We help blind and visually impaired individuals stay in their homes and out of institutions.

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Sierra Services for the Blind

Newsletter  -  February 2018

" I don't know opera but I know common sense and the commoner the better I know it" ~ Will Rogers

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New Movement in Eye Research

We have learned that the FDA has approved stem cell treatments in humans.  What that means at this time is that those institutions who have been doing the research can now take in patients.  Most will do it on an expanded trail basis, but they will also start training doctors outside their immediate staff to make it more available to the public.  It is still expensive, in the neighborhood of $25,000 per eye, but in time that will go down.  And, they can use your own stem cells so the rejection rate will be virtually non-existent.  This is the moment we have talked about for a few years now.  Only time will tell how long it will be before vision loss is a thing of the past.

We have also learned there is a new system for monitoring Glaucoma.  Smart contact lenses.  Yes, you can wear a contact lenses that read the pressure in your eye.   The FDA has approved them.  There are also tiny eye implants that allow you to read your eye pressure on a home use tonometer.  No more having to go to the doctor all the time when they are monitoring how your medications are working.  They are also developing new technology at Stanford University that uses space optic technology used to see the detail of stars to see the detail of your eye to spot possible glaucoma before it starts to take vision.  Treatment before vision loss begins could mean glaucoma patients will not lose vision at all, or may halt it when it is first discovered.  Glaucoma, and cataracts are the cause of most vision loss across the world.  Especially in countries like India, and third world countries in Asia and Africa.

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"The first half of the life consists of the capacity to enjoy without the chance,

the last half consists of the chance without the capacity." ~ Mark Twain

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Membership Letters are out

It is time for the Membership Drive to start, and the letters are out.  And that means 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 served out 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 year there is a recommended change.  The by-laws state we must have our meeting on Wednesday of the first week of the month of May.  We have used Thursday due to the availability of the venue for a few years now.  But we also are locked into the first Friday of May for the Golf Tournament.  Again, availability of the facility and the need to accommodate those that golf who can get off better on Fridays.  So, we have the dinner Thursday night, and the tournament Friday morning.  The staff said, “Help”.  The Board of Directors would like to change the by-laws to state simply the Annual Meeting of the Membership will be in the month of May to give us the flexibility we need to put two events on in the same month.

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 at 5:30 and the meeting follows.  Many, if not most of the Life Members and Annual Members add a little something of a donation at the same time, so it is still our largest fund raising event each year.

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"One thing Adam had. When he said a good thing he knew nobody had said it before." ~Mark Twain

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When the Humorist was Humorous

There was a time when funny people were funny without being personal.  Each century had someone that could poke fun at us without pointing at an individual, but us who we were collectively.  It was about our culture, our habits, and even our politics.  Ben Franklin would say, “Mankind are very odd Creatures: One half censure what they practice, the other half practice what they censure; and the rest always say and do as they ought.”  Will Rogers would say, “You know horses are smarter than people.  You never hear of a horse going broke betting on people.”  Or Mark Twain might say, “You pick up and starving dog and make him prosperous, he will not bite you.  That is the difference between dog and man.”  Even in our politics Twain with his biting wit would say, “It could probably be shown by facts and figures that there is no distinctly native American criminal class except Congress.”  Rogers would say, “Common sense is not an issue in politics, it is an affliction.”  Or Franklin famously, ”Gentlemen, we should hang together or we will surely hang separately.”

They were also philosophical, and their humor does not shout about the problem, it hints at the solution which is where Sierra Services comes in.  Twain laments, “Noise proves nothing.  Often a hen who has laid an egg cackles as it she laid an asteroid.”  We talk about what we can do for people and cite example.  We talk about the issues of blindness in our community.   We stop to think what works.  As Rogers put it, “Trouble with transportation is that we can get somewhere quicker than you can think of a reason for going there.”  Franklin suggested, “An empty sack can hardly stand up-right; but if it does, it is a stout one.”  As this issue of the newsletter it is about funding, and thanking those who have supported us in the past we must also be that stout sack.  We must do what we say we are going to do, and we must do it with the right goal in mind, and a sense of humor for those things we see along the way.  Blindness can take the individual in but one of two directions.  Either they can learn to adjust to the changes that face them, or they will buckle under the pressure.  It is for us then to speak with clarity, stick to a common sense view of our humanity and do so in a manner that is worthy of their attention.  “You can lead a horse to water …” is an old saw we all know.

The humorist of the past made us look at ourselves, those of the present too often just want to get personal and make us mad.  “Experience keeps a dear school, yet Fools will learn in no other,” Franklin tells us.  The experience we have is gained from 37 years of exposure to the individuals who have come to us.  They have been our school. 

