By Tom Burgunder, Conference Coordinator
Hello, everyone! It has been rainy in Pittsburgh this week as I sit down to write this article. I hope you are thinking ahead and preparing to join us in Harrisburg at our annual Conference and Convention.
It is scheduled from Thursday October 17 through October 20 at the Crowne Plaza Harrisburg-Hershey. The address is: 23 S. 2nd Street, Harrisburg, Pa. 17101. Many of you may remember PCB last held its Convention in this hotel in 2016. It is conveniently located just a few blocks from the bus/train station. Since our last visit, the Crowne Plaza has made several improvements including the addition of a Starbucks in the lobby, as well as Keurig-style coffee maker and small refrigerator in every guest room. For the weekend, the hotel is also providing a 15 percent discount at its on-site restaurant (not including alcohol or Starbucks) for PCB’s overnight attendees.
Regarding hotel reservations, the hotel advises as follows: guests can call directly at 717-234-5021 and reference the PA Council of the Blind or block code PCB to reserve rooms. The group rates include singles (1 King) at a rate of $94 and Doubles (2 Queens) at a rate of $104, plus tax. The overnight block is scheduled from October 16, 2019 through October 19, 2019. The room rate is good three days before and three days after the conference.
Conference Events begin on Thursday, October 17, 2019. The Board will meet at 4 p.m. All are invited to attend. I am asking chapters to contribute at least 150 small items of the same kind to share with everyone in the “goodie bags”. These items should be mailed to the PCB office ahead of the conference so registration packets can be assembled and ready to go when the registration desk opens at 5 p.m. The Thursday evening program begins at 7 p.m. with a greeting and update by our President, Susan Lichtenfels, followed by our first presentation which will surely challenge your beliefs. The evening program will continue with the first reading of a proposed bylaw amendment, announcements, and a fun-filled game for both participants and spectators alike.
Friday morning will start with a free continental breakfast for first-time conference attendees. Plans are underway for a redesigned audio dart tournament and clinic. An audio-described movie will be shown on Friday morning as well. And right now, the vendor hall is scheduled to open at 10 a.m.
Our Friday afternoon session will start at 1 p.m. Our Tech Team is planning an informative online shopping presentation. Guiding Eyes for the Blind will discuss modern orientation and mobility techniques for those using either a dog or cane. We are also hoping to have a presentation about marketing yourself and your image. The general session will be followed by three breakout sessions which will include an introduction to Daisy Formatting with AccessiDocs, an introduction to social media, and a group discussion about our personal experiences with challenging beliefs, hosted by our Vision Loss Resource Team. The busy Friday will conclude with our famous auction that night. Please donate items and come out to participate in the fun and fundraising.
Our Saturday morning program will open at 9 a.m. and will include a very special lineup of peers challenging beliefs. We’ll hear from Kristin Smedley, a mother of two blind boys and author of Thriving Blind, a collection of stories profiling successful blind individuals. Stef McCoy, a member of the Golden Triangle chapter will present how she is challenging beliefs with her “Bold Blind Beauty” blog and her newest venture, “Captivating Magazine.” Thomas Reid, PCB Board member and dynamic speaker will present about his podcast, “Reid My Mind Radio” and following your passion. We are working on finding one additional speaker for the morning. With such an amazing lineup, PCB will be opening our Saturday morning session to the community at-large. Special publicity and invitations will be disseminated to entities serving people of all ages who experience vision loss.
Our Saturday will progress as usual. After lunch we will have our business meeting including team and project updates, election of officers, voting on bylaws, reading of resolutions, and more. The evening will begin with a cocktail hour when winners for the various raffles will be drawn. Our banquet will follow with our awards presentation. The after banquet entertainment has not yet been finalized.
The breakfast on Sunday morning is scheduled. It will be followed by a continuation of business. Resolutions will be read and voted upon. We will have a Q&A session with both our out-going and in-coming Presidents. The conference will adjourn at 11:30 a.m.
If there are any concerns, please contact me or any member of my team. They are George Holliday, Chris Hunsinger, Susan Lichtenfels, Cathy Long, Rose Martin, Kelsey Nicolay, Jeanette Schmoyer, Roberta Simmons, and Jackie Wissinger. Reach me at 412-290-5481.
Please check your emails and the PCB Information Line for the soon-to-come schedule and the announcement about registration form availability. I hope to see all of you at our Annual State Conference in Harrisburg.