[NFB-NM] our latest newsletter: Que Pasa, December 2020

nfbnewmexicosecretary at gmail.com nfbnewmexicosecretary at gmail.com
Wed Dec 2 04:08:45 UTC 2020

December 2020
Newsletter of the National Federation of the Blind of New Mexico, published
on www.nfbnm.org, on New Mexico Newsline, and on NFB Newsline.
Adelmo Vigil
President, NFB of New Mexico
E-mail: nfbnewmexicopresident at gmail.com
(575) 921-5422
Tonia Trapp, Editor
E-mail: nfbnewmexicosecretary at gmail.com
(505) 856-5346
To submit an article or recipe for possible inclusion in this newsletter,
please email it to nfbnewmexicosecretary at gmail.com. By submitting your
article or other material, you are agreeing to the following:
*You assert that your article does not violate any confidentiality,
copyright, or other laws, and that it is not intended to slander, defame, or
*The NFB of New Mexico (NFBNM) has the discretion to publish and distribute
the article either in whole or in part.
*NFBNM is authorized to edit the article for formatting, length and content.

*NFBNM reserves the right to not publish submissions for any reason.
Serious Question. 17
Silly Question. 18
ACT. 20


The National Federation of the Blind of New Mexico (NFBNM) is a 501(c)(3)
consumer organization comprised of blind and sighted people committed to
changing what it means to be blind. Though blindness is still all too often
a tragedy to those who face it, we know from our own personal experience
that with training and opportunity, it can be reduced to the level of a
physical nuisance. We work to see that blind people receive services and
training to which they are entitled and that parents of blind children
receive the advice and support they need to help their youngsters grow up to
be happy, productive adults. We believe that first-class citizenship means
that people have both rights and responsibilities, and we are determined to
see that blind people become first-class citizens of these United States,
enjoying their rights and fulfilling their responsibilities. The most
serious problems we face have less to do with our lack of vision than with
discrimination based on the public's ignorance and misinformation about
blindness. Join us in educating New Mexicans about the abilities and
aspirations of New Mexico's blind citizens.
(Adapted from NFB of Ohio newsletter.) 


