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ACB Community Testimonials
Sara Mornis, Vermont
My name is Sara Mornis. Blind since birth and a recent college graduate, I'm from the rural, green mountain state of Vermont.
I first discovered the ACB community calls during my final semester of college. With the virus raging across the country and the pandemic at its peak, I struggled to complete my class assignments from home in a state of isolation and boredom. When I happened to stumble across info on the ACB'S first conference calls in my emails, I was delighted and eager to join in and find out more about this wonderful organization!
I didn't really commit to attending all the calls until I had graduated from college. From there on, I dived right in, and my feelings of boredom and isolation gradually melted away.
Today, I still attend as many calls as I am able, every day. When I am unable to attend, I feel disappointed, like I am missing out. This community is so inclusive, welcoming, and accepting, and I haven't found anything else like it. This community is like my second family. I truly feel like I belong.
As the only blind person growing up in my hometown, I often felt lonely. Knowing that I can come home to a community of other like-minded blind people, where we can share stories, learn, and laugh with one another, is such a blessing. I no longer have to feel alone.
I know that there are other blindness organizations out there, but I truly feel I have found my place here at ACB. When I am able, I hope to give back, and become more involved in this organization.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart!
Chanelle Allen, Texas
I love the ACB Community because it gives me something to look forward to every day. The warm, welcoming, caring people the social, educational, and fun events, and something else wonderful and special that is hard to put into words give me the motivation to get out of bed every day and excitement to participate in my new normal. Thank you, Cindy, Belinda, Kolby, and all of the amazing facilitators, hosts, long-time community members, and newcomers who make the community what it is.
Beth Terranova, VA
Hi, everybody, I am so excited that we have reached the milestone of our 5,000th community call! Being an ACB member, I heard about the community calls via ACB when they first started and I was interested from then on. I don't remember when I joined my first call, but my top interests are tech, advocacy, multicultural topics, ACB meetings and national convention. I am thrilled that community calls are here to stay and thanks to all staff and volunteers who keep them going!
Melody E. Holloway, Ohio
I knew of the existence and mission of the American Council of the Blind since grade school. I had an ACB college scholarship in 2004. One of my dearest lifelong friends became executive director of ACB-Ohio last year. He and the president of our state affiliate were on our local radio reading service with Janet Dickelman providing information regarding last year’s first virtual national convention. I registered, and the rest is history. I attended my first community call, a morning coffee social in August of last year. My favorite right-hand man took my information, and I joined the same day.
As I felt more comfortable participating in the community, I averaged 2/3 calls per day. Since this year’s awesome convention, I have only been able to connect to a few BPI chats, chapter meetings, and monthly membership calls for ACBO. I suppose if I have to pick 3 meaningful events, they would be Health Checkup, Caregivers Support Group, and Technology Learning Lab of which I have been a complementary student for most of my life.
COVID-19 gave ACB an unexpected, unforeseen advantage. This tricky unpredictable life-altering virus brought a global community of individuals living with visual impairment together who may not have known one another otherwise. The isolation, loneliness, and lack of physical contact left our hearts and minds filled with an empty unforgiving void. This longing for companionship is even more difficult for those of us who happen to have much more going on than we were previously aware of. The camaraderie, advocacy, peer support, and friendship ACB is known for helps to fill this lonely void like a hot meal satisfying pangs of hunger. We cover each other with a virtual warm protective blanket of pure love from wherever we happen to reside. Thank you ACB for your generally non-judgmental forgiving spirit.
JC Alicea, New York
I heard about the ACB Community events through clubhouse, and I attended my first community event the following week for Karaoke.
I usually attend as often as I can, but sometimes, I have other things to attend to, such as family, church, etc., however, I at least try to make it to 1 community event per week. My top 3 are: JC’s Corner, the call that I facilitate every week, neighborhood coffee klatch, and of course, my favorite, Karaoke!
