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Sierra Services for the Blind Newsletter

August 2021

"If you don’t like change, you are going to like irrelevance even less."

~ General Eric Shinsek

Change in phone system

As of October 24th we are all required to dial our area code when making local calls.  Thus to call the office you must dial 530-265-2121.  It is unclear when the final requirement begins as the announcement also says dialing the old way will still work, however if you get a massage that a number has been disconnected hang up and dial all ten numbers.

This change is due to a new 988 Suicide Hotline that will be a nationwide program starting July 16, 2022.  Any area code that has a town or area that had a 988 for the first three numbers of their phone system had to start using the code to keep all calls from going to the suicide prevention number.  Up until now every community had its own suicide hot line, and with the way the population is now moving it became a problem for those who found they were in trouble and needed the service.

Over the years Sierra Services has had several cases where we spent a lot of time with clients that were contemplating ending their problems.  A few times we have had to hold someone on the line until help arrived at their home, or location away from the home.  With the success of the peer support groups, contact with others who share their problems of vision loss and the adjustments that must be made, those number of cases have diminished over the years.  That is not to say the depression and occasional sense of frustration and futility clients often have has gone away, we are just getting better at helps them deal with it.  Often we can see it coming and catch it before it becomes serious.

This brings up the five psychological stages common to all who lose vision.

First is Denial.  How could this happen to me.  The doctor must be wrong.

Second is Anger.  Why me?  I don’t deserve this, I have always taken care of myself.

Third is a Bargaining phase.  If I act on this, do what the doctor says, keep a positive attitude and find a cure my vision will come back.  I can get a magnifier, vitamins, there must be something I can buy to solve the problem.  They doctor doesn’t know everything, I need to find out for myself.

Fourth is the Depression phase.  We all go through it.  There is no hope, I will be blind.  I can’t drive now so I am alone, how will I get to the doctor, or to the store for food.  How will I see my family and friends, I will just be a burden.  I might as well give up.

The final and fifth psychological step is Acceptance.  It is what it is, I am not alone and others are doing just fine, so I can too.  I simply have to make adjustments and get on with my life.

Unless the vision loss is a symptom or result of something else like diabetes or an accident, the things that cause loss of vision do not cause other health problems unless we let it.  The worst thing you can do is just sit and let the depression return.  And, if it does, reach out.  Tell someone and don’t let it fester in your thinking.  Make the call.  You are not making yourself a burden, you are just being human.

If you call us and it says we are not in service just remember to use the area code first.  A lot of cell phones already require it if you moved from one to another with a cell phone.  Technology is changing everything we do these days, especially when it doesn’t always work like it is supposed to.  I guess we just have to reach the level of acceptance here too.

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                                         "What one has not experienced, one will never understand in print."

~ Isadora Duncan

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Second Auction to Occur in November

For our grand opening of the expanded facility we had an auction that was national in scope.  It was new for us and the trial run went well.  So now we get serious about it. 

We have participated in GIVING TUESDAY that happens just after Thanksgiving and kicks off the holiday season.  It is a time when folks get serious about holiday shopping.  Like the other one, the auction will last for four days starting on November 25th and lasting until December 3rd.  It is simple online holiday shopping like Amazon or any of the others.  We learned a few things about having local items, and about their process and this one will be easier.  We have to ship local items, so that means things with local appeal mean more locals can make a bid.  Some found the variety they have was a chance to get ideas for that person who is hard to find something for.  They also have a lot of vacations, and they have a minimum bid which is likely what it costs a travel agency.  You still save a lot on the vacations once you find the minimum bid.  There are no two or five hundred dollar vacations in the Caribbean Sea or Hawaii.  To get in simply access:

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"Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forward."

~ Soren Kierkegaard

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New Year look back

As we end each calendar year we as an agency do what we do as individuals.  We think back to the last year and take a look at what went well so we can do more of it, and what didn’t work so we can improve.

