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Sierra Services for the Blind

Newsletter  -  February 2019



"The worth of everything is not contained in what we see of it, but is in the

effect it has on our lives and our spirit." ~ A. Nonymous


Thank you to our Sponsors

 Each year Sierra Services for the Blind is blessed with patrons who donate to the blind and visually impaired of our common community.  We wish to acknowledge these donors, for without them we would be unable to continue providing the education and counseling that we provide through our peer groups and individual counseling, the transportation required for doctor and other necessary appointments needed to maintain the quality of life, and the many other things we do for the individual needs of each client.

As we say, we have over 150 active clients at any one time, which means we have over 150 programs.

 We also do not charge the client for any of our services.  We are 100% self-funded as we are too small for major grants, and smaller grants require an audit with a cost equivalent to the grant itself.  Simply, a $5.000 grant requiring a $4,500 audit makes little sense.  Estate donations and individuals who give regularly each month have again made the major difference.

Each year we put on several fund raising events, which are highly acclaimed and we are seeing some growth in participation, especially the Lasagna and Mexican Dinner events we put on around March and September.  We also put on a Golf Tournament in May that has had a steady following for the last fifteen years.  We also put on two other dinners.  The Annual Meeting of the Membership held in May which is a corporate requirement as the members are a voting entity designed to assure we are fulfilling our stated purpose to the community, and a Holiday dinner for the clients which occurs in December.  Details are elsewhere in this newsletter.

 These fund raising events are also known in the nonprofit world as “Friend Raisers”.  They allow the public to get to know us, what we do, and as many of the clients attend these events the participants learn firsthand the effect we have on the lives of the blind and visually impaired we are charged to serve.

   This is our chance to say:

Thank you for your donation in the year 2019

Sponsor Level - ($50 At $99)

Lane Tribe, Hal McVey, Madelyn Helling, Dave Allison, Lynn Stites, Nina Schott, Genevieve Ingram

 Robert Beilenberg, Raymond Bryars, Robert Giuliani, DDS, Susan Healy-Harman,

Yuba River Lions Club and Auburn Toyota

Copper Level ($100 At $199)

Susan Stubblefield, Karen Milam, Doris McGill, Ken & Joanne Harris,

Leah Garcia, Frank & Jerry Cross, Velma Sommer, Tom & Gayle Re,

Gail Glick-Dorey, Dr. Layne Christensen, Edwin Frazier, Dennis Gruntorad, Hilary Hedman,

Dee Miller, Terence & Robin Prechter and Robert & Jan Wenzel

Bronze Level ($200 At $499)

Lucille McCrea, Finely Harbor, Leslie Moran, Bill & Lorene Plumblee,

Larry & Carolyn McGrath, Kenneth & Mary Jacob, Mick & Kathy Tuttle,

John & Phyllis Feller, Anna Sullivan, Paul Dean, Free & Accepted Masons,

And Jones Solar Electric.

Silver Level ($500 To $999)

Joe Glick, Pat Ekstam, Gay Morgan, Ronald & Beverly Mathis,

Telestream and Penn Valley Hi-Graders Lions Club, Synergy Wealth Management

Gold Level ($1000 And Above)

Jacqueline Shapiro, Duane Vrbas, Greg & Conni Fowler,

The Event Helper, Grass Valley Host Lions Club, Nevada City Lions Club,

Foothills Lions Club, Hattie, Harley & Anne Robinson Foundation and B&C True Value,


And to the Northern California Lions Sight Association for the donation of a new van.


Individual donations, and those from those who remembered us

in their estates have kept the agency alive for over 37 years.


Yet we never forget that the small donor is the one that reached the deepest into their pocket and often seeks the least recognition.


"A black cat crossing your path signifies that

the animal is going somewhere."

~Groucho Marks


Membership Drive Begins

It is time for the Membership Drive to start, and the letters are out.  That means it is time to remind the public and the client why we have such a thing, and how it works.  We also need to make it clear you do not need to be a member to receive services from Sierra Services for the Blind.  All services are free of charge.

When the organization was formed 37 years ago membership was the first fund raising campaign.  But they also wanted it to make sure Sierra Services did what it said it was going to do, and it was designed as a voting membership that would elect the Board of Directors and insure we stayed on track and we serve our clients as we promised.  That way, should the agency start to stray from its original intention the membership could pull it back into compliance.  In the extreme, they could toss the whole board of directors out and start over with one that did what it was supposed to do.  We have an annual meeting every year and should the board wish to change the by-laws they must get approval from the membership to do it.