The ACB Community events have impacted me in so many ways. One such example is after I went on clubhouse and I was introduced by the community, I was able to attend my first Zoom call, which is Karaoke. The folks have been very nice and helpful, as well as energetic, and they always know how to have a good time, both on clubhouse and the zoom calls. I’ve actually attended my first virtual convention online, and it’s all because of the community helping me out in not only paying for my dues, but also for the membership registration fees. It is safe, respectful, and welcoming to not just me but to all members, and I couldn’t be more blessed than ever. Cindy, if you are reading this, thank you so much for not only introducing me to the community, but also for helping me in pointing me to the correct people who knows exactly what the community is all about, as well as sharing some great laughs, funny stories, and not to mention your great covers in karaoke every weekend. I love you so much not only as a friend, but also as a membership service coordinator. You do your job extremely well and I'm thankful for it, not to mention you also helped me and setting up my first community calls that I now facilitate every Monday. Thank you so much for having the community open to all members, and congratulations once again on the 5,000 community event! Blessings to you and the entire community, and I hope to attend future calls as time progresses.
Sirkku Heinäluoto, Finland (Sirkku the Finnerican)
I heard about the community events on ACB radio promos last autumn. The first event I attended - I don't remember its name - was on Christmas Eve. I guess it was sort of an open cafe. I felt very welcome.
I participate in the events daily, mainly the coffee socials, because of the time difference between U.S.A and Finland. But I love to join many other interesting events as often as much as I can. I don't want to pick a top three simply because every event I've participated has been enjoyable and choosing three top favorites would be too hard.
The Community events have changed my daily life considerably. During the lockdown of the pandemic, they have offered a wonderful place to be connected, feel welcome, safe and respected. I would be a much lonelier person if there was no ACB Community. The community events have helped and encouraged not only people in the United States but worldwide to use this time of pandemic to connect with each other, make new friendships, learn new skills, teach them to other community members, encourage and support each other in so many ways, many more than you ever know.
I think the people who started the Community events should (and I really mean it from the bottom of my heart) be awarded nationally, even globally for the effort and time they've given to help people live through these tough times. Finding creative solutions and making them happen is certainly more fruitful than getting stuck in complaining about the worldwide pandemic.
For me, among many other great things, the community events have offered a chance to take a trip to America every day, have breakfast (dinner) with wonderful people, practice my English, share my music and hear others’ music, learn new crafting techniques, computer and iPhone skills, find Christian fellowship and prayer connection.
To hear familiar voices in the community events warms my heart every day and every new voice brings me joy knowing that someone has found this wonderful community.
Pshon Barrett, Mississippi
I started participating in ACB calls in the summer of 2020. I have met new friends that I will probably have for life, have started exercising regularly, and have found a very supportive, caring community of people. When I casually expressed on a call that I was shopping for a musical keyboard, one of the other callers said he had a keyboard that had belonged to a deceased family member and that it wasn’t being used for anything but a clothes rack. He very generously gave me a very nice keyboard, which has led to my participation in karaoke and the gospel sing call and has given me an opportunity to use the keyboard for other functions. I have renewed and strengthened old friendships, been entertained, taught especially from the technology and cooking calls.
Keep up the amazing good work.
I really love all the calls that I participate in through the ACB community. I started in January of this year. A very good friend told me about them. The calls have helped me feel not so lonely. The top three calls I love are the friendship circle, thank you for being a friend, and Angel Eyes class. Thank you all so much for having these calls! They have really made it easier to cope with the pandemic because I had other people to talk to so I wouldn’t feel so isolated. It also was good because I got to learn new skills and make new friends. I hope that even after the pandemic is over and people go back to their daily lives that these calls will continue because not everyone is able to work or join clubs and these calls are great in that way because we are all able to participate. Thank you so much! You guys are awesome!!
Travis Sitler, California
I participated in my first Community Events on Wednesday, February 17th, 2021, which were the Friendship Circle and It’s Electric. I heard about the Community Calls through the ACB Facebook Page, as well as a friend of mine, and I wanted to socialize by making new friends, etc.
I’m able to participate in Community Calls almost every day, I typically participate in a lot of meetings on Wednesdays, I’ve always done the Bar and Grill Social, and the whole 9 yards. I participate in Meetings not only almost every day, but I do select meetings that I’m interested in.
