[nagdu] A Message from a Fidelco Volunteer

Brenda bjnite at windstream.net
Sun Aug 21 18:20:34 UTC 2011

     Good morning list.
I am pleased to see all the concrete info Marion has provided about 

As for Tami's post below, I find in my state the Rehab agency is 
horrible.  I returned items given me as part of my case because I could 
see my case going nowhere and my only choice was to accept whatever the 
counselor said which was not what would work for me.  Instead, I had my 
case closed and figured things out for myself. I later had a separate 
case to get O&M skills and a retiring supervisor told the O&m guy to 
close my case ASAP.  I wanted help on both instances and the rehab 
agency would only help me on their terms.  I have heard other horror 
stories about rehab agencies in other states.

to me this is relevant to this NAGDU list and the Fidelco topic because 
it seems that it is acceptable to treat people who are blind this way.  
We are supposed to just say thank you and obey those agencies.  When we 
try to stand up for ourselves we often get slapped down.   These 
agencies (Rehab and Fidelco) learn by experience that they can continue 
to do whatever they want.

I am very glad to see NAGDU dealing with this Fidelco issue and bringing 
concrete info to light.  Hopefully other guidedog schools who might be 
tempted to mistreat clients would think twice.  If not, hopefully at 
least prospective clients will be able to avoid them because of the work 
that NAGDU is doing.  This is not possible with state rehab agencies as 
it is often the only way to get expensive equipment and training.  
Fortunately I was able to purchase Window eyes myself and continue 
working and surfing the internet.  Therefore, I have been able to adapt 
to my vision loss.  I found Leader Dogs has a wonderful Accelerated 
Mobility class which fit my needs perfectly and of course NAGDU where I 
am learning about guide dog issues for the day I can get a guide.


