[nfbmi-talk] Questions Concerning Advocacy in Michigan

Donna Posont donnabutterfly50 at gmail.com
Mon Nov 2 18:45:04 UTC 2015

Hello Federation Friends, I am sure there have been times when each of us 
would have liked a little more support in our daily journey. However, when I 
look at the ongoing programs of the NFBMI I notice lots of mentoring, 
helping, teaching and advocating with and for others. Since I know India I 
feel I can speak with confidence on this subject. She is a bright, capable 
young lady with lots of support from her mom. Some of you may recall that 
she spoke on the state convention program last year regarding her positive 
experience in our summer science program. She received support to attend the 
convention as well as the spring student seminar.
I know that I speak for myself as well as others when I say that we will 
continue to provide love and encouragement to India now and in the future. I 
know for sure that Terry and Nick Wilcox helped her with braille and 
mobility in the Ann Arbor area. So when one asks what we do to help there is 
a long list. I look to the coming convention with great expectation for 
positive energy  and excitement as we hear testimonies of our influences on 
the young scientists and their families who have been touched by our 
investment in science programming for blind youth as well as adults. Some of 
the young scientists at convention will be fundraising in an effort to help 
themselves get to our national convention in Orlando next summer. If you 
would like to be supportive of them in their efforts they will have for 
sale, SASS swetshirts, coffee, chocolate covered cherries, and pumpkin seeds 
seasoned with herbs which can be found in the Matt Clew Butterfly Garden 
sponsored by the National Federation of the Blind of Michigan. -----Original 
From: Jordyn Castor via nfbmi-talk
Sent: Monday, November 2, 2015 1:02 PM
To: terrydeagle at yahoo.com ; NFB Of Michigan Mailing List
Cc: Jordyn Castor
Subject: Re: [nfbmi-talk] Questions Concerning Advocacy in Michigan

Hey everyone,

For anyone who would like to see this page, the URL to this campaign is 
https://www.gofundme.com/indiawest <https://www.gofundme.com/indiawest>

India is such a bright and talented young lady. I know her mom has worked 
tirelessly to ensure she receives all the materials and support she needs to 
receive an equal education. I really hope her and her mom get the support 
and help they need, whether it be through funds to attend private school, or 
the assistance in advocating in the public school system.