The Community Events have had so many greater impacts on me, especially during the pandemic. The Community Calls have enabled me to take things off my mind that are happening in the world, the Mindfulness Meetings and Meditation Meetings are totally worthwhile. I’ve been able to get some tips, provide tips to other people, and I’ve been able to make more new friends. Plus, everyone in the meetings is super friendly, it’s neat meeting people from different states, and so much more.
ACB Community has meant a whole lot to me. Whenever I have something stressful on my mind, I feel that I can talk about it with my friends by getting amazing support. If it weren’t for the ACB meetings, I think that it’ll be difficult and that I wouldn’t have the friends that I have now.
I’ve never gone to the ACB conventions, but I love the Friendship Circle, the Meditation Celebration, the It’s Electric Meeting, David’s Bar and Grill Social, and whenever I’ve gone to the Recipe Swap Meeting, I would sometimes share my family recipes, I always love getting recipes from other people. Plus, the Birthday Party Community Calls are always lots of fun as well.
Meryl Shecter, Maryland
I would like to thank Cindy, Belinda, Kolby, as well as the Zoom hosts, facilitators and ACB Media Streamers for all of your hard work to make this possible. If it weren't for the pandemic, we would not have these awesome community calls.
I first heard of the community calls in May of 2020 through an email, and I subscribed to the list Although it is hard to pin down my three favorite calls, because all of them are wonderful, I have to narrow them down to Sunday Edition, Tuesday Topics and Visibilities Because I am so involved with ACB on the local, state and national level, I get on the calls as much as I can.
The community cheers me up when I feel down, and has also transformed the involvement of a chapter member and friend, who I am mentoring. She has never been able to attend a national convention in person and last year and this year, she has listened to two virtual conventions. It was not until last October that she became involved on the state level, although she attended several state conventions throughout the years. She served on the Convention Planning Committee for the American Council of the Blind of Maryland, which I chaired, and her confidence level skyrocketed. As for myself, I am developing new friendships and rekindling old ones.
Furthermore, I feel validated as a leader because I have been told that I always have great input. I have been asked to join more national committees and to collaborate on projects. Since 1977, in my home state of New York and since 1985 in Maryland, leaders past and present have poured into me, and I am continuing to learn from leaders in other states. My reward is giving back to ACB.
In conclusion, thank you again for everything that all of you do for the community.
Belinda Collins, North Carolina
I initially heard about the community events in late May of 2020 from an email list that I was subscribed to at the time. I attended a coffee social event one Sunday morning and thought, “Well, this is interesting.” It definitely seemed like a great way of connecting, in spite of the worldwide virus that had everyone confined to their homes. However, at that same time, I had just started an online course to obtain a certification in teaching assistive technology, and my busy schedule prevented me from attending any other community events for a while. A couple months later, during ACB’s annual conference and convention, I was able to listen to a few presentations on ACB Radio. It was their first virtual convention, and I was so impressed by how well-organized it was that I decided to give the community events another chance immediately after the convention was over. I soon found myself shuffling my schedule in order to attend specific events each week.
I try to attend at least one community event each day if my schedule permits. My top three events to attend regularly would be the Manic Monday coffee social, the Friendship Circle, and Karaoke.
The community events mean more to me than words can convey. There is something here for everyone. From support and encouragement, to learning opportunities, to entertaining social events, it can all be found in the ACB Community. I found the community during a time of my life that was filled with lots of uncertainties and anxieties about the future. Even though I had accomplished a life-long goal of becoming a certified assistive technology instructor, I was truly afraid of the unknown and which direction my life would take. The warmth and stability I found here made me feel that I would always have a virtual home to come to. I am overwhelmed when I think about the amazing connections and special friendships I have made here, friendships that I know I will have for the rest of my life. The pandemic of 2020 has brought lots of devastation to our world, but it also brought together an amazing community of people that love and support each other, no matter what circumstances are thrown our way.
Thank you, ACB Community, for being the family that I didn’t realize I was missing for so long.
