By Jule Ann Lieberman, Team Leader
This year the Affiliate and Membership Relations Team had a wealth of honors to bestow at the annual conference. Two individuals were honored for a lifetime of distinguished service, and two PCB members were recognized for their distinguished service. Two chapters received the Leroy and Mary Price Membership Award for membership growth this year.
William (Bill) Rhinesmith was awarded the Lifetime of Distinguished Service Award for his dedicated service to the blind and vision impaired in York County. For over twenty-five years he served as Executive Director and CEO of Foresight Vision (formerly the York County Association for the Blind). His leadership provided rehabilitation, support, employment opportunities and vision screening services.
Joseph (Joe) McCloskey was given the Lifetime of Distinguished Service Award in recognition of a full career of service to persons with vision loss. Beginning with fourteen years as a teacher at the Overbrook School for the Blind and retiring after twenty years as Director and Instructor of the computer access technology program at the Center for the Blind and Vision Impaired (formerly Delco Blind Sight Center) in Chester, Joe taught skills for an independent and successful life to countless blind and vision impaired individuals for thirty-four years.
PCB Member Cathy Long was presented with the Distinguished Service Award in recognition of her dedication to persons with vision loss. She served PCB as secretary for twenty years, worked tirelessly on many PCB committees and continues as a leader in the Capital City Chapter. Cathy worked for decades as a clerical assistant with the Bureau of Blindness and Visual Services; demonstrating the capabilities of blind employees and being a role model for those new to vision loss.
PCB member Patricia Russell was presented the Distinguished Service Award in recognition of her many years of patient service to the disabled community. In her role as Chair of the SEPTA Advisory Committee, she oversees the concerns of all people with disabilities riding SEPTA Paratransit. Pat serves as current president of the Philadelphia Regional Chapter and as an ambassador for clients of Associated Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired since 2007. As the CEO of Russell Inspirational Ministries, she helps the Blind and Visually Impaired by offering counseling, information and workshops.
The Philadelphia Regional Chapter received $50 and the Leroy and Mary Price Membership Award in recognition of having the highest net gain of members for a large chapter (chapters of twenty-five plus members). The Luzerne County Council of the Blind received $50 and the Leroy and Mary Price Membership award for the greatest net gain of members among small chapters. Hank Bloomberg Chapter received an honorable mention as a small chapter as they too had a net gain of members this year.
The Keystone Council of the Blind was granted its charter as an affiliate of the Pennsylvania Council of the Blind. This group of members meets monthly on the first Saturday of the month via teleconference call.
I want to wish one and all a wonderful holiday season and a new year full of opportunity. I will be stepping aside from this team after serving as leader for several years. I look forward to taking on leadership of the Vision Loss Resource Team. Please contact this team’s new leader, Mary Ann Grignon at 570-807-1276 or firstname.lastname@example.org if you wish to join this hard working and talented team.