Happenings from the Membership Team

By Mary Ann Grignon, Team Leader

First-Timer Opportunities:
Just as summer is heating up, so are your offerings from PCB. We are once again approaching the PCB annual conference and convention to be held from October 17-20 at the Crowne Plaza in Harrisburg. As in the past, we will be offering some first-timer opportunities. If you have never been to a PCB conference, you may qualify for one of our first-timer scholarships. One is for a current PCB peer who has never attended a conference. A second scholarship opportunity is for a person who has experienced their vision loss within the last five years who may or may not belong to PCB. What better gift could you give a friend than to let them know about these opportunities. If you have been to a conference, if you can remember back to your first, then you know how valuable the experience is. In either case, the attendee will receive a scholarship valued at up to $500 which will cover double occupancy overnight accommodations, ground transportation, conference registration and activities, and more. Anyone interested in these scholarships should write to me at maryanna0407@gmail.com to tell me of your interest and for which opportunity you are applying. Include your name, email address, phone number and a paragraph or two about how you hope to benefit from attendance at our 2019 conference in Harrisburg.

This year, our student opportunities are structured a bit differently. We are in search of individuals who are enrolled in post-secondary educational or vocational programs in Pennsylvania. We want to salute one person’s hard work and achievement by awarding a $500 cash prize. So, if you are over 18, blind or visually impaired, and seeking some sort of professional licensure, vocational certification, academic degree, or the like, we encourage you to fill out the application for the 2019 PCB Merit Award. The application can be downloaded from pcb1.org/meritaward or by request to pcboffice@pcb1.org. PCB will pay for the top three finalists to attend the conference weekend for the grand prize announcement. Please spread the word about these wonderful opportunities far and wide.

Calling Guide Dog Users and Supporters:
Psst! Did you hear? The buzz has been all about town. PCB now has a guide dog users and supporters affiliate, PAGDUS. We meet each even numbered month on the second Wednesday beginning at 7:15 p.m. The calls are informative and always interactive. Topics for discussion are endless from grooming tips to emergency preparedness to how do we deal with the public’s interaction with our service animals and really, anything of interest to us as guide dog users and those who support us. If you’d like to check us out, feel free to join us on August 14, by calling 605-313-4802, access code 985255#. We welcome your input, ideas and just your enthusiasm.

Monthly Discussion Calls:
On May 29th, ten of us called in to talk about getting out and about now that the good weather has arrived. I know, can you believe only ten people took advantage of the opportunity to share their experiences and get hints about ways to enjoy the outdoors, vacationing and just frolicking about? Well, let me entice you to think about joining the membership team for our upcoming calls by giving you just a glimpse of our discussion from this call.

Have you ever wanted to go to a baseball game but couldn’t figure out how to navigate the environment as a person with vision loss? Well, according to a few call attendees, you can call either security or guest services and they will greet you at the gate and get you to your seat, even stop to purchase food and drink. What about the play by play you ask? Call in advance to ask if they provide assisted listening devices and if that fails, bring a radio to listen in, keeping in mind that there will probably be a slight delay to the real-time action.

A couple of call attendees had some good advice about how to enjoy one of my favorite places, the beach. At lots of commercial beach sites, there are those who will set up a cabana and chairs for you either as an individual or for a group. When you go for a walk or into the water and you return to the sand, you can do a couple of things to get yourself back to your spot. First, if you are an iPhone user, download an app called iMove. Before you leave your cabana, create a voice note using the app. Now when you near that spot, the voice note will trigger and you will know it’s time to begin asking for assistance finding your exact location. The other thing you can do is to purchase a remote beeper system and when that voice note is triggered, begin pressing the locate button on your remote. Remember, people at the beach are in a happy place and are most likely willing to assist, you need only ask. My own advice to add one more layer of security is to make sure you have a very distinctive blanket, chair or towel to describe when seeking assistance.

Several call attendees sang the praises of app services like Uber, Lyft, Uber Eats, grocery delivery services and navigational apps which, simply put, have changed the game for blind travelers in a positive way.

As you can see, our discussion calls are all about you, all about sharing and learning from our peers. You don’t want to miss future calls. Stay tuned to the monthly PCB calendar either on the listserv or the information line for future call dates and descriptions.

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