By Pat Munson
With technology, the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) has been able to
host conventions virtually. Participants have choices of connecting via a
land-line, computer or cell phone. In-person attendance cannot occur during
the pandemic.
On Monday evening, August 24, Affiliate President Adelmo Vigil gaveled the
activities to order with the NFBNM state board meeting. Among the usual
business, President Vigil stated that two of the divisions would be meeting:
Senior Action Group Energy (SAGE) on Tuesday evening, and the NM Association
of Blind Students (NMABS) on Thursday evening. Of course, this convention
could not happen without the assistance of the technology helpers, and
President Vigil expressed much gratitude to them.
Friday morning commenced with the reading and discussion of four
resolutions. Urja Lansing ably chaired this committee. The first resolution
dealt with improvements to the accessible absentee ballot marking system in
New Mexico, which would facilitate a blind person's ability to independently
receive, mark and submit their ballot. The second and third resolutions
addressed Braille instruction and accessibility of school software and
online programs in public schools. The last resolution dealt with the
problem of medical providers using inaccessible video and telemedicine
platforms to conduct virtual visits with patients.
Next, Joaquin Luna from the West Mesa Chapter and Larry Lorenzo from the
White Sands Chapter suggested forming an arts and entertainment group. With
all the talent in this affiliate, many found this a great idea. No decisions
were made.
President Vigil gaveled the convention to order that afternoon. The usual
openings were offered: invocation, Ernest Esquibel; Pledge of Allegiance,
Valeria Ceballos, fifth-grade student who recited the pledge in both Spanish
and English; National Anthem, Diana Marquez; NFB Pledge, Carlos Sanchez; and
finally Tim Keller, Mayor of Albuquerque, welcomed convention-goers via
"No-Nonsense Tips from America's Only Blind Comic and Game Shop Owner" was
the title of Richard Early's presentation. He hails from North Dakota, and
his business is called Paradox Comics-N-Cards. His business started with the
sale of a comic book for thirteen dollars. His business is quite successful.
Tara Chavez told us about the Pre-Authorized Contribution (PAC) Plan. She
said at the end of her presentation that we raised over $100, moving New
Mexico up into the top ten states for the amount of giving. These donations
help fund the work of the National Federation of the Blind.
In his presidential report, President Adelmo Vigil stated that the affiliate
is on the move. He thanked all those who assisted with Zoom. He noted the
high attendance at this virtual convention. The blind are very resourceful,
and this convention is an example of that.
The report from our National Office followed. James Gashel, our National
Representative and Secretary of the National Federation of the Blind, stated
that NFB activities are moving right along, but in different ways because of
the virus.
Next, Lucy Mallahan, President of the New Mexico Parents of Blind Children
(NMPOBC), told her story of blindness and how the Federation has helped her
live the life she wants.
Later that afternoon, the New Mexico Commission for the Blind held a Town
Forum about services and priorities of the Commission. Commission Director
Greg Trapp stated that he would like to see our state make some changes to
the Commission for the Blind Act, which would expand the size of the
Commission board and require that a majority of the board members be persons
who are blind. 
Friday's activities ended with a social gathering, hosted by Jedi Moerke,
President of the White Sands Chapter. Attendees had a fine time chatting and
catching up with old friends. 
Saturday morning began with a discussion about forming an interest group for
rehabilitation professionals. Jedi Moerke chaired the group.
Next we held an open discussion concerning growing diversity In Our
organization. Daphne Mitchell led the discussion. Everyone is welcome in the
National Federation of the Blind, no matter their race, religion, and so on.
One group that expressed how they have unmet needs within the blindness
community was the Navajos. Their tribe is spread between New Mexico and
Arizona. For the time being, participating in the Chapter at Large meetings
is a beginning.
Mistress of Ceremonies Daphne Mitchell hosted our lunchtime banquet. Since
we were all at our homes and not at a hotel, we had a meal of our choosing.
The invocation was given by Brianne Kotschwar. Keynote speaker James Gashel,
National Representative and Secretary of the National Federation of the
Blind, said when he was seventeen, he journeyed from his small town to Des
Moines to meet with Dr. Jernigan, who was running the NFB Skills Training
Center. Dr. Jernigan asked Jim what his work goals were. Jim stated he might
want to be a teacher, but he was not too sure a blind person could do that
job. After months of blindness skills training and philosophy classes, Jim
began to realize that he could be a competent public school teacher. He said
he came out of the shadows and into the bright sun! He did become a public
school teacher.
The afternoon session commenced with the status report on the New Mexico
Commission for the Blind. Executive Director Greg Trapp brought us up to
date on all the changes because of folks having to stay at home. He said
that Commission employees are providing services remotely. He also said that
the Commission received a $312,500 budget increase during the regular
legislative session, but that it was cut by four percent during the special
session held in June. Director Trapp further reported that the budget will
be reduced by an additional five percent for the next state fiscal year. He
said that the Commission will still receive a net increase in its budget,
and that the Commission is able to serve all eligible vocational
rehabilitation consumers.
Sherry E. Shirek presented the next topic, "Road to Finding Work in the
Arts." She told of her journey finding work in her field of choice. 
Next was the status report on the New Mexico School for the Blind and
Visually Impaired (NMSBVI) from Superintendent Patricia Beecher. Again, with
all the changes required because of the virus, students and staff have had
to adapt as best they can.
Then several people presented about their experiences at the Washington
Seminar: NFBNM President Adelmo Vigil; Kaden Calahan, President of the New
Mexico Student Division; and Tara Chavez, President of the Albuquerque
Chapter. The Washington Seminar, which occurred in February of 2020, was one
of the last NFB activities before the pandemic began. Our three speakers did
a great job presenting the NFB's desired legislation. 
During the business meeting, the four resolutions were discussed and
adopted, the minutes were read and approved, and the Treasurer's Report was
presented and accepted. The last order of business was elections. The
Nominating Committee was chaired by Caroline Benavidez, NFBNM First Vice
President. On behalf of the affiliate, she thanked Curtis Chong for the
fantastic job he has done as treasurer. He had said he would not run again,
because he is now living in Colorado. The following officers were elected:
President, Adelmo Vigil, Alamogordo; First Vice President, Caroline
Benavidez, Albuquerque; Second Vice President, Tara Chavez, Albuquerque;
Secretary, Tonia Trapp, Albuquerque; Treasurer, German Benitez, Albuquerque.
The following Board Members were elected: Martin Gallegos, Santa Fe; Ernie
Esquibel, Albuquerque; and Daphne Mitchell, Albuquerque.