Linda Faust, Massachusetts
I learned about the community calls through BSCB. I needed to acquaint myself with Zoom training when the community calls started, and I joined a few weeks to a month after getting training in order to participate.
I don’t have a regular rule of thumb for what I attend except for Leslie’s chair yoga classes on Mondays, resistance on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and cardio most Fridays. I read about all the events daily, and depending on my schedule that day, if I remember the timing of a particular event when it starts, I attend. Today, for example, I went to Leslie’s cardio class followed by the last part of Blindness and more, since it conflicts with the resistance class, followed by In Perspective, but I didn’t catch all of the last one because the phone rang. I would have liked to do the coffee thing, but I had an appointment. I usually try to also attend cardio Tuesday’s coffee hour, friendship circle when I remember, and thank you for being a friend. I attended many convention events too. I’m happy to be able to use Zoom because of the pandemic, along with not being able to afford to go live.
Since I’m stuck in my apartment building a lot except for a walk down the street and an appointment a few times a week, it means less isolation, and the people are very nice. I have yet to establish closer friendships with folks on the calls outside of the Zoom stuff, though I do get encouragement from a few people regarding learning exercises I don’t understand. I find the technology classes to be difficult because everybody’s screen readers talk too fast, and with my hearing impairment, it’s hard to deal with, so it’s discouraging for me personally, but I’m glad they’re there. I appreciate all the programs on advocacy.
I am very grateful for the community calls as a whole even though it’s hard to attend all of what’s going on because of appointments, cleaning lady once a week, etc. I also have yet to learn karaoke, and when I have time, I’ll go to the website, but I really need more than that!
I definitely feel a bit less isolated being able to participate in community calls, and am still hoping to do better.
Mary Hiland, Ohio
I think I learned about the community calls early last summer. Maybe I was sent an email. I really don’t remember, but I am a member of the Columbus chapter and the Ohio Affiliate, so maybe they sent out the word.
Depending on the week, I probably listen to about five times a week, maybe more if I don’t have other meetings. My favorites are Playtime, Book Discussion on Monday nights, and Thursday Throwback.
The community calls filled my days and evenings during the beginning of the pandemic when we were sheltering in place. I live alone, so they were great company. ACB has always been a part of my life, including working as the E.D. of Ohio, and it’s been wonderful to get to know other ACB members around the country.
Elizabeth Ann Johnson, Massachusetts
I believe it was last year May 2020, through an email from Kim Charlson, I learned of the community events. I am not sure when I attended my first one.
The community events have impacted my life in a very positive way. During that dark period in our lives when we were all on lock down, I looked forward to getting on the Zoom calls just to meet other people, joining in the events and sharing. Yes, I enjoy listening and participating.
Back in 2020 I attended every night at least once a week. I am not on the events every night as much as I was in the beginning.
My top calls would be: games night, Karaoke, Thank you for being a friend, Sharing recipes with Sheila Young and Grief Journey.
I hope that the community events continue going forward. There are a lot of folks who are single and lonely and surely look forward to talking to other people. To All who make these events possible, thank you so much and and keep up the good work!
Abby Kiely, Massachusetts
I learned of the ACB community in August of this year. These calls have uplifted my spirits. I don’t feel so alone. I am much more social now. The ACB community means everything to me. I am a much more social person now with the ACB online activities.
Some of my top favorite events from ACB community over the past 17 months are Angel Eyes fitness classes, Circle of Friends, I don’t have a third one I like the Bingo of Perkins in MA class.
Tom Kaufman, Maryland
As memory serves me, I think that the first community call I heard was on the last night of the 2020 ACB National Convention! Later in August, I found out through a very good friend that one could sign up to get a daily schedule of these community calls. My friend forwarded me a “weekly schedule” that she had, and I signed up! At first, I probably went to maybe one or two of the coffee socials that Cindy Hollis was running…in time, I found out about other calls, one of them being the Karaoke that ran (and still runs) on Saturday nights! So I began coming to those and participating in them! Currently, I’m guessing that I attend close to ten calls…possibly more, depending upon what is on the schedule for that week!
