East Bay Center for the Blind


Fall 2016
Newsletter of
The East Bay Center for the Blind, Inc.
2928 Adeline St.
Berkeley, CA 94703
Phone: 510-843-6935
Fax: 510-843-6006
E-Mail: eastbaycenterfortheblind@gmail.com
Website: www.eastbaycenterfortheblind.org
Facebook: facebook.com/eastbaycenterfortheblind
Twitter: twitter.com/ebcbberkeley

Editor's Corner

By Daveed Mandell

Welcome one and all to the Fall edition of "Keeping in Touch"! It's amazing, and somewhat disconcerting, that 2016 is almost at an end!

We are delighted to announce that the Center has just received a $5000 grant from the Operating Engineers Community Service Fund. We look forward to receiving another ROOF grant from Red Oak Realty. We are in contact with other foundations and hope to receive significant additional grants next year.

The graphic artist with whom we have been working is completing our new large print, full color brochure, and it is almost ready to be printed. The brochure is a 25.5-by-11-inch sheet of heavy cover stock, folded in thirds, with text and photographs on all six sides. We will also provide the brochure in braille and put it on our website and on our Facebook page.

We have been compiling and prioritizing a list of projects which will, we hope, be financed by various grants. I will update our members and friends regarding these efforts in the next issue of this newsletter.

We wish to welcome our new ceramics teacher, Amy Allen. We're glad to have her onboard and wish her success in working with our ceramics class.

Our recent barbecue and sing-along/karaoke day was a resounding success. Cooks David Green and Renea Latimer outdid themselves. The food was scrumptious! Our fantastic deejays were Doyle Saylor, Leah Gardner and Kelly McCarthy.

I hope you enjoy this issue of the newsletter. It is significantly longer than previous issues, because I found several articles that I thought would be of interest to many of you. I look forward to receive articles from our members for future newsletters.

On behalf of the Center's staff and the Board of Directors, here's wishing you an enjoyable Holiday Season and a fruitful, productive, healthy and Happy New Year!

Upcoming Events

Quarterly Business Meeting: The next Center business meeting will take place on Saturday, October 22, from noon to 4 PM. The membership will choose three people to serve on the Nominating Committee which will offer a suggested slate of officers for next January's Center elections for President, Second Vice-President, Corresponding Secretary and three Directors. In addition, Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates will speak to the membership. Berkeley Emergency Preparedness Coordinator Jennifer Lazo will give a presentation on earthquake safety. The lunch menu will be quiche Lorraine, green salad and jello with fruit. The meal is available for a donation of $10 per person and must be reserved by Wednesday, October 19, at 3 PM.

Harvest Festival: The Center's annual Harvest Festival will take place on Saturday, November 19, from noon to 4 PM. More information to be announced. The menu has yet to be determined, but two possibilities are either homemade pizza or tamales and salad. The meal can be had for a donation of $6. It must be reserved by Wednesday, November 16, at 3 PM.

Holiday Party: The Center's annual Holiday Party will take place on Saturday, December 17, from noon to 4 PM. More information to be announced. As in previous years the Center will serve a complete traditional turkey dinner with all the trimmings. It can be yours for a donation of $10. Please reserve your meal by Wednesday, December 14, at 3 PM.

Center Announcements

Vision Loss Support Group: The Center is now offering a vision loss support group. It began last month, thanks to Center member and former social worker Carrie Carter. Co-facilitating the group is new volunteer Patty Overland. The support group meets on the second and fourth Fridays of each month from 10 AM to noon.

2017 Dues: Please note that 2017 dues, in the amount of $15, are now due and payable. We hope you will all renew your Center membership.

Center Closures: The Center will close for the Thanksgiving Holiday starting on Wednesday, November 23, and re-open on Tuesday, November 29. The Center will close for winter vacation, beginning on Tuesday, December 20, and re-open on Tuesday, January 4, 2017.

What Would You Do If You Weren't Afraid?

by Susan Kitazawa

(Reprinted with permission of the author from the Fall 2016 issue of "The Blind Californian", the quarterly magazine of the California Council of the Blind.)

There are lots of reasons not to do things. It's too hot out. It's too windy and cold. Everyone else will be younger. You don't have the money. I'm not sure how to get there. Paratransit is always late. No one else is going, at least no one we know. It's too hard. I don't have time.

But we likely only get one life here, and it might as well be fun and interesting. The world, despite all its problems and challenges is a deeply rich and interesting place. And we lucked out and are here in it.