By Nancy Burns
During this life-changing Covid time, we are all looking for activities to
keep our minds occupied. Some of us write, some crochet, some create
beautiful art objects, some of us cook, and some just read or watch TV. No
matter what we do, it is mostly done with the attempt to keep from going
stir-crazy during this pandemic. As someone who loves to dance and just
listen to good music, I recently saw featured on GMA television Jason
Derulo, a singer and dancer. His music caught my attention as it was so
upbeat, and I also loved the story behind it. 
While the talented Jason Derulo was spending time in his home, as most of us
are doing these days, he decided to create a video with song and dance. The
song is called "TAKE YOU DANCING" and the video shows Jason and his dance
partner dancing through his bedroom, kitchen, and around his home. The
additional reason this music and story caught my attention is because Don
and I love to dance and often dance through our apartment. 
Don and I met at the Dallas NFB convention in 1993 after being introduced by
Christine Hall, a mutual friend. This convention featured a Texas-style
barbecue complete with food, beer, and a live Western band. Don and I danced
and were immediately attracted to one another that fun-filled evening. Don
was living and working in Alamogordo, New Mexico, and I was living in
Burbank, California. I had just completed my Master's degree and had left
the California Department of Rehabilitation in order to search for other
employment opportunities. 
After the convention, Don and I stayed in touch with nearly daily phone
calls. On one such call he mentioned that a position at the Commission for
the Blind had just become available. I applied for and was accepted as an
Independent Living Teacher based out of the Alamogordo facility. I packed up
my Burbank home and moved to New Mexico. Shortly after moving there, Don and
I were married. We had known each other for only three months, but it just
seemed right.
I soon met and became friends with Commission staff. Many of my new friends
also loved to dance, and Saturday night at the Desperado became a weekly fun
event. After working in Alamogordo for a year, Don and I moved back to
Southern California, where we danced in several Western clubs in the L.A.
area. Eventually we again relocated, this time to Albuquerque, where we have
also danced in several clubs. We also managed to dance at nearly every NFB
National Convention. 
Because of age-related aches and pains, we have found it necessary to
confine our dance steps to stereo music, and our dance floor is the living
room. A variety of music is out there, but Don and I have always preferred
Country Western. We love boot-scootin' to just about anything, but our
favorite is a waltz. To both of us, it is just hard to sit still while
listening to Jason Derulo. As long as we possibly can, we will keep moving,
even if it is in our living room. 


