1. TABLE OF CONTENTS
  2. Our Mission
  3. Other Resources
  4. CCB Home Page


                           CCB OUTLOOK
                           SPRING 1997
                      Steve Dresser, Editor


                          Published by
              The Connecticut Council of the Blind
                     Marcia Nigro, President
                    Telephone: (203) 407-0737
                    Toll-free: (800) 231-3349
                   Voice-Mail: (860) 521-6749
               Together, we can make a difference.


                       Produced in braille
                               by
                          Steve Dresser


                     Produced in large print
                               by
             The Connecticut Institute for the Blind


                      Recorded on cassette
                               by
                       April Hutchins and
                         Bryan McGucken



   

TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. FROM THE EDITOR
  2. PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE
  3. HIGH PLACES by Cheree Heppe
  4. MEET OUR 1997 SCHOLARSHIP WINNER by April Hutchins
  5. THERE'S A FIRST TIME FOR EVERYTHING...
  6. REPORT OF THE PUBLICITY COMMITTEE by John Mattioli
  7. PICK A PEARL by Shirley Phelon
  8. SPOTLIGHT ON CCB
  9. CCB NEWSMAKERS
  10. AWARD NOMINATIONS SOUGHT
  11. APRIL HUTCHINS: THE MEANING OF LIFE by Bryan McGucken
  12. CCB BULLETIN BOARD
  13. CCB CLASSIFIED
  14. Q&A FOR CCB by Pam Garde
  15. CCB STANDING COMMITTEES
  16. CCB BOARD OF DIRECTORS

[FROM THE EDITOR]

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Although I expected some negative reaction to the "Special Report" in the last issue of the _Outlook, I was pleasantly surprised that it was well received. While almost everyone knew that George Precourt had been fired, and that BESB had a new Executive Director, only a few people knew the whole story. So far, I've only received one unfavorable comment regarding this report. According to my critic, publishing these articles was "unnecessary" because the space could have been better used to inform CCB members of what our organization is doing. At first, I was outraged, but finally realized there's no point in defending against the absurd and irrational. Then, it occurred to me that maybe this criticism was an expression of frustration with CCB. Voicing dissatisfaction is an important first step in bringing about change, but it is of little value if you're not willing to help fix the problems. This means something different for each of us. For example, Dave McLean set up a Web site for us, and Cheree Heppe helped develop a bus riders survey. These are ambitious projects that require skills that most of us don't have, and time that we may not be able or willing to give. Fortunately, however, there are other ways to get involved, such as calling a committee chair or board member to discuss something you'd like to see us do. Even if you haven't fully worked out your idea, that simple phone call might start someone else thinking, and they could add to the plan. Of course, there's no guarantee that your idea will become an instant reality, but I can promise you that you'll always be frustrated with CCB if you stay on the sidelines and refuse to become actively involved. "Together, we can make a difference," but only if we _all work as a team. --Steve Dresser

PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE

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Hi! Happy Spring--I think! It's June 3, and I'm sitting here in my house with the heat on. Is it ever going to warm up? Anyway, on to business. First, I want to welcome Shirley Phelon as our new Board Member at Large. Shirley, a charter CCB member, brings 21 years of varied expertise to the position, and she has spearheaded many of our most successful fund-raising endeavors. Her diverse talents and good common sense will be of great value on the Board. Thank you, Shirley, for offering to serve. For those of you who weren't there, our spring convention turned out quite well, especially since this was the first time we tried the scaled-down version. (Detailed minutes will be published in the summer _Outlook.) The Oak Hill auditorium was pleasant and comfortable, and we had plenty of room to break into small groups for our brainstorming activity. Many thanks to Kathie Mills and her capable, hard-working volunteers for a delicious, plentiful breakfast and lunch! In the course of the business meeting, new member Mike Neeley offered to pick up CCB mail if we had a post office box and, based on this, the membership voted to obtain one. We will do so after the Board has formulated a policy on how the box will be handled. More details will follow. In the meantime, CCB mail will be sent to Steve Dresser's address. Ellen Telker will be your delegate to the ACB convention in Houston this summer, and I will be the alternate delegate. I hope to see several of you there. Speaking of conventions, we're busy making plans for ours in the fall, which will be held during the weekend of October 25th. We'll need lots of people involved to make this weekend a success! If you'd like to help, please contact Alice Jackson or Cheree Heppe. Remember, you don't have to be on the Board to make a difference in CCB. I am always eager for your feedback--positive or negative. All suggestions are welcome. Please call or write to me soon. Have a fun, relaxing summer! --Marcia Nigro