This year most of the things that did not go well are things we have little or no control over.  COVID and the rollercoaster of regulations that seemed to change almost daily would certainly lead the list.  Yet, even that proved to be something we can look back on and say some good came out of it.  We never closed, we just did what we always do, change a little.  We could not hold our peer groups, but we kept track of our clients one on one, and the conversations were longer and we got to know them better.  As we took over when the talking book program was halted we again got to know our clients better and often expanded their interest into new areas with the books they ordered.  And, in the middle of a medical crisis we kept up our transportation to medical appointments.

It also gave us the time to look at ourselves and realize how we had outgrown our present facility.  They opening of the unit next to us opened more than a new door, it gave us a chance to look at what programs COVID had canceled and how we can do a better job of them.  For instance we can use our own facility rather than having to find one off-site for larger groups.  The meetings for cards, presentations we had had to stop can start again, and we can have gatherings of larger groups in our own office for the first time.  Access to those with walkers and wheel chairs is far easier, as is the ability to sit back a little during meetings and enjoy the company of others.

There are other things.  We lost the ability to have our dinners and the golf tournament for raising the funding, but a few individuals stepped up with larger donations.  We were part of the Payroll Protection Program, PPP, and that came at a critical time.  We did it in such a way that the bank had all the records and we had the documentation for the forgiveness part.  We found new ways to fund raise as well.  In time we will recover the “Friend Raising” events like the dinners.  They provided a way for the clients to gather with family and the public to see us face to face as much as they raised funds.

Above all we take pride in how we were able to adjust the needs of the clients.  We are proud of our reputation in the community as an agency that does what it says it will do.  We ask our clients to make adjustments in their lives to accommodate the change they will get with the loss of vision.  It is imperative we do the same and lead by example.  As the community and the clients change, so must we.

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"I have noticed even people who claim everything is predestined,

and that we can do nothing to change it,

look before they cross the street."

~ Steven Hawking

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COVID stops another tradition

Every year we have had a Holiday Dinner for our clients that was a traditional meal with all the trimmings to celebrate not only the holidays, but a year well done.  Last year we had to cancel it along with every other event in town do to the restrictions of COVID.  While we are opening up all of our services and looking to expand them, having a large off site gathering is still out of reach.  We also have to admit that cost is a factor.  For years the event was sponsored and put on by some organization like the Lions.  But with the rise in the cost of food and facilities it fell to us.  Feeding family is a major expense for each of us, feeding seventy five or more is not only costly, but with limited staff time hard to accomplish.  We also need more volunteer drivers for such events.

We still want to wish you all a happy holiday season no matter the reason or the way your families celebrate.  It is a time to say thank you for a good year, and we wish we could keep the tradition for the humanity of it as well as the simple meal.  As Tiny Tim put it in “A Christmas Carol”:

“God Bless us, every one!”

Only the one who isn’t rowing has time to rock the boat.

Jean Paul Sarte

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Agency needs member for the Board of Directors

One thing that is in almost every newsletter is our need for new members of the Board of Directors.  By now some folks may be thinking there is something wrong with us.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  At the grand opening President Greg Fowler and Vice President Larry Mast were presented with recognition of their 20 years on the board.  Others like Katherine Kimmey and her husband Vern served well over twenty and the center is named for them.  We once had a seven year limitation, but it cost us too many good board members so it was changed.  What we suffer from is attrition.  Vern and Katherine passed away, but several others have or are moving either out of the community, or more recently out of state as they retired or business took them elsewhere.

What does it take to be a board member?  We are looking for individuals who know the community, either as a whole or the blind community specifically.  Half of our present board members are also clients.  Who better to know the needs of the agency than those who depend on it?  Be we also want people who can get things done, and for us that is not a demanding presence.  We meet once a month, on the third Tuesday.  Meetings last less than an hour in most cases.  There is one extra meeting which is the Annual Meeting of the Membership, which is a board meeting.  If we have a fund raising event, that too is a function of the board put on by the staff.  We need help serving at the dinners is a good example.  Or, just use the opportunity to meet and learn from the clients that are there.  But mostly we need ideas.  Like our peer counseling groups, if there is a problem and there are eight or nine people at the table there are eight or nine ways to solve it.

