Aloha, West Hawai’i!
What talent we have on our Island! A group of us went to see :The Miracle Worker” at the Aloha Theater on May 14th. It was such a treat! The story of blind and deaf Helen Keller and her teacher, Annie Sullivan, was beautifully portrayed in this local production. Well done, Aloha Performing Arts Center!
Remember, the National Convention in Orlando, Florida is coming up July 10th – 15th. The Hawai’i affiliate, along with Arizona, Tennessee and Washington DC, will be co-hosting the convention. What is the convention all about? It’s an amazing 6 days of camaraderie, seminars, product demos, guest speakers who inspire, delight and inform, good food, fun and a lot of laughter. Who wants to go to the party? Go to NFB.org for more info.
We have some exciting new links on the technology front. Check out the Technology page under the Resources heading.. There are a couple new items about some of the newest and best technology available.
At the Nay meeting, we learned a lot about opportunities to download library materials. Local librarians Kipapa and Jennifer explained methods to borrow anything from books to language lessons electronically. What a great resource for us!
Berch donated her desktop CCTV reader to the chapter. We held a drawing for the members interested in it. Ann was the lucky member who took it home. Congratulations, Ann!
April’s meeting was impromptu. Our speaker was unable to attend. That left us with time for a good discussion on driving, NOT driving, denial and other issues. Sometimes it’s good to just to share, vent and get to know each other better. It was a good meeting.
A big MAHALO to Aloha Independent Living Hawai’i for joining us on March 10th. The presentation was full of good information on the services they offer. And we were so glad they were able to stay and work with members one-on-one to answer specific questions. Thank you AILH!
Elections were held at the February meeting. The Board members this year are: Barbara, Secretary; Dianna, Treasurer; Rosemarie, Vice President; Sally, President. Also, Joan and Dave chair the Fund raising committee and Betty is Publicity chair-person. Thank you all for the time and effort you give to the group.
We had a good discussion time at our January meeting, talking about the holidays, ways we’ve changed our celebrations to accommodate our failing vision. We shared some of our frustrations and coping mechanisms. All in all, a good meeting.
Our tree was one of the prettiest at the annual Mauna Lani Charity Christmas Tree event. Through Joanie and Dave’s efforts and the kindness of the KMart management, we were able to replace our tree that had gone missing from Hale Halawai. We set up our beautiful new tree on December 1st at the lobby of the Mauna Lani Resort Hotel.
Our NFB Christmas party was held at our December 9th meeting. We enjoyed a potluck lunch this year. Thank you to all for bringing such yummy dishes to share. It turned out to be a delicious, wonderfully eclectic meal.
What a great float we had for our participating in the Kona Christmas Parade this year. Joanie and Dave did a really wonderful job this year. Mahalo nui!! We’ll have the results of our gift wrapping event at the January meeting. Thanks to those members and supporters who helped out. .
The Ho’opono outer island teacher, Theone Suzuki, came to our November 18th meeting to update us on the available services that Ho’opono offers. She told us about the up-coming low vision clinic which will assess your vision and suggest options for assistive devices to allow us to continue using whatever vision we still have. Theone answered all our questions and followed up with individual members for further consultations. Theone, thank you for your time and attention to our group. We truly appreciate you and your efforts on our behalf.
We learned about NFB’s NewsLine® at our October meeting. It provides local, national and international newspapers and magazines in an audio format. It can be accessed from a land line, a computer, or a cell phone. Now we can “read” the Star Advertiser, the Wall Street Journal or the London Times whenever we want. Interested, but missed the meeting? Questions? Contact Virgil Stinnett, the State coordinator for NFB’s NewsLine® at 808 722-4243. He showed us the system’s capabilities and ease of use and will be happy to get you signed up and started on this great, free program from NFB. Also on October 14th, prior to our meeting, we held our annual White Cane Awareness Walk. We met at Hale Halawai and walked Ali’i Drive to the Bay and back. We do this annual Walk to raise awareness of the significance and use of the cane. Thank you, Katie & Virgil, Lions Club friends and all who participated. We had a good show of white canes this year.