By Veronica Smith
SAGE stands for Senior Action Group Energy, and those vibrant words provide
an excellent description of the SAGE Division, which I am currently serving
as president. We have been doing a lot this year. I could start at the
beginning of the year, but I decided to begin at our state convention that
happened at the end of August. 
Our topic was "Can I do what I used to do and want to do with vision loss?"
We are always willing to educate you about how to do things that you used to
do and still want to do. Peggy Hayes, a member of the White Sands Chapter,
gave a talk on how easy it can be to read. "Read what," you ask or "read,
how?" Well here are a few things Peggy had to say during our Tuesday evening
seminar on August 25. If reading books, magazines or newspapers is your
thing, there are several ways to do this. You can use a device that plays
the items for you, such as a Victor Stream, DAISI player, or a Talking Book
machine from NLS. If you are partially sighted, you can use a CCTV, a device
that enlarges print and or changes the background from white to black. Or,
you can use portable magnifiers, which come in many shapes and sizes. You
can also use your home computer with a screen reader such as JAWS, or even
your cell phone that also comes with its own voice application. 
If you are able to use a telephone, you can call NFB Newsline, which is a
digital service that reads newspapers and magazines from many cities and
countries around the world. You can also call New Mexico Newsline, provided
by the NM commission for the Blind. Each day several volunteers read and
record newspapers so that individuals losing their sight can call a number
and listen to their favorite categories of news, such as local news, state
news, national news, comics, grocery ads, movies, dining in or out columns,
horoscopes, health, and voting information, to mention just a few. Mrs.
Hayes also mentioned reading magazines or books using Braille or through the
help of a trusted family member or friend. 
Our second guest speaker was Robert Wilkerson, an orientation and mobility
instructor and a member of the West Mesa Chapter. He gave us some pointers
on how to find bus stops, curbs and other things a blind individual needs to
find while they are out traveling alone.
Caroline Benavidez, a member of the West Mesa Chapter, gave a presentation
about home management. She talked about labeling items in the kitchen,
folding paper money, and staying organized. 
Our last guest speaker was Daphne Mitchell, a member of the Albuquerque
Chapter. She presented on entertainment. Some of the pointers she gave us
were real eye-openers. They were definitely different from what I expected
when I heard the word "entertainment." She started out by saying, "In this
time of physical distancing, identifying outlets to engage in entertainment
is of the utmost importance to assist in maintaining mental health and
well-being. Tonight, I'm going to focus on fitness, the arts, and general
entertainment." She began by telling us how important exercising is, even in
a pandemic. She talked about using small weights and resistance bands. She
told us about fitness videos that you can download from www.blindalive.com
for a few dollars or even just a donation. They have programs such as
Pilates, yoga, bar (as in ballet), cardio, boot camps, etc. She said Blind
Alive has topped producing new videos, but their existing programs are
really good. You can download the audio files to your computer, your phone,
or another mobile device. 
Daphne also enlightened us about all the wonderful ways to access the arts.
Here in Albuquerque, Popejoy Hall is currently providing audio performances
and video performances. Some are free, and some cost a few dollars for an
entire family. She told us about virtual tours of museums in the United
States and in other countries. Again some are free, and some cost from a few
dollars to a lot of dollars.
Everything these guest speakers shared with us was so enjoyable. But the
SAGE Division didn't stop there: we have been on the move joining in with
the Chapter at Large. These groups meet the second Monday of every month at
7:00 PM. We've done some fun things lately, like taking a field trip to
Nebraska (of course it was a virtual field trip via Zoom). When asked where
we were going, I replied, "to Zoomville." We met several members of the
Nebraska Senior Division, including their president Robert Newman. We had
the opportunity to enjoy hearing from one of our own, actually a transplant
from Peru to New Mexico, then from New Mexico to Nebraska: Carlos Servan,
Director of the Nebraska Commission for the Blind. He has written two books
about his experiences after he became blind. 
In October, we were joined by Ruth Sager, President of the Senior Division
of the National Federation of the Blind. She told us all about the Senior
Division, their retreat, and what they do. In September, a youngster came to
talk to us about his experiences growing up: Brian Quintana, another
transplant from New Mexico to California. He is currently a mid-school
teacher and loves it. He told us about his adventures in New Orleans just
before the pandemic actually got started and about holding a baby gator that
felt like rubber to him. In August, before our state convention, Jim Babb
came to tell us about his life growing up in a farming community as he lost
his sight. In July, Priscilla Stansbury visited us and told us her story
about being blind growing up. She told us about cooking and about making
blankets with different colors and textures of yarn. 
We are seniors. We are action. We are a lively group, and when combined with
the Chapter at Large, are full of energy. Please come and join us on the
second Monday of every month except July. You can find our information on
New Mexico Newsline thanks to Krista Mireles, on the NFBNM Facebook page,
via the Independent Living Teachers at the NM Commission for the Blind
thanks to Juan Haro, and via our state listserv thanks to Tonia Trapp, our
state affiliate secretary. 