Two years ago my friend Cristina, legally blind and in her 90s, called to tell me that she had just joined a choir for seniors. No auditions, no try-outs. After some pep talking, she got me to commit to joining. At the end of the call, she mentioned that, by the way, the choir sings in Spanish. When I said I wasn't so sure about this, she told me that this would be a great opportunity for me to practice singing and to improve my rusty Spanish all at the same time. And for free!

When I went to the first class, it turned out that there was another blind woman who had already been in the group for a while. A year later, I invited another blind friend to join the choir. So there are four of us blind ones among the forty members of Coro Solera.

In spite of sometimes singing Spanish words that I don't entirely understand, this has turned out to be a fun and deeply enriching experience. As Cristina promised, both of the choir leaders are delightful and very quick to accommodate not only our blind and low vision needs but an assortment of other disabilities among this group, all age 60 or older. There are several singers who didn't know any Spanish at all when they joined. Sighted and blind, we're all learning a lot together.

Being out in the wider world, we blind ones have successfully educated our fellow choir members about ways to best help us. They've also come to understand when we'd prefer to do things in our own sometimes "slow vision" manner without their assistance. A few choir members have asked about resources and suggestions for living with their own or friends' increasing vision loss.

When our choir sings at street fairs, senior centers, and concert halls, people see us with our white canes as we participate fully in a community activity out in the wider, mostly sighted world. Best of all, we have a lot of fun, meet new people, and have a chance to give back to the larger community.

More recently, as participants in a writers' project, another blind woman and I happened to both be part of a literary reading at the main library in San Francisco. Standing before an audience of about 100 people, she read her work in braille. I read mine in very large print, the pages a few inches from my face. (Yes, I'm gradually getting faster at braille reading, a new challenge taken on in my 60s.)

Sighted audience members not only saw us, with our white canes, there at the podium, reading our work, they heard us read about life experiences beyond our being part of the blind community. They had a chance to know us as people defined by more than just our blindness.

As I make my daily treks around and about San Francisco, I often go for several days without seeing anyone else with a white cane or a dog guide, unless I'm within a few blocks of the LightHouse for the Blind or at a blind event. I know that there are lots of blind and low vision folks here in the Bay Area.

Having had so much fun singing in Coro Solera and being part of the writers' project, I want to encourage more of my blind friends to get out and live in the wider world. It can be very comforting to be among our blind and low vision friends. They don't need explanations; they already get it. At the same time, it's exciting to be part of so many varied activities even when I'm the only legally blind participant. Sure, sometimes it's pretty daunting or frustrating. But it's worth it.

I recently heard an interesting question: "What would you do if you weren't afraid?" A bit of healthy fear is a good thing; otherwise we might try to do something with predictably disastrous consequences. But some fears keep us from living the full life we can really have. I've been giving this question some creative thought.

This month or today or next week, it might be fun to stretch the limits a bit. Go somewhere new. Change something in your daily routine. Take harmonica lessons. Try out whatever it is that you'd really like to do.

It can be scary trying new things especially if we think we have to go it alone. But we don't. I don't think I ever heard people talk about independence as much as I have since I became part of the blind community. Maybe it's a part of my Japanese American cultural and genetic heritage, but I think that independence is a bit over-rated. (In Japanese, the word for we and the word for I are the same word.) We're actually all part of an interdependent whole. Most of us don't make our own clothes, grow our own food, take our own trash to the dump, or do our own dental work. We count on each other to get things done.

I find it much easier to step out of my comfort zone when I remind myself that independence is somewhat of an illusion. I remind myself that I'm already dependent on others for most of the important things in my life, like clean drinking water and the covers I sleep under at night. When I remember this, I find it much easier to ask for help.

If I try a new city bus line and get lost, even after carefully researching my route ahead of time, I cheerfully ask someone where I am and what I need to do next to get where I'm going. If I can't read the sign or didn't even know that there was one, I ask politely, for someone to explain what steps I need to carry out whatever it is I'm hoping to do, like getting in line to buy a ticket. Eventually I make it to the right place.

Yes, it's often confusing and sometimes exhausting just getting from Point A to Point B. At times it doesn't seem worth the effort. Some days it's necessary to stay home, shelter in place, and gather up energy to face it all again. When getting about is just too tough, there are all the ways we can bring the world into our own living space, be it audio books, classes by mail, dancing in our kitchen to radio tunes, online courses, or having a friend come by to teach us how our much too complicated phone works.

