[nabs-l] FW: [Cabs-talk] Action Plan, Part 4

Joe Orozco jsorozco at gmail.com
Mon Jun 15 15:47:39 UTC 2009


The below is a response to my last installment.  I share it here because it
flushes out the last of my points, that of community service, and I hope
other states may take from it and engineer their own community involvement
strategies.

Joe Orozco

Subject: Re: [Cabs-talk] Action Plan, Part 4

    This is sensational.
Like Joe says so many great ideas and we only need to latch onto a few and
work those as the snowball gains momentum you can add more wood to the fire.
I know when Terra and I did the American cancer society's walkathon the
second year we organized a team. Because of our rural setting we only had 5
participants 4 of whom showed. Four of the five were blind.  We got some
press coverage from the Antelope valley press and did the best we could but
we didn't have nfb philosophy to the degree I would've liked.
We raised money also through selling candy but because Terra and I were the
only sellers we actually lost money because we couldn't move the candy fast
enough.
How awesome it could have been to have a student team raising  a couple
grandmaybe even being in the top ten!  The Celebration of life the cancer
society holds happens every year it happens in our case at the local
community college.  It's 24-hours long and the team is suposed to keep
someone on the track at all times, obviously we didn't because we didn't
have enough people but early on we did get help because an ROTC class
volunteered to help us in whatever ways they could.
We brought a tent a card table and we sold more of the candy but we also
watched the bands walked about to the other booths etc.
Just think how much literature a student division team could pass out we
could put something together like the California association of blind
students is happy to join the thousands of people across the country who
today are collectively fighting for a cure.
Perhaps we could connect with a form of cancer that causes blindness and use
that as a lever to tie in the NFB and of course blind students who fight for
a cure.
Another posability that a local student chapter could perhaps launch is
really good in light of the current ecconomic downturn. It is something
usually operated by churches but it could easily be done by a chapter and
what a switch the blind helping the sighted with their food needs.
I'm talking about ANgel food ministries.
The food is overall pretty good and for about $30 you can get about double
in food value.
They do distribute a doctrinal magazine but it's nonobtrusive in that they
simply have someone ask would you like a magazine if they say yes you give
them the publication if no you don't and if lots of people come to your food
distribution your going to get good press coverage just because the
uniqueness of blind people running it.
And, if they sign your organization up for each box of food you distribute
the organization gets a dollar.
eed perhaps some sighted volunteers if you can get them.  The food is set up
on an assembly line and is distributed once a month for two hours.  It can
even be done in a parking lot. The truck brings the food on a saturday.
Many people purchase online and those who don't have to contact you and pay
ahead of time.  Two days before the event someone calls and reminds them to
come pick up their food.  If they fail to show their money is forfeited and
the food is donated to a local charity.
Thinking as Joe has mentioned we have everything to gain a couple hundred
dollars or more depending on how many people come, for a day's work.
dialogue with the community showing blind people as competent by
distrigbuting food and even if need be helping carry boxes to the people's
cars.
WHat do you think
Mike

----- Original Message -----
From: "Joe Orozco" <jsorozco at gmail.com>
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Sent: Thursday, June 04, 2009 2:02 PM
Subject: [Cabs-talk] Action Plan, Part 4