History has shown us a small board works best.  A large board can often break off into factions that have an ideology to put forward.  We are not an ideology driven organization.  We are a service organization with a specific clientele of individuals who are blind and need a little help.  We are by law non-political.  It is the client and the community that set the direction we must take, the board is the control to assure we get there.  Thus, we are looking for people who bring themselves to the table.  Individuals who have both the compassion to represent the blind, and the ability to work toward a common goal, serve the client.  Perhaps it is a family member who has vision problems, or perhaps you have looked in the mirror and wondered how our life would change if you suddenly lost your vision.  Some join boards of directors simply because they are concerned about the lives of those who are most in need in the community.  As John Donne put it in, “For whom the Bell Tolls”, you are involved in mankind, call the office and speak to the Executive Director, Richard Crandall.  Or, if you simply know someone who would make a good board member, talk to them and get them to make the call: 530.265.2121, or come to the office at 546 Searls Ave. in Nevada City.

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Quoting for thinkers

When looking for quotes in our newsletters we try to make them relate to an article.  And not be corny. 

But there are those we run into that just make you think, mostly by what was said, but often because of who said it.  Creative people are often also intellectual people, and intellectuals are often funny or thinking of things outside their usual field.  An example is the Steven Hawking quote on a previous page.  We used one from Isadora Duncan the famous dancer who changed dance from ballet or ballroom to an art form.

Lao Tzu, the philosopher and father of Chinese Taoism uses the typical Far East idea of saying something that seems obvious, but also seems to leave a lot unsaid for you to work out for yourself.  The other characteristic of his thoughts is that they work no matter the situation you are facing. “If you do not change direction you may end up where you are headed.”  Pardon the comparison, but Yogi Berra said something like that too. “If you don’t know where you are going you might wind up someplace else.”  We took it to mean you better look where you are going when we were considering expanding the facility, and when looking at our overall program when the community and new clients were changing.  That took us to Jimmy Dean, the country singer and sausage maker who said: “I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.”  Andre Gide, Nobel Prize winning French author summed it up between World Wars I and II: “Everything has been said before, but since nobody listens we have to keep going back and beginning all over again.”  Ben Franklin and Mark Twain prove that point over and over again.  And, Mark Twain brings us forward to W.C. Fields who in a different century said in his usual way something quite similar to Will Rogers: “Sometimes you just have to grab the bull by the tail and face the situation.”  Times change, but good ideas seem to hang on.  And, the bull doesn’t change much either.

When we speak to those who have supported Sierra Services for years we do get corny: “Thank you.” _________________________ o0o _________________________

Medical Researchers find Social Networking Works

     It is no surprise to Sierra Services that researchers have discovered the obvious once again.  People who talk to others who have lost vision find it easier to cope with their problem and adjust quicker than those who do not.  Funny, that has been what we have been doing for forty years.

     We have called it our counseling and education program for years, and we know it works.  Knowing you are not the only one who is going through the loss of vision, and being able to talk to others who have faced the issues related to vision loss proves you can also make the adjustments others have made.  You are not alone.  You also can learn through the example others set for you.  We have always been interested when we have someone in a group that has adjusted to their loss of vision who continues with the group to help others who are new to the problem.  It is hard to be depressed and angry when the rest of the people in the room are not.  This allows us to not be in the position of telling people how to live with vision loss, but show them by example.  Not every textbook solution works for everyone, but the variations of that solution others have carved out for themselves shows both different ways, and the fact that you can make your own adjustments.

     We are glad the medical community is studying the problem, and that they are coming to the idea that what we do works.  They just have the new words for it, add a cell phone and computer if you want and it is Social Networking.  Once again someone has taken an old idea, changed the name and called it a new idea.  It is as old as society that a community is not a community until they build a place to meet like a church and a saloon, or find some reason to get together like a barn raising.  Even the feed store had a potbelly stove with chairs around it and chairs on the porch for summer.  You had a problem neighbors kicked in.  We used to send each other letters and Christmas cards when someone moved on to keep the connection.  Sierra Services likes to think of it as meeting with friends who do not dictate, but bring you along as communities have for hundreds of years.


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

(530) 265-2121

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Cotton's War


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.


Smithsonian Magazine,

July 2018



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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