We no longer have the board election that night.  It became impossible to replace board members during the year.  But we do still require they come to the membership to change the by-laws.  This process has provided several examples.  You must be a member for 30 days before the meeting to vote that night.  One year it was noted that we met the first Thursday in May, which could be on the first.  But many client members received their Social Security checks on the 5th of the month.  That meant they had to pay another month earlier.  It was motioned from the floor that April 5th be the date for membership to vote.  Of course Social Security changed the date checks arrive, but we now have a clear cutoff date to vote that night.  We also had a conflict with the Golf Tournament, and the date of the dinner had to be changed in the by-law.  We now must have it in May so staff does not have to put on two events in two days.

It is still only $10 for an Annual Membership.  We keep it low so that the client, and the public, can easily be a part of this process.  There is a $100 Life Membership as well.  We serve dinner to members at 5:30 on Thursday May 16th, and the meeting follows.  Many, if not most of the Life Members and Annual Members add a little something of a donation at the this time, so it is still our largest fund raising event each year. 


"I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member."

~ Groucho Marks


Lasagna dinner planned for March 1st

  This year’s Lasagna dinner is scheduled for Friday, March 1st.  And, we hope we don’t invite the snow to join us as it did last year.  But we are an adventurous and flexible organization, so we will again serve the meal at the Horseman’s Lodge at 6:00. 

Last year we had to cancel due to the predicted heavy snow, and it didn’t snow.  We postponed it a week and it did snow.  We want to thank all those who bought tickets last year and still came back in the snow.

 We will again serve a generous portion of Lasagna with salad, bread and a vegetable.  Dessert will also be served.  The cost is still at $25 per adult, $10 per child under 12.  And, if you have a large family or very young children let us know and we can work with you on the price.  The bar will also be open at the Horseman’s Lodge at $5 which is a fundraising aspect for both organizations.

 We have gained a reputation for the quality of the food we serve, and what remains at the end of the dinner can be taken home by those who participate.  Bring a container, or as we now have more people attending than plates, we use plates you can take with you.  You can buy at the door, but we would prefer you let us know you are coming a few days earlier so we have an idea how much to make.  This, and the Mexican dinner we do in the late September are both growing and we hope you can join us, and bring friends.  Like all nonprofit fund raising events, it is for us a Friend Raiser as well.


"You better cut my pizza in four pieces,

I’m not hungry enough to eat six."

~Yogi Berra


Preserving vision when young often ignored

Wear sunglasses that cut down on the Ultraviolet exposure.  Even if you are wearing a hat to keep the sun off your face and head.  Glare, especially when driving and the windshields of others flash direct sun at you.  Even from a distance the sun will make your eyes ache.  As you do something for a headache, do something for your eyes too.  Wear safety goggles when working on things that can get in your eye as well.

You also need to eat a proper diet.  Dark green vegetables, fruit, nuts and grains, citrus, and fish are high in Omaga 3.  We have already mentioned the federally funded AREDS study and how vitamins like vitamin D help vision.  Preservision, AREDS 2 is designed specifically for vision.  It isn’t cheap like so many vitamin supplements, but what is the cost of vision loss.  Eating properly is as old as the first grandmother told the wisdom of experience to grandchildren.  She figured we should know better, and we should.

Smoking constricts blood flow.  We now know that one of the causes of blindness from glaucoma is the loss of oxygen to the optic nerve.  If you constrict blood flow, you constrict oxygen even more.  Exercise, even if it is for a few minutes off and on all day to keep the oxygen coming in.  Step outside if the house is getting stuffy.  In winter we lock up the house, and if you have a fireplace it is taking oxygen from the air.  Open the door once in a while and let more air in, or leave a window cracked close to the fireplace.

Get your eyes checked regularly.  Especially as we age macular degeneration, glaucoma, and other eye problems can be controlled or corrected if found early.  Something as simple as new lenses if you wear glasses stops eyestrain.  We have also had clients where it was a change in the eyes that allowed the optometrist to discover they were diabetic before the regular doctor did.  The same with macular degeneration and cataracts.  Like all things, early detection is critical in the long term ability of the doctor to solve any problem.

