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Saturday, September 26, 2015


(Editor's Note: The Grand Valley Chapter of NFBCO is only a year-and-a-half old but, as you can see from their second newsletter, these Federationists have the spirit and are putting it into action!


The ultimate purpose of the National Federation of the Blind is the complete integration of the blind into society on a basis of equality. This objective involves the removal of legal, economic, and social discriminations; the education of the public to new concepts concerning blindness; and the achievement by all blind people of the right to exercise to the fullest their individual talents and capacities. It means the right of the blind to work along with their sighted neighbors in the professions, common callings, skilled trades, and regular occupations.

To contact our local Federation:

Board Members:
Nathan Hecker (President) 605-610-7959
Steve Davis (Vice President) 970-241-9638
Elaine Davis (Secretary) 970-778-7246
Cassidy Martorana (Treasurer) 970-250-4167
Margaret Williams (Member at Large) 970-314-7676

To make donations send check or money order to:

Ntl Federation of the Blind of CO
c/o Nathan Hecker
751 Glenwood Avenue
Grand Jct., Co. 81501

Your donations are greatly appreciated!"

Words from our President:

By Nathan Hecker

Greetings everyone!
We have been staying busy in Grand Junction! In the beginning of August we had a successful fundraiser at Kannah Creek Brewing Company, and would like to give them special thanks; we look forward to another Firkin fundraiser with them next year!

The work of our Grand Valley Chapter can already be seen in the lives of our members. Margaret Williams and Alice Besiack attended the Seniors in Charge program held at Colorado Center for the Blind (CCB) and both have benefited from their experience at CCB. Later on in this newsletter Margaret Williams shares her interesting and exciting story and experience as a senior student of the Seniors in Charge program

I am excited to see the NFB in action. Our Vice President Steve Davis and I gave remote testimony at Colorado Mesa University to the Colorado legislature's Interim Study Committee on Vocational Rehabilitation Services for the Blind alongside other advocates and activists. We spoke about the need for separate services for the blind in Colorado! We made sure that Grand Junction was not left out and let them know the NFB is across the state! We also spoke with the local department of vocational rehabilitation services in Grand Junction, and I am excited to announce that Lorraine Hutchison will be speaking at our chapter meeting in October! We also briefly met with a member of the CMU Educational Access Services staff in order to reach out to blind students attending CMU. In our discussion, we talked about assistive technology, and let them know we are here if they run into any problems.

We are working toward holding fundraisers in the near future; follow us on Facebook to find out more information on our upcoming events. We also are excited about our upcoming state convention in Colorado Springs, and are providing some aid in funds, as needed, to those who want to attend the convention!

I'd like to give additional thanks to our members for their hard work, St. Matthews Episcopal Church for providing transportation to us, and our supporters for their encouragement. Without each and every one of you we would not be able to make the Grand Valley Chapter what it is! If anyone has any questions please do not hesitate to contact one of our board members! We all strive and work hard for a better life and encourage one another in the motto, “live the life you want”!

Appreciating our community, Flexibility is the key

By Elaine Davis

Every community presents its assets or strengths and its special and wonderful challenges. it is our work as the Federation to bring out and enhance the strengths of our communities and to overcome community challenges. We, in our efforts, work to enhance the quality of life for blind people and for all in our communities.

We would like to thank the Center for Independence for supporting us since our inception. The Center has helped us in our chapter efforts through their encouragement, their time spent with us, assistance and by their constructive ideas on building a strong and resilient chapter.

We heartily thank the Kannah Creek Brewing Company for our recent Firkin Fundraiser which was a lot of fun and a big success.

Lastly, we would like to thank St. Matthews Episcopal Church for supplying monthly transportation to our meetings. This has helped greatly in bringing in new members.

As a chapter of the Federation we as blind people can contribute to our changing communities and help bring about a better and richer life for all. In doing this, flexibility is the key for this is one of our greater keys of success and longevity as a chapter.

Our community and the NFB, becoming involved

By Steven Davis

As it has been said many times “Life is what you make it” and that is ever so true with us. Our lives then are what we make them and for all of us we must each shape and determine our own lives.

All of us are blessed or, if you will, fortunate in that we live in a great nation, state, and community where we all can make a difference. We, each, as informed and active citizens of our community, state, and nation can shape our own future determine and bring about opportunity for all of us and determine the quality of our own lives.

The National Federation of the Blind, for over seventy years, has actively been working for the greater opportunity, security, and quality of life for all blind people. We as Federationists believe that it is ourselves who must determine this greater opportunity, security, and quality of life for all of us. We, each, then as blind people can determine our own future and aid others in doing so and can positively help shape our communities and our nation and can make a difference.