HIGH PLACES by Cheree Heppe

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Once the tallest building in these parts, the Travelers Tower serves as corporate headquarters for the Travelers Insurance Group. The Travelers offers tours to visitors who want to climb to the top of the Executive Tower and have a look over the surrounding countryside. With my daughter in school, I agreed to accompany Tom Lemieux, a legally blind friend, on one of these tours. I called ahead, and after seven or eight referrals, learned that the tours are free, and that visitors should make an appointment for a tour. "Ask for Todd Pinkston," the lady on the phone advised. "He conducts the tours." On the appointed day, Tom and I entered Travelers and went to a checkpoint desk. The receptionist asked us to wait while she telephoned and spoke quietly to someone for some time. Finally, Rick Davis appeared, and announced that he would be our tour guide. Rick, who was head investigator for the Fire Marshal's Office prior to accepting the position with Travelers, told us that both he and Todd Pinkston worked for Corporate Security. We took an elevator to the twenty-fourth floor, and emerging, noticed the silence. At this level, building sounds died away to the barest of electrical hums. I asked Rick who worked up on these floors. He said noone worked up this high. We continued through several locked doors, up several flights of stairs, and up the last winding staircase. Each landing or anteroom contained locked doors besides the ones we passed through. When I inquired, Rick said he didn't know what lay beyond those locked doors on those empty floors. I imagined a huge semi-abandoned castle, complete with secret passageways, dusty corridors, and secrets locked away behind closed doors. Rick unlocked the final door, and we stepped into the cool, damp, fresh air of the observation platform. The lookout is circular, with shoulder-high ornamental stone balustrades, and a roof which must be about sixteen feet above the floor. It is open to the weather, and visitors can see in any direction. Rick told us that on a clear day, people can see nearly to Springfield, Massachusetts. Tom looked down and out across Hartford, but the mist made buildings indistinct. Rick pointed out the Capitol with its shiny dome, the Connecticut River and City Place, currently Hartford's tallest building. In my mind's eye I imagined high stone battlements, winding cobbled streets, high encircling walls with guarded gates, and fields with wooded hills beyond. Hartford's traffic sounds reached us as a muted roar, like a rushing river or far off waterfall. Even the sound of the church bells floated up to us as a distant chiming murmur. I walked around the tower and returned to our starting point. I wondered whether my daughter would enjoy being up this high, and what she would make of the view. Rick said that when children come up, they like to race around the circle or try to squeeze between the columns of the balustrade. I vowed that when I brought my daughter on this tour, her hand holder would be securely in place between us. After several quiet minutes, we re-entered the tower and retraced our steps back to the inhabited part of the building. When we reached the main level, Rick escorted us to the plaza entrance which faced Main Street. We thanked him for the tour, and he encouraged us to invite our friends to visit the tower. For best enjoyment of this tour, visitors should bring a well oiled imagination, a sense of adventure, an appreciation for what some may consider to be ordinary, and a physical constitution suited to climbing numerous stairs. The Travelers Tower Tour closes October 18th, and reopens around the 15th of April. For tour arrangements, call Rick Davis, Travelers Corporate Security, (860) 277-6920.

MEET OUR 1997 SCHOLARSHIP WINNER by April Hutchins

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As chairman of the CCB Scholarship Committee, I felt privileged to introduce Christy Killion, a sophomore at Wolcott High School, as this year's annual scholarship winner. Christy thanked CCB profusely when she received her certificate on Saturday, April 26th, saying she felt honored to be invited to our spring convention. Christy, an honor student at Wolcott High, wants to study law when she goes to college. In addition to Spanish, her favorite academic subject, she enjoys playing the flute, which she has studied for seven years. She plans to use some of the scholarship money to pay for her flute lessons, and to add the rest to her college fund. Congratulations, Christy, and best of luck in the future!

