Home > Chronicle > January, 2023
The New Jersey Council of the Blind
January, 2023

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: Resolutions Redefined
By Wanda Williford

Do you make a New Year resolution every January 1st, only to give up on it by Valentine’s Day? Losing 20 pounds, adopting a new exercise routine, creating and sticking to a budget. These are few of the popular ones many of us have sworn to after waking up from a holiday coma 5 pounds heavier and our wallets several dollars lighter. New Year resolutions are usually unrealistic promises we make to ourselves that leave us feeling like a failure by February.

In 2022 I tried a different New Year ritual inspired by my favorite podcast. Gretchen Rubin host of the 'Happier' podcast suggests selecting a word as your guiding principle for the entire year. Last year I chose the word 'NOW', in order to remind me to take advantage of opportunities when they present themselves. My mantra became “the time is now, do it now and why not now?" By the end of year NOW was still inspiring me.

Therefore, I challenge you to select a word that will motivate you to move toward your life goals. There are endless words to inspire; focus, butterfly, dream, engage, climb, waves. I gave it some thought and came up with a word for NJCB in 2023, ‘FORWARD’. Our organization is moving forward, headed forward, and looking forward to a bright future. Reframe the New Year resolution by selecting a theme word instead. 365 days later you will remain inspired, not disappointed.

Our next meeting will take place Saturday, January 28, 2023, from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM. Via conference call. We are excited to host, one of our own ACB Executive Board members, Chris Bell, as our guest speaker. Chris is one of the architects of the ADA and will present on its origins and its impact on the Blind community today.

January Quarterly Meeting Notice

Our January Quarterly meeting will be held by conference call on Saturday, January 28, 2023, from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM. Call 605-468-8005, passcode 425373.

Our guest speaker Christopher G. Bell

Christopher G. Bell is a Member of the American Council of the Blind (ACB) Board of Directors, Immediate Past President of the North Carolina Council of the Blind, and a retired disability rights lawyer. He lives with his wife, Jo, in Pittsboro, North Carolina. He has been involved with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) since the beginning of its legislative process in 1989. Bell was the Acting Associate Legal Counsel for the ADA and oversaw the development of the ADA employment regulations for the EEOC. Subsequently, Bell remained actively involved in ADA employment issues as a partner in the Washington, D.C. and Minneapolis offices of Jackson Lewis, LLP, a management-side labor and employment law firm. Since his retirement in 2001, Bell has advocated on ADA issues for the American Council of the Blind, the North Carolina Council of the Blind, and the American Council of the Blind of Minnesota.

2023 Scholarship Opportunities

NJCB is pleased to announce the 2023 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 2023 – 2024 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.

By Miss Ruth Williams

Squeaky, my tiger tabby, sleeping peacefully on a forest-green, chocolate-brown and cream-colored knitted blanket on top of my computer room chair. He stole my seat when I left to get a snack in the kitchen!
Alt-text: Squeaky, my tiger tabby, sleeping peacefully on a forest-green, chocolate-brown and cream-colored knitted blanket on top of my computer room chair. He stole my seat when I left to get a snack in the kitchen!

by Miss Ruth

The clock in my kitchen stopped working at exactly 6:35 many years ago. Removing it is one of the things on my to-do list, but its cord is incorporated into the trim, so I’d have to hire a contractor to punch out part of the wall to take it down.

So there the clock sits, not working, but also, not going away.

Isn’t it a lot like the problems in our lives?

Every day seems like a dance in which you step back and forth, trying to strike a balance between what you should be doing and what you could be doing.

What if life stopped at 6:35 like a train pulling into Splendor Station and it let you out to toddle around? Would you be able to savor life if you literally had all the time and resources in the world?

Many days, I find myself saying, I’ll just plow through my to-do list and be “in the moment” later.

Tomorrow, I’ll sit in the sunroom and watch those two bluebird pals skydiving from the fence to the feeder. Wait, there’s a deer in the backyard. Here comes his friend, bounding playfully. Now they’re running back and forth. Are they racing?

The cat bumps against my leg and slow blinks at me.

“I’ll be right there, Squeaks,” I tell him. But I’m already there. Aren’t I? We’re here. At home. Where the heart is.

Let’s not wait until time runs out before realizing it’s not about getting “there” before everyone else. Or acquiring things so you’ll have some way to measure your accomplishments. God’s metrics are simpler: be yourself. Be where you are. Be grateful for your blessings. Be centered in your soul. Breathe. Be.