I hope that reading this will nudge someone along toward trying something new. And I hope that when we need a nudge, you'll remind me and others to enjoy all there is to explore in this world of ours. We'd miss much too much if we made sheltering in place a way of life. In the past, families sometimes hid blind family members away. We shouldn't be hiding ourselves from the world due to our own fear or our own inertia. And it's much less scary to be out there when we remember that it's absolutely fine to pleasantly ask someone else for help. We all have our part in helping each other get through life so we can fully enjoy ourselves in this wide world of ours.

Fundraising Committee Report

by Claude Everett, Chair

Hello members:

This is to remind all members and EBCB supporters that tickets are on sale for the annual drawing to be held at the annual Holiday celebration on Saturday, December 17, 2016. Tickets cost five dollars for a book of six. You may purchase your ticket book(s) from many sources: Claude Everett, Dorothy Donaville (EBCB President), Jan Santos (EBCB General Manager), and Fundraising Committee members Louise Wolf, Ray Marcus and Sandra Fancher.

First prize will be $200; second prize, $100; third prize, a wonderful gift basket; and fourth prize, $50. There will also be many door prizes for those who attend the holiday celebration.

Remember: Buy from all the ticket sellers, and your chances may improve. If you don't buy a book of tickets you won't win a thing. This fundraiser is to support your Center! We can't do anything without you!

Book Club and Writing Club

By Patty Nash

Book Club: We'd like to invite members and friends to join the Book Club on the first Friday of each month at EBCB FROM 10 TO 11 AM. Books are chosen based on participants' suggestions. We choose books which we feel would be of interest to everyone and would promote discussion. They are all available on the Library of Congress BARD (Braille and Recorded Download) website so that all members of the Book Club may read them. We hope you will join us. Below is a list of upcoming books:

November: "Lilac Girls", DB84356, by Martha Hall Kelly.

December: "Miracles From Heaven: A Little Girl, Her Journey To Heaven,
and Her Amazing Story of Healing",
DB84020, by Kristy Wilson Beam.

January, 2017: "Look up for Yes", DB44651, by Tavalaro, Julia; Tayson, Richard.

February, 2017: "See Me", DB82717, by Nicholas Sparks.

Writing Club: We would like to invite all aspiring writers or those working on pieces to join us every third Friday at EBCB for our writing club. We read what we have written and make helpful suggestions to the authors. Additionally, we read selections from books on writing to help us improve our writing. We have been working with the book Writing Down the Bones, by Natalie Goldberg, and we listened to a seminar the author delivered on writing memoirs. There are many wonderful writing books on the BARD website, and we will be reading from some of them in the futurethe next to be announced soon. We look forward to your participation.

California Voter Information Guide for the General Election, Part 1

Dear Valued Patron of the California Braille and Talking Book Library (BTBL) Sacramento, We have adapted the Secretary of State's "California Voter Information Guide for the General Election, November 8, 2016" into an 8 hour digital talking book for use with our Digital Talking Book Machine or third party device that plays NLS books.

This adapted voter guide can be downloaded directly from our web site at www.btbl.ca..gov. Unzip the downloaded file to a thumb drive or blank flash memory cartridge for playback on the DTBM. Download the 2016 General Election Voter Information Guide in digital book format If you would like to borrow this voter guide on cartridge, please contact your reader advisor at (800) 952-5666 and we will mail you a cartridge in a container with a return mailing card just as we loan books.

Other formats:
The audio version of the voter guide is available online to stream or download in the form of 151 separate MP3 files from the Secretary of State's website at: http://voterguide.sos.ca.gov/en/audio/

We are also posting the voter guide in synthetic speech to our local channel on Newsline (Telephonic Reader Program), available through the National Federation of the Blind. Californians with print disabilities can find out more about and apply for a free Newsline account at www.nfbnewsline.org or by contacting their local NLS network library.

The Secretary of State's Election Office will provide, upon request to constituents who need it, cassette or CD hardcopies of the voter guide. If you would prefer a large print, cassette or CD version of the voter guide, you may submit an online form on the SOS web site at http://voterguide.sos.ca.gov/en/alt-versions/ . You may also contact the Secretary of State's election office directly at: (916) 695-1579 or via Email at Wesley.Keller@sos.ca.gov to request one of these alternate formats.