And rest your eyes, especially if you feel them straining.  You may have glasses to see one aspect better, like distance.  But reading, even if you can see well enough is taxing to the eyes.  You may need readers, or simply look up every few minutes at something more distant to let the eyes “flex” themselves a little.  Having good lighting does matter.  Focusing on something in the distance for as little as 20 seconds will rest the eye and you can read longer without straining your eyes.

Like many other things, several quotable people have noted that, “old age ain’t for sissies”.  You must take care of yourself or it too comes faster than we want it.  Aches and pains, loss of vision or hearing, and grey hair come with age.  Hair you can change easily, loss of vision you can’t.  You have to work at it, and use common sense about what is ahead as we age.


"Nothing so needs reforming than other peoples habits."

~ Mark Twain


When open, when closed

There has been some question about Sierra Services hours in Winter.  Why we are people not there at times?  It is rare, but it happens.  The answer again centers around the client, and the responsibilities of staff.

We are open from 9:00 A.M. to 5:00 P.M. Monday through Friday.  Once in a great while we close for a few minutes if the entire staff has commitments to client programs or special needs.  This often happens in the afternoon when part time staff are gone.  The Office Coordinator is half time.  The Program Coordinator is the counselor and is available around the program needs.  The Transportation Coordinator is full time, but often transporting people.  Special events like the quarterly lunch or a program like we have for the clients such as the mobility and access staff from Sacramento Society for the Blind take most of the staff off site. 

Weather in Winter also tells us what do to.  The rule of snow is that if the schools close so do we.  It would be inappropriate for us to be transporting clients in snow and the related traffic conditions.  Getting in and out of the van, or the office with ice or snow on the ground when clients are more subject to falls.  A fall can be far more debilitating than the loss of vision.  We also don’t want our staff out driving in snow and ice for the same reasons.  If it starts to snow during the day, the rule is that the staff needs to go home before their car is stuck in the parking lot and they can’t get home.  Much the same is true if the power is out.  We only have windows on one side of the office for light, and nothing works.  Computers are down, and so is the heater.

We close for vacations the week between Christmas and the New Year, and the week of the 4th of July.


"To succeed in life you need three things.

A wishbone, a backbone and a funny bone."

~ Reba McEntire


Scattered Science coming together

There are so many things happening in science related to health, and the eye, that it is often hard to sort it all out.  Most of what is happening with genetic research boarders on the fantastic.

There have been many studies of the effect of Star Trek on our world you have to wonder what they were doing we will match next.  The first pocket sized cell phones had a top that flipped up just like they did for Captain Kirk.  Voice command computers and elevators and an impressive list of things they did that were futuristic when they did them are now fact.  They had weapons that only stun you, and laser beams.  Their medical procedures were amazing.  They gave us something to shoot for.

We now have robots doing surgery.  They work with three dimensional computer images.  A knee replacement done by a robot lines your new knee up with your hip and ankle perfectly and fits the prosthesis more accurately.  However, the true fantastic in medicine is in genetics.  Scientists are now working to fix your genetic problems, either at birth, or in the womb.  We know there is a genetic link to diabetes and cancer, they will be able to fix that when you are born.  Science has now created cells that when placed in your blood system will attack cancer cells, and only cancer cells.  As to vision we have spoken often of how they are able to create repaired damage like that of macular degeneration.  We now know much of the damage to the optic nerve is created by a lack of oxygen, and they are working on how to deliver oxygen direct to the optic nerve.

Gene therapy, like all things that seemed fantastic a generation ago takes a little getting used to.  There is something in us that says, “You mess with my genetic makeup what else will it do to me?”  Star Trek was also full of strange looking species.  Many of us will ask, “Will I grow another arm out of the top of my head?”  But there will always be those that ask, “Can I grow back the hair I have lost?”  And, there will be some who ask, “Can I have wings?”  Recent problems with outbreaks of measles, polio, whooping cough and other diseases we have vaccines are returning because there are those that fear the vaccine.  Few like spiders or snakes.

There will come a time, and sooner than we think, when like Star Trek most diseases and deformities will be a thing of the past.  We have to admit there is no perfect cure for anything, especially age.  The difference is how we react to those things that do go wrong.  Do we as an individual shut down when we have a medical problem?  Or do we tell ourselves our health problem is just a bump in the road and we intend to stand up and keep going.  Star Trek was entertaining, life is to if you see it that way.



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Words of Wisdom

Around the Office

New From BARD

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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