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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 2018

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"We do not notice that to look at the past we must turn our backs on the future." ~ A. Nonymous

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Several ways to fund an organization

Funding a non-profit agency is as much and art as a process.  Especially if you are relatively small and grants are not viable.  A $5,000 grant can require a $4,500 audit, making the grant useless.  So we have fund raising dinners, golf tournaments and a lot of other ways to raise funds to keep the doors open.  Sierra Services is 100% self-funded, making it imperative we find new ways.

One that has come up of late is the idea of script.  Even it has many forms.  When you make a purchase the store gives us 1% of that sale.  You don’t pay, they do.  We are registered with SPD and SaveMart locally.  We hope to find others.  You can register online at either of them, or we have the form for SPD, or call or come to the office and Sarah can help you register if you do not have computer access.

We also are part of the Amazon Smile program.  When you purchase something through Amazon you click on the Smile icon, enter, Sierra Services for the Blind, and we get a percentage, again paid by them.  In the Amazon case, the .05% percent they offer applies to only certain products.  But as those products tend to be common or more expensive so it adds up.

Collectively the donations to Sierra Services can be significant.  Presently the amount is between $150 and $300 per month.  And that is with just a few participants.

We hope you will consider joining the program, it could make quite a difference.  What it does is give us monthly income, not just occasional like straight donations which tend to be seasonal.  It is also an opportunity for the local community to fund those agencies which provide direct service to their specific need.  Remember, funding sent to national sources runs through the economy on average once during the year as it is handed out once a year.  Money donated directly to the agency circulates on average 6 to 7 times a year, and locally.  And, through the script program it costs you, the donor, nothing.  It is the local business way of saying thank you for your patronage.

We hope you will join the program.  It is already working, and with more participation could become a major source of funding for Sierra Services, and for our service to the blind and visually impaired of our common community.

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"When in a time of trial, if a hand is offered without reservation, take it.

It is being touched ever so gently by others that reminds us we are not alone wherever the journey takes us."

~ A. Nonymous

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What are a Floater and a Flash

Once in a while you may find a spot in your vision that seems either distorted, or dark, and it seems to be moving.  It comes and goes and tends to be like a long string.  In time it is gone all together, maybe the same day, maybe it will stay around coming and going for days.  The clear Vitreous Gel that fills the ball that is your eye presses against both the iris and the cornea.  There is a kind of “wallpaper” between the gel and the cornea, and occasionally it separates and “Floats”.  Once in a while you may also see a “Flash” of light, which is a part of the process.  Again, normal.  Your retina is actually an extension of your brain, it is the part that turns light into electrical signals to the brain.  Something happens, the brain interprets it.

It can scare you, but it is a natural thing, and increases with age.  If you see such things you should tell your doctor about them, but for the most part they are harmless.  However, if they persist, if you get too many of them and they are bothering your ability to read, drive or pay attention they can be the indication of more serious issues within your eye.  It can for instance be a sign of a detached retina.

 Like Phantom Vision, it is a crossed message between your eye and the brain.  It is normal, but it can be serious.  Tell your doctor about both floaters and flashes.  Yet, unless they are frequent enough to indicate something more serious, don’t fret over them.

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"It may be the one in front who gets wet in the white water, but it is he who sees what lies ahead first and without obstruction. Others ride along and talk about it later."  ~A. Nonymous

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Board of Director passes new budget for 2018-2019

At the June meeting of the Board of Directors a unanimous vote created the new budget for Sierra Services.  In consideration of the increase in the cost of utilities, office supplies, transportation and other services, as well as providing a rise in compensation for staff, the budget had to rise for the first time in several years.  The new budget stands at $146,700, a rise of $7,450 over the $139,250 of the last Fiscal Year.

A part of the discussion was directed by the realization that an organization which employs four people, provides transportation, education and counseling to approximately 150 individuals has a budget composed mostly of fixed expenses.  No matter the size of the organization there is a facility to maintain, utilities and line items like insurance which are common to all businesses.  There has to be a staff of dedicated people to provide the services.  We are 100% self-funded.  Our income is derived from donations from the public, business and other non-profit service organizations, fund raising events like the Lasagna and Mexican Dinners, and the Golf Tournament, as well as an endowment derived from estate considerations.

This is particularly difficult when you have a service you provide to the community without charging for your services.  It is the policy of the agency and the Board of Directors that we are dedicated to making our services available to all who need it.  Our clientele is considerably older than most organizations, and as such are living on lower incomes than the average.  We serve a disability, not a “want”.  Our clients have not chosen to lose vision, but they all want to continue with their daily lives with seamless ease of motion within their lives and as a participating member within the community.

For this reason there are no frills in the budget.  Just those things that allow us to do what we say we intend to do in a manner consistent with the need of the community.  And, with the kindness of individuals, organizations and others we have served our community for 37 years.

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"As we age, time is less of a factor than if we have used our experience to simply add weight to our lives,

or to add wings." ~ A. Nonymous

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The Educator in all of us

One of the things we learn serving as many clients as we do is that no two are the same, but often the needs they have are the same.  Put the two ideas together and we have the best of both worlds.  Our peer support groups revel in the fact that if there are either just three, six or eight in the group there is a diversity of life experience to share.  Clients become good friends though they may vary dramatically in their backgrounds.  One group had a psychologist with three doctorates, a business owner, an opera singer, and a farmer’s wife with nine kids in it.  Needless to say they had a variety of experiences to share that were fascinating to the others.  We have had nuclear engineers, truck drivers, decorated soldiers and contractors, housewives and members of the band.

