The Vigilant – October 2017

Joe Orozco, Editor

From the President’s Desk

As you know, state convention is around the corner. We’ve been hard at work laying the final touches on what promises to be an event well worth your attendance, and hopefully, well worth the company of many of your friends and family.

If you are reading this message, I want to extend a heartfelt challenge. I would love for you to reach out to at least two people in your circle and encourage them to join us at Tyson’s Corner. I don’t mean individuals you already know who plan on joining us. I mean people who may have drifted away from us, people who might need a little extra boost the likes of which you know can be delivered through a convention. I’m talking about people, blind or sighted, who may have never heard of the Federation, and here’s the thing. I don’t want you to post to your Facebook or Twitter and call the challenge fulfilled. I would like you to send a personal email, or better yet, pick up the phone and tell them how much we would love to see them in just a few weeks. If everyone who reads this message can extend that personal invitation to at least two people they know, just think of how marvelous we can truly make this event.

One of the projects we’ve been working on in preparation for the convention is our recently unveiled Project RISE, the youth transition program proposal we brought forth to the board meeting in August. I am happy to report a team has been convened to propel this program forward, and I am even happier to report the work of this group is laying the groundwork for the kind of excellent service our affiliate is capable of demonstrating to the organization at large.

We are also hard at work crafting an employment component that will yield tangible results in your professional growth. From an etiquette dinner to collaboration in the workplace, from interviewing skills to dressing for success, our presenters are eager to engage you in dynamic seminars tailored to build your confidence no matter where you are in your career.

There is so much more to update and discuss. You cannot begin to imagine how excited we are to tell you all about it in just a few short weeks.

If you have not already done so, please Pre-register for the convention right now so that you save money. Remember, pre-registration ends Thursday, October 12. Remember October 12 is also the deadline to reserve your hotel rooms. For all the details on the agenda, deadlines, orientation and the like, please head over to the convention landing page to get all the information you need.

Thank you to everyone who has played a role in maintaining the momentum after National Convention. Thank you to everyone who continues carrying out the mission across our local chapters and divisions. Thank you to everyone who freely gives of their time to participate in email exchanges, teleconferences, in-person meetings, and other endeavors on behalf of your affiliate. Thank you for continuing to be a part of our Virginia family. Without you, this movement would not be the same.

Yours in service,

Tracy Soforenko, President
National Federation of the Blind of Virginia

This Month’s Inspiration

“Parents often come to me looking for advice about the education of their children. The advice I give is pretty simple. Their children need, I tell them, to find alternative techniques for reading, mobility, and the like. On the whole, these techniques need to be as effective as those used by sighted peers if parents want their kids to be prepared to compete on terms of equality. Braille and print are just two parts of the total mix… Print or Braille? It’s a silly question not worth asking, as far as I am concerned. Most blind kids need to learn both.”–Charlie Brown, from the Winter/Spring issue of Future Reflections

Upcoming Events

Walk with the Blind!

Join members of the Rivers and Bay chapters of the National Federation of the Blind of Virginia as we walk through Historic Colonial Williamsburg. Support us as we raise awareness of what blind people can achieve.

When: Saturday, October 14, 2017

9:00 AM: Registration Opens

10:00 AM: Kick Off

Where: Starting at the Capital Building (end of Duke of Gloucester St.), Colonial Williamsburg

Registration: $15

Sponsored by
Chesapeake Bay, Eastern Shore, Greater Williamsburg, Peninsula, and Tidewater Chapters of the National Federation of the Blind of Virginia “Living the
Lives We want”

For more information, contact: Corlis Jones at phone: 757-565-1185, or email:

We invite anyone from our federation family to join us in this first annual event. If you cannot come, encourage anyone who lives in Southeastern Virginia to participate and or pledge to a walker. We appreciate all of your support in this new event.

The Return of the Prince William Chapter!

On October 2, members met to discuss the preliminary steps to reorganize the Prince William Chapter, formerly referred to as the Woodbridge Chapter. Among other topics, those present on the call discussed transportation, possible meeting locations, and of course, state convention. A first in-person meeting has been scheduled for Saturday, October 28.


Chin Center Library
13065 Chinn Park Drive
Woodbridge, VA 22192.

Time: 3:00 PM

For more information, please contact Marc Canamaso at: (571) 208-7889.

Spaghetti Dinner

On Veteran’s Day, November 11, the Peninsula Chapter will be hosting a spaghetti dinner to raise money for our chapter. The cost will be $8 or $4 for all veterans. For more information, please contact President Uricka Harrison at: (757) 898-1781.

Save the Date: Richmond Seminar 2018

Yeah yeah. It’s all about State Convention planning right now, but hey, it’s never too early to flip the calendar and start filling in important dates for the new year. Richmond Seminar will be held Tuesday, January 16, and even though our appointments will be held at a different venue, our lodging will be familiar. We are going back to the Delta Hotel, formerly known as the Crown Plaza. Room rates will be $129, and reservations can be made either by calling: 844-781-7397 and referencing NFBVA, or by booking online. Note reservations must be made by Thursday, January 4.

