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The New Jersey Council of the Blind
January, 2021

The New Jersey Council of the Blind’s mission is to strive for the betterment of the blind and visually impaired community. The purpose of this publication is to provide a forum for the free exchange of ideas, opinions and information that concern blind and visually impaired people.

The New Jersey Council of the Blind’s mission is to strive for the betterment of the blind and visually impaired community. The purpose of this publication is to provide a forum for the free exchange of ideas, opinions and information that concern blind and visually impaired people.

The NJCB Chronicle is also available on Newsline. If you do not have a Newsline subscription, contact Reader Services at the New Jersey Talking Book and Braille Center at (800) 792-8322 to get signed up for a Newsline subscription. Four quarterly newsletters are sent to members free of charge by E-mail. You may obtain the current and back issues of the Chronicle and other information from our web site www.njcounciloftheblind.org. Feel free to write us at njcounciloftheblind@gmail.com.

The New Jersey Council of the Blind (NJCB) is a 501 (c) 3 corporation. Much appreciated tax-deductible donations may be sent to the Treasurer of NJCB.

The NJCB officers are.

President, Wanda Williford (609) 375-6682.

1st Vice President, Frank Schack – (973) 595-0116

2nd Vice President, Joyce Sowa (732) 596-9675.

Secretary Dan Bausch.

Treasurer, Steve Sowa (848) 999-2079 or by mail to PO Box 434, Woodbridge, NJ 07095

President’s Message by Wanda Williford

There is Hope!
By: Wanda Williford

The always chipper female news anchor with perfect diction excitedly reports, “Vacation travel bookings for 2021 are up 35%.” That sentence caught my attention and I stopped absentmindedly folding laundry, to listen intently to the remainder of the story. Apparently, the Tuesday after Thanksgiving is known as ‘Travel Tuesday’, where online sites offer major discounts on airfare, hotels, and exotic resort packages. Who knew! Not me. The mention of a roundtrip flight from Newark to Puerto Rico for 41 bucks tempted me to browse the internet for a beach getaway. I put down my phone and snapped back to reality. Remembering, we are in the middle of a pandemic and the furthest I have traveled in the past nine months was to a doctor’s appointment in Philadelphia. However, that news story represents a glimmer of hope.

The bold act of booking a vacation during this health crisis is an exercise in optimism. I have often heard the planning and anticipation of a trip is as enjoyable as the getaway itself. The joy of having something to look forward to is intoxicating. Buying new luggage, unearthing your favorite flip flops, and filling tiny bottles with shampoo will produce a vacation buzz. The announcement that several vaccines are waiting for approval and ready for distribution has us imagining a future that includes vacations and better times.

The headline beneath that vacation story is, HOPE! The hope we will once again be able to freely travel to our desired dream destinations. The hope we can spend time with loved ones celebrating those special occasions and milestones we skipped in 2020. My family is planning our summer Thanksgiving bash complete with barbeque turkey and pumpkin ice cream. We are craving large family events with lingering bear hugs.

2021 is the start of a new decade and a new beginning for us all. We have experienced a decade worth of challenges in 2020 alone. A global pandemic, social justice issues, out of control wildfires and the contentious election, have kept us on edge and vaccines are being distributed now. 2021 will transition us into a “new normal”. We must acknowledge there will most likely be several bumps on our road back to some semblance to normal. With that being said, I am thankful for the health and well-being of each and every one of you. I wish you all the happiness you desire in the New Year. I am looking forward to our first in-person meeting in 2021. The anticipation of being together gives me joy. In the meantime, we will stay vigilant and hold tight for a brighter future. There is hope!

Our next meeting will take place on Saturday, January 23, 2021 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. via conference call. We are pleased to host, Vanessa Lombardo, as our guest speaker. She is the Outreach Coordinator for Bookshare, which is an accessible eBook library in which individuals with a print disability such as a visual impairment can become members. Please join us by calling (605) 468-8005, passcode 425373.