By Daphne Mitchell
Note from Veronica Smith: In the article I wrote for SAGE, I touched on a
few things Daphne had to say when she was a guest speaker for the SAGE
seminar at our state convention. After I wrote the article, I thought about
all the things Daphne had to offer. I asked her if I could submit her
thoughts and adventures, and she agreed I could. So here it is in its
In this season of physical distancing, identifying outlets to engage in
entertainment is of the utmost importance to assist in maintaining mental
health and well-being. I am going to focus on fitness, the arts, and general
Physical Fitness
I believe most of us will exit the pandemic with regrets about diet or
exercise choices. To help exorcize some of those regrets, I want to talk
about several tools I use to sustain my physical fitness. 
(1) Resistance bands and suspension straps: Depending on the color of the
band or placement of toggles, the amount of resistance provided can be
increased or decreased. The level of difficulty in performing the exercises
can be changed based on the distance between the extremities being worked.
Both types of exercises can provide a full-body workout, and only use your
body weight. No need to regret forgetting to put that 10-pound dumbbell
away, after you have tripped over it on the floor. The final plus of these
exercises is that the equipment uses nominal space for storage. Resistance
bands and suspension straps weigh only a few ounces and no more than 1.5
pounds. They are relatively simple to learn how to use properly, may be used
by persons of any fitness level, and used whether you are seated or
standing. I incorporate use of a yoga mat, stability/exercise ball,
kettlebell, and a medicine ball into home workouts. All of these items may
be purchase from Amazon, Wal-Mart, or other commercial retailers.
(2) BlindAlive/Eye-Free Fitness, Revision Fitness LLC, and Walk Away the
Pounds: All of these workout programs are blind-friendly. BlindAlive
discontinued producing new materials a few years ago; however, you can still
access/download their programs from their website for free or donate a
monetary gift of your choosing, www.blindalive.com. They have programs such
as Pilates, yoga, bar (as in ballet), cardio, boot camp, meditation, and
full-body stretching. You can download the audio files to your phone,
computer, or other mobile device. 
Revision Fitness LLC is a newly-launched fitness program by a blind
Paralympian named Tyler Merren. He is the recipient of one of the 2020
Holman Prizes from the San Francisco Lighthouse, and he will use his award
to complete the development of an app for the blind. All videos are
presently housed on Tyler's YouTube Channel and Facebook page under the
name, Revision Training, LLC. All workouts on BlindAlive and Revision
Fitness LLC are described with the blind in mind to learn the movements. 
Walk Away the Pounds is a private company founded nearly thirty years ago by
Leslie Sansone. The founder of the company is not blind, but she created the
indoor walking program with busy parents, individuals with physical
limitations, and those who may have limited time to workout at a gym in
mind. She is extremely descriptive of each movement being done, and uses
upbeat music to keep exercisers enthusiastic. More recently-released videos
feature different walk leaders, and you are sure to find a personality or
music genre that matches your liking. There are videos that focus on general
fitness walking, strengthening your core, use of weights, and resistance
bands. Most videos available on YouTube are 1 or 2 miles in length; however,
you may purchase videos with routines up to 5 miles in duration from
commercial outlets. Her videos feature persons of all sizes and abilities.
All that is required is a pair of athletic shoes, at least 4 to 6 square
feet of space to walk, and a positive attitude! Walk Away the Pounds videos
may be found on YouTube, purchased from various retailers, and/or by
downloading their app, Your Daily Walk (this option has a monthly
subscription fee). 
(3) Hiking: Physical distancing and hiking go hand in hand. All you need is
a hiking buddy, sturdy shoes, water, mobility skills, and a cane/trekking
pole(s). Our state is blessed with countless hiking paths/trails, and you
can find a setting and level of hiking that is comparable to your physical
The Arts
So many beloved national institutions of fine arts have been broadcasting
encore and new performances of classic and modern music during the pandemic.
The Metropolitan Opera, Seattle Symphony, and NPR have all participated in
this sharing. NPR has broadcast many archived performances from the Kennedy
Center on their YouTube Channel, and they continue to upload several new
installments of their Tiny Desk Series. FYI, the Tiny Desk Series features
artists from all genres performing in an intimate setting--the new
performances introduced during the pandemic feature artists performing in
their homes or studios. You may find an abundance of options on their
YouTube channel. Who knows? You may discover a new favorite artist! New
Mexico entities such as the NM Humanities Council, New Mexico Jazz Workshop,
Popejoy Hall, and the New Mexico Philharmonic all share weekly broadcasts on
Facebook, Vimeo, and YouTube. The New Mexico Humanities Council broadcasts
live lectures on Facebook and YouTube every Wednesday at 5:00 PM, and the
New Mexico Philharmonic hosts chats with their conductor and other New
Mexico musicians each Wednesday at 6:30 PM. Follow their social media pages,
YouTube channels, and website pages, and subscribe to their listservs to
remain abreast of offerings. I have randomly stumbled upon lectures offered
by various universities from around the country. All of these events have
been free, and they are usually broadcast on Zoom. 
Other Forms of Entertainment
Some comedians and mainstream artists have begun to offer live concerts for
nominal fees. I have attended two comedy shows and multiple concerts over
Zoom and other platforms. Check Live Nation and other ticketing companies
for opportunities. Most of these events have a fee--I have paid as little as
$10 to the priciest at $50 for entrance. 
Rishika Kartik is a sighted teenager who connected with Ann Cunningham, a
blind artist, in Colorado. Rishika's mission is to open the world of art to
the blind. Due to her work with Ms. Cunningham, Rishika was awarded a grant
to bring art to Colorado blind teens. As the pandemic continues, she has
expanded her work to teach monthly tactile art classes on Zoom to persons of
any age and from any corner of the globe. The materials are usually supplies
you can find around your home or relatively inexpensive to purchase. You may
find her by going to www.RishikaStudio.com. 
Many authors and publishers have sponsored book tours/virtual book signings
for a nominal fee. Usually, the cost of attendance includes a signed copy of
the book and/or other swag. The pandemic has given me the chance to hear
several cherished authors speak about their newest releases on their virtual
book tours. Some of these events have taken place on Facebook and others on
various website platforms. If you follow your favorite author(s) on their
social media pages or publishing houses, you can learn of upcoming
A quick note: The proliferation of smart speakers has made participating in
many of these activities easier. If you purchase a smart speaker with a
screen, you can surf the Net with your voice, and remove the barrier of
using a tiny little keyboard or other gadget. I own several styles of the
Amazon Echo products, and I have found countless instances to use them.
Learning a few voice commands can have you connected to an event or your
friends/loved ones in a few words. 


