by Kenneth Semien Sr.
All too often, people join organizations without taking advantage of the opportunity to truly become familiar with intricate details of its mission, purpose, and operating practices. This can result in a lack of participation and could ultimately result in a decision to forfeit what could have been the ideal vehicle to enhance your life, build great relationships and effectively share personal skills and abilities that can make an enormous difference.
In an effort to encourage you to explore the rich history and meaningful efforts of ACB, the tips below are listed to assist you in making the best of your ACB membership, while connecting with others whose skills and abilities complement yours.
1. Be inquisitive and don’t hesitate to ask questions.
2. Become familiar with the history, mission, and purpose of ACB by reviewing it often enough to be able to repeat it to others. In turn, someone may realize that this is the organization they have been looking for. One of the best resources to begin your quest is “People of Vision,” a story of the father of ACB, Durward K. McDaniel, and others who joined him in forming ACB. Download it from the NLS BARD site. Access to the BARD web site is restricted to eligible readers; you will need a login ID and password to access it. If you do not have them, review the criteria for participation by reading the BARD application instructions and, if you qualify, request an account. Search for DB56115, “People of Vision” (A History of the American Council of the Blind) Braille and Audio Reading Download (BARD). For support, send email to NLSDownload@loc.gov.
3. Make a personal commitment to identify ways to get involved in service and fundraising efforts.
4. Find out who the officers are and become acquainted with them and their roles and responsibilities, as well as members you observe actively participating in events and projects associated with our organization.
5. Make your skills and abilities known to leaders of your chapter, affiliate, and the ACB president. These individuals are likely to be your ticket to greater opportunities for service.
6. Make every effort to participate in chapter, state affiliate, regional, and national meetings, training sessions, seminars, conferences and conventions. Learn more about the legislative process by attending the ACB mid-year meetings in order to meet members from around the nation who enjoy the privilege of participating in the legislative seminar held in February or March of each year, which culminates with a visit to Capitol Hill. You can make a difference, and this is the key vehicle to promote positive change for all Americans who are blind.
7. Inquire about available committees you may be able to serve on to assist the organization in achieving its goals and objectives. Seek to join committees that allow you to utilize your skills and abilities in the most effective and efficient manner. Visit the ACB website, www.acb.org, to review the list of committees that are available. Simply obtain the name and email address of the current ACB president by reaching out to the ACB national office at (202) 467-5081, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
8. Sign up for up-to-date news and announcements from all levels of our organization. Ask a president or member to tell you how to take advantage of this option. Subscribe to various ACB email lists to receive and share announcements, resources and supportive information.
9. Listen to or read publications/newsletters distributed by our organization on all levels in various formats. This is one of the best ways to learn about useful resources, access inspirational stories, scholarships, awards, and upcoming projects and events.
10. Identify and become better acquainted with special-interest affiliates that meet your personal needs and interests. These groups provide you the opportunity to network with others sharing common interests, such as your prior or current occupation, hobbies, health concerns and so much more. Visit the ACB website to review the entire list of these special groups to take advantage of making mutually beneficial connections.
11. Obtain your own copy of the constitution and bylaws to learn of the agreed-upon operating practices and procedures of our organization. The most currently adopted governing documents can be accessed at www.acb.org.
12. Get social by connecting with ACB through its social media networks, Facebook and Twitter. This is a great way to introduce others to the work and accomplishments of ACB. Follow us on Twitter @acbnational; like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/AmericanCounciloftheBlindOfficial.
13. Participate in conference calls to build your knowledge. Membership focus calls are held quarterly on topics of interest. Special-interest affiliates also meet periodically via conference call. Many committees, and ACB’s board of publications, hold conference calls, too.
14. Explore the web sites of your chapter, state affiliate and our national organization. You may locate information on the web site that you didn’t think of inquiring about. Be sure to download the ACB Link app on your smartphone or other mobile device as an alternate method of accessing ACB on the world wide web.
15. Pay your annual dues faithfully and encourage others to do the same.
The more you know and the more you become involved, the more you will be prompted to share your personal story of how you have joined a phenomenal organization that is continuing to advance.
Have a great ACB adventure!