Happy New Year! Be well, healthy, and safe,

Wanda Williford
President, NJCB

January Quarterly Meeting Notice

Our next Quarterly NJCB meeting will be held by conference call on Saturday, January 23, 2021 from 11:00 am until 1:00 pm. Please note this is a different time than our normal in person meetings. The call-in number is 605-468-8005 Access code 425373#. We hope all of you will join us!

Guest Speaker Vanessa Lombardo

Bio - Vanessa is an Outreach Coordinator for Bookshare, a program of Benetech Inc. In her current role she promotes the use of accessible eBooks via Bookshare and provides support and training to adults using Bookshare. She is trained as a Special Education teacher and has worked in the classroom, as well as in the role of outside consultant. She has worked with students and adults with a variety of disabilities. She is passionate about Assistive Technology and bringing it to those who need it most. She holds a master’s degree in Special Education, as well as an Assistive Technology Practitioner Certification (ATP) through RESNA. Vanessa’s goal is to support individuals with disabilities reach their goals through the use of technology.

2021 Scholarship Opportunities

NJCB is pleased to announce the 2021 Scholarship program. To apply, eligible candidates must be certified legally blind or visually impaired, will be a full-time college student, undergraduate or graduate, in the 2021 – 2022 academic year and be a New Jersey resident. The deadline to apply is May 1st and the winner will be awarded at our July Quarterly meeting. Full details, application forms and how to apply can be found on our website at www.njcounciloftheblind.org. You may also email questions to njcounciloftheblind@gmail.com or our committee chair,

Alan Zuckerman 32 Judson St Apt 7B Edison, NJ 08837

From our Scholarship Winners

From Alice Sheinman:

I am in the M.S. Program in Rehabilitation Counseling online at Rutgers University. This semester, I am taking Career Counseling and Consultation, Community Counseling and Resources, and Crisis, Disaster and Trauma Counseling. This scholarship has been so helpful to me this semester, covering most of the balance of my tuition, making it much more affordable, and alleviating some of the financial stress. I find myself in the position of having to pay the balances on my tuition every semester and parying the tuition for my son who is also attending college.

From Jasmine Chu:

I am a 3rd year student @ the Raritan Valley Community College. In addition to classes, I also intern and have part time job. I still do everything virtually.

The scholarship made a significant impact to my education because it boosted my confidence academically in my ability to work towards a better future.

Getting to Know You: By Wanda Williford

In this issue we will get a glimpse of a rare jewel, our friend, Joanie Leonard. She has been an active member of NJCB since 1976. Born premature, Joanie was given too much oxygen at birth, resulting in her total blindness. As a child she was mainstreamed at her local school, which was unusual for the time. Her parents raised Joanie to be fiercely independent and with their encouragement, she earned a master’s degree in Social Work from Rutgers University. With the same independent spirit, she raised her son, Adrian, on her own, working in sales. The consummate salesperson, Joanie was a popular vendor at the NJCB state conventions for many years, in addition to holding other sales positions. Currently, she is a retiree residing at the Willow Creek facility in Somerset, New Jersey. Let us get to know a bit more about Joanie in 20 questions.

