News from PRC

PRC is proud and honored that an essay by one of its members, Dan Simpson, appeared in the New York Times on Wednesday, September 14, 2016. Dan is a published poet in his own right. He and his twin brother, Dave, who passed away last year, were well-known around the world. They conducted annual poetry readings at the Library for the Blind in Philadelphia for many years. They each published a book of poetry in 2014, and in 2015 these were combined into a one-volume braille edition, available for purchase from National Braille Press, or to borrow or download from NLS.

Dan says, “On Wednesday, September 14
The New York Times ran an essay of mine called Space Travel. I am incredibly honored, and wanted to share my good news and the article with you.” PRC wants to share this essay with everyone. The link and pertinent information are noted below.

If you’re using screen-reading software, you might find it easier to then click on the link entitled “view mobile version,” located about seven lines from the top of the screen.

On a different note, PRC continues to strengthen its visibility in the community by participating in community activities such as the 2016 Rec Fest, which is sponsored by Globalability and The City of Philadelphia’s Mayor’s Commission on People with Disabilities. This event was held at the Carousel House in Fairmount Park on Saturday, September 24, 2016. PRC served as a vendor, presenting information about our chapter and the Pennsylvania Council of the Blind, and PRC members trained twenty sighted Rec Fest volunteers to be effective sighted guides. Many thanks are given to all of the PRC members that shared in the vendor time and participated in some of the activities, including sports. A special thanks to Christina Heintzelman in the PCB Office for the supply of items such as brochures, placemats, ink pens and bookmarks for our table. All flyers and brochures were distributed. We congratulate and appreciate the Rec Fest sponsors for Brailling the day’s program and event navigation information. It is believed that advertising this additional feature increased the number of visually impaired persons attending and participating in this year’s Rec Fest. KUDOS to everyone!

In our continuing efforts to raise awareness of the visually-impaired among the public, PRC will enter its fifth year participating in the Barnes & Noble Bookstore’s Community Affairs Program by wrapping holiday gifts for their customers. If you or your family or your friends are at the Barnes & Noble Bookstore at Rittenhouse Square, 1805 Walnut Street in Philadelphia on either November 29 or December 13; or at the Willow Grove Mall store on Wednesday, December 21, please stop by our table and let us wrap your gifts. There is no charge, but donations are accepted.

PRC hosted its first Entrepreneur Day on Tuesday, October 18, from 10 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. at Associated Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired (ASB) in Philadelphia. This event was designed to showcase businesses, products, services and ministries, particularly those owned or operated by, or for the benefit of, blind and visually impaired persons. There was an opportunity during the day for brief presentations by vendors about their products and services. To cover the cost of this event, vendors were charged $10 per table and slices of pizza were sold. We invited ASB clients and the general public to check out the vendors and their products and services: no charge to browse and shop! While the participation and attendance were less than expected, this event was a success. Vendors were able to promote their businesses, services, and make sales. There was plenty of feedback from job coaches, small businesses, and customers, which serve to encourage us to do it again next year.

PRC member Vivian M. Williams was the recipient of the first ever PCB Scholarship awarded to a member to attend the conference for the first time. This award was created by the PCB Affiliate and Membership Relations Team to help forge new relationships and serve as an incentive to attend future PCB conferences. Vivian is married to Dr. Enoch Williams; both natives of Philadelphia, they have two children, and he is the founder of The Seeing Christ in You, Evangelical Fellowship ministry. Vivian is a professional singer, and has sung in Europe and other places around the world, as well as in Pennsylvania. She attended the Overbrook School for the Blind, serves as the president of the Nevilaires Choir, chairs the Welfare Program for the Elizabeth R. Dunning Club, and is a member of other social groups serving the blind, such as The Unsighted Seers, Catholic Guild for all Blind, and the Overbrook Alumni Association.

At the October PCB Conference, Rev. Dr. Patricia A. Russell was one of the 2016 PCB Distinguish Service Award recipients. Dr. Russell is married to Elder Douglas Russell, who hails from Georgia and Virginia, they have three children and 11 grandchildren. She has been an advocate for many years: advocating for housing, transportation, education, entrepreneur opportunities, and employment for the homeless and the disability communities. Currently, she serves as the president of the Philadelphia Regional Chapter of PCB. She is the founder and President of Russell Inspirational Ministries, whose services include serving as companions for the isolated, and mentoring those who are new to the disability community, especially the visually impaired. Pat serves as chair for advocacy groups such as The SEPTA Advisory Committee for Accessible Transportation, Philadelphia County Shared Ride Program Advisory Council, City of Philadelphia Mayor’s Commission on People with Disabilities: Transportation, ADA Advisory Board for the Airport, and the SEPTA City & County Stakeholders Board. Patricia is on the ministerial staff at St. Andrews Fellowship Baptist Church. She teaches bible study at six different nursing homes and daycare centers. Dr. Russell continues to inspire all who cross her path through scripture, love and compassion.

Also at the PCB Conference, PRC won the membership growth award in the large chapter category! We received a certificate and $50 for having the greatest net gain of members.
PRC tied for third place with Washington County for the number of 2016 PCB Calendar Raffle tickets sold: 73. We applaud the Golden Triangle Council of the Blind (GTCB) for selling the most. But, watch out GTCB, here comes PRC in 2017!

PRC President Patricia Russell was elected to the PCB Board of Directors at October’s PCB Conference. When asked, “Do you understand and know the role and responsibilities of a PCB Board member?” she said, “My role and great responsibility as a member of the Board of Directors for PCB will be to determine avenues through which PCB can complete its advocacy goals and its mission; to find ways to encourage and support the PCB’s chapters and affiliates. Further, to find ways and means to financially support the work of PCB and its committees, such as attending Legislative Seminars: whether in Harrisburg, PA or Washington, DC, regional meetings and conferences; helping the local chapters in their weak areas, and training the members how to organize and implement changes that will greatly enhance their chapters. Also, to help promote social media as another possibly better way to communicate, to share information about ourselves as individuals, our communities , our chapters and our neighbors; to fundraise and learn technology.

The initiative to which I will choose to dedicate my expertise is transportation. While the PCB Transportation Team has well-served the blind and visually impaired residents of Pennsylvania, I believe that my experience of over fifteen years of advocating for accessible transportation will serve to enhance the work and service of the transportation team. By sharing information from one city to the other, from one community to the other, from one county to the other, and from one chapter to the other, we can make our Transportation Team great, as well as make PCB the best affiliate in the country.”

Have a jolly, jolly holiday season!

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