What the ACB Community calls mean to me: first, because of COVID-19, the band I have been working with had not been able to do a lot of playing; even before (when we were playing more regularly) I admittedly hadn’t been practicing my music as often as I maybe should have been! When I finally did pick up a guitar or fiddle, I was noticing that the fingers didn’t quite work as they used to! It was along about this time when I began participating in the Karaoke, first, just playing recorded music that I had done; later, Cindy convinced me to play “live”…so I did! I noticed that the people who came into Karaoke seemed to accept what I had to offer! So this motivated me to practice more, thus, the fingers started working again. I am in much better playing shape than I was then! Also, coming to these ACB Community Calls has opened up to me a whole new set of people who I’ve come to know, people that I wouldn’t have met otherwise!
In short, I’d have to say that the ACB Community has given me an outlet for my music, as well as introduce me to people (good people) that I enjoy and look forward to speaking with! Congratulations to ACB Community on 5,000 calls!
Cindy Metivier, Massachusetts
Thank you so much for these ACB groups. They definitely have been helpful during a time of isolation! I was trying to remember when I joined in the calls. I think it was sometime in the fall . It gave me something to look forward to, especially friendship circle; so much fun! The Grief Journey is another one that has been so helpful.
Kaila Allen, Arizona
A friend of mine was talking about the community events on a chat-based app and forwarded the e-mail to me at the end of April 2020. My first call was Meka’s coffee social. Although I had never met or spoken to anyone on the call, I felt welcome and began attending more and more events.
I attend several events each week. Of course, the craft events are my favorite, but I am almost always at Its Play Time and Karaoke even though I’m not good at trivia and can’t sing. The community has so many talented people and I am sure to laugh.
My story has been told before, but I will do a recap here. I was a volunteer arts and craft instructor at our local school for the blind, in December 2019 I was told funding for this program was no longer available and the program would be discontinued. In May of 2020 my friend asked if I would be interested in co-facilitating a craft call with her. We planned on meeting 2 times per month for an hour to talk about crafting. It was abundantly clear at the first meeting that the participants did not want to just talk about crafting, they wanted to craft, so that’s what we did. We now offer around 15 plus classes each month covering a variety of crafts. Because of the volunteer work I have done with ACB I have had the opportunity to be a panelist on craft-related seminars and have obtained employment. My goal is to bring awareness to the health benefits of crafting and help make crafting more accessible to the blind and visually impaired. The American Council of the Blind has been instrumental in my mission. I know the pandemic has been hard on so many, but our ability to connect with one another is such a positive thing and I don’t think we would have such an amazing community without it. I have made amazing friends and for the first time ever I feel like I have a place I can be me and still belong.
Rachel Kobierecki, Massachusetts
I started attending community events about nine weeks ago and find myself attending them daily, sometimes multiple in one day. I love them all. Because of COVID, I was looking for more social activities with other blind people and Kim Charlson told me about the community. You can’t attend everything; you’d have to split yourself in two. I really enjoy the coffee socials, Holy Rosary because it’s a peaceful time, and It’s Play time where I practically laugh my sides off. I also enjoy the exercise classes led by Leslie. Thank you for providing these calls and I hope they keep going. We need them!
Theresa Petrey, Arkansas
First to start off, I have been a member of ACB for the most part since the 1980s. I did not become as active in ACB until I relocated to Arkansas in 1992 and within a year, I was elected secretary of our local chapter. I had to put my duties as secretary on hold for a number of years in the late 1990s and early in the first decade of the 2000s as I had two small children at home. But as the boys started getting older, I found that I had a little more time on my hands and gladly resumed the role of secretary when I was asked in or around 2007.
Aside from members of my local chapter and state affiliate and a handful of friends who were members in other states, I did not really know a whole lot of people until March 17, 2020 when Sandra Edwards told me that there would be a conference call that afternoon and she shared the number plus the code to get in. This might have been a call on Zoom, but the point is, I dialed in and we all simply had an informal but very lively chatter. This was at the beginning of the pandemic and just like everyone else, I wondered how my life both at work and my personal life would play out with all the restrictions being placed on everyone.
