by Christopher Gray

It is a wonderful thing that in our country, as winter and its inevitable cold weather comes to us, that as one year ends and a new one begins, we spend lots of time celebrating and being with friends and family. This season is undoubtedly the most joyous time of year in our country and of our culture.

In many of these years, ACB presidents have given us reasons to celebrate our great organization and think about what we do and why we do it. This year should be no exception. And I am very proud to say with complete confidence that it's not!

As I write this in early November, there are many, many things of which we can be proud that have already occurred this year. One of them is the wonderful convention we shared together in Birmingham last July. The Alabama Council of the Blind, our second ACB, provided us wonderful hospitality in the finest southern and ACB manner. Second, we can also be proud that work has been undertaken to invigorate our affiliate in Puerto Rico. If there was ever a part of our country that needed the kinds of programs and services ACB has to offer, it is this beautiful island. Third, we can be proud of the many volunteers who make up ACB's committee structure and carry on work for the organization. It is a tribute to the membership of our organization that so many serve on national committees and that the committees perform real work for real people. Finally, we can all be extremely proud of the staff members who come to work each day for ACB and without whom we would be far less of an organization than we are today. Our staff has worked this year under difficult financial circumstances and diminished resources. They have worked through a time of change and transition. They have done so with good faith and loyalty to ACB, placing organizational interests above self-interest. We could hardly ask for more than that. Let me urge readers to take a moment over the holidays to drop a card or a note to our staff and let them know how much we notice and appreciate their hard work and dedication to ACB.

Also as I write this, many exciting things are coming together that will end 2004 for ACB with a bang that will reverberate all the way through 2005 and beyond. First, our work of outreach and education to individuals continues throughout the United States on a state and community basis. Second, ACB remains active on an international basis and very involved in the World Blind Union. I am extremely pleased to inform you that the sixth General Assembly of the World Blind Union will be carried live on ACB Radio. In addition to the General Assembly, we hope to carry the 5th General Assembly of the Blind Women's Forum. These events are being held in Cape Town, South Africa beginning Dec. 3, 2004. For ACB Radio to be the international carrier of these assemblies is a tremendous tribute to the volunteers who manage our four stations and to Dave Williams as managing director of the service. The excitement with which WBU has embraced the carrying of its programs by ACB Radio is not only gratifying, but it is living proof of what we are accomplishing as an organization, both at home and abroad. Oral Miller will be representing the International Blind Sports Association during the WBU 6th General Assembly; however, he will advocate as much as possible on matters of relevance to ACB and report back to us.

And wait, there's more good news to share. We are now offering the ACB Internet Radio with which any person, regardless of whether you have a computer, can hear ACB Radio Interactive, ACB Radio Treasure Trove, and ACB Radio Mainstream, along with a variety of other channels, including radio reading services and the BBC World Service. Until now, you have had to have a computer to hear this ACB programming. But, no more! This revolutionary table-top unit functions much like a radio and brings you these channels, along with others, and you never have to touch a keyboard or move a mouse or track ball. Radios can be purchased outright or leased from the ACB Store. Visit our web site or call (877) 367-2224. Who knows, there might even be a Christmas sale on the radios if you call soon.

With a month and a half to go, there's no telling what other wonderful things are in store for ACB. But I have no doubt there may be some. Have a wonderful, safe holiday season! Best wishes on behalf of Marvelena, myself, and the American Council of the Blind.

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