  1. What is your middle name?
    JL: “My mother allowed me to choose a middle name when I was a kid, I have since dropped it.”
  2. What is your favorite sound?
    JL: “I love the sound of bells ringing, I collected them as a child.”
  3. What sound makes you cringe?
    JL: “People screaming”
  4. What do you love the smell of?
    JL: “Honeysuckle”
  5. What is your favorite pizza topping?
    JL: “Pepperoni”
  6. What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?
    JL: “Chocolate”
  7. What is the best dish you prepare?
    JL: “Roast Turkey, mine were always moist and delicious.”
  8. What food could you eat every day and never tire of?
    JL: “Anything, chocolate, I am a chocoholic.”
  9. If you could have lunch with anyone living or dead, who would you choose?
    JL: “My deceased mother, I miss her so much and would love for her to see what I am doing now.”
  10. What is your favorite way to travel? Plane, train, automobile or boat?
    JL: “Airplane”
  11. Where is the furthest place you have traveled from New Jersey and why were you there?
    JL: “Chatsworth, California to visit a friend.”
  12. What is your favorite movie of all time?
    JL: “Gone With the Wind”
  13. What is your favorite genre of music?
    JL: “I love classical.”
  14. Best concert you have attended?
    JL: “I got to see Johnny Mathis, who was wonderful. However, the best concert I ever attended was the New Jersey Symphony.”
  15. Who is your favorite singer?
    JL: “A guy by the name of Billy Murray.”
  16. Do you have a hobby?
    JL: “Yes, I love listening to Old Time radio shows.”
  17. Do you have a favorite book?
    JL: “‘The Lonesomest Doll’, it was one of the first Braille books I owned as a child. I read it over and over again.”
  18. Have you ever utilized a guide dog?
    JL: “No, I have always been a cane user.”
  19. Did you have a childhood pet?
    JL: Our family dog, Queenie, was a Heinz 57 mix. She was the most loving companion to our entire family.”
  20. What brings you joy?
    JL: “Being with my friends and having good times together.”

Joanie and I spoke for about an hour and a half. However, I could have kept chatting with her for the rest of the afternoon. I was calmed by her soothing voice and struck by her quick wit and intelligence. Our conversation was easy, humorous and insightful. We shared a couple secrets and giggles as girls do. I admire Joanie’s tenacity. She is always dialed-in literally and figuratively, during our meetings. She manages to ask the question the rest of us needs the answer to. Joanie is indeed a gem and we now know a bit more about her many facets

Miss Ruth by Ruth Williams

Keep Looking Up

God has been so good to me.

Picture of a single pink and white flower set against a background of yellowish-green leaves

People always seem surprised to hear me say that. I have progressive MS, walk with a cane and I’m partially blind. A surgery intended to correct a macular hole did exactly the opposite and left me without usable vision in my right eye.

Afterwards, when I asked the surgeon’s partner if I would ever see again in that eye, he shrugged. I persisted, asking why my eye was not healing. The doctor literally, actually, honest-to-God said this:

“Bad luck?”

As if it was a question. I pondered: could it be that when they were offering “bedside manner” class in medical school, he had called in sick that day?

For years, I stewed about that surgery, imagining what it would be like to sue the pants off of the doctors in that practice. To take ownership of their Bentleys, their Labradoodles, their Rolexes.

I wished ill on them for a long time, until I realized that if the doctor had made a mistake, there is nothing I could do to reverse it. By that point, it had been years and the statute of limitations had passed. Both legally and spiritually.

The surgery had taken its toll on my eye. The aftermath of anger took its toll on my psyche.

It was not until recently that I was able to let go of my anger.

I have to re-phrase that.

Let go of my unforgiveness.

This is even more toxic than anger.

When you get angry, it is usually a temporary state. Almost a form of insanity. You snap, you yell, you throw the remote. You get over it. You come back to your senses.

But with unforgiveness, you have set your anger into stone.

Wishing ill on someone who’s done you wrong is like saying, “Smite them, Lord! Break out that lightning bolt! At the same time, give me a life sentence of misery, obsessed with vengeance when I could have had joy. Kay. Thanks. Bye!”

That hole in my eye had led to a hole in my soul.

You cannot say “bless me” and “curse you” at the same time.

What is different now? Well, I still live with physical limitations. The vision in my eye never returned. The most important thing that changed was my focus. The lens through which I see the world if you will pardon the pun. I have learned to keep my eyes on the good in life and never look back.

Peace & Blessings to You All!