While I had a job to go to and did not have the option of working at home, I still appreciated having the calls to call into, as I either met new people even though virtually and also, reconnected with some old friends. As the COVID was going on around me, I found myself laughing along with people like Phil from Georgia, getting to know a sweet woman also from Georgia named Jamaica, being able to hear the sweet singing of Michael and wife Allison from Mississippi, having warm-hearted discussions about Jesus led by Linda from Arkansas and Vicki from Colorado, and just the fun things like It’s Playtime on Fridays plus who can forget the Friends-giving celebration at Thanksgiving and the Christmas and New Year’s Eve celebrations as well. Others I have gotten to know even though it is virtual, are Monica from Houston and Meka from Washington State, but most of all, Cindy Hollis who has kept the ACB community thriving and the number of hosts and facilitators I have gotten to know along the way; and the individuals behind the ACB Media who make it possible to stream some of the calls. Thumbs up to Tyson who gave of his weekend on August 13 and 14 to stream our state convention. Our state affiliate really appreciates everything that you did and showed us here in Arkansas how to do.
I have also enjoyed times when I could participate in yoga with Leslie along with her strengthening and resistance classes and also her cardio classes on Fridays. I have also been able to do craft projects, enjoy talks about technology and reading books to discuss as well.
Would we have had all the community calls that we have, had COVID not happened? I cannot answer that question. However, I can say that in spite of COVID, I have been able to keep my spirits up with the community calls and am fully appreciative of all the facilitators, hosts and oh yes, even those behind the scenes who allow the calls to be streamed or eventually put into podcasts. Thank you everyone and thank you Cindy Hollis.
Danette Dixon, Washington
I have been involved in the community from the start, March 17, 2020; it was a coffee social.
The Community calls have impacted me greatly. Through a very rough time of depression with COVID and my Dad committing suicide The community has given me a chance to stretch myself and grow in learning to facilitate, host, and host a webinar.
Most of the time I will participate on my computer. I am on a community event at least 2 to 3 times per day, sometimes more. My top three calls would be play time, Coffee socials, and Pause for Paws.
The ACB Community calls is an extended family, a place where I have found support. I have found many friends, which I do have their email and phone number building relationships.
Lucy Edmonds, Michigan
I learned of the Community through an ACB email list. I attended my first event sometime in April of 2020, but I don't remember the exact date. It was one of the coffee socials. I do remember the question that was asked by Cindy, who facilitated the call. She asked us what our favorite Easter candy is! It was lots of fun, and I remember we had lots of laughs during the call!
I attend many Community events each week, and it is very difficult to say which ones are my favorite. I love the social events, as I have gotten to know many, many people that I'm sure I never would have met had it not been for the Community calls. I also enjoy the craft events, and of course, the technology calls, and other learning opportunities that the Community calls have given me.
The Community has given me a social outlet that was not possible during the pandemic! As I said in my previous answer, I have become friends with so many people that I never would've met! The Community means so much to me in so many ways! I have developed a romantic relationship because of meeting someone through the Community! I have also been given the opportunity to host and facilitate Community calls, which has been a great learning and growing experience for me.
Holly Turri, Washington
I don’t remember when I started with the calls. It was sometime in April, I think. I have no idea who told me about it. Perhaps it was Cindy.
If it weren’t for the community calls, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. Hosting and facilitating calls are my two niches in life.
Learning to host was challenging and worth every growing pain. Thank heavens for Cindy’s and other teachers’ patience. It’s wonderful to learn from all the presenters and to help make the meetings run smoothly. Now, I hate to admit this, but my mom was correct. She always wanted me to teach. Since that was one of the jobs she held, I said, “No way.” What a mistake that was. Facilitating calls is fun, and it’s great to learn things. I’ve done one on travel, camps for the blind, meteorology, and a book discussion, which has been my favorite. Another thing, I love to write. By gaining self-confidence, I submitted a column idea to a magazine and now every other month I submit book reviews and get paid. It’s not a lot of money but that’s not the point.