The Job I Never Applied For
By Tyson Ernst

If you pay any attention to the news, you will inevitably hear unemployment is at a 50-year low. I have, as a result of feeling left out of the traditional employment market, decided to become an entrepreneur as a professional job applicant. Over the last year, I have created 20 candidate profiles, filled out nearly 100 online job applications, participated in 4 Zoom interviews, received a dozen rejection letters, and worst of all, had 3 postings I’m highly qualified for taken off the job board entirely after submitting my application. Talk about a blow to your self-esteem. From a 10,000-foot level, it appears the only job I’m qualified for is applying for jobs!

It feels as though I have created a full-time position where my job duties include researching the latest postings across traditional and non-traditional industries, draft both custom cover letters and resumes, and master the attachment function of Microsoft Outlook. Maybe I could make a web series on YouTube out of this, or possibly a blog, if only I could find the time to create a decent website. What do you think? “My life as a serial job applicant?” I’ll keep you posted.

Sometimes, you just have to reinvent yourself!

*This is a blog first posted on ACB Voices on October 18, 2022. To receive blog posts directly, subscribe HERE. To submit a blog post, send your 300-to-500-word submission to Voices@acb.org.

Chapter News

News from Blind Citizen’s Association by Sarah Thoma
A brief history of NJBCA

When I read Helen Keller’s quote, “While they were saying it couldn’t be done, it was done.” I couldn’t help but think about the four blind men from Newark who courageously founded the Blind Men’s Club and broke down some of the barriers the blind and visually impaired faced in 1910.

Mr. William J. Adickes, who was blind and a member of the Blind Men’s Club, served as their secretary.

Historical records show the Blind Men’s Club was organized in the Headquarters of the NJ Commission for the Blind and Visually Impaired in 1910.

After Mr. Adickes sought assistance for training from the NJ Commission, he was hired as their State Field Secretary and became a prominent figure in the establishment of the Blind Men’s Club, its incorporation in 1917 and history.

The purpose of the club was to promote and sustain the citizenship of the blind socially, economically, physically, vocationally, mentally, morally, and educationally. The club also assisted its members by giving them small loan amounts without charging interest and those with business experience functioned as their mentors.

The Blind Men’s Club held its first annual entertainment event in Newark and the proceeds were used to rent a bungalow in Highlands, NJ. At that time, members paid for their room and board while at “camp.”

The camp successfully ran for twelve years, and it was then decided that more members should be able to participate in the wonderful benefits that came from swimming, dancing, hiking, boating etc., at the Jersey Shore and the splendid opportunity of enjoying life and forgetting for a time at least, their blindness.

In 1926, Mrs. H. B. Epstein and Mrs. W. E. Lehman of West Orange, NJ became interested in the work of the club. The following summer a house at 135 Center Ave, Leonardo, was rented and the services of a housekeeper, cook, and a butler were engaged. The two women saw the possibilities and recruited their friends to join their efforts and the New Jersey Lighthouse Association was created. Mrs. Epstein and Mrs. Lehman became the Vacation Administration Committee and were later acknowledged as the Founders of the Camp. The Elks Club paid for the guests’ transportation to and from camp. Forty-eight blind men were given the opportunity of many life changing experiences that summer, as many of them had never met a blind man before or participated in the activities offered. Historic photos show men fishing, boating, and building human pyramids on the beach.

At that point, the local Lions Clubs also became interested in the Blind Men’s Camp and the Leonardo Lions Club was created.

On November 28, 1926, Helen Keller visited Camp Happiness and presented the four founders with an autographed picture and a letter commending the men for their work. Ms. Keller’s picture and a copy of the letter proudly hangs in NJBCA’s offices as well as photo of the first Seeing Eye dog, Buddy.

In the winter of 1929-30 a committee was formed to consider buying a house for a permanent summer location. Land was purchased and a seventeen-room house located on the shores of the Sandy Hook Bay in Leonardo was built. The furniture, equipment of the entire house which included a $500 refrigerator was donated by the New Jersey Lighthouse Association.

The program was named “Camp Happiness” by its members as its innovative camp like environment allowed them to forget, at least for a while, that they were blind.

On July 11, 1930, under the auspices of the Leonardo Lions Club, a formal dedication of “Camp Happiness” was held. There was a parade through Leonardo and Atlantic Highlands with a police escort and speeches by prominent citizens. More than 200 hundred people were present at a banquet dinner which was held in the Atlantic Highlands Park restaurant. On the day of the dedication, Mrs. Epstein, and Mrs. Lehman on behalf of the Lighthouse Association paid off the $4,000 mortgage. The Leonardo Lions Club designated July 10 as Camp Happiness Day.