THERE'S A FIRST TIME FOR EVERYTHING

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Cheree Heppe wanted to attend an ACB convention in the worst way, so last year, she entered the ACB First-Timers Contest. Unfortunately, Cheree didn't get her wish in 1996. This year, however, she won, and will be at the ACB national convention in Houston. In September, 1994, the American Council of the Blind Board of Directors established the Durward McDaniel Membership Development and Retention Fund. Through this fund, ACB sponsored two first-time attendees (one from each side of the Mississippi River) to the 1996 national convention, and is doing so again this year. As stated in the March, 1997 _Braille _Forum, contest winners are chosen based on "accomplishments and involvement in activities related to the work of ACB and its affiliate members." Cheree, an activist in blindness-related organizations for many years, joined the Connecticut Council in the fall of 1995. Since then, she has co-chaired the Transportation Committee, and been instrumental in forming Guide Dog Users of Connecticut. She is also our Corresponding Secretary. Obviously, Cheree's hard work has paid off. We're proud to have one of our own attain this esteemed honor. Congratulations, Cheree, and enjoy your trip to Houston!

REPORT OF THE PUBLICITY COMMITTEE By John Mattioli

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The Publicity Committee has been hard at work producing an informational brochure for CCB, and is proud to announce that the project is nearly completed. At our April convention, the latest draft was read and accepted with minor changes. The final version, which includes these revisions, is ready to be printed. Thanks to April Hutchins and her father Phil, we've located a printer, and we expect to have copies ready for distribution prior to the fall convention. We are all very excited about finishing up the brochure. When it comes back from the printer, we can begin publicizing CCB's activities in earnest. If you know of anyone interested in receiving our brochure, or would like to help with this important outreach effort, please feel free to contact me at (203) 929-4244. I look forward to hearing from one and all!

PICK A PEARL by Shirley Phelon

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The Pick-a-Pearl party was held on Sunday, April 20 as planned. It was so nice that some of the Council members and their friends (twelve in all) were able to attend. We raised $145.38 for the scholarship fund, which will be sent directly to the treasurer. I'd like to thank April Hutchins for putting me in touch with the demonstrator, and for sending out notices to all of our members. A special "thank you" to those who were unable to join the fun, but made a donation to the scholarship fund. It was a very generous thing to do.

SPOTLIGHT ON CCB

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The constitution and bylaws of Guide Dog Users of Connecticut (GDUCT) was approved by the CCB Board of Directors on June 7th. GDUCT is an affiliate of the Connecticut Council of the Blind, and of Guide Dog Users, Inc. The first official meeting of GDUCT will be held some time in July. For more information about GDUCT, including the time and place of the first chapter meeting, call Cheree Heppe at (860) 296-4922, or April Hutchins at (860) 649-6740. * * * This year at our spring convention, several brainstorming sessions were held to find out what activities CCB members wanted to get involved in. Here is the resulting list, along with people who have agreed to collect and coordinate ideas. Please feel free to contact these people, or CCB Board members if you have other things you'd like to see us do. Computer users group: John Mattioli (203) 929-4244 Norm Banta, (860) 569-0136 Service group: Mike Neeley (860) 296-7124 Speakers bureau: April Hutchins (860) 649-6740 Recreation: Barbara Blejewski (860) 721-8601

CCB NEWSMAKERS

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On May 19, Julie McLean received her Masters degree from Boston College. She plans to teach blind and visually handicapped students here in Connecticut. Vinnie Wojtusik graduated this spring from the North Bennett Street School of Piano Technology in Boston. He started working at the Piano Mill in Newton, Massachusetts on June 9. New member Alicia Ferraiuolo graduated on June 17 from North Haven High School. She hopes to relocate to the Hartford area, possibly Wethersfield or Manchester. 1995 CCB scholarship recipient Philip Majkrzak graduated from St. Joseph's High School in Trumbull on June 9. An accomplished organist, Philip will attend Westminster College in Princeton, New Jersey in the fall, where he will major in music. Congratulations and best wishes to our graduates! * * * On April 24, Carol Gillispie received a distinguished service award from the CRIS staff and Board of Directors. A board member herself, Carol was the driving force in making the New Haven studio a reality. * * * New CCB member Mike Neeley, who moved here from California at the end of March, began work on April 19 as a customer service representative for American Airlines. Mike hopes to eventually get into the marketing end of the business.