Well, I guess I’ve run on long enough. Thanks for reading this; I pray we have at least a million more calls.
Irene Rehman, Pennsylvania
I first heard about the community calls in May 2020 and after listening to merely a few, I was hooked. As with many others, it became a means of being connected to people when we all were isolated and unable to be out and about.
Being a quiet person, namely shy, I prefer not to be vocal on the calls. I truly enjoy listening, because after all, isn’t that how we learn? Because of the calls, in particular one started in March of this year, I am currently very happy to report that I am learning Braille. I have low vision and never intended to learn it because of the fear of not being able to feel the dots in their current positions. Never in my wildest dreams would I believe this would be a possibility for me. On the very first call, Cindy paired me up with my mentor, Lisha. She happens to be a perfect match for me, and she has helped me tremendously in my journey with learning the alphabet and the Hadley Braille 1 Literacy course. The calls also broadened my knowledge of using Zoom. Who would have thought I would ever have an interest in that type of technology? I can almost keep up with my grandchildren in that respect.
The downside of the calls is that the subjects grasped my attention, and the more I listened, the more I wanted to learn. The calls became time-consuming, and my time doing household chores and meal planning suffered. Trying to squeeze in my volunteer work and family matters as I did in the past made me very overwhelmed to the point of feeling stressed daily. I needed to cut back on my community call listening habit, but not totally since it is addicting and enjoyable at the same time.
In closing, I am extremely thankful that the decision was made to continue the community calls even when the purpose for starting them will hopefully go away soon. I am thankful to the hosts, facilitators, and participants for their input, especially since I do not prefer to offer my voice to the mix. Thank you, ACB!
Monica Svopa, Texas
I learned about the ACB community events when a friend forwarded an email she received. I attended my first event in either March or April of 2020. I remember it was a Tuesday afternoon and President Dan Spoone was also there.
I participate in community events weekly, sometimes more often. It is difficult to pick my top three events, because there are so many calls I enjoy being a part of. However, if I can only pick three, in no particular order they would be Gospel Sing, Manic Mondays and Karaoke.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, I found myself looking for a purpose. The ACB community came along at a perfect time. Before the pandemic, I could count on one hand how many blind people I knew and have interacted with in my life. By first attending the coffee socials, I was able to listen and learn about others. Suddenly I could come into a call and we would all recognize each other’s voices; I now know other blind individuals from all over the country and other parts of the world. I have been able to serve the community by learning how to host calls on zoom and later was able to teach others how to feel comfortable hosting calls and webinars.
This is also a very caring community. When what I would like to call the deep freeze of Texas happened in February, I had friends from this community call and see if I was okay. I have been able to make lifelong friends who help me stay accountable to my goals and who I will cherish forever. I’m forever grateful.
Debbie Downey, Florida
This is Debbie Downey and I’m a longtime member of the Florida Council of the Blind. I have been a member of ACB since 1994, when I joined through GDUI!
Congratulations on celebrating your 5,000th Community Call! That is just amazing!
I’ve always been subscribed to the ACB-L and now ACB Conversation list as well as ACB Radio Announce, so I have been able to keep up with what’s happening in the organization.
I probably joined my first Community Call in either April or May of 2020. Whenever it was that I joined, and started participating, I was hooked!
I really enjoy the technology and topic-driven calls, so depending on what’s going on in my life and what’s on the schedule for that week, I probably go to between 5 and 7 calls a week.
I would say my top 3 calls have been: Weather You Like It or Not with Holly Turri, Tweet Tweet with Meka White and Games to Play With Lady A hosted by Lucy Edmonds.
I just learned so much through the Community Calls during the pandemic, whether it was learning to use Twitter, how to participate in Zoom and Clubhouse, interesting facts about the weather, how to get more out of my Alexa devices or just reconnect with old friends whom I haven’t spoken to or seen in many years!
Even though I haven’t hosted or facilitated a call myself, I certainly hope that I’ve not only learned so much from others but have contributed some useful information for those in attendance as well.