With the loss of vision they also find what they have in common.  We are always amazed at how they immediately responded when they find out about phantom vision and that they were not going crazy.  They all have the same list of little things like pouring liquids when you can’t see the edge of the cup, or where the switch is.  And they all have their own way of dealing with it.  They all miss reading, and the talking book program becomes the new habit that both entertains and informs.  One finds a good book and we seem at times to be a book club.  We take a group to a restaurant for someone’s birthday and they are out in the community again, or our quarterly lunch and they find even more friends who are in other groups.  Isolation is suddenly no longer an issue.

In a rural community mobility is an issue, and the loss of a driver’s license is a major event.  Though we provide transportation to our events, doctor’s appointments and other necessary demands on the clients knowing how to manage on your own is a new skill, and again knowing how others have done it is the path.

Having a sense of humor is a key.  We recently had a client turn 100, and had to remember to turn his oxygen off when we lit the candles.

And, as members of the staff each new client is also an experience.  We are never done learning.  And hopefully, as the individuals, when our clients grow into their new lifestyle, we grow a little too. 

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"We learn the meaning of love and family from dogs and cats.  They are happiest when they see us come home, then settle to the warmth of our being there."

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Mexican Dinner set for September 28th

This year’s Mexican Dinner fund raising event will be held September 28th at the Horseman’s Lodge.  It is also again a Friday night affair, and being in the fall we doubt we will have the snow problems that plagued the Lasagna Dinner event.  We will serve at 6:00 as usual.  Dinner will again be chicken enchiladas with a light green sauce, rice and beans.  A salad and dessert, with chips and salsa on the tables.

Last year this was the best attended dinner we have had, and we hope the word is getting out about the quality of our food and attendance is large again this year.  Tickets are still only $25, and there will be a raffle at this one.

Tickets will be on sale when this newsletter comes out, and can be found through the office by calling 265-2121, coming in, or available and B&C Ace Hardware and Garden Center.  We hope you can plan ahead and get your tickets early so we know how many dinner we have to make.  Last year we had none left after some folks took seconds home for tomorrow.

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Things we have learned from our clients

The following are unabashedly taken from A. Nonymous, who we quote when we can’t find one by someone who others would know.  Like someone famous.

"Just when you think you are special, a mosquito will let you know you are just another critter."

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"People are like books. You cannot judge them by their cover.

They must be judged by the contents found within."

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"The opposite of common sense is nonsense.

It is for common sense to watch for that which is nonsense to know when something just won’t work.

Nonsense does not have that limitation, the result being

unintended consequences."

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"Aging gracefully is in the art of trading our experience for wisdom and

the realization that a country lane is measured not in how fast we can run, but how well we see the journey."

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"There are those things in life that cannot be sold, they must be given."

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211 and Emergency

If you have a disability, or someone in your home has one and you cannot evacuate yourself in a fire or other emergency there is a new program within the 211 system.  When there is an evacuation the Office of Emergency Services has a phone system called Code Red to inform those who are to be evacuated.  It will give you a number if you are not able to evacuate yourself.  If you get that call, and cannot evacuate for good reason, or are unable to record or remember the number they give you call 211 and they will help you.

This time of year, fire season, you need to be ready with important papers, medications, and a kit with personal necessities for fast evacuation.  Literally, planning and preparing saves lives.  And, your pets.

For more information you can call the office, 265-2121

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Be careful of Telephone Scams

We often hear from our clients about the latest attempt by people they do not know trying to get sensitive information from them.  There are a number of scams hitting the area this year, and the most dangerous is claiming to be the Internal Revenue Service, the IRS.  One claims that you have a delinquent account and wants immediate payment.  They will tell you where to send it, and threaten you if you do not pay immediately.  Even worse, they want to know your bank account number and want you to give it to them over the phone.  Never give bank account number to anyone.  Some are a little more subtle, but they are the same thing.  Now there is a second one that calls just after the first that claims to be trying to catch the people doing the scam.  They will ask the same information, and if you fall for it they have it and your account will be stripped.  If you have caller I.D. on your phone, be aware they also call from the 530 area code and look local.

The first thing to know is the IRS does not use the phone.  They always contact you by letter in the mail.  If you get the call, hang up immediately.

There are many others who want your money.  And, the same is true.  Do not give any information to anyone over the phone unless you made the call, like you would if you order something with your credit card from Amazon, or other on-line source service with your credit card.  But remember, they get hacked as well.

Another is the one that comes to the door offering to fix something in or around your home.  Taring driveways is one, but any repair of a visible problem is suspect.  Honest contractors do not go around a neighborhood looking for work.  The old adage that if you have a hammer you are a carpenter, if you own the saw you are a contractor does not mean they have insurance or even a reliable address should there be a problem.  And, never let them come into the house.

The mail also has its problems.  One that was once more common but is coming back is the one that would like your account and they will deposit money you have won in some raffle or have inherited.  Some are foreign, and some even say they will deposit as much as a million dollars in your account for 30 days, and they promise to leave you thousands when they take it out.  That is money laundering, and they often don’t just want now what they leave, they want what you have too.

If you have any questions, call the police department to see if the organization is valid.  They need to know what is going on, and need to know that our area is being hit so they can alert the proper agencies.