> On Nov 2, 2015, at 12:03 PM, Terry D. Eagle via nfbmi-talk 
> <nfbmi-talk at nfbnet.org> wrote:
> Hi Elizabeth and All Fellow Federationist,
> First, Elizabeth, is it possible for you to provide the URL link to that
> person's page?
> Next, the situation and person speak for themselves as to the "why" the
> National Federation of the Blind of Michigan exists.  Going beyond the
> financial need, without minizing it in any manner, as we all could use a
> hand-up toward on the path to independence, initial or continuing, the 
> words
> of this young person is also the why behind my continued involvement in 
> the
> NFBM, despite my deep disappointment and ongoing concerns for the total 
> lack
> of leadership of our elected officers; their lack of any future vision (no
> pun intended), for the future direction and survival of the affiliate,
> routine and repeated missing of board meetings, failure to follow through 
> on
> that which  some say they will do, and general failure to fulfill the 
> duties
> of the leadership office to which we elected them.  Equally disappointing 
> is
> the reality that our leaders cannot or will not put the best interest of 
> all
> Michigan blind persons as a priority, and take the most honorable action 
> of
> stepping aside, and allowing others with the interest, talent and skill, 
> to
> accomplish that which is critically and vitally required for our affiliate
> to function, strive, thrive, and survive currently and far into the 
> future.
> As a second of four generation Federationists, I see and acknowledge that
> much has been accomplished in our 75 years of existence as the NFB, and 
> yet,
> in many respects, most of the challenges that faced our founders, 
> including
> my parents as pioneers, still face us as challenges in the 21st Century;
> including, but not limited to, the need for equal opportunity, equal 
> access,
> proper and adequate primary education and appropriate training--job and
> skills of blindness, to equally compete for our position within the
> workforce, our community, and our family and personal and professional
> relationships, to be the best we can each be, and share and mentor to 
> other
> blind persons, that we can truly achieve that which our non-disAbled peers
> can do and achieve, and even more, if given the opportunity and proper
> tools.
> The solicitation posted by Elizabeth really well sums up the NFB 
> philosophy
> and massive need to be taking daily action, as an organized people and
> individuals, to spread and advance our NFB beliefs and mission.  As the
> solicitation glaringly shows, the primary challenge we face as persons 
> with
> blindness, is the low expectations placed upon us as persons, and the
> widespread ignorance and misunderstanding of the abilities, talents and
> skills, not to mention the hopes and dreams, unlike and unique to any
> individual, with or without a disability.  The solicitation also points 
> out
> the truism that with the encouragement and support of caring and
> understanding family and community members, one is inspired to dream, plan
> and strive, identify and remove barriers to achievement of each of our
> individuals' dreams and goals, yound and mature alike, whether a student
> navigating the K through 12 education system, the college or vocational
> education and rehabilitation services system, or the newly blinded senior
> citizen, with the fears, hopes and dreams, that life may and can continue 
> to
> be active, vibrant, meaningful andcontributory to self and our community 
> of
> relationships.
> The needs of we the blind are great and as diverse as the number of blind
> persons, with many similarities and differences.  As mentioned the
> challenges we face today are the same as 75 and more years ago, just
> packaged in a new and advanced manner, such as technology, 
> anti-consumerism,
> being misunderstood, and the need to take innovative and competitive
> approaches to advance our NFB philosophy and mission, if we are to survive
> as the largest and most influential organization of blind persons.  These
> challenges call for bold and innovative leadership to keep pace and 
> advance
> and achieve our NFBM mission and survive as an organization.
> I cannot imagine a better forum than this weekend's state convention, tfor
> all of us, leadership and membership alike, to seriously, thoughtfully,
> prayerfully, and openly and honestly evaluate and debate the future path 
> of
> our organization; absent pointing fingers and finding fault and  blame, 
> for
> in some manner we each have had a role, and for those energy and
> time-wasters only serve to keep us in a rut, and remain in the past and
> present.  What is critically needed is to chart a future path of positive
> leadership and action that will serve to establish a short-term and
> long-term vision and direction, workable and realistic organizational
> management and financial budgeting plan, and actively, appropriately, and
> boldly move on and ahead.  Of course, to achieve such an ambitious
> undertaking and challenge this weekend, it requires and demands for us all
> to do a self-assessment of our potential and actual active role, and
> moreover, the willingness and dedication to take the most honorable action
> to step up or step aside, to make the best interest and advancement of our
> organization the sole focus, and make the future a bright, vibrant,
> positive reality.  Are we individually and collectively up to and for the
> challenge for our future?
> -----Original Message-----
> From: nfbmi-talk [mailto:nfbmi-talk-bounces at nfbnet.org] On Behalf Of
> Elizabeth Mohnke via nfbmi-talk
> Sent: Sunday, November 01, 2015 2:49 PM
> To: 'NFB of Michigan Internet Mailing List' <nfbmi-talk at nfbnet.org>
> Cc: Elizabeth Mohnke <lizmohnke at hotmail.com>
> Subject: [nfbmi-talk] Questions Concerning Advocacy in Michigan
> Hello All,
> I came across the following story for a Go Fund Me campaign. For those of
> you who are not familiar with this website, it is a place where 
