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The New Jersey Council of the Blind
January, 2022

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.


President’s Message: Top Ten Things I Love About Living Blind
By Wanda Williford

There is no denying living as a blind person comes with numerous inherent challenges. The pros and cons of navigating everyday tasks could fill volumes. Full disclosure, I was inspired to examine this topic by ACB’s President, Dan Spoone’s, November 2021 message, published in the Braille Forum. He penned a top ten list of things he finds annoying, living with blindness. His observations were so spot on, I found myself nodding in agreement and laughing out loud at the list. I thought certain adventures were unique to my sometimes-madcap life. Dan’s “Top Ten” confirmed a universal truth. We are all more alike than we are different. What I also know for sure, us blind folks definitely lead interesting lives. I acknowledge there are many annoyances that come with being blind. However, there are some aspects I’ve discovered over the years, I quite like. I challenge you to think about the positives of living with blindness or low vision. Here is my “Top Ten” list of things I love about being blind.

  1. Blind Family: When I joined NJCB, I found my tribe. Prior to 2018, I did not know any other blind people. I had no idea what I was missing, befriending other people who walk a similar journey as mine has been life affirming. The compassion, camaraderie and love we share makes us forever family.
  2. No physical snap judgements: Since I can no longer make out faces, I can’t subconsciously dismiss a person because of some unappealing characteristic like a missing tooth or an unusual haircut. Conversely, I am not dazzled by pearly veneers, or a pair of hand tooled Italian loafers. My relationships are richer because I get to know people without physical distractions.
  3. Large Patience Muscles: I make conversations with strangers in the long line at Target. I listen to audio books when the doctor’s visit runs long. I do not experience passenger “Road Rage” when traffic comes to a grinding halt on 95. Years ago, this level of calm was not the norm for me. I now try to make the best of sometimes being at the mercy of others’ schedules. My perspective has changed, and I’ve developed patience muscles Arnold Schwarzenegger would envy.
  4. Skipping lines: Several years ago, I took a cruise with family. Disembarking, the customs line snaked on for an hour wait. The customs agent spotted my cane, pulled our group out of line and processed us in 5 minutes flat. My 10-year-old nephew commented on the way home in the car, “Aunt Wanda, I’m so happy you have that cane, otherwise, we would still be in that ridiculously long line.” Admittedly, I sometimes feel a little guilty in these situations, but I quickly get over it.
  5. Kind Strangers: I try to live as independently as possible. However, we all need help occasionally. I have been out and about, gotten turned around and ended up in the Automotive aisle of Target. I call out and a stranger will assist and lead me to the shoe aisle, where I was originally headed. I am always grateful and amazed at the willingness of perfect strangers to lend a helping hand.
  6. BARD: Recently, I was listening to a NPR book review, they recommended what the reviewer stated was the best memoir written in the past 20 years. I immediately grabbed my phone and downloaded it to my BARD mobile app within minutes. I’ve managed to read 36 books in 2021. Having free access to books and magazines, is a game changer.
  7. Reduced NJT Fare: it’s not difficult talking my friends into taking the train into New York City, because my companion travels free and my fare is half price. Cha Ching!
  8. Touchy Feely Me: I love the tactile design and feel of elements in my living and bedroom, the ultra-soft velvet loveseat oversized down filled pillows with silk fringe, and the feel of my bare feet on the sumptuous wool rug. My hands are in constant sensory nirvana.
  9. Low Electric Bills: I do not use lots of lighting. Most times I have to remember to turn on lights when guests visit. Frequently, I will ask a friend to read a document. They reply, “Sure, could you turn on a lamp, it’s too dark I can’t see it.” We both chuckle at the irony.
  10. Never the Designated Driver: Don’t get me wrong, I miss being able to hop in my car and drive to 7-Eleven for a Slurpee. However. Knowing I can have a cocktail at any occasion, without fear of endangering anyone’s life, including my own is liberating. Cheers!

Our next meeting will take place via conference call Saturday, January 22, 2022, at 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. We are excited to host Kelly Boyd as the guest speaker for our first meeting of the New Year. Ms. Boyd is with the NJ Office of Emergency Management. She will advise us on the particulars of Emergency Preparedness. We will learn how to create an evacuation plan and pack a to-go bag, just in case you must leave home due to an unexpected storm or other emergency. This will be an informative and important presentation that will help us to be proactive in protecting our safety and well-being. Call (605) 468-8005, passcode 425373.

January Quarterly Meeting Notice

Our January Quarterly meeting will be held by conference call on Saturday,
January 22, 2022, from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM.
Call 605-468-8005, passcode 425373.