Foodie Focus

This salty and sweet treat is a crowd pleaser. A simple recipe, so easy to make and you probably have the 5 ingredients in your pantry. No bowls, measuring spoons or stand mixer required. The perfect treat to make and gift to loved ones with a sweet or salty tooth. Prepare to be amazed by the balance of wonderful taste and texture of these chocolate, buttery treats.

Chocolate Toffee Saltines


Saltine crackers (2 sleeves)
1 cup brown sugar
4 oz butter (1 stick)
semi-sweet chocolate chips (12 oz bag)
1 cup finely chopped almonds (you can substitute with pecans or walnuts)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a rimmed cookie sheet with parchment paper. Place saltines in a single layer on cookie sheet, covering the entire sheet. Set aside. In a saucepan on medium heat melt butter and brown sugar, stirring and dissolving mixture until it bubbles. Pour mixture over the saltines in an even layer, spread mixture over crackers with a small offset spatula. Bake saltines with brown sugar mixture for 8 minutes. Remove from oven and immediately evenly sprinkle bag of chocolate chips on the saltines. Place back in oven and bake for 2 minutes. Remove from oven and spread melted chocolate chips in an even layer with a butter knife. Sprinkle chopped nuts over chocolate layer. Allow to come to room temperature. Place cookie sheet in refrigerator for hour and a half to set up. Remove from refrigerator and break into irregular desired shapes. Store in a cookie tin or airtight container.

Submitted by Wanda Williford

If you have a tasty recipe you would like to share, please email editor, Joyce Sowa, with your submission at jssowa13@gmail.com . We would love to publish your culinary successes or family favorites.

NJCB Tech Talk

Our inaugural ‘Tech Talk’ call took place on December 7th. Several NJCB members participated in a lively and informative discussion regarding the intersection of technology and accessible shopping. We shared tips and tricks for shopping with our favorite accessible apps.

Moving forward, our technology calls will take place on the first Monday of each month. Our discussions will range from the latest and greatest accessible app to the best Amazon Alexa skill, and much more. We plan to periodically host a speaker to share their expertise and answer questions on assistive technology.

Our next call will take place on Monday, January 4th, 2021 at 7:00 p.m. Call (978) 990-5000, passcode 361060. Please join us for a fun and informative chat. Email Wanda Williford, wdw.williford@gmail.com, with any questions or suggestions for discussion topics.

News from Mercer County Association of the Blind (MCAB)

MCAB Living Through the Pandemic.

The Proverbial Phrase “If the Mountain will not come to Muhammad, then Muhammad must go to the Mountain.” It means that if one’s will does not prevail, one must submit to an alternative.

Since 1932 The Mercer County Association of the Blind (MCAB) has been in existence providing information and opportunities in order to promote the independence and dignity of individuals who are legally blind and to enhance their productivity and quality of life in the community. In 1962 MCAB became a nonprofit Corporation/Organization with the Mission Statement the same. That spirit of dedication and commitment that forged the past leadership and membership is still with us today, and MCAB’s Heartfelt Thanks is extended to them all.

During this Pandemic our Vice President, Wanda Williford has educated the attention of our membership by inviting guest speakers Elsa Zavorda with Vision Loss Alliance, an organization dedicated to providing services to the blind and visually impaired community. Vision Loss Alliance is located in Denville, New Jersey. She informed the membership that in the fall they are offering nine course options virtually by online or over the phone. This was at our September meeting.

Then at our October meeting the guest speaker was Sharla Glass with Envision America. Sharla explained Scrip Talk and how it worked, and which major pharmacy chains have Scrip Talk available. It reads aloud the information contained on a prescription bottle.

For the November meeting, president Mustafaa Shabazz gave an update that the planned Holiday Party and meal that was in-person party would be cancelled. Instead MCAB will be delivering meals to member’s households. The restaurant Mastoris will have meals ready on December 4th at 3 PM. Member Barbara Plunkett and her sister Jane will be delivering them with the holiday gifts put together by Wanda Williford.