By Nancy Burns
Compassion, along with love and commitment, is the backbone of the National
Federation of the Blind. It was compassion for others that inspired Dr.
Jacobus tenBroek to gather a handful of blind men and women together in
1940. This organizing meeting was nothing short of miraculous. The purpose
of his crusade was to bring a united voice to the blind population, which
was unthinkable at that time in history. Blind people from seven states
listened to and absorbed the inspirational words of Dr. tenBroek, and thus
the foundation of this new and exciting organization was laid. Prior to
this, monumental meeting organizations were primarily alumni groups of
residential schools for the blind, and they met only locally. The results of
this impressive historical meeting initiated by Dr. tenBroek trickled down
through more states, and local chapters began to appear.
When I was a high school student in the 1950s, my teacher and mentor, Dr.
Isabelle Grant, enthusiastically shared her reflections with me as a result
of attending the recent convention of the National Federation of the Blind
held in San Francisco. She spoke of Dr. Jacobus tenBroek and how he was an
influential leader within the blind community. It was she who introduced me
to a local chapter meeting of the NFB of California, and I was hooked. Dr.
Grant and her compassion for blind students drew me into the NFBC. Years
later as a senior attending San Francisco State, I had the honor of actually
meeting Dr. tenBroek when he spoke to the student group. I was amazed and
honored to meet this powerful and influential blind man. Although many years
have passed since that meeting, I do recall that he spoke of the importance
of organizing as blind students.
I was asked to participate in a leadership seminar at the Iowa Commission
for the Blind. Once again I met a compassionate leader who concentrated on
independence of a blind person. He shared many personal experiences, but one
that particularly touched me was about a group of blind people who went
sledding. It seems that the only person falling from the sled was a sighted
person. Apparently, the blind sledders were surprised that it hadn't been
one of them. This led to a conversation about expectations of blind people.
Much later, I had the opportunity to spend a weekend with Mrs. Hazel
tenBroek. At that time I was living in the L.A. area. A work-related meeting
was to be held in San Francisco, and the NFBC state convention was
conveniently scheduled for the following week. Mrs. tenBroek graciously
invited me to stay in her home during the weekend between the two meetings. 
The magnificent Berkeley Hills home was beyond description. This unique
residence was multi-level, as it was built on the side of a hill. The
tenBroek home was filled with evidence of the powerful man who lived here
until his death in 1968. I could feel his presence as Mrs. T, as she was
sometimes referred to, pointed out various areas of interest. She indicated
an area in the long and multi-level stairs where Dr. tenBroek needed to duck
because of his height. One level held numerous floor-to-ceiling book shelves
filled with law books. Lower levels contained bedrooms and office space. An
unusually large kitchen equipped with a commercial-sized stove was perched
on the top level. Adjacent to the kitchen was a dining area with an
impressive dining table that had welcomed educators, politicians, and other
influential community leaders invited to the tenBroek home. I felt totally
honored to break bread with Mrs. T at that very same table.
Such was the groundwork for my philosophy and my ability to become active in
the NFB, and later, to hold offices within the organization. The National
Federation of the Blind offers a most efficient training opportunity. It was
Dr. Jernigan who pointed out the importance of a job for everyone in local
chapter meetings.
As I gained more experience and was ultimately elected president of the NFB
of California, my association with dynamic blind leaders became the backbone
of my philosophy. At the time of my election, Dr. Mauer urged me to create
new and imaginative programs within the state. Hopefully, I succeeded in a
small way in accomplishing this challenge. It is my hope to have shared even
a tiny bit of the compassion that I have received from the NFB leadership.
It was after I put my gavel away that I had the honor of meeting President
Mark Riccobono, though I have not had the privilege of working closely with
him. He is successfully leading the nation's blind men and women during a
most difficult time. The Covid-19 pandemic has created the need to hold
local, state, and national meetings in a far different manner than they are
normally held. The business of this organization proceeds in an undaunted
manner. We as blind people continue to live the lives we want as a result of
the dynamic leadership of the National Federation of the Blind. It is
doubtful that Dr. tenBroek could have imagined the growth and power of the
National Federation of the Blind resulting from that tiny 1940 meeting.


