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Sierra Services for the Blind Newsletter

May 2022

"Wisdom does not have words, just examples."

~ A. Nonymous

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Back to Fundraising

COVID stopped Sierra Services fundraising events for two years.  Finally, the door is open again and we have a chance not only to raise some of the funding needed to keep our agency going, but to reconnect with the public and again be more active in the community.

We are holding the Mexican Dinner on Friday, June 24th with doors at the Horsemen’s Lodge opening at 5:30, and dinner served at 6:00.  There will be a few changes in the dinner event itself.  For one, we are partnering with the restaurant El Favorito who had provided the rice the last two times we put the dinner on.  They will be providing the main course, two chicken flour enchiladas in a green sauce like we did before, with the rice and beans.  They will also provide the chips and salsa to get the night going.  We will still provide the salad, and the desert.  The bar will be open under the agreement with the Horsemen’ Lodge where the event will be held as it had been in the past.

One other difference will however be the cost.  Due to the constraints of inflation and the rising costs of the meal itself, we will have to raise the price by $5.  Each ticket will now cost $30, and we will still have kids and family tickets for those who have a larger group coming.  This allows us to return to the public eye again, and provide an event for the clients and the community to meet each other once more.

We hope you can come and join us as we again step out into the public to let them know we are still here, and still providing the services as we have throughout the entire COVID time of restricted gatherings.  The room will be filled with both the public and clients which allows the greater community to experience firsthand the corner of the community we serve.

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"If I knew for a certainty that a man was coming to my house with the conscious design of doing me good, I should run for my life."

~ Henry David Thoreau

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Scam Problems persist

Last time we had a newsletter we had an article on scams directed at seniors.  We need to correct a small mistake as we said to call the police department should you be approached by one.  The Police Department can’t chase a phone call.  What we meant was to contact Law Enforcement, which in the case of scams would be the County Attorney, or the State Attorney General.

At the same time there are many that fall into the grey area of a scam.  There is one that claims they can increase your Social Security check by as much as $400.  They claim it is your zip code that dictates it, but that is just the excuse to find out where you live.  The way they do it is to have you cancel your Medicare coverage and go with one of their insurance plans.  Technically they have increased your Social Security check, but their insurance could cost more and may or may not cover all that Medicare does.  We recently followed one of them which had a wrong number in the address.  That wrong number allowed us to see how they responded, and it was inundated with insurance agents.  Seven agencies sent emails or made phone calls representing agents from as far as Sacramento, Yuba City and Chico.  Since it does increase your Social Security check when you cancel Medicare, they are doing what they said they would and it is not actually that illegal.  Legal and ethical are two different things.

They are also after your greatest investment; your home.  Most are directed at the elderly.  Here again, there are things that are not illegal that also have dangers in them.  Another that has warnings on television is somewhat related to a reverse mortgage.  In some of them there is a roll over document you sign to give them ownership of your home.  It seems innocent enough since when you get a loan on your home or car the bank owns the home or car if you fail to make payments.  But the scam is when the document does not tie anything like the refinance loan to the home.  Simply, they own the home.  If they can make you leave the home they can sell it and take all the equity.  Most reverse loans are paying you back by using the equity, but the home cannot be sold out from under you while you are in it.  But be careful there too.  If you live longer than the equity you are taking lasts, at some point you get nothing.  We are not opposed to equity loans, for some people it is the answer to sudden medical costs or other emergencies.  It is simply where your money is when you need it.  Talk to your family, to a lawyer, or your accountant or tax person before you do anything that relates to your home.

For many families Sierra Services is a window for the family of the client living out of the area to the health and welfare of their relative.  One aspect of our program that we don’t talk about much is in the realm of elder abuse.  We are often involved in situations where Adult Protective Services must step in.  Most of it is financial, but it occasionally becomes more serious.  If it involves caregivers or physical abuse we work with family as much as possible.  A few involved their lawyers.

By the way, do you know the difference between illegal and unlawful?  Against the law puts you in jail.  An “ill eagle” is a sick bird.  Perhaps when it comes to being not quite illegal, we need to take a second look.

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"A black cat crossing your path signifies

that the animal is going somewhere."