A panel discussion was featured at the August 12th meeting. The topic was “Coping with Vision Loss, the Mental and Emotional Side of it”. We can all learn to mark appliances, use a white cane or fold our money into distinctive shapes – mastering the practical, physical challenges. We also need to address the mental / emotional shock of going blind in adulthood, which can often be a greater challenge. Hearing the stories of our guest panelists helped us begin or continue the process of adjusting our mindset to our diminishing vision. Our thanks and gratitude go out to Gena and Joel for leading this valuable discussion and sharing their stories and encouragement.
Liz Martin, guest speaker at our July meeting, teaches visually impaired students at Hawai’i County schools. We were impressed, hearing about her work with children and teens and delighted to learn about apps and resources she uses with her students. Thank you, Liz, for joining us and sharing all that great information.
Our June 10th meeting was a meet and greet social hour for new members, guests and the community to get to know each other and NFB better.
What a great turnout we had for our May meeting! Thank you everyone for your interest. Anthony Akamine, from the State Office of Elections, presented the audio based voting machine we will be using in the primary and general elections this year. Our fellow NFB member Dr. Larry Scadden was an advisor/ consultant on the selection of the device which makes it possible for us to “read” the ballot and vote our choices. We had the opportunity to try it out and learn how easy it is to use. Mahalo to Anthony for coming over from Oahu to join us for this informative demo.
Stephanie, the Deep and Beyond Snorkel Day Director joined us at our March meeting. She presented their program, answered our questions and invited us to join them at Kahalu’u Beach Park the 3rd Friday each month. Deep and Beyond provides access to ocean activities for the Blind and disabled. Afterwards, everyone shares a pot luck lunch. It was a delight to welcome Stephanie and learn about their unique program.
Our February meeting was a celebration of Valentine’s Day. We honored our Special Valentine, Joanie Foote Byers, with a beautiful lei and home made cookies. Thank you, Joanie, for your service on the Board and your on-going efforts with fund raising and the Kona parades. You do a lot to help keep us going strong.
As usual, elections were held at the January meeting. We are pleased to announce the new Board for 2016: Secretary……………Barbara Miller Treasurer…………..John Forbes Vice President…..Rosemarie Lintner President…………..Sally Hammond
Joanie and Dave Byers have agreed to continue as Chairs of the Fund-raising committee. Thank you Joan for your service on the Board. You’ve done a great job and deserve a break. Grateful mahalo to all the Board members. Your service makes our chapter better. We are looking forward to a good year.
It was party time at our December meeting. We celebrated the holiday season with lunch, gifts, laughter and fun. The tables were festive with garlands and the food, from several restaurants, was delicious. Thank you to everyone who brought Christmas goodies for dessert.
We had some good information on assistive technology at the November meeting. The U.S. Bureau of Engraving has a program to distribute free currency readers to all blind persons. That is apparently their solution, rather than developing tactile bills for us. Go figure! Anyway, I sent my application for one to check it out. Mine has not arrived yet, but Larry told us he has one and it works quite well, accepts the bills easily and correctly identifies them in a clear voice. If you missed the meeting and would like an application, give me a call or get one at the Christmas Party. Also, I spoke with the instructor at Verizon. They are developing a curriculum for a class on assistive features of iPhones. We can expect that early next year, when they resume classes after the holidays.
October was quite a busy month. Five of us attended the NFB State Convention in Honolulu. There were some inspiring speakers with stories of overcoming personal obstacles, indifference from the medical community and prejudice in general. Barbara gave a great Convention report at our October 16th meeting. Then on the 18th we held our annual White Cane Awareness Walk along Ali’i Drive from Hale Halawai to Palani Road and back. It was the Village Stroll day, so we had lots of exposure and fun. Back at Hale Halawai the Kailua Kona Lions Club, with help from other local Lions, constructed and managed a “Walk in Our Slippas” obstacle course. Family, friends and the public were invited to negotiate a course of simple daily activities while blind-folded, using a cane rather than their eyesight. We had booths with information on eye health, Diabetes and Blindness, NFB, assistive technology, Lions and more. This is the first time we have tried this. It was a fun way to raise awareness. We thank the Lions for all their work and support.
