The Community Service Division at #nfb16

Many thanks to all who attended our seminar and business meeting. We had great presenters with wonderful messages, informative insights, and inspiring words to share. Gary Wunder reminded us that being a humanitarian is about accepting the right and responsibility we have to serve. Amy Buresh shared her experience growing up in service to her community. Tara Abella led a very engaging discussion with some of her fellow scholarship finalists about what community service means to them and more. We heard from Joy Mistovich, who gave us some great ideas on how to be of service to our community and also to our environment. Through small group discussions, Katy Olsen, Johna Wright, Megan Borella, and Nazanin Heydarian gave us a chance to get to know one another and the community service that we felt most defined our lives. Kyra Sweeney told us about the California Community Service Division and its hopes and dreams for the future, while Dacia Cole and Jonathan Franks spoke about how their chapters not only think about how great involvement could be, but actually get involved in their community. Finally, Chris Parsons shared with the members in attendance the motivations and goals of our division. We also elected a new board of directors. The results of the election are as follows:

President: Darian Smith
Vice president: Dacia Cole
Secretary: Chris Parsons
Treasurer: Jonathan Franks
Board members: Tara Abella, Kyra Sweeney, and Ronnie Bellomy.

A huge thanks goes to Jonathan Franks for handling financial duties at convention, Dacia Cole for handling the recruitment of volunteers, Kyra Sweeney and others for helping to sell granola bars, and Chris Parsons for her vital and numerous supportive roles during the week. I want to extend a special thank you to outgoing board members Corina Salinas, Hindley Williams, Juan Munoz, and Mary Church for their work as members of the board of directors this past year, as we would not be where we are today if it were not for their individual and collective contributions, and I for one very much appreciate it.

Chris Parsons has served in the capacity of vice president since the organization of this division. This term she happily takes on the office of secretary. This does not change the nature of her work in the division much, but I wanted to take the opportunity to thank her for her tireless work as vice president. Thank you, Chris, for your service to the division and its membership, and we look forward to the ways in which you will continue to be a driving force in building this division.

Anna Givens and Cindy Ray are individuals you may not have had the pleasure of meeting, but they were invaluable individuals who took leadership roles within the division this week as they stepped up to help out in such ways as being a presence at our health fair table. Thank you so much for your help!

The division also had our trivia night during the convention. It was a very lively music themed trivia night. The contestants divided into teams of eight and had to guess correctly a song from a given category after hearing only a few seconds of the song being pumped through the speakers in the ballroom.

As the songs played teams launched into spirited guessing, singing, and sometimes even dancing. For the most part, everyone had a great time. The winning team, led by the always energetic and enthusiastic Mary Fernandez, received $135 as prize money. We look forward to an even larger turnout so that more people may enjoy the great energy, meet new friends, and of course, win some money.

We also put on our second community service project as a part of national convention. This year we participated in a build with Habitat for Humanity of Greater Orlando. Participants in this project put up drywall using a drill gun, which was very exciting. Many folks in the group had never taken part in a habitat build, let alone gotten the chance to use a power tool. There were a few moments of hesitation between the Habitat staff and our members, but once we got to work, things came naturally. Much fun was had by all, and we grew together as a Federation family. The Golden Triangle Chapter of the NFB of Texas provided lunch, and I want to extend deep thanks to our South Texas Federation family for their true kindness in doing so. I also want to thank members of the chapter for coming along and being the energy for this project. I have to say that we all did pretty well considering the distance we all had traveled to get to convention, how early we had to wake up after the travel, and the necessity to function without caffeine *smile*.

The National Federation of the Blind Community Service Division is back from convention and very excited to get to work planning for the things we will do over the coming year, and we look forward to hearing from you! Please do not hesitate to be in touch via our Twitter, listserv, or e-mail, or leave a comment below.

Thank you, and let’s continue to get involved in service and to build the National Federation of the Blind!