> Dear all,
>
> 1. The Student Slate
>
> In my opinion, no job in the NABS board is more frustrating than the 
> editorship of the Student Slate.  Thankfully, I have never had to wear 
> the hat of editor for the newsletter, but I have in some way assisted 
> with its revision and compilation for the past four years.  You will 
> of course notice that in the past four years the publication of the 
> newsletter has not been consistent, and while it may be all too easy 
> to blame the editor, perhaps even the board as a whole, for not doing 
> their job, I assure you the blame is completely your own for not 
> writing an article when articles have been requested.
>
> It's ironic really.  On the NABS-L list alone you might come across 
> twenty posts from a single individual telling you the same thing 
> twenty different times in the course of a single day.  Some people 
> wonder where they find the time to post so much.  I wonder why these 
> people haven't written articles?
> This is not a rhetorical question.  If the shoe fits, talk to Jennifer 
> Kennedy about how to submit something for publication.  Unless things 
> have changed, it was my understanding she wanted to put out another 
> issue prior to convention.
>
> I offer two alternatives:
>
> A. Impose a moratorium on the Student Slate
>
> Every national organization should have a regular publication, but if 
> this cannot be done, put it to sleep temporarily.  Instead, come out 
> with a monthly briefing.  ...  I know, you're thinking that if we 
> can't get our act together on a publication that is supposed to be 
> published four times a year, how in hell are we going to push one out 
> once a month?  People assume a publication has to be long and brimming 
> with information.  It does not have to be written that way.  A simple 
> update on the state of the division would suffice.  A word from the 
> president letting the membership know what the board has been doing 
> and what it is planning is sufficient.  Think of it as a condensed 
> version of the Presidential Releases Dr. Maurer puts out for the 
> organization at large.  Even a well-written, well-organized one-pager 
> would keep the masses happy, because it lets them know that their 
> board is doing something beneficial.  Later, when the division picks 
> up steam and the Student Slate can be revived, feel free to bring it 
> back.
>
> B. Turn the Student Slate into a magazine format
>
> If the idea of putting the Student Slate is too much of a break from 
> tradition, consider changing the overall format of the publication.  
> Right now we have five or six different stories of people doing great 
> things in their lives.  I think this is fine, but after a while we 
> must surely realize that there are only so many ways to be an awesome 
> blind person.  As much as I enjoyed the Kernel book series, I was not 
> all that sad to see it end, because many of the stories are of the 
> type of material that can be found in the Braille Monitor.
>
> So, consider beginning special columns.  You can have an interview 
> column that focuses on the accomplishments of a board member or 
> another leader in the NFB, or consider going out and interviewing 
> someone who is not in the organization but who is still doing 
> something great with themselves.  I wouldn't mind reading an interview
from Ginny Owens or David Paterson.
> Now
> you're probably thinking it would be too hard to interview those people.
> Begin with their publicist, chief of staff, publisher, depending on 
> the nature of the person's profession.  You could have a column on 
> emerging technology.  You could have another column on fashion sense 
> and socializing.
> Another column could focus on following our legislative progress.  
> Dear Abby?  Remember, this is a student publication.  The idea is not 
> without merit, especially if the inquiries are of the variety related 
> to blindness that some people are too shy to ask.
>
> Whether you go with the first suggestion or the second, you need not 
> feel as though you yourself have to be generating all the news.  
> Sometimes newsletters focus completely on the noise other people are 
> creating, but the news is validated because it is coming from you.
>
> If partnerships are established, you can elevate your publication by 
> incorporating the developments of those organizations.  Using last 
> installment's examples, you could reprint an article from Sports and 
> Recreation's Competition Corner.  You could help promote an event for 
> the parents.  In either case, you can expect that the gesture will be 
> reciprocated, and any opportunity to expand your scope lends you the 
> perfect opportunity to further highlight the funders that will begin 
> to invest in your cause with all the popularity you slowly begin to 
> accumulate.
>
> 2. Awards
>
> Hard work should be recognized.  Just as the state affiliate with the 
> greatest number of registered convention participants is given a 
> banner, the state student division with the greatest number of 
> registered students should receive a banner or certificate or trophy 
> or some other type of incentive.  Maybe a contest should be arranged 
> to find the best looking banner?  In either case, this begins to set 