By Gabriella Smith
It's time once again for this issue's member spotlight! This time we talked
to Raquel Ortega of the Mesilla Valley Chapter and Nathalie Martin of the
San Juan Chapter.
Raquel is a vocational rehabilitation counselor for the Commission for the
Blind. She describes herself as hard-working and loyal. She became a
Federationist because of the stories she heard from other members, which
inspired her. 
Raquel was born in Silver City, New Mexico, and she learned she had Juvenile
Onset Macular Degeneration at age nine. In the 4th grade she moved to Gila,
New Mexico and began attending a small school in Cliff. She had a good
school counselor there who connected her school with NMSBVI, so she was able
to get large-print books and a large-print typewriter. At age twenty-five,
she went to Alamogordo to get intensive blindness skills training. 
Raquel is the Mesilla Valley Chapter president, which she says is
challenging, but she enjoys the position nonetheless. She says that it has
been a lot of work getting new members, and there has been a learning curve
to it. She was placed into the position when the previous president left,
and she says she had never been in that type of leadership position before.
Raquel's goals for the future are to continue doing exactly what she is
doing. Her goal has always been working with people who can't see. She
believes she is in a good place in life and has found peace and happiness. 
Our second spotlight member is Nathalie Martin. Nathalie is a busy mom of
three kids, thirteen chickens, two cats, and two puppies. She was born in
Toronto, Ontario, in Canada. She moved to the United States and spent ten
years in Nevada, where she met her husband. She later moved around because
of her husband's job, ending up here in New Mexico. 
Nathalie began losing her sight around age twenty, when she learned she had
the beginnings of Myopic Degeneration. Her vision would continue to decline
over the years until she had her second child. She left work to become a
stay-at-home mom around the same time when her sight declined enough that
she had to stop driving. 
Nathalie is the president of the San Juan Chapter, and she says she became
president before she knew much about the chapter or the NFB itself. She says
that she seriously considered not doing it, but decided to take a chance.
She has never regretted it. Because the San Juan Chapter is more of a
chapter at large, it presents certain difficulties. For example, she says it
is harder to organize fundraisers due to the chapter being unable to meet in
one place. The chapter has members in Farmington, Shiprock, Crownpoint, and
other towns. Nathalie is currently working with the Commission for the Blind
so that she can return to school to finish her bachelor's degree, and she
plans on working in blindness rehabilitation.



Serious Question

Please tell us one thing that has helped you find peace or joy, amidst all
the chaos and difficult circumstances this year.
Staying home hoping and praying that they will find a good vaccine for this
virus. I have faith that they will.
I think the thing that has helped me get through the pandemic is the walks
that we have tried to do every day. We walk a mile to a mile and a half
every day that we can.
I've enjoyed the fact that our chapter has been able to get together on
My Spiritual practice.
The one thing that has brought me peace amid the chaos has been the faith I
have that we will all come out of this with new appreciation for the little
things in life. Believing that we'll take better care of our relationships
with each other and our new consideration for the well-being of others. That
makes it all worth it.
Harp music.
Reading the wonderful newsletters our priest puts out once a week.
Not having to commute.
The one thing that has helped me keep it together during this pandemic is my
wonderful husband. The two of us always manage to keep laughing. This is not
always easy but we manage to keep each other afloat.
Listening to my favorite music, especially songs from Christian artists.
Friends, family and my newly-adopted 11-pound Terrier.

Silly Question

What food item do you hate the most?
I absolutely despise mushrooms-the taste, the smell, the texture-major yuck!
In my mind, if mushrooms could talk, they'd sound somewhat like Alvin and
the Chipmunks trying to talk with marbles in their mouths, sort of warbly
and squeaky.
Liver and Brussel sprouts.
I only eat eggs when they are in pancakes, waffles and other baked goods;
I've always had a gag reaction when trying to eat bacon and eggs for any
I don't like mushrooms at all!!!
Water chestnuts
Liver and onions, Ugh!!!
Curry. Any kind of curry.
Cauliflower (I really don't think it is food, it is a weed).
My wife does not know whether she likes the following because she cannot
tolerate the smells: frying fish, canned sardines, and limburger cheese.
Yams and sweet potatoes. 


