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Sierra Services for the Blind Newsletter

May 2023

"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, therefore, is not an art, but a habit."

~ Aristotle

Happiness and Simplicity

The loss of vision is an exercise in frustration.  Hellen Keller, who was both blind and deaf, said that, “the only thing worse than being blind was having sight with no vision”.  Each of us has a different way of dealing with frustration, which is mostly that things have changed for you, and are not what you had envisioned for your future.  Loss of vision is both traumatic and often dramatic as you change your vision of a future that points to the path for the happiness we seek.  It is said that while you cannot go back and change the past, you can change the future.

What is attainable is a solution found in simplicity.  When you find what you can no longer do something, simply don’t try to do it.  Find a way around it.  The first step toward change is realization, then acceptance of the problem so you can seek the solution.  Don’t look back at what is lost, look ahead to see where you want to be, and what you need to do to get there.  Lower your expectations, not in the sense of where your dreams take you, but in the methods you use to get there.  Decide what is and isn’t necessary in your daily life and replace it with a concentration on accomplishing those things that are necessary.  You will be amazed at how many things you do that are simply old habits, how many things you worried about were caused by someone else and were not your problem in the first place, and how easy it is to say no to outside influences.

Look at those around you.  You will find those with the simple lives are the happy ones, and those that are constantly doing this and that at the same time are just keeping moving with no specific goal other than keeping active.  Have you spent your time in line on a freeway simply going between one place and another, or walking a country lane?

The first thing to get rid of are those things in the past that you regret.  That was then, this is now.  When you turn your mind to dwell in the past you have turned your back on the future.  Second, be realistic.  Use the experience to accommodate the change in your life vision has caused, not try to accomplish the impossible.  Find that difference between what you do that is simply entertainment, and those things of the spirit that are happiness from within.  And then take the time to appreciate them.

If someone gives you flowers they have done so for a reason.  When you put them in the vase take the gift of the reason and slowly place that reason in the vase as well.  When you see the flowers you can remember the kindness they have shown, and remind yourself of the reason for flowers they found in you.  What they have seen in you is the one you need to remember, not the one in you that never smiles.

You will also find that in the simplicity you attain you have more time to seek the quality of life, not the quantity of it.  Happiness is found in doing less, but taking the time to do it better than you have before.  Happiness is not found at the end of a county road, but in the observations we made along the way.  We have committed to memory that moment we stopped to watch a gust of wind, a zephyr that passes from one tree to the next as it dances in the leaves, and noticed that the leaves have told you that the next breeze to pass this way took a slightly different path, yet each took our spirit and imagination with it if for only a moment.


"Most books these days tell us how to live, think, and lead productive lives.

Mother Goose did it so even a child could understand, and gave example without the attitude."

                                                                                                    ~ A. Nonymous


Annual Meeting of the Membership

For three years COVID caused the cancellation of the Annual Meeting of the Membership which is required in our Bylaws.  This year the Annual Meeting of the Membership will be held on May 19th at the Love Building in Grass Valley’s Condon Park.  A pasta dinner will be served beginning at 5:30, followed by a presentation by the Executive Director on the history and status of the agency.  The meeting is also an opportunity for the membership to address the Board of Directors and vote on any changes in the By-laws if one is proposed by the board.  This year there will be no proposal for change, but members can express to the board their appreciation or concerns.

Sierra Services has a unique membership which allows those clients and members of the community to directly address the board of directors, and have a vote on any changes they might propose.

If a member wishes to attend the meeting they need to contact the office and let them know you are coming.  You do not have to make a reservation, but we simply need to know how many to feed, and which clients need transportation to the meeting.



Have you noticed that during most of the year the world celebrates and takes note of those organizations and individuals who have more than they need, and use the opportunity to do great public deeds for others they deem less fortunate?

Only during the worst of times do they note the individual who gives a little more than they have, and does it in person.

~ A. Nonymous


Funding and Fundraising

It is no secret that the economy is struggling and that has had a direct effect on funding for virtually all non-profit agencies.  Many larger agencies have grants, but they are by nature on a portion of their finding.  Many smaller agencies are like Sierra Services which is 100% self-funded.  That means simply that we, or any other local non-profit agency you donate to are subject to the ups and downs of the nation’s economy.  As a result the usual flow of donations has slowed to a trickle for many of us.

This year’s Membership Drive was successful, and has long been a major fund raising event for us.  However, you have to stop fund raising events open to the public as COVID has done it is very difficult to get them going again.  This is especially true of our 14 year run with the Golf Tournament, and also the two dinner events we have held each year.  Not only does it become more difficult to get people back to meeting in large groups after COVID, much of the funding gained during a fund raising event is generated by a raffle or someone who attends that is just learning about the agency and becomes a donor.  With the economy lagging it is harder for us to approach those business’ who have donated to a raffle, especially restaurants and others who are having troubles of their own.

We also find the economy having an effect on our endowment as it is invested and the market is having problems of its own.  It was an estate donation that gave us our endowment, and it has been estate donations that have kept it to a level where we can access funding when it is needed.  Most were small from the families of clients who have passed on.  Some were granted in the wills as their estates were administered through their estate planning.  A few were allocated by foundations or retirement plans as part of their tax program.  A couple of individuals use their foundation or financial program to give monthly as a part of planned giving.  A one hundred dollar donation each month is twelve hundred for the year.  As a result it is planned giving which is now our number one source of income.

