Minutes from the NFB of Virginia 5/16/2020 Board of Directors Meeting

From Evelyn Valdez, Recording Secretary, National Federation of the Blind of Virginia

National Federation of the Blind of Virginia
Meeting of the Board of Directors
Saturday, May 16, 2020
Zoom Session

The National Federation of the Blind of Virginia’s Board of Directors meeting was called to order by President Tracy Soforenko
Invocation: Chamiere Roberts from the Richmond Chapter
Heartfelt Words about Dr. Brian Miller by Bonnie O’Day

Roll Call: 58 members were present

The minutes for January 20, 2020 board meeting were read by Evelyn Valdez.
Minutes were approved without correction

Treasurer’s Report
Treasurer’s report was read by Mark Roane
Reporting period was December 31, 2019-April 30, 2020
General checking account balance as of April 30 is $66,656.15

Treasurer’s report was accepted without any corrections

BELL Academy In-Home Edition
In conjunction with the National Office, Virginia is running the BELL In-Home Edition, Louise Walch shared that the virtual two-week in home edition summer program for blind and low vision children ages ranging from 4-12 years old for an hour and a half each day for two weeks will include more families in the learning process. Activities will be fun and hands-on in addition to online lessons and materials and supplies will be shipped to families and participants in two boxes, from the National Office and from Virginia, to their home. Louise emphasized that BELL Academy is not just for blind children but also for low vision children who may not receive Braille in their IEP with lots of non-visual skills and mentoring with blind adults; It looks like there will be greater participation because this will be a virtual summer camp to get the Federation philosophy rooted. The following dates for BELL Academy are July 1st, July 22nd offered in English and Spanish and July 27-August 7th. You can sign-up to be a mentor, you can help with materials such as Braille writers, and most importantly, you can spread the word so no kid misses out! If you may have any questions, you may email Louise Walch at: louisewalch@gmail.com

*A motion was presented to invest up to $30,000 for a BELL program.

Project RISE
Kathryn Webster gave an update on Project RISE regarding Julia Ford who is our newest member of the Project RISE team serving as an employment coordinator in setting up internships and creative employment opportunities and volunteer experiences for young adults and students thanks to all the knowledge and experience she brings . Students have been participating in informational interviews specifically, programmers Amazon and Target Corporate personnel and if you have the time to share your career with RISE students, please email: rise@nfbv.org

Chapter Leadership Institute (CLI)
Domonique Lawless updated everyone that CLI participants have focused on the White Cane list to reach out to potential members in their corresponding areas and to let individuals know that the NFB is here as a resource. CLI participants have been tasked to dive into their chapters to take on a leadership role and embark on a responsibility/project, in addition to creating a calendar to keep themselves goal-focused.

Accessible Absentee Voting
President Soforenko discussed the partnership with the American Council for the Blind in an effort to ensure that blind Americans access absentee voting in a private and accessible manner. The Virginia Board of Elections has taken significant steps to allow blind Virginians to ensure the seamless absentee voting process in which an online print-out will occur and then be mailed-in in order for blind people to vote independently. It is up to us in our perspective jurisdictions to make our voices heard by notifying our Office of the Registrar and holding them accountable so we can be ready for November.

Virtual National Convention
The virtual national convention will be held from July 14-18…the Rookie Round-up for first-time conventioneers will be held on July 7th.
This is a great opportunity to take advantage of attending a convention and it is valuable for those who have not been able to attend their first convention and make a commitment to tune in. There will be training for the Zoom platform since it’s a new learning experience for everyone. The deadline to pre-register for convention is June 15th. There will be a convention minute memory program that will be a chance to record a memory in a minute to share from your first convention on Social Media. We could donate door prizes such as coin holders, Virginia peanuts, and $200.

*Mark Roane presented a motion for Virginia to donate $200 in four $50 amounts, coin holders and Virginia peanuts as door prizes.
*Chapter Delegates gave their contributions to the four national funds: White Cane Fund, Jernigan Fund, ten Brooke Fund and Sun Fund.

McDonald Fellowship/Kenneth Jernigan Experience
Mary Durbin was not present but first-time conventioneers will be chosen for this year’s program in addition to next year.

Virginia Association of Blind Students (VABS)
From the students…membership has increased primarily because everyone is home, there has been a push to help with legislative efforts and other engaging activities that students are participating in is book club.

Seniors Division
Nancy Yeager has asked her division members what they would like to see next and she gave a friendly reminder of senior division meetings.

Merchants Division
Jimmie Cunningham states that there are 38 vendors in Virginia and only 7 are still working and the National Association of Blind Merchants had to fight to obtain unemployment benefits. The trainings to be held at the Blast conference originally scheduled for March will be postponed in June via Zoom.

Blind Parents
There has been little activity since blind parents and their children have been navigating a new normal. Blind parents collaborated with the Fredericksburg chapter on a philosophy discussion.

Parents of Blind Children
Beth Sellers updated everyone that a strong effort to get parents connected via Facebook to ensure families are doing well and encouraging parents to register their children for BELL.

Committee Reports

Sandy Halverson shared with all of us that with the help of an assistant, she is working on a master list to consolidate the newest membership forms from each chapter membership chair and she is teaming up with Chris Walker to help promote open-house calls for maximum outreach to ensure we get connected to those who have not heard of us.

Jimmy Morris stated that alongside his committee members, that the James Nelson Scholarship program can award up to three scholarships in the amount of $1500 for community college and/or universities…Jimmy is currently working on sending an email to school administrators, the scholarship committee urges students to register because it’s an opportunity to come to state convention with room and board paid for.

Public Relations
Ureeka and Corliss reported that Zoom meetings for the Virginia affiliate have been steady…there was a popular Facebook class and there is a ladies night every Saturday.

Earl Everett will be extending an invite for an open-call for fundraising to request some ideas.

Chris Walker stated that Virginia now has 500 Twitter followers, 1260 Facebook friends, and we are now on Instagram, and we have a new YouTube channel. Rebecca Soforenko is currently interning for the summer to assist with the updating of the affiliate website and we are happy to report that we have entered phase two of the website development; there will be a place for posting upcoming chapter meetings.

Nijat Worley stated that additional funding for DBVI was awarded but the budget is currently frozen. Virginia Department of Health is offering COVID-19 testing and if you need help getting food, contact 211.
Deepa Goraya stated the push for accessible technologies for home appliances in the Corona Virus Relief package. There are three co-sponsors from Virginia for ATTA. Deepa will be chairing a committee for next year’s Washington Seminar. If interested in assisting Deepa in this effort, please email: deepa.goraya@gmail.com

Convention Logistics & Operations
We have been talking to the hotel and we have a tentative proposal…and if you have a strong opinion about state convention, please let Tracy know. Joe Orozco states that Richmond Seminar will be held as usual during MLK weekend in January.

NFB Newsline
John Halverson informed us that there are sections within Newsline where a set of corona virus articles have been centralized.

Affiliate Advocate Role
Since everything has gone virtual, Stuart Prost is happy to assist anyone who is having issues in vocational rehabilitation

VRCBVI Virtual Trainings
There is a new lineup of virtual trainings for consumers, teachers of the blind and even international viewers stated by Domonique Lawless. Other hands-on trainings such as apps like Instacart, how to use Braille with residual vision, accessing Google Drive, and using iOS devices are just a few trainings to mention. Melody Roane sends out an email for individuals to register for VRCBVI virtual trainings so keep an eye out to sign-up.

Respectfully Submitted,
Evelyn Valdez
Affiliate Recording Secretary

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