On July 10, 1931, a flag raising was held at Camp Happiness with a parade though Leonard and Atlantic Highlands. The Leonardo Lions Club orchestrated the event with Governor-Elect A. Harry Moore Congressman William Sutphen, Edward Van Cleve, superintendent of the NY School for the Blind. It became known as Governor’s Day.

On July 12, 1939, one of the historic buildings on the property, Adickes Hall, was dedicated in recognition of Mr. Adickes’ outstanding contributions to the organization and its members.

During World War II, Adickes Hall became an opportunity for its blind members to show support for the war efforts. Members were recruited and Adickes Hall was turned into a sewing factory where blind men sewed for the NJ prison system.

Boys as young as 16 years of age and men as old as eighty-three years vacationed at Camp Happiness and represented a diverse range in occupations. Musicians, entertainers, salesmen, piano tuners, rug weavers, caners, and factory workers were guests. The season opened the last Saturday of June and closed on Labor Day. Funded by entertainment events coordinated by the Lions Clubs throughout the state, everything was offered to camp participants for free. “Camp Happiness” soon became the hub of the community.

During this time, a blind resident of Atlantic Highlands, Mr. Frank Hall, an insurance agent and justice of the peace, wrote It’s a Blind Life and a theater troupe was formed. There are photos of the troupe, a twenty-member chorale, and a small band that also performed at events throughout the state. All of the participants were blind. These photos are in NJBCA’s offices as well.

At some point, the organization became a state project of Lions Club International and there are pictures of members of the Lions Clubs throughout the state participating in community and celebratory events and fundraising events on the grounds as well as the property across the street at 18 Burlington Ave., where the offices are today.

With the Women’s Rights Movement, women were given the right to join men’s organizations. A large certificate of the organization of the Atlantic Highlands Lioness Club dating back to November 25, 1985, is in NJBCA’s offices.

Blind women joined the camp and stayed in the bungalows across the street at the 18 Burlington Ave. location and enjoyed all of the amenities of Camp Happiness as well as an Olympic sized swimming pool. To demonstrate inclusiveness, the name was changed to the New Jersey Blind Citizens Association.

The demand for a year-round program resulted in the building on Sandy Hook Bay to be sold and construction began to expand Adickes Hall. Wobser Hall was dedicated in 1986 and it is where Camp Happiness Campers meet and have programs to this day. After being closed for two years for COVID-19 restrictions, new staff was hired. Safety issues in the building prevented the members’ immediate return but staff developed partnerships with the Middletown Library and Middletown Arts Center and brought members and creative programming to those sites. With donations from local companies and organizations, members returned to a safe, healthy environment in November 2021.

Presently, NJBCA offers its members programs in therapeutic crafts, knitting and crocheting, art, gardening, music, peer support groups and trips to local events.

As transportation continues to be an issue for its members, NJBCA provides safe transportation. To remove any food insecurity issues its members may face, staff developed partnerships with Lunchbreak, and SoupKitchen411 to ensure members get a free meal when they attend Camp Happiness and fresh fruits and vegetable to take home weekly.

Through a partnership with Hackensack Meridian, professionals from their healthcare teams conduct presentations on a myriad of topics which wellness, nutrition, mental health, and safety on a consistent basis.

With the support of the artists from the Middletown Arts Center, Camp Happiness members won numerous awards and the Overall Group Project at the 2022 Monmouth County Fair and are already looking into other venues to promote their creativity.

2023’s curriculum also includes the development of a drum circle and computer training with 2023 edition of JAWS.

Through a collaboration with Monmouth University, a group of graduates from its Occupational Therapy department will also be joining Camp Happiness in February 2023.

One hundred twelve years at Camp Happiness have gone by and records show the dedication of the Lions Clubs throughout the state and their role in keeping the organization going financially enabling the New Jersey Blind Citizens Association to continue to offer their programs and services for free to the blind and visually impaired.

Since its inception in 1910, NJBCA has not received any funding from municipal, county, state, or federal governments. It relies solely on contributions of donors, small community grants and proceeds of its small thrift shop.

When reflecting on the past at the small 112th anniversary in 2021, the current members discussed how Camp Happiness has survived the Spanish Flu, World Wars One and Two, The Great Depression, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, Desert Storm, The Afghanistan War and COVID. The general consensus of the spirited group was, while we don’t know what challenges lay ahead, we will weather them together.