                                                            ~ Groucho Marks

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By the numbers

Now that COVID is almost over as a pandemic we have a chance to look at how it changed us.  If you look at numbers, our units of client service are down to less than half what they were before COVID.  However a closer look shows that if we had a group of five that met for an hour and a half, meeting with them one on one over the phone would take almost an entire day.  At the same time the individual had a better opportunity to work through the problems they were having, and we got a chance to know them better than we could in a group.  However, the group has a quality of its own.  They deal with the problem of isolation.  The transportation numbers were also changed since doctors were seeing less patients.  But again, we were able to work with those who had more serious problems.  And to work with the doctors and hospital better.  As we open up again those numbers will return, but the lessons we have learned and how we will change.

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"Science, my lad, is made up of mistakes, but they are mistakes which it is useful to make, because they lead little by little to truth."

~ Jules Verne

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Looking Under Every Bush

We have talked about the miracles medicine is creating to fight vision loss.  The work with stem cells to cure and prevent the loss of vision is becoming mainstream now.  Yet, it is still incredibly expensive.  Even prohibitively expensive.  But in time that will change.  There are many new ideas related to glaucoma, from oxygen therapy to surgical procedures, to medicinal.  These come from research that is allowing us to understand the causes of things better, and learning to see the signs before the issue becomes more serious.  It is a simple truth that you have to know what it is you are fighting to do something about it.  The relationship of scarlet fever to shingles is a recent example.  It is like the old adage that you learn you can’t fight a bear with a switch once you know what a bear is.  The discovery of penicillin came when a Dr. Fleming was trying to kill the mold that was killing his cultures so he could find a cure for what was in the cultures.  Guess what?  What he was looking for was in the mold.  Rocket scientist Wernher von Braun said, ”Research is what I am doing when I don’t know what I am doing.”  Like Fleming, sometimes success is a happy accident.

As stem cell researchers found a lot of their research done in the diabetic world, they have recently found that a drug used to counteract a drug overdose will not cure macular degeneration, but it may stop it and enhance the vision you have left with greater clarity.  They are finding many Native American cures for things did work, as do things all over the world.  Animals have known which plant to use for what ails them since long before man came along.  Digitalis comes from a plant and is used for heart patients and is something the animals and Native Americans use all the time.  The Indians simply observed what the animals were doing and did the same.  The value of vitamins and vision was proven in a twenty year study called AREDS, and AREDS2.  Like all vitamin supplements as a whole it is somewhat expensive.  The key was not as much in the vitamins as it was in the combination of them.  Even one of the medications for COVID was less effective unless you took Zink at the same time.  Again, it is the combinations that mattered, and learning them takes time.  Some things are as simple as wearing sun glasses or wearing a hat to shade your eyes from the UV rays in the sun.  This is especially valuable with macular degeneration.  But the sun provides vitamin D, which is also necessary to so many other health issues.  Studies show that even the music you listen to can harm, or cure things.

The hard part for those who have vision loss is having to wait while science turns over every bush.  There is a human tendency to “grasp at straws” in hope something works.  If you do there are those who have given up the fancy painted wagons to sell their “Doctor Good’s” miracle cure, which was usually mostly alcohol.  Another old adage: If you hear of something that is too good to be true, it usually is.  Ask your doctor first.

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Timely Transportation

With the grant from Dignity Health we have been able to expand our program to assist the clients with access to medical and other programs to foster independence and general good health.  Transportation is the key to that program, both to the doctor, and to our group meetings to help the client cope with the frustration of vision loss and find the education they need to make the adjustments they will need to make.

Simply, our office is open from 9:00 to 5:00.  Make your appointments between 9:30 and 3:30 if you can.  If you have and appointment in Sacramento at 8:00 someone has to get up at 6:00 in the morning to take you.  The same is true of The Lift.  They will take you to the 4:30 or 5:00 appointment, they close at 5:00 and you have no way home.

Emergencies happen.  We know that.  We are talking about the everyday, and the planned appointments.

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"If a cluttered desk is the sign of a cluttered mind,

what is the sign of a clean desk?"

~ Lawrence J. Peter

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Volunteers Make Us Possible

There is no secret in the non-profit world that it is the volunteer that allows the organization to perform in a manner the community expects.  They are the window between the staff, the client and the community.

We have been blessed over the years with volunteers that continue to walk that line between the simple act of making the life of the client successful, and extending the compassion and understanding we as an agency hope to project to both client and community.