Our intrepid delegates to the National Convention in Orlando are home and attended the September meeting. John gave us a “Rookie’s” view on the convention experience. He emphasized that we should all be proud of our organization. He was impressed with the leadership and inspired by the speakers. John encouraged more members to take advantage of the opportunity to learn and grow at next year’s convention.
Also at the September meeting, we were happy to welcome Theone, our Ho’opono counselor, Shelford, a Ho’opono Navigation instructor and Department head, Allison. Shelford gave us a short class on the proper use of our white canes. He is happy to return for individual training.
At the August 14th meeting we talked about those things that work for you and what doesn’t work that you told us about on the survey in July . That led to an interesting discussion on energy medicine. It appears we are willing to try most anything and are often surprised at what works.
At our meeting on July 10th we had a busy work shop day. There were sign up sheets for those thinking about attending the NFB State Convention and for anyone interested in being a Blind Buddy, to be paired with a volunteer driver for weekly grocery shopping trips. Margaret has been a Blind Buddy for awhile now and told us about the fun she and her driver have together. It has become a friendship for both of them. If you want to be on either list, call Sally. It’s not a commitment yet, we just need to know about how many are interested.
The Macy’s Shop for a Cause passes were available – Don’t worry, they were going fast, but we still have a good supply. The Sale is Saturday, August 29th. You can get the passes at the August meeting, or call if you need them sooner. This is our easiest fund raiser (we only do this and the gift wrapping). Please try to sell as many as you can. We use the money for our grants and to help chapter members attend the conventions.
Also at the meeting, we discussed coping mechanisms, distributed some white canes, offered templates, bumpers, 20/20 pens and audio books for sale or small donation. And we collected info on what works and what doesn’t for eye health and living with vision loss. Whew! It was a busy meeting!
There was a great turnout for the 4th of July Kona Parade. The streets were lined with crowds as seven of us walked the route with the NFB banner. Dave’s truck made a fine float, looking very festive with all the flags and buntings. Thank you to all who participated. Hope you enjoyed the event and got to see the fireworks afterwards.
We had two guests at our June meeting. Jo Ann (J.R.) Rodriguez, from Island Skills Gathering, brought a large assortment of assistive devices. We had the opportunity to try out items that will help us to continue performing daily activities with vision loss. We thank J.R. for bringing such a good selection of devices. It was a great experience to learn what is available and get a hands on demo.
Also, we got to meet the new Ho’opono counselor for Hawai’i Island, Theone Suzuki. Theone is based in Hilo and covers the entire island. She introduced herself and brought brochures and referral forms for us. It’ great to have Ho’opono on island again! Thank you for joining us Theone. It was a pleasure to meet you.
Angelia Beshears of Aloha Independent Living (AIL), spoke at our April meeting. She explained the main services provided by AIL on Hawai’i Island: Information & Resources, Advocacy, Peer Support and Training.
A huge mahalo to everyone who participated in our 3rd annual Low Vision Resource Fair on March 13th at Hale Halawai. We so appreciate all the organizations and individuals who took the time to share their skills and knowledge. It was good to see the large attendance. We’d love to hear your feedback. We are trying to improve this event each year to offer as much information as possible. We welcome your ideas and suggestions. And yes, we noticed we have out grown our meeting room at Hale Halawai. We’ll look for a larger venue next year.
Three people who experienced blindness in adulthood, spoke at our February meeting. Gena, Katie and Virgil shared their stories of the process of learning to live with blindness. It was inspiring to hear how they each built new lives for themselves; full, productive lives that include careers, parenthood, political involvement, travel, etc. It was a most interesting and informative discussion. We thank them for taking the time to travel to Kona talk with us.
Our annual gift wrapping in front of K Mart on December 20, 22 and 23 was a successful event. Thank you to all who helped out with this fund raiser, especially Joan and Dave who set up each day and were there most of the time. And thank you to Claire for packing up on Monday. People remembered us from previous years and were glad to see us back. We had fun meeting the good people who supported the event.
What a great job Joan and Dave did on our Christmas Parade entry. They turned their truck into a beautiful Christmas float. We had fun interacting with the large crowd lining the parade route. Thank you to the members who walked with us and those who cheered us on from the side lines.
