News from the Philadelphia Regional Chapter

By Patricia A. Russell, President

Each spring, the Philadelphia Regional Chapter (PRC) presents two service awards, named for two of the most significant members in its history. Following a truncated business meeting on Saturday June 13, PRC took a new approach to this annual occasion by holding the 2015 Awards Ceremony as a brunch at Associated Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired at 919 Walnut Street. The recipient of The 2015 Francis Williams Volunteer Service Award was Mr. James Saylor, and the recipient of the 2015 Mae Davidow Community Service Award was The Library for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, Free Library of Philadelphia. Our special guest speaker was Mr. Eugene Dixon, SEPTA/CCT ADA Eligibility Administrator. Mr. Dixon’s main topics were The SEPTA Key, which is the new fare collection system for SEPTA, and SEPTA’s Reduced Fare Program. His presentation was followed by many questions from attendees.

In 2014, the City of Philadelphia Street Department installed some audible pedestrian signals (APS) on the 10th Street corridor at the corners of Market, Chestnut, and Walnut Streets. The presence of these APS elicited comments on many issues from the surrounding communities, and from the many blind and visually impaired travelers in this area. A city representative and I visited each site for inspection. I collected comments from others, including Daisy Morgan of PRC and Stewart Hughes of the Philadelphia Metro Council of the Blind (PMCB). After the compilation of all data, a report was filed with the Streets Department and the Mayor’s Commission on People with Disabilities. After finding our complaints credible, the City is now in the process of installing new signals at different locations throughout the city. When the installation of these lights is completed, an inspection team will join the Streets Department for testing and examination. I was asked to chair and assemble five people from the blind and visually impaired community for this inspection team, which includes three PRC members, one PMCB member, and one member from the Delaware Valley Council of Citizens with low Vision.

PRC is raffling off a one night stay for two, including breakfast the next morning, at the Philadelphia Marriott Downtown Hotel at 12th and Market Streets. The raffle tickets will go on sale September 12 at $5 each or $20 for 5 tickets. The drawing will take place on December 12, 2015 (winner need not be present). The winner will have until April 18, 2016 to redeem the voucher. To purchase raffle tickets, please contact me, Patricia Russell, by emailing or any member of PRC.

As part of its efforts to have stronger visibility in the community, PRC members will help train sighted volunteers on how to interact with and assist visually impaired persons at A Recreation Fest, which is to be held at the Carousel House, Belmont Avenue and Avenue of the Republic, on Saturday, September 19, 2015, from 11 a.m. until 5 p.m. The Rec Fest is sponsored by The Globabilities Foundation and Philadelphia’s Mayor’s Commission on People with Disabilities.

PRC held its annual Bowl-A-Rama fundraiser on Saturday, August 15 at Liberty Lanes. John Anderson, PRC Treasurer, was the winner of both games, with scores of 148 and 156. Congratulations, John!

During the 2015 Holiday Season, PRC will, for the fifth consecutive year, participate in The Barnes & Noble Bookstore Community Program by wrapping gifts for Barnes & Noble customers. The gift wrapping is free, but the customers can support our chapter by giving a tip. While this is a fundraiser, PRC also uses this opportunity to recruit new members, share the challenges which visually impaired persons encounter daily, and demonstrate independence.

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