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  -  August 2019

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"If you make any money the government shoves you in the creek once a year with it in your pockets,

and all that don’t get wet you can keep."

~ Will Rogers

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The Tax Benefits of Donating Some of Your IRA Annually

To Sierra Services for the Blind

Most people don’t know the complexity with which they are paying taxes on their Required Minimum Distributions from their IRA.  These are taxes you may not need or want to pay each year.  They are taxes which are also left to the inheritors of your estate when your remaining retirement assets are taxed again.

You are also taxed when you are forced to take your distributions annually.

When you donate your retirement assets to Sierra Services for the Blind or other 501 C (3) non-profit, the entirety of your retirement assets will benefit Sierra Services, or chosen agency, and benefit your community tax free each year.

Further, by naming an organization such as Sierra Services as a beneficiary of your IRA, 401(k) and/or 403(b), you will be assured that every dollar will benefit your community. Then you can identify other assets that are better suited to leave to heirs of your estate.

Another great benefit in naming an agency such as Sierra Services for the Blind as a beneficiary of your retirement assets is avoiding probate, which can also be costly.  There are ways to make a gift of your retirement benefits.  With proper estate planning your charitable wishes can be fulfilled with ease and peace of mind, and your heirs can be relieved of the complications common when an estate is left to probate.

Simply notify the custodian of your retirement account, or call the office and let them know that you wish to name Sierra Services as the recipient of your Required Minimum Distribution annually.  Further, if you so desire, you can also name Sierra Services for the Blind as your beneficiary of some or all of your IRA upon your passing.

It is a simple form, it is quick and easy, and can be accomplished with no legal fees.

Sierra Services is a 501C(3) non-profit and can accept your generous contributions on a tax preferred basis.

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 Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired as a part of your Will or Trust planning.  Please contact Richard for a short discussion to learn more about how you can help pass on the legacy.

We provide our services to the client at no cost.  If you wish we can arrange for a cost free and non-binding assessment of your estate planning and tax liability.  Sierra Services for the Blind does not give legal or tax advice.  This article is simply for informational purposes only.  Contact your tax advisor before making any decisions in this matter.

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"Never believe a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have."

~ Margaret Mead

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Stem Cell Grant targets inherited eye diseases

The Foundation Fighting Blindness has announced a grant to develop gene therapy for inherited issues related to blindness.  If successful it might be possible to change the genetic mutation that causes blindness before it takes effect.  Clinical trials on the mutation in gene CEP290, which has been identified to cause Leber Congenital Amaurosis will begin soon.  It is the first human study of such a process, and if it proves a viable treatment it could very well apply to other genetic treatments as other specific inherited blind related genes are identified.  The therapy, announced by Dr. Ben Yerza, PhD, of the Foundation Fighting Blindness, is the first of its kind on how the retina is a proving ground for cutting-edge treatment technologies

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Wit and Wisdom of Tombstones.

Finding wisdom and humor on tombstones is a hobby for some.  And inspiration for many.  And famous people have had much to say.  The following are but a few examples.

"Dear God.  Thanks." ~ Ed Wynn

"Pardon me for not rising." ~ John Yeast

"How sweet it is.  And a way we go. ~Jackie Gleason

"In." ~ Jack Lemmon

"I will not be back after this message." ~Merv Griffin

"That's all Folks." ~ Mel Blank

             "Damn it’s Dark down here." ~ Fran Thatcher

And there are some you have to think on that leave a message to all of us.

"Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes unto us at midnight very clean. It’s perfect when it     arrives and puts itself in our hands. It hopes we’ve learned something from yesterday."

~ John Wayne

"Free at last.  Free at last. Thank God almighty, I am free at last."

~ Martin Luther King

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Mexican Dinner is set for September 27

This year’s Mexican Dinner fund raising event will be held again this year at the Horsemen’s Lodge just off of Brunswick.  The date is September 27th, and dinner is served at 6:00 P.M. as always.  We will be serving a chicken enchilada with green sauce, rice and beans.  There will be salad, chips and salsa, and desert will be an ice cream delight.  Coffee, lemonade and the bar will be open as always.

There will be a raffle at this event as well.  Tickets are a $25 donation, $10 for the kids.  If you have a large family with lots of small kids, give us a call and we can arrange a family plan.  We do accept people at the door, however we would also like you to let us know a few days before the event if you are coming so we can order the food.

Just a reminder that we are 100% self-funded and these events are critical to our ability to continue serving clients with counseling, education, transportation, and the rest of our program at no cost.

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"I never worry about diets.  The only carrots that interest me

are the number you get in a diamond."

                                                                    ~May West

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"Fear of a name increases fear of the thing itself."

~J. K. Rowling

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Don’t be afraid of our name

It is all too common that people are unwilling to call us for assistance because of our name, Sierra Services for the Blind.  They have it in mind that you have to be blind, totally blind to receive our services.  This is far from the truth.  Legally blind is a term used for limited access to things like a driver’s license, but people are far from “Blind” when that happens.  With correction they can still read, still perform most of the functions required of living independently, and live a normal lifestyle.  The State just says no more driving.