Sign Up for the Fairfax Chapter Newsletter

Want to keep up with all the cool and exciting activities the Fairfax Chapter is up to? Want to learn about our exciting and informative monthly programs? Want to find out about activities in the Fairfax area you’ll want to be a part of?

Here is how.

The Fairfax Chapter of the NFBV has a newsletter list and it is easy to be a part of it.

Simply click here, put in your email address, and you are done.

You will be one of the first to learn about our motorcycle rides around the city, indoor rock climbing adventures, and much much more.

So, what is keeping you? Click to sign up now!

State Convention News

The Exhibit Hall is Calling You!

This year’s Convention Exhibit Hall will be open from 12:00pm – 5:00pm on Friday November 3 with over 15 exciting exhibitors. You will not want to miss seeing the latest technology, learning about helpful resources and services, supporting your fellow NFBV Chapters by buying a raffle ticket or 2 for their spectacular prizes, and getting started on your holiday shopping with the various items for sale. Most of all you will not want to miss your chance at winning one of many door prizes donated by:

  • Allied Instructional Services
  • Audio Bibles for the Blind
  • BAUM USA, Inc.
  • BlindAlive
  • Buddy Gray Music
  • Christian Ministry Teachers
  • Torres Foundation for the Blind
  • VFO

Door prize details and how you can earn a chance to win will be coming soon. If you have questions, or if you know of an exhibitor who would like to squeeze in at the last minute, please contact Annette Carr, Exhibits Coordinator at: (703) 915-2837, or via email at

Door Prizes

Convention is right around the corner, and we need your help! Sarah Blumberg and I, Sarah Patnaude, co-coordinators of door prizes, are looking to assemble a small team to assist us in collecting and giving away door prizes at convention. If you want in on the fun, and we all know door prizes are fun, let either Sarah Blumberg or I know. What do we need?

  1. Someone to help us man the door prize table during registration
  2. 1-2 people willing to assist us during a general session with giving away prizes, specifically calling out names which will be in Braille.

If you have time on Friday to assist us or are willing to lend us your enthusiasm during a general session, please reach out to either one of us!

And, hey, are you ready to try your luck at convention and possibly win a door prize? I’ll let you in on a little secret on how you can increase your chance to being a lucky winner. The secret to winning a door prize is by having prizes in the first place. That’s right, you can’t win if there are no door prizes to give away. That’s where all of you come in. Your door prize coordinators, Sarah Blumberg and I, Sarah Patnaude, need your help with collecting door prizes.

As you collect door prizes, please email Sarah Blumberg or I with the following information.

  1. What the door prize is
  2. Who (individual or chapter) gets the credit

We look forward to another successful convention filled with many lucky winners!

Below is our contact information.

Thank you,

Sarah Patnaude, Co-Coordinator of Door Prizes

Sarah Patnaude
(804) 591 6153

Sarah Blumberg
(202) 427 4814

Excuse Me, Are You Interested in Joining Us for an Etiquette Dinner?

Do you remember to use utensils moving from farthest to closest to your plate? If food is served at the table, did you know to move items in a counter-clockwise flow? If eating soup, did you know you should scoop away from you? If drinking from a stemmed glass, did you know to lift the glass by its stem? Once finished did you know to partially fold your napkin and rest it to the left of your plate to signal you are done?

Aaaaaah, so many little unspoken rules!

And yet, so important that we know these and other socially accepted norms so that we make the best impression for our friends, family, and colleagues.

On Friday evening at the State Convention we will be hosting an etiquette dinner to go over some of the key points concerning dining in professional settings. It is very important that you please register in advance. The cost to pre-register will be $5, which you can take care of when you register online. Please know that the meal itself will be out of pocket. You will not pay for the meal as part of your registration packet. We are working with the hotel to prepare a menu that is delicious and affordable.

For etiquette dinner time and location details, please see the agenda.

Convention Arrangements

This is my first year running the logistics and operations for State Convention. As such, I will most likely make mistakes. Even though I am assembling a dream team to make the convention run as smoothly as possible, the buck stops here. For whatever goes well, you can thank my team. For whatever goes sideways, blame me.

Now, because I do enjoy minimizing errors, please stay with me for a couple items.

First, issues with the hotel. If you have problems making room reservations, please let me know. If you are experiencing slow or less than adequate service at the restaurant, please let me know. If the hotel has set up unnecessary obstacles, please let me know, and of course, if you are a speaker at the convention and require something for your room setup, please let me know.

It’s going to be November when we have our convention. Though I can try to ask that climate control be kept at a Goldie Locks level of just right, please don’t count on it. Bring jackets or blankets or whatever you need to self-regulate temperature.

Also, if the typical things go wrong in your room, whether it be related to amenities or something going wrong in your bathroom and the like, please call the front desk.

Second, the banquet. Our annual banquet is a key highlight of our upcoming state convention. It will feature a great keynote address, award presentations, our famous, or infamous, action auction, and a great opportunity to break bread with old and new friends.

As your Convention Arrangements Chair, here’s my sincere request:

Please purchase your ticket in advance, and please bring your ticket to banquet. Please do not put me in the awkward position of having to resolve meal orders Saturday evening at the banquet itself. The absolute last time you can purchase tickets will be on site Saturday morning, November 4, but if you have a couple minutes to spare, please register now so that you can have this step already taken care of by the time you get to convention.