COVID taught the staff how important the organization is to many people and not only those who participate in Camp Happiness. NJBCA expanded its scope and also serves as a statewide advocacy, resource and referral agency to the blind and visually impaired community, their families, caregivers, and the community at large.

As NJBCA moves into its 113th year, NJBCA’s staff continues its restructuring efforts by conducting ongoing outreach and recruitment of new community partners to introduce current events, trends, and the latest in technology to the members.

New board members have been recruited, and a board training and strategic planning process will be taking place in the early months of 2023. The Board of Trustees and staff are committed to keep its mission to enhance the quality of life for the blind and visually impaired through education, socialization and fostering an environment of hope intact.

At the request of the Lions Clubs around the state, staff and board members attend and speak at their meetings.

NJBCA’s staff had the honor of meeting many members of Lions Club International at the 2022 convention as well other members of the Lions State Projects. Their collaboration with the Lions Club International continues. Recently, NJBCA staff was able to refer members of the community to the other Lions Club International state projects for support in getting corneal transplants and cataract surgery when they couldn’t afford it.

As Helen Keller once said, “alone we can do so little; together we can do so much…”

The Board of Trustees, Camp Happiness members, and staff, thank the New Jersey Commission on the Blind and Visually Impaired, members of the Lions Clubs International for their unwavering support. We all look forward to working together to create a vibrant, robust future for NJBCA and the blind and visually impaired community it serves.

Submitted: Sarah A. Thoma, Executive Director, NJBCA

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

Mercer County Happenings!

Peeking back, 2022 was a very good year for the Mercer County Association of the Blind. Resilient is the word that best describes the MCAB organization over the past year. We conducted a full year of successful in-person meetings, hosted informative guest speakers, held our annual parties, and celebrated a milestone anniversary.

In November we celebrated our 91st anniversary, not the 90th as we originally presumed. Turns out the Trenton Association of the Blind was established in 1931, the same year the United States adopted 'The Star-Spangled Banner' as the National Anthem and a gallon of gas cost 10 cents. We enjoyed reading several, Trenton Evening Times articles from the 1930s which discussed the group happenings and celebrations of the time. Most notably, an article mentioned the groups very first meeting place was the Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, on West State Street in Trenton. Interestingly, MCAB has met at several locations over its 91-year history and we currently meet at the Trinity United Methodist Church in Ewing, different church, similar name. We have indeed come full circle and look forward to another 91 years.

The annual MCAB holiday party was held on December 1st, at the Trinity United Methodist Church. MCAB member, Ira Serle, played the piano while the group sang along to joyful holiday songs. Carol Anne Ingra graced us with a solo and Scarlett Morgan photographed the party attendees for posting to social media. Thanks to all who helped to make our party a success. Special shout out to the party planning committee for organizing a spectacular event. The food and fellowship were fantastic.

Moving forward in 2023 we are planning to continue our legacy of resilience, camaraderie, and education. Upcoming speakers include the Ewing Fire Dept. and a certified nutritionist. We will focus on health and well-being in 2023. There will also be a trivia night, so members can flex their mental muscles while having fun. Happy New Year!

Submitted by Wanda Williford

Request from ACB

If you receive your Braille Forum by cartridge, ACB has asked that you kindly return each cartridge. Many members have not been returning theirs and it is becoming a serious problem. If you would like to continue receiving your newsletter by cartridge, please send it back! If you have any questions, please contact Sharon Lovering at slovering@acb.org.

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.

2023 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 22nd Time and Location TBD

Saturday July 22nd Time and Location TBD

Saturday October 28th Time and 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

Name: ______________________________________________________

Street: ______________________________________________________

City: ________________________________________________________

State: ______________________Zip: _____________________________

Phone Number: _______________________________________________

E-Mail Address: ______________________________________________

Meeting reminder notification format: Email: ___Text: ___

Legally Blind: ____ Visually Impaired: ____ Fully Sighted: ____

Preferred format for Braille Forum (ACB National's Newsletter): Large Print __ Digital Cartridge __ Braille-Ready Text __ E-mail __ Podcast __ None___

Format for NJCB Chronicle: E-Mail _____Online _____

Annual Dues: $10.00 due in January

NJCB Online Dues Payment for Members-at-Large New Jersey Council of the Blind (Dues Payment) (njcounciloftheblind.org)or

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