Simply put, you ain’t blind so much as you just can’t see so good any more.

Visual Impairment is quite different from the public perception of “Blindness”.  Only about 2% of those called blind are black blind, they see nothing.  The diseases which cause blindness are generally progressive, you lose your vision over time.  There are treatments for some, like glaucoma that can slow the loss of vision for decades.  Dry Macular Degeneration often takes many years to cause functional blindness, and you have time to make the adjustments you will need to make in your lifestyle, which is where we come in.  We provide the education you need to make those adjustments, the transportation to our services and doctors when you can no longer drive, and counseling to make the adjustments seamlessly.

Wet Macular degeneration is different in that it can happen much faster.  But the solutions are much the same.  We need to see people when they are diagnosed so that they can use what they are learning when the reach a new plateau in vision loss, rather than having to suffer the shock of discovery when they can no longer do something.  This hits more dramatically when phantom vision shows up.  You begin to see things that are not there, and you think you are losing your mind.  You are not.  Your brain is used to seeing things and if it isn’t getting what it wants it makes things up.  If you know about it, when it arrives you are not scared out of your wits.  And, often the whole family with you.

Remember, eye issues like age related macular degeneration cause no other disability unless you shut down and let them.  Living a sedentary life will cause your loss of mobility more than the vision loss will.

Other types of vision loss are not diseases of the eye so much as symptoms of something else like diabetes or MS.  The cause of loss of vision is different, but the adjustments are the same.  You just have other issues related to the core disease to deal with at the same time.

Of course there are those who lose vision due to some accident, and life has little surprises for us as we age.  Glaucoma gives no warnings and can be sudden for example.  Sudden blindness is a different matter psychologically since you suddenly find you have to adjust everything you do.  In those cases we have to move faster.  The adjustments are more psychological as the shock wears off and fear, denial, and grief get in the way of acceptance.

Many years ago we changed our name to accept the full definition of Sierra Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired.  It is a lot to say when answering the phone or in normal conversation, so you will still hear Sierra Services for the Blind, or just Sierra Services when we talk about ourselves or answer the phone.  So, do not fear the word “Blind”.  Sticks and stones break bones, not words.  But words can be scary.  And it is human to say, “I am not blind, I can still see.”  Vision will get worse as we age, we need to accept it like we do aches and pains, and adjust accordingly.  Adjustment is what we are all about.

Sometimes it is as simple as keeping a sense of humor and perspective.  We all grew up with the idea that “Things go bump in the dark”.  We are naturally afraid of running into things we cannot see.  So, we walk more careful, listen, and have to feel our way forward.

There are four things insurance companies require a separate policy for.  Vision, Dental, Hearing and medications.  The reason they do it is they know as we age we will require assistance with all four of them and it is expensive.  All four, especially vision, and also hearing, will require an adjustment in lifestyle.  We are here to help with that adjustment.

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"When we are no longer able to change a situation,

we are challenged to change ourselves."

                                                                           ~Robert Frankl

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Living in an historic town

There are advantages to living in an historic town.  We are a generational community in many ways.  While we have the highest percentage population over age 80 in the state, and the schools are smaller than they were twenty years ago, we also have a large well to do population and a large low income population.  Several years ago we had the same percentage on welfare in zip code 95945 as Oakland.  We have more cultural aspects than many somewhat rural communities like Music in the Mountains and the theater groups, art galleries, parks and a relationship with nature accented by four clear seasons.

At the same time our community has more non-profits related to either the cultural or human needs of our citizens.  Several years ago a national survey found us to be the only agency of our kind in the nation.  Several communities have tried to emulate us, but found their region did not support non-profits as ours does.  The same is true with an agency like FREED for other disabilities, and Spirit House or Utah’s Place do more for the homeless than most rural communities.  The same is true of CORE for substance abuse and others with a clear objective.  As such agencies are rare in communities our size, so too is the scattering of funding to support them.  And as we change as a community we must compete for funding with a growing list of other non-profits that support ideals rather than a direct human need like the loss of vision.

A recent California study on senior issues, and they define seniors as over age 55, the organization running the study found that for the state was somewhat surprised at how we face our problems, many of which are the same as the cities like transportation, and how it is magnified by our rural character.  One of the presenters even said they were amazed at the services they found in Nevada County, and the magnitude of how we are, “taking care of ourselves better than many cities.”  And that we find regulations get in the way that make perfect sense in major metropolitan areas, but hinder our services in rural areas.  Transportation being the perfect example.  That is why transportation is a key part of our program.  Seniors, and others with disabilities have medical needs that must be met so as not to hinder the individual ability to remain independent and functional at the community level.  It is the human service non-profits that serve individual need in our historic towns.  And it is supporting them that makes Nevada County unique.  Thank you for your support, and allowing us to be a part of the community for 38 years.

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"You’ve got to be careful if you don’t know where you

are going, because you might not get there."

~ Yogi Berra

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Contact us or your favorite eScript store to sign up. 

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

(530) 265-2121

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Around the Office

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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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