But there are some who still guide with wisdom and common sense, and they still provoke thought.  “The best way to look at a business is from the standpoint of the client,” Jamie Dimon.   Lou Holtz gives us three rules, “Do the right thing, do the best you can, and always show people you care.”  Advice to the client comes from Peter Drucker, “The best way to predict the future is to create it.”  As our clients change singularly or collectively so must we.  Richard Back, who wrote Johnathan Livingston Seagull, said it best, “The best way to pay for a lovely moment is to enjoy it.

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"It is more trouble to make a mazim than it is to do right."

~ Mark Twain

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Thank you to the 2017 Donors

Each year we thank the donors who have supported us during the last year.  As life in California becomes more expensive we know it is just that much harder for individuals to donate to those local charities.  Thus, we are all the more appreciative of those who have made the extra effort to donate to Sierra Services for the Blind.  As we are 100% self-funded these donations are critical to our program of Education, transportation and counseling for the blind and visually impaired of our community.  We also wish to thank those sponsors who have given to our events as sponsors or for the raffles we have at some events.  Those names such as Paulettes, Cirino’s Main Street Café, Toffanelli’s, and those like Marias who donate to events like the Mexican Dinner we cannot say enough.  B&C Ace Hardware is there for every event and at every level.  The Horsemen’s Lodge and Darkhorse Golf Club has worked with us as well.  And, Event Helper insurance Company has dedicated itself to our Golf Tournament for years.  If we had to name everyone, it would take the whole newsletter, so don’t feel slighted if you have been involved in our fund raising events and your name does not appear in the list.  It is a dollar list, and as raffle items vary we can only thank them for the finds raised by the raffles.  Also donations from estates account for the largest donations.

Sponsor Level

Dolores Miller, Nina Schott, Bob & Linda Campbell, Vivian Scofield, Susan Healy-Harman,

Douglas & Judy Cole and Phil & Debra Sloan on behalf of Beverley Kessey

Copper Level

Katherine Bradley, Larry Mast, Lynn Stites, Don Anderson, Dolores Miller, Clifford Nibbelin, Lane Tribe, Kenneth and Joanne Harris, Raymond Bryars, Gertrude Maier, David & Christine Babitz,

Layne Christensen, O.D., Franz & Cathleen Borncamp, Terence & Robin Prechter, Gail Glick-Dorey, Robert & Jan Wenzel, Roger & Jean Poff, Retinal Consultants Medical Group, Free & Accepted Masons Nevada Lodge #13, Dokimo’s Pharmacy, Herbert’s Overhead Maintenance, Plaza Tire,

Penn Valley Lions and Jones Solar Electric

Bronze Level

Bill Larsen, Lucille McCrea, Doris McGill, Joe Glick, Barbara Leslie,

Paul Dean, Larry & Carolyn McGrath, Kenneth & Mary Jacobs,

John & Phyllis Feller and Anna Sullivan

Silver Level

Velma Sommer, Pat Ekstam, Gay Morgan, Finley Harbour, Leslie Moran, Bill & Lorene Plumlee, Jacqueline Shapiro, Kathleen Boman, James Whitehead, Ronald & Beverly Mathis,

Penn Valley Hi-Graders Lions Club and Intero Real Estate Nevada County

Gold Level

Duane Vrbas, Greg & Conni Fowler, Ray and Margaret Lassing, John Croul, Nevada City Lions Club, Grass Valley Host Lions, Event Helper, Telestream,  Synergy Wealth Management,

 Denise Dutrow for The Hattie, Harley & Anna Robinson Foundation, B&C True Value Hardware.

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"If feeling gratitude in not expressed it is like wrapping a present and not giving it." ~William Arthur Ward

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Lions present us with a new Van

The Lions Clubs of their district 4C5 formed the Northern California Lions Sight Association, NCLSA, has been there for years to pay for surgeries and advance services to the blind and visually impaired of the greater Sacramento area.  NCLSA sold a building and has decided to grant Sierra Services a new van to replace the old one that is starting to show its age.  The NCLSA approved the purchase in January of this year after a recommendation from soon to be district governor Lion Doug Wight, and with PCC Lion Dave Johnson, the executive director of Sierra Services, Richard Crandall, purchased the van February 2nd.  The 2016 Toyota replaces the 2007 van with well over 100,000 miles on it.  It is also advanced enough to have rear view camera to help our driver get out of those often challenging driveways found in Nevada County.

Sierra Services has had a long relationship with Lions.  Several board members, including Mr. Wight have been Lions.  They have provided countless clients with glasses and other aids, and on several occasions NCLSA has provided surgeries.  This purchase of a van is a first for Sierra Services, and fills a need we could not afford on our own.  If you have a chance to meet a Lion, thank them for us, and thank them for the work they do with blindness all over the world.

1st VDG Doug Wight, Sierra Services Executive Director Richard Crandall, Sales person Bryan Evensen and PCC Dave Johnson standing in front of the 2016 Toyota Sienna Mini-Van following the purchase.

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