In closing, I hope the Community Calls never end and that the community will continue to grow and flourish!
Last year in mid-March or the beginning of April, I was almost convinced the world was coming to an end — literally! Church services were canceled. Concerts were canceled, every activity outside the home, canceled. What am I supposed to do??? I had seen the ACB community events in passing, but was uncertain at first as to how and if I would fit in. Finally, on April 26, 2020, I decided to attend a yoga class, and it just got better from there! The ACB community was my saving grace in the year 2020. I’d go to the coffee socials every chance I had and made friends I feel like I’ve already known for at least five years. As life has taken a turn, I am not able to attend the community calls as frequently, but my top three at this time are: Karaoke, Healthy Living Encouragement, and Serenity!
Denise Bravell, California
ACB community calls are my lifeline. As someone said this morning during Clubhouse, community calls are the reason I want to get up in the morning. I don't remember when I started participating in community calls. It was some time after the convention in 2020. I asked my friend William Belina to help me get in touch with the community calls. Melissa Hudson sent me the contact information and I sent a request to Cindy. I remember calling in one day via one tap mobile and being frustrated because I didn't know how to unmute my iPhone. Cindy patiently explained the difference between one-tap mobile and the Zoom link. She invited me to participate in one of the small groups during the coffee break. I was feeling shy so I did not join the coffee break. But I called in to several community calls and became very comfortable with zoom on the iPhone. I enjoyed especially the karaoke calls when I could play my Qchord and sing. Now I have become a facilitator for a community call. I want to share my musical gifts and help teach others to play music by ear. I enjoy the community calls so much and the way in which others have warmly welcomed me. I am pleased that now I have the opportunity to give back to the community.
Angela Randall, Ohio
I first heard ACB on clubhouse and when the sight center stopped their activities, I was looking for more. I have been in several calls a week. My top calls are crafting calls. Crochet, loom knitting and needle knitting. I have referred friends to ACB.
Philip G. Rich, New York
My first Community event was Man Cave. These events have helped me stay sane during the pestilence. I do events as needed.
Aixa Rodriguez, Massachusetts
I first learned about ACB Community through a friend. Friendship circle are really good programs because one can meet all kinds of other blind people across the U.S.
Anna Beckles, Barbados
I'm thankful to all who have got together arranging such awesome events for people like me to join from all over the world who feel at times very lonely and bored because of having to live in such a cruel society where when those who are considered able-bodied have all their events not wanting to include the differently abled as well as not wanting to associate with us like they do with each other.
ACB Convention Testimonials
ACB Member Monica Svopa
At this year’s ACB convention I am most looking forward to listening to the exhibits, technology discussions, the Friends in Art showcase and the audio description of the opening ceremonies of the Olympics. My advice for anyone participating in this year’s convention is to thoroughly enjoy everything ACB has to offer. Relax, even though it may seem overwhelming to you, participate in as much as you can. There’s lots of information to take in but always know the podcasts will be available to listen to later. Have fun and enjoy the ride.
ACB Member Karyn Campbell
ACB is turning 60 this year and I have enjoyed being part of it over the last almost 30 years. Being part of ACB has done so much for me from providing a platform for advocacy to providing a solution for dealing with dual sensory loss and anything in-between. As for convention moments, I would have to say 2002 in Houston TX was big for me. This is the convention where I learned about Assistive Listening Devices (ALD), something I started using there and have not looked back. ACB has provided a platform for diverse people to get involved in the community and I look forward to many more years of opportunities of this type for those who come after me.
ACB Member Edward Snively
After I moved to Columbus back in January of 1996 I joined the Columbus chapter of the American Council of the Blind. There I made many new friendships. The members had a wide range of vision problems and had different ways of coping. In 2013 the national ACB convention met here in Columbus. I attended several of their day trips. One of those activities featured going on a bus trip around Columbus. Our tour guide provided the riders with lots of local information. I like having the national conventions available virtually. That way people from all across the country can tune in from their homes. Then total attendance can be increased.