> up a friendly competition among the state divisions to recruit and 
> bring the most number of members they can to convention.  
> Alternatively, recognize state divisions for simply doing a good job 
> regardless of the number of people they bring to the national 
> convention.  Some states may not have the numbers but do wonderful 
> things to keep things happening in their states.
>
> I like the idea of the Blind Bargains web site recognizing companies 
> for their innovative solutions.  Why could NABS not run a similar 
> voting session to recognize an exceptional DSS office, organization or 
> company doing great things on behalf of the blind population, 
> particularly students?  Part of making a name for your organization 
> comes with building your own sense of prestige.  You represent the 
> greatest number of blind students in the country.  Now take this claim 
> and legitimize your position by handing out certificates to groups 
> deserving of your formal recognition.  If you are successful at 
> creating a good image for your activities, other people will buy into 
> your elevated position and will want to be associated with what you 
> have to offer.
>
> And, where is the harm in recognizing rising stars amongst the student 
> ranks?  Some of you are really out there busting your butts, making a 
> difference and generally making the rest of us look good.  We should 
> know who you are, what you're doing and how we can learn from your 
> success.  A student of the year award would not be, in my opinion, out 
> of line as a well-organized promotion and recruitment tool.
>
> Make these awards a part of the annual business meeting or winter banquet.
> Create the right amount of hype around the occasion, and in no time 
> this new tradition could be manipulated to serve several important 
> functions.
>
> 3. Community Service
>
> Nothing builds character more profoundly than the satisfaction of 
> working hard to help others.  In the NFB we pride ourselves in helping 
> other blind people achieve higher levels of independence and 
> self-sufficiency.  I believe this should only be half of the equation.  
> The NFB philosophy is primarily built on the notion that blind people 
> can and should adjust to society rather than expect society to adjust 
> to the blind.  Therefore, in my opinion, it is not enough to convince 
> a person that it can be respectable to be blind.  I believe the step 
> beyond this persuasion is to show them how to succeed despite being 
> blind.  After all, it makes very little sense to produce a fully 
> competent blind hero if said hero is not given a means to exercise his 
> or her newfound skills.  To me, there is nothing more discouraging 
> than seeing an awesome blind person stay in the blindness field 
> because they feel that is the only field where they can continue to be 
> awesome.
>
> So, I think we should take our philosophy a step further.  If we truly 
> believe that success is contingent on our adjustment to society, we 
> should make it our business to help society as much, if not more, than 
> we help our fellow blind people.  To that end I believe every state 
> student division should democratically select an issue the membership 
> feels strongly about lending their support.  These issues can be 
> poverty and homelessness, disaster prevention, civic action, health 
> and fitness, etc.
>
> Benefits:
>
> A. Visibility
>
> Blind people are all too often seen as the beneficiaries of social 
> services rather than the contributors.  What better way to discourage 
> this general notion than the active participation of blind people in 
> social activities that help vulnerable populations.  Earlier I said 
> that state student divisions should each select an issue, but I do not 
> think it impossible for NABS representatives to take time from 
> National Convention or Washington Seminar to prepare and distribute 
> food for the homeless at a local soup kitchen.  The argument will be 
> made that there is already too much going on during these national 
> gatherings.  I would respond with a reminder that most of the 
> activities going on during these events are geared at promoting 
> independence, and there will never be a better time to make a 
> statement of this independence amongst ourselves and to the public 
> than a concerted effort at putting independence into practice in the 
> company of blind people with such a wide array of skills.  Maximum 
> impact will always be achieved away from the microphone rather than 
> behind it.
>
> Imagine yourselves participating in a walk-a-thon supporting the cause 
> of your choice with t-shirts sporting the name of your division.  It's 
> a good public relations technique wrapped up in social integration.  
> You'll make new friends and therefore make yourself stronger as an 
> individual while you make NABS a stronger organization.
>
> You will not weaken your division because you are not making community 
> service the centerpiece of your operation.  You are simply making 
> service the added bonus of belonging to the group and a convenient 
> avenue to practice what you preach.
>
> B. Job Readiness
>
> Blind people will have a more difficult task of finding a job if they 