And in case you were wondering, the Secretary of State does not provide a braille version of the voter guide. BTBL is researching whether we might be able to provide an electronic braille version some day in the future.

Local Voter Information:
This 2016 Voter Information Guide contains information about statewide referenda and candidates only. Local voter information should be available through your local county election offices at: http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/voting-resources/county-elections-offices/

Braille and Talking Book Library Staff
(800) 952-5666

Thirteen Reasons Why I Enjoy Being Blind by Maureen Schulz

(Reprinted with permission of the author from the Spring 2016 issue of "The Blind Californian", the 1 quarterly magazine of the California Council of the Blind.)

1. It gives me immediate access to the unusual, and therefore, more appreciation at times of what is beyond ordinary, in myself and each person.

2. Since I don't drive, I will never have to waste time finding a parking spot, get a ticket, be caught speeding, spend money on maintaining/buying/selling/going into debt over a vehicle, and the price of gasoline will never ever worry me. I never have to say: "I'm not drinking today, I'm driving."

3. I do not ever have to look at graphics, into mirrors, or at any other visual nonsense.

4. I could spend hours, days, in conversation/contemplation, or listening to music, and love it, and never ever get tired of or distracted from that.

5. I know and appreciate the energy behind people's words, as well as that behind their silence, and I love reading energy in people's voices and in how they talk.

6. I am in great company, as justice, faith, love are, all blind.

7. Blindness is a perfect excuse for anything I don't want to do.

8. Since I am often seen as either a genius or an idiot, I can sneak off and be myself quietly, below the radar, and not be noticed.

9. I can escape into my inner self and not care about anything else.

10. I appreciate that phone and email are great equalizers, no sight required.

11. I often enjoy the company of other blind/partially sighted people, because I know and appreciate, in detail, the kind of outer and inner work they had to do, to be where they are in life.

12. Should a truly Totalitarian State ever come, I can use Braille as my medium to say whatever I want to say.

13. I get to thoroughly enjoy myself when I happen to be in a group of sighted people, and all the lights go out.

California Voter Information Guide for the General Election, Part 2

From the Library for the Blind and Print disabled, San Francisco Public Library

Hello Readers -

The coming November election features numerous local ballot measures as well as the very much anticipated presidential contest. Let us know if you would like to receive your voter handbook in audio or Large Print format by giving us a call: 415-557-4253.

If you received a flash drive with election materials back in June, please return it to us if you haven't already. The November Voter Information Pamphlet will be on flash drive and will arrive in a grey cartridge container with an address card you can flip over, just like a Talking Book. The LBPD has been working with the Department of Elections in San Francisco to support the audio version, and it will be produced in a few weeks.

Make sure you are registered to vote by October 24th. Online registration is at http://registertovote.ca.gov/. You will need your California ID, the last four digits of your social security number and your date of birth.

Jane, Tom, Nell, Bart, Divina, Ricardo, Kenya, Kate and Eric

Library for the Blind and Print Disabled
San Francisco Public Library
100 Larkin st. 2nd floor
San Francisco Ca 94102
(415) 557-4380

Bread for Life by Lori Castner

(Reprinted with permission of the author from the Fall 2016 issue of "The Blind Californian", the quarterly magazine of the California Council of the Blind.)

Whenever someone asks me what activities I enjoy, the first one that comes to mind is baking bread, not a quick bread that mixes up in a few minutes, but yeast bread which takes five or six hours from start to finish. When I was in third grade, one Saturday afternoon, my mother announced she was going to bake bread, and I stood beside her enthralled as she showed me the steps to creating a loaf. She demonstrated the special process for mixing bread dough called kneading, and let me check the size of the dough several times while it increased in volume in a draft-free location. I loved the finished product, a hot light crusty slice with butter, but it was the process of producing loaves and rolls that got me hooked.

In Junior High, I discovered more about bread-baking as we spent several sessions in Home Economics learning how to bake loaves and sweet rolls. Because yeast is a living organism, I understood I must use lukewarm water to soften the small granules so they would grow causing dough to rise and produce airy-textured bread. Because of the time needed for the rising process, our class made the dough on Monday, kneading it by pushing our hands forward and pressing downward, then turning the dough a quarter turn and pressing downward and forward. Each of us repeated these steps again and again until the dough reached the proper texture, a smooth and shiny feeling ball, which we refrigerated. Then at our next class on Wednesday, we formed the dough into chosen shapes, loaves and various types of rolls: spirals, butterflies, crescents, clover leaves. We left them to rise throughout the afternoon and through the dinner hour, then baked them in a hot oven. At last, we carried our bounty back to the dormitory where we feasted with friends as though all of us had not just eaten a hot meal.

