individuals in the group participate or run local service
projects in our communities. The group serves as a sounding board and a
resource to promote community involvement.

 Speakers, it would be beneficial to involve some of the existing community
partners on list, members as speakers to provide overview of the
opportunities available through the projects they have been involved with.
Identifying the challenges and satisfaction levels of these endeavors.
Organizations. Other types of speakers could include, local grassroots
organizations that provide training, information on faith based service
opportunities, how can parents of blind children exchange service for other
important services such as day care or transportation of children to school.
Saving them much needed funds. Speakers could include persons with unusual/
exotic skills, feeding animals at the zoo or persons that collect used
computer/ electronics to be refurbished. This could open conversation about
how many blind people would like to have access to technology but lack the
funds for hardware and software. Possibly opening new avenues, brainstorming
with others to enhance the lives within the blind community. The more
diversity of speakers may create more interest from listeners and encourage
others to join the list. Hearing from, our Latina community, the African
American community, the parents of blind children as well as blind parents
with sighted children and others. We all want to hear from those that share
other unique challenges that include blindness. Marketing the
teleconference/ workshops to all NFB members may be helpful to stimulate new
ideas and encouraging to others that never thought about community service
projects. Any speaker should be engaging and open to answering questions
when asked, and following up when necessary. To do this properly the speaker
should have an interview process so that the moderator of the workshop is
familiar with the speaker/ organization , in this way the moderator can move
the discussion along with confidence, introduce other related topics and
convey to listeners that he/ she is prepared. Speakers can also be NFB
members with experience and proven success in the community with his/her
outreach projects.

Mary Ann: Cheryl, it sounds like you have a lot of great ideas. I welcome
you to participate in my workshop and membership development committee. Feel
free to reply to me offline if you are interested. 

 I feel it would be beneficial to have 1 national project, outside of the
convention structure. Something simple, meaningful and inexpensive for every
affiliate to complete within some pre-designated time frame.
This may create interest in this list, participants can share experiences on
line, post photos and share the success of the project together.

Mary Ann: This is a great idea. Since we are fairly new as a group, and
since we are forming a division, we first need to grow our membership to
incorporate at least one person from every affiliate. Again, I welcome you
as an addition to the workshop and membership development committee. Let me
know if you are interested.

 I don't think this list is the place to post employment possibilities for
others. This list may be better served by explaining how volunteering can
boost a resume, provide training for new skills or maintaining expertise of
existing skills, and help a job seeker with networking.

Mary Ann: I have developed workshop discussions that cover these very
topics. Great ideas. 

Finally, I know I have written lots here, but I was glad to have the chance
to get it off my chest. I was very excited when I first joined this list,
but have become disinterested and disappointed with the content. Community
Service exists for many different reasons and not everyone is seeking
employment or attending the national convention.
Some of us want to serve our communities and enhance the quality of life for
our neighbors and ourselves while proudly representing the philosophy of the
NFB. Because of the unique barriers we face, I thought this list would
provide some support and suggestions. When I initially joined, there was the
sense that this is what we were accomplishing. Then the list became flooded
with issues surrounding the national convention, this was interesting to me,
because most of the list users stated that they are not attending the
convention. There seemed to be no other conversation. I called once and was
engaged in a conversation where the names of officers and committees was
guarded, not available to us. There were only a few of us on that call and
it was a complete disaster, this is the reason I have not participated

Mary Ann: Each chair of each committee posts monthly announcements to share
information about the upcoming committee meeting. Perhaps you are not
receiving these e-mails? There have been posts that outline the purpose of
the group. Please let us know if perhaps you are not seeing these and we can
see if we can figure this out for you.

It is my understanding that at some future time the committee and officers
intend to create a division from this list. Well, good luck, because it is
difficult to define what the purpose of the group is. I have not given up on
being hopeful to read in exciting and engaging topics and will hang in there
for a while longer. I am willing to assist with the growth of this group,
it's worth salvaging!
I really hope others respond to assist you and the other leaders in a
positive way to redefine what this list/ group and future division will
become. Thank you for asking and listening, have a great day!

Mary Ann: Because this group is growing, we are developing the processes for
defining our purpose and determining best practices for involving everyone
in the happenings as we evolve. Here is a brief description of the group.
Maybe this will help.

Purpose of Community Service Group:
To educate the public about blindness by supporting NFB members in community
service involvement at the local, state and national level. 
The Community Service Group implements its mission by: 
1. Offering guidance, resources and education to NFB and division members
seeking service projects that develop confidence in the use of alternative
techniques and blindness skills.
2. Offering support to develop NFB and division member local community
service involvement in organizations outside of the NFB 3. Educating the
public about alternative techniques that allow the blind to equally
participate in community service opportunities 4. Promoting the NFB
philosophy through division-wide service projects 5. Creating workshops and
trainings that develop competent leaders 6. Serving as a resource for the
blind and sighted alike about the service field with an emphasis on how the
blind can contribute

The community service group hosts general meetings on the first Sunday of
each month. Committees host meetings throughout each month that are
announced on this list. 
Thank you again, Cheryl, for sharing your thoughts. I really appreciate the

Mary Ann Mendez

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