It was also approved by membership to adopt MCAB Residents at Nursing Homes and provide them with an $100 gift on behalf of MCAB. Two adopted visually impaired residents of local nursing home facilities. One was a man who lives at the local facility Barbara Plunkett’s mother resided in before her passing. The other was MCAB member Vienna Ottobre at Rose Hill Assisted Living. MCAB thanks Joan Garay for her proposal to do this and for Barbara Plunkett’s assistance. Also, MCAB’s appreciation to Barbara Knoblock, Wanda Williford, Gary Rhodes, Terry Hammoutene, Dan Bausch, Barbara Plunkett, her sister Jane and Mastoris Restaurant.

During this Pandemic Disability Rights New Jersey addresses allocation of Critical Care Resources in letter to Governor and NJ Dept. of Health which I would like to share.

Hello Mustafaa,

In response to the surge of COVID-19 cases across New Jersey – as of Saturday, November 21st, there were 4,679 new cases along with 2,552 patients in hospitals.

Disability Rights New Jersey has urgently requested that the Department of Health re-visit its April 11, 2020 Allocation of Critical Care Resources During a Public Health Emergency (Allocation of Critical Care Resources) policy.

When this policy was announced in April, Disability Rights NJ responded by letter dated April 16, 2020 to thank the administration for taking action on this important issue, but also to highlight aspects of the Allocation of Critical Care Resources policy that we believe to be discriminatory towards individuals with disabilities.

Based on our review of all complaints filed this year with federal HHS Office of Civil Rights, resolutions regarding allocation of critical care resource policies, Disability Rights NJ respectfully requests that the Department of Health immediately revise its Allocation of Critical Care Resources policy to ensure that it does not discriminate against persons on the basis of disability or age, and in particular, that it makes the following changes to the policy:

To all be safe and have an enjoyable Holiday Season!

Submitted by Mustafaa Shabazz, MCAB President.

News from Blind Citizen’s Association

Sadly, we have nothing to report, as we are still not in session and do not look to return anytime in the near future.

We would like to wish everyone A very Merry holiday and Happy New Year. May we all begin to see an end to this soon.

Stacey Stefanski

Support the NJCB on Amazon

When shopping on Amazon use Amazon Smile and support the NJCB.

Go to Smile.Amazon.com and look for New Jersey Council of the Blind Inc. Or use https://smile.amazon.com/ch/22-3592848

Check out the NJCB Facebook Page

NJCB is on Facebook. Anyone interested in contributing to the success of this page please send your ideas and posts to our email address at njcounciloftheblind@gmail.com Please note all posts must be related to activities relating to your membership with NJCB or its affiliates. The page is https://www.facebook.com/groups/2255314534793147/. Just search for New Jersey Council of the Blind in Facebook.

2021 Membership Dues Payment Request

For members at large if you have not already paid dues for 2021, please do so immediately. To be an active, voting member and continue receiving the benefits of our members which includes our Chronicle and ACB newsletters, please send us your $10.00 dues payment. NJCB is required to submit our membership lists and dues to the ACB national headquarters to remain a valid certified affiliate. Please send your membership dues payment to our Treasurer, Steve Sowa PO Box 434, Woodbridge, NJ 07095.

As a reminder for our At-Large members you can also go to our web page and pay online now. The link is www.njcounciloftheblind.org/dues.

Save The Date

Saturday April 24th 12 Noon to 4PM Location TBD

Saturday July 24th 12 Noon to 4PM at Camp Happiness in Leonardo

Saturday October 23rd 12 Noon to 4PM Location TBD

NOTE: Disclaimer. The views and opinions expressed in this newsletter are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of the New Jersey Council of the Blind officers and/or members. The editor reserves the right to edit articles submitted for both space and content.

New Jersey Council of the Blind
An affiliate of
American Council of the Blind

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Annual Dues: $10.00 due in January

Make check payable to NJCB and send to:
Treasurer- Steven Sowa
PO Box 434
Woodbridge, NJ 07095