We are all home from the ACB convention and looking forward to the next one, less than a year away. What a great convention this one was, but there is still that age-old problem of not being able to be in two or more places at the same time. The exhibit hall is always the high point of the convention for me, and this year was no exception. It is never disappointing (other than not being able to buy everything I want).
Now we are awaiting a visit to Louisville, Ky. horse country. For those of us who follow the horse races every year, love and own horses, and just plain enjoy being around horses, next year's convention is something special to which to look forward. I don't know whether Churchill Downs, the home of the Kentucky Derby, will be closed at that time of the year, but it is always open for tourists, as are many of the thoroughbred farms in the area. This part of Kentucky is one of my favorite areas of the United States. We won't want to miss seeing the local services for the blind, either. And I'm sure there will be some wonderful tours, and I will want to be in at least three places at once. I wonder if medical science can help me with this problem?
The next convention is part of the new day that is dawning. Have you ever had that strange feeling that something exciting and profound was about to happen? Well, as I watched the elections of the new officers and one board member this year, that is the feeling I got.
I see three areas being very important in ACB: fund-raising, advocacy, and communication. I believe that this new board will be willing and able, with the help of the membership, to address these three important areas.
Fund-raising: We must look outside our membership for continuous fund- raising activities. Although all of the fund-raising that our members do will always be the backbone for our organization and money on which we can depend, year after year, we need to find ways of tapping into the wealth of this great country, as many other non-profit organizations have done.
Advocacy: Over the years, ACB has made quite a difference in the lives of people who are blind or visually impaired, but I believe that the stage is set for ACB to influence legislation, services and activities in a number of areas. The one thing we must remember is that we cannot spread ourselves too thin. We need to pick our battles carefully, and involve the membership in our efforts. Over the past 25 years, in my job as an advocate, I have learned that whether it is individual advocacy, group advocacy, lawsuits, or advocacy through legislation on the local, state or national level, you must be organized, and you must find the right time and way to advocate. We often use the media to sell our position in some advocacy efforts, because many voices are louder than one or just a few. The board, the ACB staff, and/or the advocacy committee cannot make a difference by themselves. They need our help.
Communications: Communication is a two-way street. The board must get information out to the membership, to keep the membership interested in the goings-on in ACB, and to involve them in activities, such as advocacy. In turn, the board must listen to the membership. After all, 50,000 voices are louder and more convincing than just one or a few. ACB has a wonderful membership, and ideas and answers can come from that very knowledgeable membership. It is the board's job to implement those ideas and answers in a way that will benefit ACB and all blind and visually impaired people in the United States.
I am very proud to be a member of the greatest, biggest, most democratic organization of blind people in this country. Let's unite behind our board and make this new day dawn a much brighter one for ACB and for our members.
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