Transportation gives the client who can no longer drive the ability to see their doctor, or perform other necessities as well as the access to our groups they need to maintain both physical and mental health.  Larger events like community access and other programs have more people than the van can accommodate, and volunteers step in and make up the difference.  Volunteers also find at times they can join us, which advances the relationship they have with the clients they serve.  Especially as it relates to medical appointments, volunteers see the clients more than we do.  The volunteer is not simply an addition to the program, they are the program.  And it is generally the case that the personal reward is in the relationships they develop.  The volunteer sees firsthand the value in human terms of what they are doing for someone.

We don’t set volunteers in the office and have them fold and put stamps on things.  We value their service and give it the respect volunteerism deserves.  If you are busy you can always say no, we understand.

There is also another kind of volunteer.  That is the individual who serves on the Board of Directors to represent the community and make sure the agency does what it says it will do, and does it in a way any business should be run.  Some of our board members have been with us over twenty years.

Like all non-profits, we have the same cry.  We need more volunteers.  Presently we need more drivers to take some of the load off those who serve almost daily.  And, we need more board members.  We lost two dedicated and key board members this year, Vern Kimmey and Lou Haralson.  Both were related to blindness and came to us through a relative who was a client.  Both also in time became clients.

If you have the time, and the inclination please contact us and we would love to talk to you about becoming a volunteer, either with the clients, or on the Board of Directors.  You have an opportunity to be a volunteer that serves the greater community, not simply an agency.  We are simply the path for a clientele that has found they need help once in a while.  The diseases that cause blindness cause no other disability unless the individual simply sits and does nothing, or can’t get out to see the doctor and other things begin to run their lives.  And blindness has one other unique characteristic, from macular degeneration to glaucoma, or the things that cause vision loss like diabetes, you can’t catch it from them.

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"A house is not a home unless it contains food and fire

for the mind as well as the body."

~ Ben Franklin

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When Wisdom requires context

We have used quotes throughout our newsletters.  They are intended to make you think.

One of them is that as we lose our vision, we must change our definition of what vision is.  Ben Franklin said, “All mankind is divided into three classes.  Those that are immovable, those that are movable, and those that move.”  Twain’s those who do not read have no advantage of those who cannot read includes seeing.

The loss of vision gives us the opportunity to do one of those three things.  Some simply shut down either because of fear or frustration. You can seek advice and learn to make adjustments by educating yourself.  Learn from others.  Or, we can see it as an opportunity to sit and look at our lives, experiences, and seek those things that can enhance our lives through the wisdom we have gained but were too busy to explore.  Reading through talking books is not that different than having a book in your hand, only listening gives your mind a chance to envision what is being said.  It is a chance to read those things that inspire more than those things that simply entertain.  How often in reading have you stopped to consider what you just read.  Something in the text caught more than your eye, it caught your imagination.  Emanuel Kant, “I think, therefore I am.”

When you do stop and think what you are doing is putting what you have just read into context with your life, you are looking back to your experiences to see what fits.  That process is what turns life experience into the wisdom and example you wish to leave to your generations.  All your life you have told your children and grandchildren what you expect of them as they grew and became adults themselves.  They rarely remember the words, but they do remember how you yourself took your own advice and lived up to your standard.  You now have an opportunity to solidify that standard as the wisdom you have gained takes form and with greater simplicity and clarity becomes example.  They see how you are overcoming adversity.  And, they will listen.

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"We do not notice that to look back at the past

we must turn our backs on the future."

~ A. Nonymous

We are looking for volunteer drivers! Interested? Please talk with Niki

(530) 265-2121

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Around the Office

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New From BARD

Cotton's War

DBC13565

By Phil Dunlap. Reading time: 7 hours, 54 minutes.
Read by Nelson Goud. A production of Indiana State Library, Indiana Talking Book and Braille Library.

Western Stories

When Virgil Cruz and his gang kidnap the woman he loves and threaten to kill her if he interferes with their plans, Sheriff Cotton Burke turns to Memphis Jack Stump, the only man he trusts to infiltrate Cruz's gang, for help. Some descriptions of sex, strong language, violence.

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Smithsonian Magazine,

July 2018

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The loss of the S.S. Titanic: its story and its lessons DB 91999

By Lawrence Beesley. Reading time 4 hours, 40 minutes.
Read by Steven Carpenter. A production of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, Library of Congress.

Subjects: Travel

Description: The personal record of one of the 705 survivors of the Titanic disaster in 1912. His eyewitness account is augmented by those of other passengers who were spared, contributing to a general report of events and behavior the night the ship sank within three hours of colliding with an iceberg. 1912.

BARD is a National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped, Library of Congress.

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