Over the past fifty years, from my Junior High days until now, I have collected bread recipes: at first by transcribing them from braille magazines (enough to fill three large binders), later by purchasing cookbooks and now by searching the Internet. Over the years, few steps in my bread-making process have changed, except for the fact that today I use instant yeast which does not need to soak before being mixed with other ingredients. I do not use the very popular bread machines; but rather knead the sticky, rough dough until it develops a shiny, satiny, elastic texture. I'm still more hooked on the process of making bread than on the final product although I do enjoy my husband's eagerness as he waits for a fragrant loaf or a pan full of rolls to appear on the cooling rack.

I have made many types of loaves: cheese-filled, oatmeal/honey, whole-wheat, cornmeal/molasses, and brioche. For holidays, I bake special breads. At Easter, I traditionally make hot crossed buns. Occasionally I make rolls which are shaped like small pigeons; these rolls originated in the Ukraine where they were served at Easter to celebrate the larks' migration to the north. When guests see a bread basket filled with these crusty shapes, they inevitably comment in delight and surprise.

For Thanksgiving, I bake clover leaf rolls using the recipe I got from my Junior High Teacher, who taught at the California School for the Blind. At Christmas, I bake loaves of panettone (a pine nut, and raisin-filled loaf flavored with anise seeds (I received several recipes for this traditional Christmas bread from my cousin whose mother married into an Italian family).

Also, over the years, I have acquired a large number of implements for baking breads and rolls. Of course, I have loaf pans in many sizes and muffin tins for holding dough for rolls. I also own a pan for baking French bread. It contains two long sections for shaping loaves; and each section is covered with small holes. To use this pan, I place a pan of hot water on the bottom oven shelf. The oven's heat and the hot water combine to create steam, which permeates the holes to create that marvelous crunchy crust. I most recently purchased a Pullman pan; this pan has a cover, and closing this cover while the bread bakes creates a square loaf, perfect for sandwiches, and gives the loaf a very dense, moist interior.

Many years ago, my husband bought me a beautiful, large, hand-made pottery bowl; I use it exclusively for bread dough. And I knead bread on a large silicone mat, a surface which prevents the dough from sticking while I work.

I never tire of reading bread recipes and blogs or of trying a new recipe or one that has its roots in another culture. The old-fashioned process of baking yeast breads has filled many delightful hours, and the results have enabled me to share not only with family, but with neighbors and friends. Anyone planning a bake sale?

Yeast Rolls (Refrigerator)

This is the recipe that my Home Ec. teacher in Junior High gave each student to use for making sweet rolls. I bake rolls for Thanksgiving using this basic dough. You can skip the step for refrigerating the dough if you wish to bake rolls immediately.

1 Pkg. dry yeast
1/4 cup lukewarm water
1/4 cup shortening or butter
1 cup scalded milk
1/2 Tsp. salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
about 4 cups sifted flour

Sift flour. Soften yeast in warm water. Add shortening to milk and cool milk. Beat egg and add sugar, cool milk mixture, and yeast water mixture. Stir in salt and enough flour to make a stiff enough dough to knead. Knead dough about 10 minutes until silky and pliable. Set in greased bowl turning dough to grease top. Let dough rise until double in size. Punch dough down and place in refrigerator. (Dough will keep about a week). Remove from refrigerator and shape. Let rise. Bake in 400 degree oven for 10 to 12 minutes.

Remembering Ida Johnson

By Jan Santos, General Manager

Ida was my dear friend and my co-worker. She was a core participant and hard worker in our Center for nearly twenty years, and deserves to be recognized for her dedication and significant contributions. She was Administrative Assistant for EBCB, Treasurer, board member, and did anything and everything she felt would benefit the Center. Ida loved the people and what EBCB means to our community. She went far beyond what her job duties required: She read for us when we showed up, unexpected, with mail or papers, interrupting her work. She gave sighted and any other help without hesitation when needed.

Ida was a crackerjack seller of raffle tickets and other fundraising ventures. She loved Tupperware, and collected it in abundance, sometimes bringing it for us to sell to help raise money.

Ida cheered us with her sense of humor, jokes, and her hearty, wonderful laugh.