Our guest speaker

Kelly Boyd is an Access & Functional Needs Planner for the NJ Office of Emergency Management. Previously, she served as the AmeriCorps Program Officer for the New Jersey Commission on National & Community Service and as the Disaster & Disability Services Coordinator for the NJ Governor’s Office of Volunteerism. Mrs. Boyd was also a disaster reservist for FEMA Region 2, an Emergency Management Specialist at the NJ Division of Developmental Disabilities, and an Emergency Preparedness Contractor for Arc Mercer.

2022 Scholarship Opportunities

NJCB is pleased to announce the 2022 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 2022 – 2023 academic year and be a New Jersey resident. The deadline to apply is May 15th 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 scholarships@njcounciloftheblind.org.

From our Scholarship Winner by Kaiylah Mercado

My freshman year of college has been quite the hectic one. As someone who strives for the best and even better, I’ve definitely had my difficulties with school itself. However, I’m still endlessly thankful for the scholarship I was granted by the NJCB! It takes one less stress off my shoulders to know I’m supported financially. I’ve switched my major from Pharmacy to Nursing, and I must say it’s been interesting. Of course, college is way different from high school, so I didn’t expect anything less than the almost complete upside down. I’ve made new friends, though, and I’m so happy about that! My semester ends quite soon, but I’m grateful to say that my experience in college has been enjoyable above all. I want to thank the NJCB once again for the scholarship as it gave me so much encouragement from the beginning of the semester to now.

Thank you again.

Getting to Know You by Wanda Williford

In this issue we get to know one of our “O.G.” NJCB members, Tuan Linsinbigler. He joined the Mercer County Association of the Blind chapter in 1981. Originally from Vietnam, Tuan relocated to the United States in 1975, at the age of 12. Three years earlier he innocently picked up a land mine, which exploded, leaving him totally blind and without a right hand. In need of intensive medical care, he left his biological family and was adopted by his American family residing in Ewing, NJ. Not wanting him to be sheltered from the “real world,” his parents insisted he be mainstreamed by attending public schools. He learned blind skills during summers at The Perkins School, JKRC and Camp Happiness. After graduating high school, Tuan trained and became a career Randolph Shepherd vendor. Running his successful business for 28 years, serving locations from the Federal building to the Hughes Justice Complex. The ultimate survivor, Tuan retired in 2013 due to health concerns and had a successful kidney transplant in 2015.

Tuan has served as a Board member of both the NJCB and MCAB. He twice represented NJ at the Special Olympics as a track and field athlete. An avid cyclist, he once raised money for Anchor House by riding a tandem bicycle 500 miles in seven days. Currently, Tuan resides in beautiful Lawrenceville, NJ. Let’s discover more about our resident athlete in twenty revealing questions.

  1. What particular sound do you love?
    “I really like the sounds of animals and nature in general.”
  2. What sound makes you cringe?
  3. What is your favorite scent?
    “I like scented candles, especially vanilla”
  4. You order a large pizza on a Friday night, what’s on it?
    “Pepperoni and Sausage”
  5. What flavors make up your triple scoop ice cream cone?
    “Tin roof, Butter Pecan and Vanilla”
  6. If you could have dinner with three people, living or deceased, who would you choose?
    “Jesus Christ, King Solomon and Albert Einstein.”
  7. What is the meal you order on that special occasion night out?
    “I love steak, but my all-time fave is Lobster”
  8. Sitting on the beach in a comfy chair on vacation, what are you drinking?
    “A Pina Colada, I like them spiked or virgin.”
  9. Where is the furthest you have traveled from New Jersey and why were you there?
    “I have visited Vietnam about 12 times to see family.”
  10. Do you have a favorite movie?
    “Forrest Gump”
  11. Who is your favorite actor?
    “Tom Hanks”
  12. Who is your all TIME favorite athlete?
    “The GOAT, quarterback, Tom Brady.”
  13. What was your first concert?
    “I saw Jimmy Buffett and Barry Manilow at Tanglewood in Massachusetts.”
  14. Do you recall the first record you purchased?
    “Music Box Dancer, by Frank Mills.”
  15. What is your favorite genre of music?
    “I love all kinds of music, especially Christmas music, which I could listen to all year.”
  16. Did you have a pet as a kid and what sort of creature was it?
    “When I was a kid in Vietnam, I tended to 4 Water Buffalo, I loved them and considered them my pets.”
  17. Do you have a hobby?
  18. What is your favorite word?
  19. What quote or saying inspires you?
    “You complain you have no shoes, until you meet a man with no feet.”
  20. What brings you joy?
    “Helping others in need, like collecting White canes and sending them to Vietnam. I also exchange assistive devices with other blind people here in the United States.”