On 8/20/2011 6:38 PM, Tami Kinney wrote:
> Tracy,
> It seems odd indeed. It also sounds very familiar to me based on what I
> have experienced here in Oregon when it comes to the VR agency. Asking
> questions or presenting documentation of my own case with a question
> about having the behaviors looked into does not go without risks. Well,
> for me, the threat that I won't get VR services if I'm going to go
> around asking questions and wondering if anyone might want to
> investigate some of those trends is not as daunting as it appears to be
> meant. So, let's see... You're saying that nothing will change for me at
> all... Um, wow, I'm shaking in my boots now for sure. Good grief!
> I haven't yet managed to figure out what is going on that enables the
> administration of the agency to carry on as they always have, even since
> they were closed down for mismanagement, then given a last minute
> reprieve. My career experience has been in corporate. Failing that badly
> there gets you canned before you get to write your response to the audit
> your company or division or department just failed. You don't get to
> stay in the administrative position and keep writing exactly the same
> winy (as I read it) response to 30 plus more years' worth of audits
> failed for the same reasons. The Board of Directors will see to that!
> Well, apparently not in the state of Oregon when it comes to taxpayer
> funded agencies. We need to protect the people involved, so no
> questions, no complaining. Go away, because you're the one who sucks!
> And we'll tell you why!
> Well, with our agency, a suit does seemto  have managed to get filed in
> court, with an article in the Oregonian and everything! It's the vendors
> doing it, and while I'm not involved with that program myself, I have
> been following what I read on local lists and news because they are
> experiencing the same patterns of behavior on the part of the agency
> that I have been asking people to look into. They, as a group, have
> gotten the same feedback. They need to be less angry. They need to keep
> losing money because it is more important o protect the agency
> administration. And so on.
> Anyway, as a group, they have more power than any individual. So I am
> thrilled they went ahead with llegal action and went to the press first
> instead of talking to people who have already not gotten results. I
> guess there is a working group trying to improve communications with the
> Oregon Commission for the Blind... Not to denigrate anyone involved in
> that effort or their intelligence or dedication or anything at all, but
> it seems to me that when one side communicates what the agency has been
> communicating all along, and in the way they have been, and has such a
> long history of stated refusal to change a thing, well... I tend to
> think communicating directly to the taxpayers who are paying the
> administration's salaries is a good way to go.
> So with a situation like the one with Fidelco. When communication is
> barred by one of the parties, then you have to find another way to find
> out what's going on and if something needs to be fixed before you can
> start to decide how to go about fixing it if it does. So you widen your
> communications net. /smile/
> Sounds like Marion caught some fish, who have caught more fish. When I
> say Marion, I mean him in his role as NAGDU President. So, yeah, we're
> all sort of fishing right there with him. For my part, I would be
> thrilled if it turns out he -- and thus we -- have all been hoodwinked,
> that there was a misunderstanding because, I dunno, a whole lot of nuts
> up and took after this one program and this one new hire in particular
> for no really good reason.
> Until we do find that out -- if we do -- I'm pretty proud to know that I
> am part of an advocacy group; that advocates for the consumer, both by
> standing with and working on behalf of consumers who believe they have
> been badly mistreated and on behalf of future consumers by providing
> enough information that they can consider it or not.
> As for those who don't want to come forward with their own stories in
> their own names... If you don't get why they won't do that, try it
> yourself. Then we'll discuss it again. You might think differently about
> the matter. /smile/
> Tami
> On Sat, 2011-08-20 at 10:39 -0400, Tracy Carcione wrote:
>> It seems very odd to me that, in times when every non-profit is scrambling
>> for money, that Fidelco should casually tell long-time supporters that
>> their donations are no longer welcome.  It also seems odd that the board
>> would not at least investigate when it seems like the actions of one man
>> are damaging the reputation of their organization.  I'd think that either
>> they have, and are satisfied, or the old boy network is doing its worst,
>> as sometimes happens.
>> But I'd think, if they're losing donors, they'd drop the guy causing the
>> perceived problem, guilty or not.
>> Tracy
>>> Dear All,
>>>      I have frequently referred to correspondence I have received from
>>> others concerned about the direction of Fidelco. Some believe that I
>>> exaggerate the concerns, alleging that my criticism of Fidelco is
>>> designed to, in some way, further my political agenda. For this
>>> reason, I thought it would be helpful to read what others have written
>>> on the subject. Pasted below is correspondence I have received from
>>> one volunteer. I have included the message in its entirety, redacting
>>> only the individuals names, since I do not have their permission to
>>> divulge their information. This message was received via email on June
>>> 30, 2011.
>>> Mr. Gwizdala:
>>> We are writing you with regard to your posting and article in the April
>>> 2011 Braille Monitor.  We are not visually impaired but have been active
>>> volunteers and donors to the Fidelco Guide Dog Foundation for over 22
>>> years.  We housed a breed dog, raised a foster pup, volunteered in the
>>> kennel and puphouse areas and participated in numerous events over the
>>> years as well as knowing both Charlie and Robbie Kaman.
>>> We followed your posting and article with interest as we have witnessed
>>> widespread negative  (in our opinion) change in the organization we loved
>>> and supported for so many years.  On June 10, 2011, we wrote a letter to
>>> all of the members of Fidelco's Board of Directors (mailed to their homes)
>>> outlining several areas of concern. We asked only that the Board undertake
>>> its own independent research and fact finding within the organization. One
>>> of the areas of concern was what we perceived to be a deterioration in the
>>> reputation of Fidelco within the visually-impaired community.  We actually
>>> enclosed a copy of your original posting and your April 2011 Braille
>>> Monitor item as one of the exhibits in our letter.
>>> Please understand that we do not have any personal knowledge of the
>>> training department, placement decisions or decisions regarding the
>>> repossession of guide dogs from handlers.  We will tell you however, that
>>> our letter outlining what we felt were legitimate, documented observations
>>> and concerns was met with a return certified letter to us from Mr. Russman
>>> stating that "The Board also has asked me to convey that, based on your
>>> expressed dissatisfaction with Fidelco, it believes it to be in everyone's
>>> best interest that you cease all activity with Fidelco including volunteer
>>> efforts and financial donations."  Until receipt of that letter, {my wife}
>>> had been spending 1/2 day per week volunteering in the Puppy Raiser
>>> Department at Mr. Russman's request.
>>> In our case, what we felt were well-thought-out feedback and concerns
>>> brought forward in a professional, documented way were summarily dismissed
>>> by management and the Board of Directors and resulted in our "dismissal"
>>> as volunteers and donors.  We have personally been approached by
>>> employees, puppy raisers and those housing breed dogs who will not come
>>> forward with concerns or questions fearing that their dogs will be taken
>>> from them.
>>> In short, Mr. Gwizdala, sadly you could not have made a more valid comment
>>> than "the Fidelco of 2005 is not the same Fidelco with which we are
>>> dealing today".  We just thought you should know that unfortunately,  your
>>> astute observation appears to us to apply across the board within the
>>> Fidelco organization.  We are greatly saddened by this development.
>>>      So, there you have it from someone else's perspective. This writer has
>>> been the victim of retaliation when the only agenda was to ask some
>>> questions in an effort to improve the organization.
>>> Fraternally yours,
>>> Marion Gwizdala
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