August 10, 2020
To: ALL WORKERS FOR THE BLIND MEMBERS
From: Kenneth R. Yahne
Chairman, Board of Directors
On Wednesday, August 5th, the Fort Wayne Chapter of the Indiana Association of Workers for the Blind held its monthly Board meeting by telephone conference call.
One of the items on the agenda was the issue of how can we best communicate what is happening with our organization during the COVID-19 pandemic. We talked about more telephone calls to every member. We discussed utilizing modern technological advances (“Zoom”, “Go to Meeting”, Google Meeting”, etc.) and decided these were not practical for the number of people we have. We considered e-mail, but only 22 of our members have an e-mail address. We came to the conclusion that our best alternative is to post this letter on our newly-created website and send this letter to each individual member. We understand that this solution is not ideal (especially for our totally-blind members who must have this letter read to them), but it is the best alternative among the limited choices we have to a formal in-person meeting.
So let me update you on where we are at this point during this pandemic.
WEBSITE: We have launched our new website, which is workersfortheblind.com. The administrator for our previous website could not be contacted, so we had to develop a new one. It is very “bare bones” right now but we will be putting this letter and our new brochure on it and adding to it as we go. Please check it out if you have computer access.
MEMBER MEETINGS: As you know, we have suspended all member meetings. This is due in part to our concern for the health and safety of our members and drivers but also out of concern for the institutions and volunteer servers who provide lunch for us. We do not want to put any of these people in jeopardy. We have been in contact with all of the churches, schools and nursing homes who have hosted us in the past, and the consensus is that everybody’s interest is best served by our continuing to suspend meetings until this crisis abates.
PICNIC: As you know, our picnic is generally held in mid-August at Blackhawk Baptist Church, but we have learned from our contacts at Blackhawk that they have suspended all meetings and gatherings. We could not, in any event, do a “carry-in” as we have in the past, and we considered doing box lunches, but we do not have a venue, so that point is moot.
PIZZA PARTY: This is the event we created in September when the annual convention was discontinued, and we recently limited it to members who participated or in some way contributed to the White Cane Drive fund-raiser. The location where we held the pizza party (Northcrest Pizza Hut) has now closed permanently, so we would have to find a new location. The likelihood is that we will also forego that event this year.
WHITE CANE DRIVE: We have not heard from Kroger as to whether they will allow us to solicit in their stores this year during this pandemic. My guess is that they will not. However, Ron Collins is in contact with them and will get the final word on this when he can. We will keep you posted.
CHRISTMAS PARTY: This is up in the air as well. I did hear from the Kiwanis, who informed me that the pandemic has precluded them from doing their fund-raisers, so they will not be able to assist us in defraying a part of the cost of the Christmas Party. Nonetheless, we have sufficient funds to underwrite the entire cost of this event. The question is simply that we do not know where things will stand in December with this pandemic. Stay tuned!
ELECTIONS: The Board initially decided to postpone elections since members never had the chance to nominate or elect Board positions. After this extended delay, the Board voted to extend the terms of all current Board members and officers for a period of one year until next May. Hopefully, we will be able to resume the normal election cycle at that time.
DRIVERS: We are continuing our efforts to recruit drivers. Later this month we will be participating in the Volunteer Expo at Glenbrook Mall. We are limited in number, so I am asking three Board-member volunteers to man our booth. But it will give us an opportunity to talk to people (masked and at a safe social distance!) to convince them to consider driving for us!
BROCHURE: We have had a new brochure printed now, and 1,000 copies are in our storage facility. It is very nice and has color pictures of our logo, and recent pictures of the bowlers, the picnic and the Christmas luncheon. It depicts our organization very well, and I thank all those who participated in its revision. I will try to have it posted on the website before you receive this letter.
CLOSE: As I said, this is nowhere near the perfect solution to communicating what has been happening with our organization. I can only say that we are doing the best we can with the limited resources we have and often “making it up as we go”! As Chad Beach pointedly reminded me today at our Board meeting, I overuse the phrase “it is what it is”, but that is our bottom line at this point. We have to deal with a situation that none of us want or like, but we can’t change it, so we have no alternative but to make the most of it!
I would encourage the recipients of this letter to contact any Board member they know with their thoughts and suggestions. You can also contact me at any time after 10:00 in the morning, as the only time I get up much earlier than that is to go the Church or play golf!
Stay well! Stay safe! Stay committed to this organization, and we’ll get through this!
CLOSE II: I would like to close this letter with the prayer I opened the Board meeting with last Wednesday:
Gracious God, we ask you to protect all of our members and their families from this virus, especially the most vulnerable. We pray for all those who have been adversely affected by the virus, in the past, present and the future, and give rest to those who have died from this disease. We ask that you guide us in our discussions today and assist us in making the decisions that are best for our members and our organization. We thank you for our past blessings and ask that you be merciful to all of our members who passed before us and that you find a place in your Kingdom when we join them. Amen.
Though it might be hard to believe coming from a lawyer, I have nothing more to say other than that my telephone number is (260) 438-9216, and I always return my calls!