I was so fortunate to meet Tuan back in 2018. He introduced me to the NJCB, and we became fast friends. It was evident, Tuan is a man of deep, abiding faith. He is the loyal, trustworthy friend you seek out for advice. His intellect, kind spirit and rich life experience make him a wealth of wisdom. Being a 40-year NJCB member, he is the valued ambassador and historian of the group. I have come to rely on Tuan for sage advice, spiritual counsel and a great joke. He and I share a love of 80’s music and have spent hours trying to stump Alexa while singing along to Air Supply. We agree George Michaels ‘Careless Whisper’ is a perfect representation of the 80’s love song. Tuan, thank you for being our friend!

Mindful Moments Lead to Forging New Paths
By Miss Ruth Williams

This is a picture of Miss Ruth’s son, Coleman, at age 5. Coleman has short, wavy brown hair, brown eyes, tan skin, and a joyful smile on his face. He is wearing a bright orange shirt with an applique of a tiger’s face on it. He is holding his brown teddy bear, Aaliyah. PS: Coleman is now 23, while, paradoxically, Miss Ruth is still 29 years old (although her license claims she's really 56 😉)

Alt text: This is a picture of Miss Ruth’s son, Coleman, at age 5. Coleman has short, wavy brown hair, brown eyes, tan skin, and a joyful smile on his face. He is wearing a bright orange shirt with an applique of a tiger’s face on it. He is holding his brown teddy bear, Aaliyah. PS: Coleman is now 23, while, paradoxically, Miss Ruth is still 29 years old (although her license claims she's really 56 😉).

FOMO is an acronym that stands for, “Fear of Missing Out,” and it’s one of the reasons so many people take selfies. It’s a way of saying, Look! I’m where the action is! I’m having fun! See?

FOMO is an acronym that stands for, “Fear of Missing Out,” and it’s one of the reasons so many people take selfies. It’s a way of saying, Look! I’m where the action is! I’m having fun! See?

But somehow it seems they’re trying to prove they’re enjoying life instead of being present in that moment.

So I propose we start a new acronym: BWYARN:

Be Where You Are Right Now.

And what is BWYARN all about?

When my son was younger, I felt guilty that I didn’t take more pictures of him, because all my friends had videos, pictures, and scrapbooks of their kids. However, I did manage to capture a picture of my son at age five with an expression of joy on his face.

So when I feel guilty about what I should have done as a mother, I look at this picture. I must have been doing something right, at least at that moment, for him to be feeling so happy!

For so many of us living with vision loss, there is a sense of where we should be in life as compared with others in the community.

Some people have learned daily living skills, such as cooking, like MasterChef winner, Christine Ha. She was treated like any other contestant on the show, even being subjected to host Gordon Ramsey’s, usual tirade of exasperated expletives, and emerged victorious in the end.

Many blind people are experts at cane travel and can cross 8-lane highways like nobody’s business. Blind cane traveler Grant Hardy’s documentary, Have Cane, Will Travel showcases how people with disabilities adapt to be able to continue seeing the world, even if they can’t actually see the world.

But, as with everything worth doing in life, all of these people started out with an obstacle in the way and learned to climb over it. If there’s some goal you want to achieve, the first step is the hardest one — and the most important one you’ll ever take.

Don’t let the fear of missing out on what everyone else is doing keep you from creating interesting adventures of your own. Be where you are right now. Get comfortable with who you are and what you want out of life. In that serene, still space, you’ll realize that, with some creative thinking and a little moxie, your dreams are still within reach.

Chapter News

News from Blind Citizen’s Association by Sarah Thoma

Happy New Year Greetings from the Jersey Shore!

All is well at NJBCA and with the addition of our Operations Manager, we have aggressively moved forward on creating a safe, secure environment for our members to return to. Current plans being worked on include a new emergency exit ramp, a new air filtration system and a freshly painted, welcoming and inviting space for our members to socialize, learn, grow and have fun safely!

While we were busy addressing some of the issues we faced, we developed relationships with new community partners, and we held meetings at various locations to keep our members engaged and socially active.

We responded to the upsurge in calls for assistance and referrals and saw the need for advocacy work increase. We are also experiencing growth in our membership.