Estate donations have been an important part of our support and we rely on them for our continued existence.  We encourage you to consider adding a donation to Sierra Service for the Blind and Visually Impaired as part of your will or trust planning.  Please contact your tax or estate professional, or Richard in our office for a short discussion to learn more about how you can help pass on the legacy.

One thing that people do not realize is that tax money of funds donated through national organizations leaves the local economy and may or may not be returned to the community through a grant process a year or more later.  Funding given directly to a local agency provides an immediate service to the community, and will circulate in the local economy six times during the year it is granted.  In our case, an estate donation is invested to the support and funding you have shown the agency is long term, not simply a one time donation.


Time for Code Red

This is the time for residents of Nevada County to be aware of the Code Red system during a time of crisis such as a fire that calls for evacuations.  The system is simple enough, if you are registered for Code Red you will receive a phone call informing you of the evacuation, and a number to call if you need to be evacuated.

If you are blind or visually impaired that presents a problem if you don’t get the number down to call back.  We will be including the number on a sticker in our related mailing to keep it by the phone.

We fit into the system two ways.  One, we will be calling all of our clients to make sure they are registered for the calls.  You can opt out, but we highly recommend you are signed up so they have your address if they have to come evacuate you.  Second, evacuations are done by a specific grid which is coded into the system.  If we hear that a certain code district is ordered to evacuate we start calling the clients in that area to make sure they are safe and see if they need evacuation.  The system is evaluation, and we are not allowed to enter the area to come get you.  The Sheriff and Fire Department control that aspect.

The thing to also remember is that you need to take responsibility for yourself.  If you want out and no one has called, call 911 and request it.  Don’t just say that you will stick it out and just stay home, especially fire doesn’t discriminate and travels with a mind of its’ own.  You also need to be ready when they come.  That means have your important papers, medications, and change of clothes, and a list of family and phone numbers in a bag or folder that you can grab easily.  When they come for you they are in a hurry, so keep that little bag of things such as a change of clothes ready at all times, medications and important documents close at hand to put I the bag before they get there.

You also need to get to know your neighbors well enough that they know you need help and arrange to have them take you our when they go if possible.  Once you are out, let us know too so we don’t make the call to send someone if you are already out.

Major fires that go through populated areas often kill someone that either refused to evacuate or got left behind.  Don’t allow yourself to be left behind.  You also need to clean away brush, tall grass and other things from around your house to make it easier for the fire department to defend your home.  Fire season is upon us, and living in the hills we must always be aware of it.  If you smell smoke, it is close enough for concern, but if the wind is blowing waiting for the smoke may be too late.

The CODE Red emergency number is.  1(866) 419-5000, non-emergency 1(855) 969-4636


Macular Degeneration treatment approved by FDA

The Food and Drug Administration has approved pegcetacoplan, known as Syfovre, for use in patients who have dry Age-related Macular Degeneration, AMD.  Presently in clinical trials the medicine is injected every 25 to 60 days and seems to slow the progression of the loss of vision.

However, that is only one of the trials that are showing promise.  Stem cell research is also about to begin clinical trials for AMD.

Ophthalmologists at Michigan Medicine have a list of 6 things you should know about AMD research.

  1. There is a new medication available for Dry AMD.  It does not reverse or stop AMD, but it seems to slow the rate of vision loss.
  2. There is a specific way it is given.  It is injected into the eye every 4 to 8 weeks which is a doctor’s appointment.
  3. There are potential risks and possible side effects to the medicine.  There is about a 10% risk of developing wet AMD which can also be treated.
  4. The medication is mostly recommended for a certain type of patient during clinical trials.  Advanced dry AMD that is threatening high-resolution central vision may not improve for 1 to 2 years.
  5. Experts say they haven’t seen vision improvement from the medication.  It simply slows the progression of vision loss.
  6. You should consult with a retina specialist who can give you information specific to your personal medical condition before making a decision if you are a candidate for the treatments.

The point is that the medical community is making progress on the number one cause of vision loss in seniors.  One is 4 will have AMD at age 80.  One in 3 will be legally blind at age 80.  Your Ophthalmologist is the only one who can assess your viability for the new treatments.  That hope we have been speaking of for the last several years is close to becoming a reality.


"They must often change who would be consistent in happiness and contentment."

~ Confucius


Another loss

We must sadly note the passing of Larry Mast.  Larry was a client who served on the Board of Directors for 22 years.  In his professional life he was a pivotal personality as the coordinator of the invention, manufacture, sales and support systems in the high tech world of television.  As a board member he brought those creative and coordinating skills to the table of human service.  He also served as the perfect example of an individual who overcame the limitations of sight with the use of his vision.


Making sense of nonsense

Anne Wilson Scaef once said, “I realize that humor isn’t for everyone.  It’s only for people who want to have fun, enjoy life, and feel alive.”  Well, here are some thinkers for Thinkers to think on.  They are a little deeper than Thinkers who think when thinking think.

Clive James:  Common sense and the sense of humor are the same thing moving at different speeds.  A sense of humor is just common sense dancing.

W. C. Fields:  Horse sense is the thing a horse has which keeps it from betting on people.

Groucho Marx:  A black cat crossing your path signifies that the animal is going somewhere.

George Carlin:  If crime fighters fight crime, and firefighters fight fires, what do freedom fighter fight?

Robin Williams:  Why do they call it rush hour when nothing moves?”

Robin Williams:  If it is the psychic network, why does it have to have a phone number?


"From the past we may learn our joys or sorrows. To the future we commend our hopes and dreams.

Only the present moment is ours to guide."


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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