By Miranda Kennedy
(From the ABLE NM Newsletter, August 2020)
Approximately one in five Americans has a disability. These Americans have
the same hopes and dreams to participate in society as everyone else. On
July 26, 1990, President George H.W. Bush signed into law the Americans with
Disabilities Act. President Bush then said, "As the Declaration of
Independence has been a beacon for people all over the world seeking
freedom, it is my hope that the Americans with Disabilities Act will
likewise come to be a model for the choices and opportunities of future
generations around the world."
The Americans with Disabilities Act requires accessibility for people with
disabilities and prohibits discrimination. It extends the promise of equal
opportunity and full participation for those people living with a
Full participation includes the opportunity to become economically
self-sufficient. Yet, millions of people with disabilities and their
families depend on programs such as Supplemental Security Income (SSI),
Medicaid, and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) for food,
housing, and other benefits. These programs are restricted to those people
who have limited income, resources, and savings. Historically, to continue
receiving benefits under these and other programs, you cannot save money. 
Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) accounts beneficiaries save and
have power over their own money. The funds in an ABLE account are not
counted by most federally funded means-tested benefit programs like Medicaid
and SNAP. SSI does not count up to $100,000 in an ABLE account. 
Disability-related expenses can lead to financial stress. Savings and
contributions made to an ABLE account by the account owner, their family,
friends, employer, or other sources can be used for emergencies or to
support education and the owner's future retirement. The funds can also be
used for qualified disability expenses including food, housing and
maintenance, medical expenses, and expenses related to the coronavirus
(COVID-19) pandemic. ABLE accounts add an additional layer of financial
security, especially while navigating an uncertain future. 
Over 63,000 individuals-out of an estimated eight million who are
eligible-have opened ABLE accounts to date, making ABLE accounts one of the
most underused ways to save money and retain much-needed benefits. For many
people with disabilities, ABLE accounts have transformed their lives. Read
our ABLE Ambassadors stories to learn what motivated them to take advantage
of this opportunity and what advice they have for those who have not yet
taken this important step. 
To learn more about ABLE accounts and state ABLE programs, visit the ABLE
National Resource Center (ABLE NRC) 
managed by the National Disability Institute. The website has information on
how to become ABLE ready and offers a state ABLE program comparison tool and
guidance on setting financial goals. Building on the promise of the
Americans with Disabilities Act, the ABLE Act can forever change lives by
providing the opportunity to save money in an easy-to-open, low-cost,
accessible, and tax-advantaged account.
This blog was written by Miranda Kennedy, Director, ABLE National Resource
Center for the Social Security Administration (SSA), for the 30th
anniversary of the Americans with Disabilities Act. 




Submitted by Veronica Smith
My mom and dad made this on a regular basis, but during the holidays you
could always find a large pot of it simmering on the stove.
12 dried red chile pods (split open, devein and remove seeds)
6 garlic cloves
1 pinch Mexican oregano
1/4 cup cold water
1 pound pork, if desired (cut into one-inch cubes)
Once you seed and devein the chile pods, put them into a sauce pot and boil
them for at least 10 minutes to soften them. Then put about half of them
into a blender with half the garlic and water. Blend until pureed. Pour back
into sauce pot and start again. Put the remaining pods into the blender with
the remaining garlic and water. Continue to blend until you get the
consistency you want. More water can be added if needed.
Add oregano to the pot before you add remaining chile from the blender.
Simmer for about 20 minutes. 
If using pork, make sure and add it early so it has time to cook. 


By Don Burns
2 lb. potatoes, peeled and sliced
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cheddar cheese soup
1/2 cup green chili
Salt and pepper to taste
Set oven to 350 degrees. Spray casserole dish with pam. Place potatoes in
the casserole dish. Season the potato slices with salt and pepper. Stir the
soups and chili in a small bowl and pour on top of potatoes. Cook for 1 hour
or until tender. Enjoy.


By Sarah Villavicencio
1 pound bulk pork sausage
1 can (10-3/4 ounces) condensed cream of mushroom soup, undiluted
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 cups potatoes, sliced and peeled
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
Minced fresh parsley, optional
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large skillet, cook sausage over medium
heat until no longer pink; drain and set aside. Combine soup, milk, onion,
salt and pepper. 
In a greased 2-qt. baking dish, layer half of the potatoes, soup mixture and
sausage. Repeat layers. 
Cover and bake 60-65 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Sprinkle with
cheese; bake, uncovered, 2-3 minutes or until the cheese is melted. 
Garnish with parsley if desired.
Optional: I put some of the cheese in the mix, then put the rest on top at
the end. Add jalapenos or green chile if you care to spice it up.


December 1, 2020 through January 18, 2021: Braille Readers Are Leaders
December 13, 2020: NFB Open House Gathering Call for potential members
February 8, 2021: Washington Seminar and Great Gathering-In, virtual
Best wishes,
Tonia Trapp, secretary
National Federation of the Blind of New Mexico
nfbnewmexicosecretary at gmail.com
Live the life you want.
The National Federation of the Blind is a community of members and friends
who believe in the hopes and dreams of the nation's blind. Every day we work
together to help blind people live the lives they want.
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