> individuals
> and groups can raise money by soliciting to people online. Anyway, the
> following Go Fund Me campaign really makes me wonder what leaders within 
> the
> National Federation of the Blind are doing to help advocate blind people
> within the state of Michigan to live the lives they want.
> It seems to me as we focus on whether or not it was right for state police
> to restrict the grounds on which an ADA celebration protest took place, or
> the huge never ending battle against the Bureau of Services to Blind 
> People
> that we are failing to address the needs of individuals who are truly 
> doing
> everything they can to live the life they want as a blind person living in
> the state of Michigan. So I am wondering, what exactly is the state
> affiliate doing to help these individuals? What is the state affiliate 
> doing
> in terms of reaching out to these individuals? What is the state affiliate
> doing in terms of helping these individuals advocate for themselves as 
> blind
> people living in Michigan?
> As I look through our state convention agenda, it does not appear as 
> though
> equipping individuals with the skills they need to advocate for themselves
> is a priority for our state affiliate. I find this to be rather sad 
> because
> I was always taught that the main purpose of the National Federation of 
> the
> Blind was to empower blind people to live the lives they want and become
> productive members of society. However, there does not appear to be 
> anything
> on the state convention agenda about advocacy, philosophy, membership, or
> mentoring the leaders of tomorrow.
> So I am posting this Go Fund Me campaign story as a way for us to stop and
> reflect on what we are doing as an organization. Please note that I am
> simply posting this story as it appears on the Go Fund Me website.
> Warm regards,
> Elizabeth
> ---------
> Help India achieve her diploma by India West
> Hi, my name is India. I am 16, in the 10th grade. Since losing my vision 
> due
> to a brian  tumor at the age of 4, my mom has worked hard as a single 
> parent
> to advocate for me within public school systems. I am hoping to finish my
> diploma in the next two years, so I can go to college and eventually begin
> my own career. My mom has helped me so much, making sure schools have
> provided me with access to things at school that are adapted for my
> blindness. It has been very hard; most schools give you a hard time and
> won't provide what you need due to cost. I love school, love to learn and
> know I am smart; but last year, the high school I went to said I should
> consider switching from a diploma track, to a "certificate of completion".
> They treated me as if I was cognitively impaired, and gave up on me. Being
> blind doesn't have to stop me from pursuing my dreams. But when I'm being
> asked to work with printed material and need Braille, it makes it very 
> hard
> to succeed or do well. They said I should focus on gaining life skills, 
> and
> not to worry about college or a career. The only person that believed in 
> me
> and my abilities was my family. My mom reminded me we shouldn't give up 
> when
> I had never been  provided a real opportunity to succeed, and that I have 
> to
> believe in myself no matter what other's expectations of me might be.
> It is important to note that there are 200,000 blind citizens in the state
> of Michigan alone, and over 6 million nationwide. Amongst them, 26%  never
> graduate from high school, and over 34% live at or below poverty level due
> to underemployment. These numbers are based upon data available via the 
> as of 2014.
> The problem is, most public schools are not willing to exert their time or
> resources to meet the unique needs of effectively teaching the blind 
> pupil.
> They are often stigmatized, and held to extremely low expectations because
> of that stigma. As a result, most of us don't graduate, can't get a decent
> job, live in isolation and often at poverty level. I am striving for
> something better.
> At the end of my freshman year in high school, an oppportunity came my 
> way.
> A small, private academy, Clonlara, in Ann Arbor Michigan, sent mom an 
> email
> about a scholarship opportunity. We checked into it before, but couldn't
> afford it. They offered a diploma track program for kids of ALL abilities,
> K-12, and would use a students strengths and passions to tailor curriculum
> to their learning style. They were offering a  tuition reduction of 50% 
> for
> two years,  to six families. What they asked in return is that the family
> commit 30 hours/semester to helping them actualize their goal of becoming 
> a
> truly global campus. They sought to diversify their population, and asked
> that students and their families being granted the scholarship submit a
> proposal outlining what they would be able to contribute to the curriculum
> to enhance diversity awareness. If granted the scholarship, I would 
> complete
> her last three years of high school, and recieve my  diploma. Our proposal
> was selected, and I was among the six granted the scholarship. I was told
> later there were 326 applicants. I was so grateful to my mom.
> As of now, we need your help so i can continue enrollment. I have been 
> there
> for two months, and my whole life has changed. I'm not depressed anymore. 
> I
> feel celebrated, not just tolerated. I feel valued. I hsve friends now.
> People don't  make fun of me here, and I am treated like an equal.
> We need help for books and tuition. My mom has been able to get most of my
> technology through rental equipment, and the purchase of used equipment.
> Please know that there is no donation too small. I greatly appreciate
> anything you may be able to do to help. In addition, please circulate my
> GoFundMe link to anyone you feel can help.
> Thank you so very much for taking time to read, and hopefully share, our
> story. We will keep you posted on our progres toward our goal!
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