Our December 4th meeting was our annual Christmas Party. Thank you to those who brought food and drinks.
Our tree is trimmed! What a great morning – baskets of trimmings and boxes of ornaments littering the lobby, trees going up, fishing line securing them to railings and walls, step ladders moving around, smiles and laughter as the Mauna Lani Hotel Lobby was transformed into a Christmas village with trees set up by various non-profit groups. Dave found a white tree for our first entry in the annual Christmas Tree Charity event. It’s perfect for our white cane themed tree. Joan made some red and white candy canes, Lona supplied the little white canes we pass out at parades, we hung red ornaments and wove red ribbon through the branches. It was a fun morning decorating the tree and seeing the other trees come together. We are excited to be included in this event. Hope you all get a chance to see the display – and vote for our tree. Remember, visitors vote for their favorite with a donation. All proceeds are divided among the participants. Ask your family and friends to support this event.The trees will be on view from December 3rd ’til the end of the month.
We participated in the first Kona Lions Club Health and Screening Fair at Konawaena Elementary School on November 22, 8:00AM ’til noon. Joan, Dave and I maned our booth. We were able to help several people with their questions about vision loss.
Thank you to the members and especially to our Kailua Kona Lions Club friends who participated in the annual White Cane Walk on Sunday, November 16th. We donned our pink tee shirts which were provided by Ho’opono and had a beautiful day for our walk from Hale Halawai along Ali’i Drive to Palani Road and back. The shirts elicited quite a few comments from vendors and shoppers as we enjoyed the Kona Village Stroll. Thank you for the support.
Virgil Stinnett, the State NFB NewsLine coordinator, was at our November 6th meeting to demo NewsLine for us. He showed us how easy it is to use the NFB sponsored audio news service available via mobile or land line phone, or computer. Larry Scadden volunteered to be our Chapter representative to assist us with any Newsline issues. Call Larry to get signed up for this free program.
In preparation for Election Day Anthony, from the State Office of Elections, met with us at our October 2nd meeting to explain the assistive voting machines. We had hands on time to get comfortable with the technology. And our own Larry Scadden told us about his participation on the panel that evaluated and recommended the machine currently in use. Good choice, Larry. It’s easy to understand and use. No more having to bring a friend into the voting booth with you. Every polling place will have an assistive device booth.
Our Kailua Kona Lions Club Liaison, Lona Johnson, gave us an update on local Lions Club projects at our September meeting. Thanks, Lona, for keeping us informed. The Lions have been a constant source of support for our chapter. Our appreciation is deep and genuine.
NFB Live is here! The NFB of New York, with other affiliates has started a pilot project: an online chat community for blind persons around the U. S. and the world. It is a venue for communications and information exchange. Members can participate in events, presentations and activities in real time. All that is required is a computer, an internet connection and a headset.
Anyone can register with NFB Live by filling out the registration form at:
We will have more info on NFB Live at the September 4th meeting.
Our deep and sincere thanks go out to Eugene and Claire Yap and the Kona Lions Club for hosting us on July 12th for a Sensory Safari at the Yaps’ home. We experienced a close encounter with wild game from four continents. Eugene, a hunting guide, shared his impressive collection of taxidermy game with us. Then the Kona Lions treated us to lunch and fellowship with other groups associated with the Blind throughout the island. It was truly a wonderful day.
A big mahalo to Joan and Dave Byers for representing us in the 4th of July Parade. Although most of the usual cast of characters were unavailable this year, they decorated the truck and maintained our presence in the annual parade.
At the June 5th meeting, Mary Robblee spoke about her experiences with a volunteer program she was involved with in Massachusetts before moving to Kona. She encouraged us to start a similar program here. (Update: RSVP loves the idea and is working on setting up a “Take a blind friend shopping” program here.)
In May we hosted a special guest speaker. Nani Fife, President of the NFB Hawai’i State Affiliate, came over from Honolulu to celebrate the 4th anniversary of our chapter and to share her inspiring story of living with blindness.
The April meeting was an Information Day. There were handouts on various topics. Assistive items were available to take and try out at hone.