Also, please help me and the hotel staff by not entering the ballroom before 7:00 PM. If you are an exception, you will be notified beforehand. Please do not challenge our marshals by attempting to get into the ballroom before it is time. Remember, there will be a pre-banquet reception going on where your presence and drinking of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages is most needed.

And, finally, marshals. The affiliate will provide marshals for the board meeting, general sessions, and the banquet. If you are a division president or leading one of our seminars, I am kindly asking you to either recruit someone to help serve as a talking sign for your meeting or talk to our Chief Marshal, Sean McMahon, about arranging for a volunteer to help advertise your meeting room’s location. Sean can be reached via email at: .

For questions, concerns, complaints, you will find the best phone number for me that weekend in the agenda, but for your immediate reference, that number will be: 202-810-4023. Please do not email me as I will be very slow to check my inbox that weekend.

Whatever my team and I can do to help make your convention experience a great one, please let me know.

Respectfully yours,

Joe Orozco, Chairman,
Convention Arrangements

In Other News

Introducing A Couple New Virginia Federationists

The NFBV has been a key stakeholder in the concerns affecting blind residents in the commonwealth since 1958. The organization administers robust programs aimed at reversing general misconceptions of blindness. To that end, the NFBV believes the time is right to become more directly involved in addressing the needs of the most vulnerable segment of the community, blind children and youth. Hence, we introduce Project RISE, a program you’ll learn more about at our upcoming state convention.

But, who is supposed to help steer this ship?

Kathryn Webster, Program Coordinator

Kathryn Webster is a recent graduate of Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where she received her Bachelor of Science degree in Data Analytics and Statistics. Kathryn grew up in Connecticut and is excited to begin her life in northern Virginia as a Business Analyst at Deloitte Consulting, LLP. Outside of work, Kathryn serves as president for the National Association of Blind Students, bringing her passion of mentoring students and paving the path for future blind people together in this unique opportunity. She loves reading, traveling, and spending time on the beach. Kathryn says: “I am eager to kick off this program by promoting the abilities of blind transition aged students in the northern Virginia area. Project RISE will blend together the ideal mentors with promising students to provide experiences, preparation, and confidence to all participants.”

Luke Schwinck, Logistics Coordinator

Luke Schwinck, originally hailing from the mid-west, is a transplant in Alexandria, Virginia. Luke recently graduated from Wichita State University with an undergraduate degree in exercise physiology and a graduate degree in sports manager, with emphases in marketing and event management. He has had extensive experience mentoring both sighted and blind children and young adults in a variety of settings. Currently, he is serving on the board of the National Association of Blind Students and was a dedicated student leader in Kansas. Luke is married to Jamie, with one adorable boy, Jerico. Luke says: “It’s awesome when you get to combine all of your interests into one experience. Serving as Logistics Coordinator encourages me to execute my marketing and event planning skills, while transforming potential into reality for blind students.”

Welcome to Kathryn and Luke! Please be sure to make them feel at home in their new affiliate.

More ATM Testers Needed

We have an opportunity for a few more people to serve as ATM testers. The requirements are the same but the tests will need to be completed in October.

Please let me know if you can take on this testing responsibility and complete the task in October. The details are below.

In the NFB, we use collective action to break down barriers to accessibility to enable full participation in society.

The NFB will conduct nationwide Cardtronics ATM testing in September and October of this year as an important part of the NFB’s settlement agreement with Cardtronics. Our affiliate is included in this testing effort and will have the opportunity to test at least eleven ATMs for accessibility. If you would like to be a tester, please contact me before October 7. Testers will need to be able to read Braille instructions and should be comfortable using an ATM and completing an online survey. Testers will be asked to confirm that voice guidance software and other accessibility features have been added to specific, assigned Cardtronics ATMs. The tester’s role is critical to this project and I thank you for considering being involved.

As noted above, you must be familiar with using an ATM, must be a Braille reader who can assess that the Braille is accurate, must be able to log your results on a web site, and must be able to take notes about your experience

There are thousands of Cardtronics ATMs in Virginia, often in CVS and Seven 11.

You will be provided 1 or 2 very specific ATMs in your ZIP code to test since not all the ATMs are Cardtronics owned and operated so I will ask you to provide the following:


Phone number

Email Address

ZIP Code (you could provide both the ZIP code near your home or workplace)

There is a very specific set of questions to answer for each test so we are looking for individuals who can reliably complete this testing between September 1 and October 15. We want testers from around Virginia and We can reimburse expenses for completing the tests. You will be expected to withdraw money and that may incur a charge with your bank. Upon completion of the test, you will need to log your results on a web site to provide your detailed test results. This is how we will know if you completed the test.

If you have any questions, please reach out to me.

Tracy Soforenko
202 285-4595

NFB Pledge

I pledge to participate actively in the effort of the National Federation of the Blind to achieve equality, opportunity, and security for the blind;
to support the policies and programs of the Federation; and to abide by its constitution.