While working together, and then during her long illness, Ida and I developed a very special bond. We laughed our way through solving the everyday problems of our work (both little and not so little). Something had to be pretty bad for us not to be able to laugh about it, at least when it was over. We'd shop together, with her reading the items to me, and me helping her reach them as she became more disabled and unable to reach high shelves. I helped her order her groceries online from Safeway. She helped me pick out clothes from the catalogs she loved, such as Roaman's and others. (While she was ill in the last months, we'd look at the catalogs, with her picking out things for both of us, and then with me placing the order.)

We became even closer as she became more unwell, with a deep sharing of memories, feelings and thoughts both painful and joyous. Ida never lost her sense of humor right up until her passing. Ida made her way into my heart in many significant ways. I have no doubt she'll be with me for the rest of my life. I'm glad for whatever ways I may have eased her way in her end-of-life journey, and I enjoyed my time with her as she was leaving us, in spite of it also being very painful to witness her losses. We came to refer to each other as sisters over time, and Ida, I thank you for that. I miss you very much. I like to think you're reunited with your husband Clint and all the others you love and who return your love. You are a part of me, and you'll be in my heart for the rest of my life.

In Memory of Ida Johnson

By Steve Fort

I met Ida in July 1983 one afternoon when evaluating the Oakland City Hall vending stand located on the first floor lobby. I noticed she was on the phone placing an order with the dairy company. Very efficient, I thought.

Ida was having to work full time which, in her case, was an eleven hour day. Hours of operation were 7 AM until 5:15 PM. She planned to leave two weeks after the new vendor took over. I was awarded the location a few days before Monday, August first, my first day of management.

After modifying Ida's work schedule so she could work from 11 AM until 5:30 PM, and negotiating a modest raise in salary with vacation days added, Ida agreed to continue working for me. I knew then that was one of the best business decisions I had made. On November 22nd, less than four months later I stepped over the edge of the Powell Street BART platform, breaking my left arm. Ida was back working full time for two months without complaint.

Over the next few years Ida introduced me to family members and friends, many of whom were Bay View Chapter (California Council of the Blind) members. Ida recruited me to join the Bay View Chapter in 1985, successfully proposing me for membership.

I came to know Ida as morally upright and outgoing, having a genuine concern for others, many of them confiding in her with their innermost feelings and concerns. She had a way of drawing people out somehow, knowing their secrets were safe. She was intensively private and highly respected the privacy of others, especially with regard to confidential information. We shared a mutual regard for privacy, and she came to know me over the course of 33 years like a book.

There was her way with words and sense of humor. One day we were at a friend's apartment listening to his stereo, and the following Monday at work I said without thinking, "He has good equipment." Ida began to laugh uproariously. Realizing how my comment sounded I quickly added, "Stereo, Ida, stereo!!!"

Ida loved to read books, especially those with romantic intrigue. I got to know Ida's husband Clint very well and could tell immediately how happy they were. They liked oldies music, especially classic country and western. Once, a friend remarked how happy they were and that they held hands as they approached the East Bay Center for the Blind.

Clint and Ida renewed their wedding vows in the Catholic Church in July 1992, and I was privileged to be invited. Not given to sermonizing, we hardly talked religion.

What I came to love and respect about Ida was her ability to understand all sides of a situation and assure each person how completely she understood their point of view, often without taking sides. Ida was truly level-headed and incredibly observant. We often went clothes shopping, and I received compliments as to how well they looked on me. At a Bay View Chapter meeting two years ago, on March 8th, the day of Ida's 74th birthday, Al Gil commended Ida on the many years of service and dedication she devoted to the blind community. I was overjoyed to hear Al, someone who would know, say that on that occasion. We clapped and sang Happy Birthday. I ran into Al later that year at a CCB Conference and Convention and expressed my gratitude for what he had said, and recounted that during the year following the quake of 1989, Ida worked for me before I could get another location, knowing I couldn't pay her in the meantime. Al replied, "You couldn't get your kids to do that." We laughed.

Remembering Connie Gil

By Connie Skeen, Recording Secretary

It is with great sadness that I report the passing of yet another member of our EBCB family, Connie Gil, on August 6th, just shortly before her 71st birthday. She was born and raised in Southern California and moved to the Bay Area in the early 1980s. Connie and Al Gil hold a special place in our hearts because they exchanged their wedding vows right here at EBCB in 1990.