AWARD NOMINATIONS SOUGHT

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Do you know someone who has made a valuable contribution to CCB--someone who has gone above and beyond the call of duty? If so, let us know! The 1997 CCB Outstanding Service Award will be presented at the fall convention. Previous recipients include: Mr. and Mrs. Frank Banta, Phil Hutchins, Gert DeLeo, Edna Axelson, Shirley Phelon, Barbara Blejewski, Ann Marie Carlson, and Camille Petrecca. If you know of a worthy candidate, please contact President Marcia Nigro by September 1. She will forward the information to the Awards Committee.

THE MEANING OF LIFE by Bryan McGucken

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It is rarely easy for any of us to take time out of our never-ending schedules to sit back and reflect on how wonderful the gift of life is. Many of us feel alone and unimportant, seeing ourselves as unduly burdened. April Hutchins is certainly no exception. For some years, she felt her life was without direction or meaning, and that noone could help or understand her. Circa 1990, April, who had been a CCB officer, allowed her membership to lapse. Fortunately for CCB, she rejoined in November, 1994, and has been actively involved ever since. In 1992, April turned to the church, placing her life in the hands of the Lord. "He is my well-being," she says. She has attended the First Assembly of God in East Hartford for several years, performing with the choir and soloist ministry, and working closely with the women's ministry. April has taken courses in film-making, television and radio broadcasting, and public speaking, all of which earned her an Associate's Degree in media from Manchester Community Technical College. She hopes to obtain a position in consumer service, where she can use her communication skills to advocate for the needs of others. April is an avid reader, as well as a member of the Toastmasters' Club, a group dedicated to the art of public speaking. She says she feels free to express her views. She also enjoys getting together with friends, and hiking. April wants to see people take an active role in the Council, even if they aren't sure what they can offer. "Everyone needs to feel accepted, and by rights ought to be," she says. She believes that being accepted is the most important of human needs. For April Hutchins, life is a constant reminder that we all have a place in the grand scheme of existence. We must look beyond cyberspace, life in the fast lane, and our own worlds, and concentrate on the Big Picture.

CCB BULLETIN BOARD

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Descriptive home videos are now available for rental from Blockbuster. Begun as an experiment in ten locations, the program has been expanded to 500 stores nationwide. Of the nearly 150 DVS titles, Blockbuster chose the 40 most popular, based on frequency of rentals. For more information, call the Blockbuster customer information line, toll-free at 1-800-800-6767. To learn more about descriptive home videos, contact DVS at (617) 492-2777, extension 3490, or check out their Web site at: HTTP://WWW.WGBH.ORG/DVS If DVS videos aren't available in your local Blockbuster store, you might try to convince the manager to carry them. * * * An accessible Caller ID box is available from Southern New England Telephone. The unit announces the area code and phone number, along with the date and time of the call, in a clear female voice. The unit is easy to install and operate, and costs about $60 plus shipping. For more information, call SNET Disabled Services at 1-800-922-4605. Remember, your Caller ID unit won't function unless you subscribe to that service. * * * The Connecticut Radio Information System (CRIS) received an award for excellence in programming from the National Association of Radio Reading Services. The award-winning broadcast was "Morning Front Pages." This program is split into two half hour segments. The first half hour consists of an overview of state, national, and world news gathered from several newspapers, and is heard state-wide. The second half hour is turned over to the satellite studios, where local newspapers are read. CRIS received this award largely because of this diversified programming. Congratulations to the CRIS staff and volunteers! * * * CCB's Web site has moved. The new address is: http://members.tripod.com/~dmclean/ccb.html And while we're on the subject, Norm Banta is compiling a list of CCB members' E-mail addresses. If you'd like to add yours to the list, please contact Norm at (860) 569-0136.