Our March 7th meeting wass our annual Resource Day. We looked at options to deal with vision loss. Irene Horvath and volunteer Ed from the library, Gavin Abe from Ho’opono (the State agency for the Blind), Adam Fisher, general manager of Gio Hawaii Transportation, Stephanie Kovatch and three of her young volunteers, Sarah, David and Westin, from Deep and Beyond and members Larry Scadden, Joel Cho and Joan Byers joined us to answer questions such as: How can I read? How can I use my computer? How can I get to town? Can I still enjoy outdoor activities safely? Why do I need a white cane? Where can I get more information? We thank all of them for their kindness and generosity to take the time to be with us. And we thank West Hawaii Today and writer Carolyn Lucas-Zenk for the front page report on Resource Day and our NFB Chapter.
At our February meeting Brandi was our Valentine. We thanked her for all her time, talents and love she has cheerfully devoted to our chapter. The chapter would not be here without her tireless efforts. Mahalo nui loa, Brandi!
Elections were held at our January 2nd meeting. The only change on the Board is the Treasurer’s position. Joanie Byers has taken over from Brandi Kopp. We give Brandi our heart felt thanks and gratitude for all she has done for our chapter. Brandi, you will be missed. We hope you will come back often to visit.
We had a good Christmas party at our December meeting. Thank you to Brandi, Joan, Wilda and Claire for the food and beautiful table settings. Brandi’s mother-in-law, Debbie and little Grace started us off with a song. After our business meeting, Debbie entertained us with a couple Christmas carols to set a festive mood for our party.
Our annual White Cane Awareness Walk was held on Saturday, Oct. 26th. It is a national event to raise awareness of the significance and use of the white cane. Our walk was sponsored by NFB, the Kailua Kona Lions Club and Ho’opono. We assembled in front of Hale Halawai on Alii Drive and proceeded north to the Palace and returned to the starting point. We had a good group of about 20, looking sharp in the commemorative tee shirts from Ho’opono. There are extra tee shirts will be available ar rhe next meeting.
Michelle Lee, an advocate from the Hawai’i Disability Rights Center spoke at our October meeting. She explained the functions and responsibilities of the Center and was available for individual questions. We thank Michelle for an informative session. Call Sally if you need Michelle’s contact info.
We had a booth at the Big Island PrimeTime Wellness Fair at the Sheraton Keauhou Resort this month. The 44 vendors offered a variety of services and information. It was well attended and we were glad to be a part of this important community event.
The NFB State Convention was September 14th /15th in Honolulu. The national representative, Pam Allen, was the keynote speaker. Sally reported on the highlights at the October meeting.
Our annual car wash fund raiser at K-Mart was held on September 21st. We had a successful day, thanks to the efforts of Joanie and Dave, and once again, the Mokuaikaua Church Youth Group with their joyful energy.
Back from the NFB National Convention in Orlando, Florida, member Keola Hegent, a local entrepreneur, set up two days of fund-raising selling his delicious Dragon Shrimp Chips in front of Wal-Mart. On July 26 and 27 we sold the chips from 9:00 a.m. until we sold out, with proceeds going to our chapter. Thank you, Keola, for this generous effort.
We had a fun picnic on the 19th at Kahalu’u Beach Park. Claire got the van and drove us there for a fellowship lunch with the Deep and Beyond group. Thank you, Claire for handling the van for us.
Thanks to Joel Cho, we are now listed on the Community page of Craigs List for Hawai’i Island. Good idea, Joel, thank you.
Keola Hegent was our delegate to the NFB National Convention in Orlando, Florida. This was his first convention (also his first time to the mainland) and he will tell us all about the experience at our August 11th meeting, 1:00 p.m. at the Regency at Hualalai.
Thank you to all who participated in the Independence Day Parade, especially to Joan and Dave Byers for another great job of decorating the truck, and to Mike and Claire Inman for the shiny convertible.
Adam Fisher, of Gio Hawai’i Transportation Co. joined us at our June 9th meeting for a discussion of Transportation for the Blind and Disabled. Adam explained his services and offered NFB members a discount on fares. Call Sally for more info.