In December, we inducted three new board members onto the NJBCA Board. Dr. John Patro of Monmouth University, who oversees the Occupational Therapy Doctorate program at Monmouth University, Daniel Castorina, a Communications Expert from NY Board of Elections, and Dave Wilson, an environmental engineer and all-around volunteer extraordinaire.

We introduced our new board members to our wonderful members and volunteers at our Holiday event where we dined on Turkey, Ham and all of the trimmings prepared and donated by one of our local chefs, participated in a sing-along and even Santa and Mrs. Claus had to stop by much to the delight of everyone in attendance.

An agency that works with victims of domestic violence were the recipients of the beautiful handmade scarves, hats and gloves made by our creative members that enabled children to pick presents for their mothers and mothers to keep their children warm with colorful hats and gloves.

The calendar is starting to fill up for when we return… In the meantime, be safe, be well and stay tuned… more to come….

Wishing everyone a safe, happy New Year!

Mercer County Association of The Blind (MCAB) by Mustafaa Shabazz, MCAB President

Peace and well-being to everyone from The MCAB Family near and far.

We pray that everyone has been safe, enjoying the best of health and life.

Happy Holiday Season to everyone!

On November 18, 2021, MCAB held a combined in person and conference line meeting at our meeting site at 1985 Pennington Ave, Ewing, NJ.

MCAB held its elections at this meeting starting at 7:00 PM. Members were able to participate in person and at home.

Newly elected Officers were: President, Wanda Williford; Vice President, Mustafaa Shabazz; Treasurer, Terry Hammoutene; Recording Secretary, Daniel Bausch; and Corresponding Secretary, Susan Yochim.

Welcome to all newly elected Officers and Congratulations.

A Proposal was approved for membership to receive a $25 Gift Card. This Proposal was modified to reduce the amount to $15 and to pay all members ACB dues of $10 for the Year 2022.

All present members safely socially enjoyed dining on Pizza, soda and water.

Best regards

NJCB Tech Talk by Wanda Williford

Are you “Tech Curious” or a “Tech Enthusiast”? Wherever you land in the technology sphere, we need your help and input. We invite you to join our monthly call focused on assistive technology. We conduct an intimate chat where there are no stupid questions or intimidating jargon. We come together to help one another and gain a better understanding of the technology we all live with or aspire to.

Please come share your expertise on the iPhone or ask that question about your Victor Stream.

Our meetings are held the first Monday of each month. Call (978) 990-5000, passcode 361060. Our next call will be
January 3, 2022, at 7:00 P.M.

All are welcome to participate in our informative, casual, and lively conversation. Learn more about everything from Jaws to Android Talk Back.

Foodie Focus by Wanda Williford

When the winter settles in to stay, here in Jersey, there is nothing like a hearty bowl of Chili to warm you up. Especially after an exhausting afternoon of shoveling snow or served as the main attraction for the Big Game. This ‘Healthy Turkey Chili’ recipe is simple to make, and you most likely have the ingredients in your pantry. The addition of corn is a sweet surprise that balances the slight heat. This recipe is just a blueprint, make it your own by adjusting the amounts of spice. Experiment with unusual garnishes that suit your taste. I love this chili served over brown rice, topped with pickled jalapeño peppers. Yummy!

Healthy Turkey Chili


Toppings (optional): sour cream, shredded cheese, avocado, cilantro, pickled jalapeño peppers.


  1. In a large pot heat oil, add onion, garlic, and bell pepper. Sauté 5 to 7 minutes.
  2. Add the turkey, breaking up the meat cooking until texture is firm. Next add in chili powder, cayenne pepper, cumin, oregano, and salt; stir about 20 seconds.
  3. Add tomatoes, kidney beans and corn. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 30 to 45 minutes or until chili thickens. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary.
  4. Garnish and serve with any toppings you’d like. Makes 6 servings

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 www.facebook.com/groups/2255314534793147/. Just search for New Jersey Council of the Blind in Facebook.

2022 Dues are due.

Please send your annual dues along with the attached membership form to our Treasurer, Steven Sowa. Annual dues for members at large are $10.00. Checks should be made payable to NJCB and mailed to PO Box 434, Woodbridge, NJ 07095.

Announcing, we have a NEW way to pay dues and making donations through PayPal using your credit card. Our webpage has the direct links to the secure page.

Remember NJCB on Amazon Smile

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 smile.amazon.com/ch/22-3592848.

Save The Date

Saturday April 23rd 12 Noon Location TBD

Saturday July 23rd 12 Noon Camp Happiness in Leonardo

Saturday October 22nd 12 Noon Location TBD

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

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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Treasurer- Steven Sowa
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