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Sierra Services for the Blind Newsletter

May 2021

"I have heard there are troubles of more than one kind. 

Some come from ahead, and some come from behind.

But I have a big bat.  I am ready you see. 

Now my troubles are going to have trouble with me."

~ Dr. Seuss


Fundraising during COVID

As most of you know COVID restrictions have shut down the dinners and the Golf Tournament that were the backbone of both our fundraising and our ability to let the public know what we do and why we do it.  That has required us to get a little more creative and broaden the scope of our fundraising.

We have expanded the electronic giving for programs like Giving Tuesday which follows Thanksgiving and opens the holiday season.  We have the ability to take credit cards, and have a few who have us on automatic donation through their bank or investment accounts.  Those hundred or fifty dollar donations each month add up over the course of a year.

We are also aware that times are hard and people have less to give.  The same is true with the sense of hard times we hear of across the media every day.  Everyone is waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Restaurants are the perfect example of the effects COVID has had on all of us.  Some of them that we have counted on for donations for raffles may not be there when we get back to our fundraising.  We understand that, and wish we were back so we can use our advertising for events to support their businesses.  The same is true of client services meant to reach out into the community.  We are no longer able to take a large group out to a local restaurant as part of our community access program that brings our business to their door.  We go to different restaurants each time.  Clients do return on their own to that place they enjoy.

There are still programs that benefit the giver as much as it does us.  Of course being a 501(C)3 non-profit your donation is tax deductible.  One individual donates stock at the end of each year which is blended with our endowment program.  Some are more obscure, like the donations that are part of the RMD, Required Minimum Donation, in your IRA account.  That donation can be as high as $100,000 if your account is large enough.  Another is of course placing us in your estate.  It was an estate donation that created our Endowment in the first place, and those donations have kept us going over the last several years.

We often talk of the tax deductions toward the end of the tax year.  But it is important in this time of COVID restrictions on both our businesses and our incomes to get creative as individuals.  If you maintained your income but are less active your deductions may be less.  Now is the time to set up the tax plan that will affect your taxes at the end of the year.  Long term giving such as a donation each month needs time to add up.  Such things as planned giving, IRA donations, and estate planning are meant to work over the long haul.  You can visit our web site,, or call your tax representative for further ideas.

One of the issues being a non-profit that provides a service to the community is that we have no product to sell on the open market.  And, it is our policy not to charge the client for our services so that clients on fixed incomes don’t have to worry about how to pay for the help they need.  Thus, we are dependent on individual generosity.  Something for which we also express our gratitude with each donation letter that goes out.  While we are required by law to give a tax letter for a donation over $100, we give one to every donation, no matter how small for that reason.  We are sincerely grateful for every donation.  At the risk of not quite quoting and adjusting Dr. Seuss and his good friend Horton:

"Each of us matters as such.  No matter how small.

It is a matter of an unseen, “Who”. Not how many or much."

____________________________ o0o _________________________

Editorial and Dr. Seuss

As a California and national non-profit organization we are not allowed to be political.  While we are unable to take a political position by law, we can speak of things that directly affect us, and as advocate for the blind and visually impaired of our common community we can speak out on the clients’ behalf.

Non-profits like a political PAC raise money to candidates and advocate for issues they believe in.  In political times billions of dollars that might have gone to community programs head that way.  It is simply part of the political process.

Most community service non-profits work at a local level.  They rise out of a need the community has.  Local churches often feed the hungry and provide for the homeless and also may have a 501(C)3.  These non-profits could include a hospital, but are usually cultural like a local historical society, a theater group, or arts and music.  They are the things that make us a unique community and a culture rather than a collection of strangers.

A third type in a community is more personal.  Like Sierra Services for the Blind they serve a specific need this community has with its large senior population is example.  This type of non-profit deals with a problem the community has, usually medical and psychological outside the realm of medicine.  Others like FREED, Hospice, Food Bank, Hospitality House, C.O.R.E. and others are those that provide human services, one person at a time.

Education, while somewhat governmental, is also a non-profit.  It is where we teach the history, math and other skills that make us literate and functional.  Schools are local for a reason.  Parents retain the cultural and value side of education.  We use a classic book like Huckleberry Finn or Cat in the Hat, Poor Richards Almanac or the Ugly Duckling to teach children compassion and values in a non-political way.

Today’s Cancel Culture would change much of that.  They support banning Dr. Seuss, and other ways we have educated our children in the lessons of life for centuries.  They seek to change the culture.  They favor a national program designed to fit all.  They seek to divide us by physical and cultural characteristic and not by, “the content of our character”.

This is contrary to Sierra Services for the Blind.  We never limit our clients by any characteristic other than vision loss.  Our program comes from experience, and common sense.  The same lessons of Dr. Seuss, Ben Franklin, or a hundred others.  Our clients are not victims, they are individuals who have to make an adjustment to a situation.  And, they are not alone.

The Cat in the Hat is a tale of chaos.  Chaos created by idea the kids can do whatever you want when mom and dad are not home.  In the end the Cat gets them all together because if you made the mess, you have to clean it up.  You are responsible for your actions before order can be restored when the adults are once more in the room.  Banning a Dr. Seuss book because one page said those with stars on their chest think they are superior to those without the star misses the point.  In the end they found they were all the same.  The point of our support groups.  Our clients have a common problem, but many solutions.