> have never been given the opportunity to learn the basic skills that 
> are not taught in the classroom.  Budgeting, filing, e-mail etiquette, 
> project management and so on could be learned by reading a number of 
> web sites and enrolling in a few specialized courses, but if you do 
> not have examples of how these skills have been utilized, what good are
they in your resume?
> Volunteer opportunities do not always involve rolling up your sleeves 
> and picking up garbage along the highway.  You should do these 
> activities at least once anyway, because one of my more memorable 
> bonding experiences came about in a human chain as we worked to clear 
> out trash from underneath a church building.  Yet, you could help an 
> organization build and maintain a web site.  You could help them write 
> press releases.  You could help a teacher at an after school program 
> tutor children.  Whatever the case may be, pick a cause you and your 
> members would enjoy doing and go out and do it together.  You will 
> grow closer as a group and learn to improve skills than can later be 
> used in the hunt for an awesome job.
>
> C. Partnerships
>
> In the last installment I wrote of the benefits of establishing 
> partnerships.  In this context, think of the visibility another 
> organization could help bring you through your participation in their 
> activities.  The Humane Society, the Red Cross, Boys and Girls Club, 
> Boy Scouts, the American Cancer Society are all prolific outfits that 
> could benefit from your help in exchange for publicity.  Your 
> involvement in their activities could also help generate more material 
> for your fundraising efforts.  Sponsors like to see what you're about, 
> and while seminars to encourage blind students to be great people are 
> great things for us, a prospective funder will be much more impressed 
> if you can show how your preaching is ultimately helping your local 
> communities.  Find different ways to maximize your bang for their 
> buck, and perhaps even more importantly, find ways to have fun 
> exercising the NFB philosophy.  Volunteer service really can be 
> exciting if you find several ways to make it work for you and the
organization you represent.
>
> This concludes the list of changes I would have offered in my 
> hypothetical presidency.  As I've said, these were geared for the 
> division at the national level, but I hope I gave you enough of a 
> glimpse of how they could be implemented at the state level with equal 
> efficiency.  So far there are at least fifteen pages worth of ideas 
> and suggestions anyone could take and make happen both at the state 
> and national levels.  Though the ideas may seem elaborate, they are 
> really nothing more than cumulative blocks that work in sync with one 
> another if properly coordinated.  My overriding theme has been job 
> readiness and collaboration.  Ultimately I believe the membership 
> should enjoy being a part of NABS and to a greater extent the NFB.  
> The board ought to be able to count on partnerships with other 
> divisions, organizations and companies to make the work of 
> implementing these plans possible.  Other people could generate their 
> own themes and platforms and produce their own lists of objectives 
> with equal or better success if they only took the time to map it out.
>
> There would be a few other minor things I would like to see 
> implemented regardless of who assumes the presidency of the national
student division.
> Create a division song.  Roll out bracelets or some other apparel.  
> Write a division pledge.  Propose a division toast at the winter 
> banquet.  In essence, think of little customs and traditions that can 
> be specific to NABS.  Make NABS something cool to belong to, and keep 
> it balanced, because remember your audience can range from the 
> five-year-old Kindergartner to the fifty-year-old doctoral candidate.
>
> I understand there are people in the ranks who believe my proposal is 
> too much to swallow on account of us being volunteers.  To these 
> individuals I say, "Come up with a better excuse."  The small group of 
> volunteers who met to dream of and conceive the National Federation of 
> the Blind did not think their vision was too ambitious, and their 
> tasks in the thirty years following the organization's establishment 
> were far more complex and daunting than my little rambling proposal as 
> a whole.  I do not believe the things I have outlined need to be 
> implemented next week.  In fact, I believe it would take a couple 
> years to establish a good foundation, but the point is that you have 
> to start somewhere.  You have to take a few risks.  You have to allow 
> yourself to be held accountable.  You have to learn to want and expect 
> more, and you have to allow your ideas to be challenged and changed by 
> the people you will trust to get it all done.
>
> But, we can cover these points in the next installment of my 
> meandering thoughts, where I offer my controversial views on student
leadership.
>
> To be continued...
>
> Joe Orozco
>
> "A man who wants to lead the orchestra must turn his back on the 
> crowd."--Max Lucado
>
>
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