How might we become even more active and greater self determined citizens as blind people? Becoming active participants in our local chapter is a very positive and effective way or means of transforming our lives, shaping our futures for the good and guaranteeing opportunity for all blind people.

How do we do this?

Become self determined.
We, each might examine our lives not necessarily in terms of our blindness, but rather in terms of what we want out of life. The National Federation of the Blind asserts that “blindness does not define us or our future” but rather it is our desires and motivation in life.
Become informed.
All influential and active members of their community must become informed. We as members of our communities and as members of the blind community must become knowledgeable about the issues, including our blindness which we now or potentially may face.
Become involved.
Those who affect their lives and shape their communities often become active within organizations and groups who represent their common interests. Becoming active in the National Federation of the Blind represents a way to significantly promote and challenge our blindness and to ensure opportunities for ourselves and others as blind people.
Become self reliant.
One who is self reliant helps shape the world in which he or she lives. But most importantly those who are self reliant may achieve their dreams and live the life they wish. The National Federation of the Blind asserts that blind people can, “given the right skills”, achieve their dreams and live their desired life.

We can contribute to and control our own lives and aid others in doing so.
Join the National Federation of the Blind and participate in the challenging of blindness. As a participant in the community, state, and national efforts of the National Federation of the Blind, you can make a difference and in doing so you will help shape the opportunity and future for us all.

Upcoming Meetings

By Elaine Davis

We here at NFBCO Grand Valley Chapter are currently changing our dates and times of our meetings. We will be meeting at the Center for Independence at 740 Gunnison. Our next meeting will be Saturday, September 12th from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

In October, our meeting will be Saturday, October 3rd from 10:00 a.m. -- 12:00 p.m.

In November our meeting will be Saturday, November 7th from 10:00 a.m. -- 12:00 p.m.

Come join us in our lively discussion, WE HOPE TO SEE YOU THERE!

Our Blindness, Our challenge

By Elaine Davis

Our local chapter of the state affiliate is active and hard at work in encouraging blind people to transform their lives to have a vision as to what is possible and to achieve their desired goals.

Two of our senior members, Alice Besiack and Margaret Williams, attended the Senior’s in Charge program at the Colorado Center for the Blind (CCB) this last month.

Margaret Williams who is visually impaired is a capable and active member of the community and our local affiliate of the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado and is an inspiration to many here.

Margaret learned a variety of skills in challenging and taking control of her blindness. Margaret gained confidence in her reading Braille and was able to read some words. She feels that the techniques that she learned in reading Braille were very useful. Margaret also discovered the use of the long white cane which she proudly employs now in her traveling with greater confidence. In her wanting to attend the Senior’s in Charge program, she expressed an interest in baking and decorating a cake which she learned to do while at CCB. She also learned how to thread a standard sewing needle having a small eye which she hasn’t been able to do since losing much of her vision.

Margaret tells us that someone who is newly blind can also take these classes. They teach you how to use mobility skills, Braille classes, Daily living skills, cooking, woodworking, technology just to name a few. She has expressed that attending CCB has increased her confidence and desire to challenge her blindness and pursue even more her interests. She has also expressed the idea that all of one’s senses may be employed in life’s adventure and that blindness is only a characteristic and not a barrier. Margaret is planning to continue her effort in tackling Braille and wants to be a fluent Braille user.

Margaret feels that attending CCB’s Seniors in Charge program is for her a life changing experience and has given her a different outlook on what it means to be blind. She would recommend this program to all blind seniors.

Come one, come all and rally with us, its state convention time again!

By Elaine Davis

Come and join us at this year’s state convention of the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado. here you will see us in action in carrying forward the work of the Federation. It is expected that a large attendance of enthusiastic Colorado Federationists and others will attend, learn, and help shape our continuing work as we march toward greater equality and opportunity for all blind people.

This year’s convention will be held at the Antlers Hilton which is located at 4 S. Cascade Avenue in Colorado Springs. The convention will be held from Thursday, October 29th through Sunday, November 1st. Hotel rooms will be $89 per night excluding taxes.

Registration before October 19th:
Registration - $20
Friday and Saturday lunch - $20 each
Saturday banquet - $35

Registration after October 19th:
Registration - $25
Friday and Saturday lunch - $25 each
Saturday banquet - $40

Come join us in the hard work and fun, and help us make this year even better.