CCB CLASSIFIED

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[The listings of products and services in this column are provided free of charge for the benefit of our readers, and should not be considered as endorsements. The Connecticut Council of the Blind cannot be held responsible for the reliability of products and/or services mentioned.] * * * For sale: Games and Educational Machine (GEM) set. Includes the games "Air Sea," "Bowling," and "Casino." The instruction cartridge contains "Flip-it," "Addition," "Number One," "Piano," and "Learn Keyboard." Taped and print instructions, and talking keyboard included. Price negotiable. Pro-Shiatsu Portable Massage Unit, brand-new. Purchased from TV Shopping channel. Price negotiable. Phone (860) 563-2259 if interested. --Camille Petrecca

Q&A FOR CCB by Pam Garde

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Hi, everyone, I have good news! On March 12, I received some response to my brand new column. Thank you, Louise Pollio of Hamden, for your helpful and insightful answer to our first question: How do you label canned goods, CD's or cassettes, and boxed products? Louise responded: "I label canned goods by brailling with either Dymo tape, or three-by-five inch cards. You can use either clear plastic, or paper index cards." When using three-by-fives, Louise connects the punched holes on the sides of the cards with an elastic band. "Pass one loop of the elastic through the other, making a knot. After pulling the end through as far as it will go, put the big loop around the can. This prevents having to make a new label every time you buy that particular product." When labeling CD's, Louise uses Dymo tape for the outside of the box, as she does with most canned goods. In addition, however, she uses a clear plastic sheet for the song titles and artist's name. "Have someone sighted cut the sheet so that it fits inside the box." Even with the brailled plastic sheet inside, Louise can close the box without breaking it. Finally, Louise discovered an unusual method of labeling boxes while reading a cookbook. Open one end of the box, and with the open end facing you, attach a braille slate to the flap so that the holes in the slate face the inside of the box. When you close the box, the brailled information will be visible on the outside. Thank you again, Louise, for your contribution to this new column. Remember, our storehouse of information can never be too large; and with that thought in mind, here's our question for next time: How do you arrange a room? [Please send all contributions for this column to: Q&A for CCB Care of Pam Garde 92 Homestead Street Manchester, CT 06040.] Please submit all contributions for the next CCB _Outlook by August 15, 1997. Thank you.

CCB STANDING COMMITTEES

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Convention: Alice Jackson, (203) 281-0676 Cheree Heppe, (860) 296-4922 Legislative: Dave Bates, (860) 257-0602 Membership: John Mattioli, (203) 929-4244 Newsletter: Steve Dresser, (860) 521-8903 Publicity: John Mattioli, (203) 929-4244 Scholarship: April Hutchins, (860) 649-6740 Transportation: Dan Mills, (860) 643-8442 Ways and Means (fund-raising): Dave Bates, (860) 257-0602 You can leave messages for committee chairs and board members on our toll-free line (800) 231-3349, or on our new voice mail (860) 521-6749. President Marcia Nigro is an ex officio member of all committees.

CCB BOARD OF DIRECTORS

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President: Marcia Nigro 20 Towne House Road Hamden 06514. (203) 407-0737 (1-800-231-3349.) First Vice President: Steve Dresser 142 Webster Hill Boulevard West Hartford 06107. (860) 521-8903. Second Vice President: John Mattioli 146 Trap Falls Road Shelton 06484. (203) 929-4244. Third Vice President: Alice Jackson 191 Centerbrook Road Hamden 06518. (203) 281-0676. Recording Secretary: April Hutchins 129 Eldridge Street Manchester, CT 06040. (860) 649-6740. Corresponding Secretary: Cheree Heppe 68 Gilman Street Hartford 06114-2536. (860) 296-4922 Acting Treasurer and Immediate Past President: Dave Bates 44 Garden Street Wethersfield 06109. (860) 257-0602. Board Member at Large: Bryan McGucken 11 Hillside Lane Wallingford, CT 06492 (203) 265-2452 Board Member at Large: Shirley Phelon 60 Elmer Street East Hartford, CT 06108 (860) 289-5697