Connie was very active in the blind community, advocating for the rights of blind people and didn't hesitate to speak her mind when she felt there was a need to do so.

She was employed as a telephone relay operator for several years and also worked as a switchboard operator at Sears Oakland.

Connie was an avid Oakland A's fan, attending as many games as she and Al could manage, bringing with them their special cow bell which they rang enthusiastically whenever her team scored. She loved old time radio and attended old time radio conventions frequently.

Connie was blessed with a beautiful alto voice and loved to sing all types of music including choral, country, soul and pop.

She had a generous, indomitable spirit despite her illness, never giving up until the end, even attending the 2016 ACB National Convention in Minnesota this summer.

I will miss her incredible wit and wonderful sense of humor. Rest in Peace, Connie -- you're singing with the angels now!

In Memoriam: Connie Gil

By Daveed Mandell

It was a very sad day last July when Connie Gil passed away; just a few months after her husband Al did the same. How wonderful it was that she was able to attend her last American Council of the Blind National Convention in Minneapolis right before she left us!

Despite years of suffering, Connie's zest for life never ebbed. When she was able Connie took advantage of every opportunity afforded her to have fun and enjoy herself. During the past two years she attended and fully participated in several classes and events at the Center. Her courage, determination and steadfastness were phenomenal and exemplary. Would that we all could face adversity with such a positive approach!

Connie always spoke her mind. She expressed herself honestly and frankly. At the same time Connie exuded a great deal of warmth and compassion for those people who found themselves in even more difficult circumstances than hers.

We will miss Connie's energy, enthusiasm, generosity and spirit.

Center Class Schedule

For more information call 510-843-6935.

Ceramics: Tuesdays, 10 AM-1 PM. Instructor: Amy Allen.

Exercise and Movement: Tuesdays, 2:00-3:30 PM. Instructor: Kathleen Davis.

Acupuncture Sessions: 1st Wednesday in November and December, 9:30 to 11:30 AM. Acupuncturists: Anh Nguyen and Rob DuBois. (Please sign up with Jan no later than a week before the sessions.)

Memory Support Class: Thursdays, 10 AM-noon. Instructor: Carol Kehoe.

Bingo: First Thursday of each month, 1 PM to 3 PM. Caller: Marilyn Bogerd.

Music Appreciation: Fridays, 1-3 PM. Instructor: Diana Perry.

Vision Loss Support Group: 2nd and 4th Fridays of each month, 10 AM-noon. Facilitators: Carrie Carter and Patty Overland.

Braille: Please call the Center with questions or for more information. Instructor: Patty Nash.

Technology: Please call the Center with questions or for more information. Senior Instructor: Leah Gardner. Assistant Instructor: Patty Nash.

iPhone Workshop: 2nd and 4th Thursdays of each month from 1 PM to 2:30 PM. (Please call instructor Leah Gardner with questions or for more information.)

Book Club: 1st Friday of each month from 10 AM to 11 AM. Moderators: Dorothy Donaville and Patricia Nash.

Writing Club: 3rd Friday of each month from 10 AM to 11 AM. Moderators: Dorothy Donaville and Patricia Nash.

Mission Statement

The mission of the East Bay Center for the Blind, Inc., is to develop quality programs and services for blind and visually impaired people by providing a safe and supportive environment, while encouraging one another through leadership, interaction and the sharing of information, resources and skills. The Center's activities enhance independence, dignity and self-determination. As a self-governing organization of primarily blind and visually impaired persons, The East Bay Center for the Blind, Inc., is committed to remaining a living, working foundation of strength, as we participate in the larger community in all areas of our daily lives.

Center Officers and Directors

General Manager: Jan Santos
President: Dorothy Donaville
First Vice-President: Leah Gardner
Second Vice-President: Larry Wolf
Recording Secretary: Connie Skeen
Corresponding Secretary: Daveed Mandell
Treasurer: Doyle Saylor
Directors: Mike Castner; Claude Everett; Marie Jenkins; Ray Marcus; Louise Wolf


If you or a friend would like to remember The East Bay Center for the Blind, Inc., in your will, you can do so by employing the following language: "I give, devise, and bequeath unto The East Bay center for the Blind, Inc., a nonprofit charitable organization in California, the sum of $___ (or ___were to be used for its worthy purposes on behalf of blind persons." Thank you for your tax-deductible donation.

"Only I can change my life. No one can do it for me."   -- Carol Burnett