Margaret’s Corner

By Margaret Williams

This month Margaret has given a cool treat to try Watermelon pie

¼ c. boiling water
1 package 3 oz. watermelon jello
1 1/2 containers cool whip
2 c diced watermelon
2 ready-made graham cracker pie crusts (either 8 or 9 inch)
Directions for pie
Pour water over jello in large bowl

Stir until well dissolved

Let cool for 5 minutes

Mix ½ container of cool whip in bowl

Fold in rest of cool whip with 2 cups diced watermelon

Pour mixture in pie crust

(Makes 2 pies)

Enjoy it!

A glimpse of fall, Upcoming events

By Elaine Davis

It is beginning to get cooler and the leaves are falling from the trees. And even now this fall finds us, the Grand Valley Chapter, hard at work.

We the Grand Valley Chapter are looking ahead to several possible fundraisers and other events:

We will be having a cookie sale October 9th.
Where: City Market 200 Rood Avenue
When: October 9th from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.


We are also looking forward to White Cane Day on Thursday, October 15th when we will promote the progress made by blind people in determining their own lives. We are also excited about the state convention held in Colorado Springs from October 29th through November 1st. We expect a good representative membership from the Grand Valley Chapter to attend.

Our chapter this fall will be doing some tandem bicycling with Colorado Discoverability. Further information will be given as details become available.

This fall will indeed be a busy final quarter of the year for us.

Where do we go from here?

The Grand Valley Board

The Grand Valley Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado (NFBCO) is just over one and a half years since its formation in February 2014. We have overcome many challenges and look forward to continued growth and a meaningful and vibrant chapter.

It is often daunting to form a new organization in a community. This challenge is often compounded by the lack of knowledge of members and potential members as to the nature of the new organization. A major challenge for any new organization is the welding of its diverse membership into a cohesive and vibrant whole.

The Grand Valley Chapter is vibrant and forward looking and although our meetings may become somewhat disorderly at times the excitement can be felt in the air. Even though members may be unsure in how things are going to be accomplished nevertheless a “can do” attitude is shown in chapter enthusiasm.

We, as a chapter, are beginning to address the issues as possibly plaguing many chapters and are also addressing common challenges based by us all as blind people. As a chapter, we are beginning to make small inroads in contacting various businesses throughout the community and are striving to form meaningful relationships with key organizations within our local area.

This newsletter, in its purpose to inform our chapter members and others as to blindness and to promote and engage our members in the work of the National Federation of the Blind, will be presenting informative and meaningful articles on blindness, the work of the Federation in its effort toward security, opportunity, and equality for blind people. This newsletter will also present challenges of blindness based by our community and how such challenges may be overcome.

We as a chapter are looking forward to a fruitful year and are hoping to meaningfully promote self reliance and to carry forward the work of the Federation.

Come and join the Grand Valley Chapter in challenging blindness. Come, live, grow, and learn—“LIVE THE LIFE YOU WANT”.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Interim Study Committee Votes 3-2 to Draft a bill for a Separate Division for the Blind in DVR

We didn't get a touchdown, but had to settle for a field goal on Wednesday, September 16. That was at the Colorado General Assembly's Interim Study Committee on Vocational Rehabilitation Services for the Blind's fifth of six allotted meetings.

The outcome of Wednesday's hearing was a vote to have a bill drafted, with fiscal note, to create a division within DVR dedicated to serve blind clients. The motion passed 3-2 on party lines; Rep. Windholtz, a Republican, was excused. Republican Sen. Lundberg, who hadn’t attended any previous hearings, voted no. All three Democrats, including Chairman Jessie Danielson, voted for the motion

We very much wish to thank Reps. Danielson, Primavera, Windholtz and Senator Balmer for their devoted attendance and engaged questioning. Also, Senator Aguilar joined the Committee after the first meeting as a replacement, and we thank her as well.

Our goal was to have a bill drafted to create a separate Vocational Rehabilitation unit to serve blind clients, one that would be parallel to, but not part of DVR's general program. So that's why the football analogy seems the best way to describe things. By coincidence, the next night, a Thursday, came the Denver Broncos remarkable come-from-behind victory in Kansas City. Keep that in mind!

For the past six weeks or so, the Interim Study Committee has been meeting at the Capitol, taking testimony, receiving e-mails, reading policy and documents and more on the matter of DVR's poor performance with respect to serving blind Coloradans.

The Interim Study, of course, came into being because of the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado, and the bulk of the testimony was provided by us. In the first meeting of the Interim Study Committee, our President Scott LaBarre gave an excellent summary of the present state of services for the blind, along with strong evidence that separate agencies across the U.S. provide consistently better results - all backed by solid research.