The point is, look at the non-profit you join or support as a whole.  Look at the community, the history and the character of the agency you support.  Are they doing what they say they are doing, and does it work?  Agencies may be Hans Christian Anderson’s swan.  It looks a little different, but it is a swan.  Sometimes an agency is kind of like only Horton hearing the Who.

Our history is our record to show the community what can be done, and is never served by those who say: “You can’t.”  We are proud of the fact not only that we have been here for 40 years, but that we have changed over the years to more resemble the nature and character of a changing community.

We will get through COVID and back to normal someday.  Then we can again look at each other as a community of many different people and needs, and say hello again.  What we do has value in our community not because we are here, but how we fit in.  Common sense and the character of the community we serve are things we hope you consider.

Why Dr. Seuss?  We have lessons to learn that when learned become lessons.  And perhaps, we may say just perhaps, have a little fun on the way.

____________________________ o0o _________________________

"You are who you are and say what you feel,

because those who mind don’t matter,

and those who matter don’t mind."

~ Dr. Seuss

____________________________ o0o _________________________

Peer counseling to begin again

Most of our clients have found that the isolation of COVID is as difficult as the fear of the disease itself.  While we have been able to continue personal counseling, and Joe has been on the phone constantly, meeting with others has a benefit only the groups can provide.  We need to know we are not alone, and the problems the loss of vision has created have solutions.  As the groups begin to work together each member finds they are a part of the solution for others.  That it itself gives the individual a reason to come.  Life alone in isolation losses some of its emotional value, and helping others brings that back.  As Dr. Seuss put it, “I am afraid that sometimes you’ll play lonely games too.  Games you can’t win ‘cause you’ll play against you.”  He also said, “When you’re in a slump, you’re not in for much fun.  Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.”  Getting back to normal, or some would say new normal, will take some time.

We are working to get the support groups going again within the realm of all COVID restrictions.  Groups will meet again beginning with clients that have been vaccinated.  They will still need to wear a mast in the group, and we will do what we can with distancing.  Groups in facilities are subject to the rules of the facility, and groups that met outside the office are going to have to wait for the facility we used to allow us to come in again.

We are calling the clients that were in groups before.  Most we find are vaccinated.  As always, if the client feels uncomfortable being in a group they need to tell us.  All we can do is make the program available.  New clients that were not in the group will also be called, or can call us and asked to be included.

At some point COVID will be over and we can get the whole program together.  The trips to local restaurants have also been halted, and that will have to wait for them to open up again.  That too will be soon.  One of our favorites, Paulette’s, has closed, but supporting our community is still a priority for us.  The important thing is to get out again for all of us.

____________________________ o0o _________________________

"Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living. 

It’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope."

~ Dr. Seuss

____________________________ o0o _________________________

Again, Covid Cancels the Annual Membership Meeting

Each year we are required to report to the Membership what we have done, and if there are recommended changes to the bylaws seek the permission of the Membership.  For the same reason we had to cancel fund raising events, we must cancel the Annual Meeting Dinner.

As the newsletter reaches the Membership as well, and there are no recommendations from the board to change the bylaws, the information aspect can be given through this venue.

Because of the cancelation of all peer counseling groups the client service numbers are down dramatically.  Last year we reported 5502 units of service, this year it was just 2,900.  These were mostly medical transportation, calls we made to members of the groups that would have met and other clients, and our program to step in when the talking book library closed their operation.  A peer group of 5 clients meeting in the office with transportation to and from, and all contacts included can be as high as 20 units of service, calling them is just 5 though the time allotted is far greater.  We are seeing groups again for those who are vaccinated.  As 66% of our clients are over age 75, and that group was in lock down, we have been unable to bring in new clients at a rate we are used to.  We have dropped from 157 clients to 139.  Several moved to live with family out of town.  Once vaccinations and “herd immunity” kicks in and we are fully open again both the client service and number of clients will rise again.  We already know of several prospective clients that we have been unable to get involved in the program.

____________________________ o0o _________________________

5G Advancement Creates Medical Problem

By the end of the year all computerized systems will be switched over to the new 5G system making everything from phones to television better.  However there is a glitch that no one has talked about yet.  In a number of cases any system that is older and uses a 3G system may not work, and some they know will not work.  Among those things are a number of medical devices.  One example is the LIFE LINE you have around your neck to press if you fall or are having a medical emergency such as a heart attack.  The same is true of older phones and things supported by Verizon, AT&T, and other servers.  Hospitals are already trying to find out what won’t work in their facilities as well.  One example cited would be a heart monitor that sends the results to a second site like your doctor’s office, or even another site within the hospital.

The biggest problem the hospitals have said is they just don’t know, and they are wanting the vendors to address the problem so they don’t have any surprises.

If you have LIFE LINE, or any other medical devices in your home you need to call the vendor, the one you got it from and that supports it, and ask them if the one you have will be able to work on the new 5G systems.  If not it must be replaced with one that will work.  Be sure you know the make and model of the one you have, perhaps a serial number.  If yours is out of date they need to replace it before the final switchover to the new 5G system.  As you have the device, and it may have been ordered because your doctor ordered you to have it, it must be you that makes the call.  It should be free, and if your insurance paid for it they should pay for the new one as well.  But, don’t count on it.  Make the calls and insist.

____________________________ o0o _________________________

"Oh, the things you can find, if you don’t stay behind."

~ Dr. Seuss

____________________________ o0o _________________________


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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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