Dr. Fred Schroeder, Executive Director of the National Rehabilitation Association and former Commissioner of the federal Rehabilitation Services Administration came to Colorado for the second hearing to present more powerful evidence that separate services produce more and superior employment results than do combined agencies with respect to the blind. Dr. Eddie Bell, Director of Professional Development and Research Institute on Blindnessat Louisiana Tech, was present on September 3 to present Colorado DVR's specific performance with respect to its blind clients. Based on his own research, Dr. Bell presented data drawn from the federal reporting program known as the "911." No surprise to the National Federation of the Blind of Colorado, it showed that DVR performs near the bottom of all states in placing blind clients in jobs, and well below the national average.

It should be noted here that DVR was also asked to provide testimony and updates. At the opening hearing on August 12, VR Counselor Laverne Dell, who is the lead person for fellow Counselors serving blind clients, laid the facts out simply and without defensiveness. It turns out that only one counselor in Colorado has a caseload made up entirely of blind clients.

Others providing testimony were Diane McGeorge, Julie Deden, Duncan Larsen on services to blind seniors, Brent Batron with Colorado Dept. of Education's Tanni Anthony on transition of blind high school students, Kevan Worley on BEP and entrepreneurship, James Gashel on assistive technology and its importance for hopeful blind workers and numerous blind Coloradans who have applied or are being served by DVR.

Testimony to the Committee also included e-mails and, when remote testimony from Grand Junction was made available for September 3, two of the three who testified were Nathan Hecker and Steven Davis, our President and Vice-president respectively of the NFB of Colorado's Grand Valley Chapter.

In addition to the request to draft a bill to create a division within DVR to serve blind clients, the Committee also voted 3-2 to draft a bill that would expand opportunities on state sites for the Business Enterprise Program.

Other matters were considered, such as the sorry state of transition of blind high school students, but did not result in specific action.

Though we scored a field goal, the game is far from over. The Committee meets for its final time on October 28 to vote on the drafted bills. We have a lot of work to do to ensure that the draft bills are recommended to the full General Assembly in its 2016 Session, and then we must usher any bills through that body to win the game.

So, get on your game faces and huddle up team!

Monday, September 7, 2015

YouTube Star Expert Advocate Joins WE Fit Wellness Team

Colorado Springs, Colorado (September 1, 2015). Today, WE Fit Wellness announced the addition of Maureen Neitfeld to their team of expert advocates. Neitfeld stars on her own YouTube channel, Breaking Blind, which has nearly 10,000 subscribers and climbing. WE Fit Wellness is launching a multimedia initiative, which will include podcasts, community radio, WE Can Culture workshops, and the Breaking Blind YouTube channel.

In January of 2015, WE Fit Wellness launched its programs to bring exercise and nutrition options to underserved communities. These programs have been greeted with great enthusiasm, particularly by individuals with disabilities.

WE Fit Wellness Executive Director, Jessica Beecham said, “It has been absolutely wonderful to play in this space. We are building and connecting a community around total fitness education and the motivation to re-create one’s self. We have offered solutions, beta tested products, and conducted numerous workshops and seminars.” Jessica continued, “Maureen Neitfeld’s Breaking Blind YouTube channel will help us increase our reach.
She brings unparalleled expertise, passion, and an extraordinary story of perseverance and success.”

On Breaking Blind, soon to be rebranded, WE Fit Wellness Breaking Blind, Maureen confronts stereotypes about blindness, breaks through misconceptions, and motivates others with her approach to health and wellness. Maureen lives a full, rewarding life, teaching home management to blind and vision-impaired students at the Colorado Center for the Blind. She is a living example of the Center’s “take charge with confidence” approach to training. Maureen has undergone more than 30 surgeries as a result of Von Hippel-Lindau disease. Von Hippel-Lindau syndrome (VHL) is a hereditary condition associated with hemangioblastomas, which are blood vessel tumors of the brain, spinal cord, and eye. The eye tumors are also called retinal angiomas. VHL took Maureen’s sight at the age of 16.

Maureen explained, “I persevere through willpower, love from family, a commitment to diet, exercise, yoga, and by maintaining a positive attitude. Joining the WE Fit Wellness team is an honor and a tremendous opportunity to encourage everyone to find their fit. The Breaking Blind YouTube channel will continue to personify the right of all people to live in the world on terms of equality. Or as the National Federation of the Blind exclaims, ‘to live the life you want.’ We will break barriers, inspire, and have a lot of fun doing it!” Maureen continued, “Breaking Blind on YouTube will also offer us the opportunity to feature inspiring stories of Paralympians working with the United States Association of Blind Athletes.”

For more information, contact Jessica Beecham by phone at (866) 543-6808 ext. 15 or by email at