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The New Jersey Council of the Blind
October 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: What Is Your Third Place?
By Wanda Williford

Recently, while listening to NPR (National Public Radio), the dulcet toned host asked, “What is your third place?” My initial thought was, “What the heck is my first place.” I had no idea what this concept meant. I continued to listen and learned, a Third Place refers to the social surroundings that are separate from the two usual social environments of home (“first place”) and the workplace (“second place”). Examples of third places include gyms, cafes, clubs, libraries, stoops, parks and churches. In essence, third places provide community and a sense of belonging.

Your favorite farmer’s market, the local Starbucks and the corner pub provide more than a place to pick up apple cider, Frappuccino or a tall Guiness. They offer the opportunity to chat with a neighbor and make much needed social connections. In the 1980’s we all wanted to throw one back at ‘Cheers’, “Where everybody knows your name.” We loved the moment, every episode, when the affable barfly enters and the patrons shout “Norm” simultaneously with gleeful exuberance. There is no better feeling than to be welcomed into a safe space with friends, who accept and love you ‘quirks’ and all. A third place allows you to be at ease and laugh until you snort. There is lots of banter, healthy debate and a respect for differences.

One of my favorite third places fell victim to the pandemic, like many other businesses that were shuttered. I was a “gym rat” for several years at a boutique women’s fitness center, where me and my white cane were embraced. The gym became my home away from home. I exchanged recipes and life advice with the women seated at the stationary bike to my left. Three years later, I still have not found a suitable, comfortable gym. However, my ultimate third place is my ACB community; in all its’ forms, in person and virtual. Joining Zoom calls with other blind attendees who understand the challenge of unmuting. And being in a room with other cane users and beautiful guide dogs is joyous. My first NJCB meeting was so positive and impactful. I felt such a sense of belonging, members were kind and willing to share. My hope is everyone has a place where they feel seen, heard and unconditionally loved. For NJCB members, we have created a third place for one another through camaraderie and engagement. Celebrate your third place, wherever you find it.

To help us safely travel to our chosen third places, we are pleased to announce Orientation and Mobility Specialist, Lukas Franck, as our October guest speaker. Mr. Franck will share his expertise on navigating the world with a white cane and other helpful information. Join us Saturday October 28, 2023, from 12:00 pm to 4:00 pm. We will meet at the Trinity United Methodist Church 1985 Pennington Rd, Ewing, NJ 08618. Lunch will be served at noon, followed by the guest speaker and our business meeting. Call (605) 468-8005, Access code 425373, to participate by phone.

RSVP by October 21, 2023, to reserve your spot. Contact Wanda Williford, Call (609) 375-6682 or email president.njcb@gmail.com. We are excited to once again be meeting in person.

October Quarterly Meeting Notice

Our October Quarterly meeting will take place on Saturday, October 28, 2023. We will meet in person at the Trinity United Methodist Church, 1985 Pennington Rd, Ewing NJ 08618, (click here for directions). The meeting will begin promptly at 1:00 pm until 4:00 pm. A Pizza lunch will be from 12:00 pm until 1:00 pm. A cost of $5.00 per person is requested to cover the cost of the food and drinks. To attend virtually call 605-468-8005, Access code 425373# promptly at 1:00 pm.

NJCB Executive Board Elections
by Miss Ruth

During our October Quarterly meeting, NJCB will hold elections for our Executive Board. We currently have a slate of candidates willing to fill the positions for President, 1st Vice President, 2nd Vice President, Treasurer and Secretary.

The slate is as follows:

President - Sebastian Warren
1st Vice President – Wanda Williford
2nd Vice President – Lisha Pottackal
Secretary – Daniel Bausch
Treasurer – Steve Sowa

Any NJCB member in good standing may be eligible to run for office as long as they meet the descriptions below for that position. Anyone else interested in becoming a candidate for one of the above positions, please contact me at missruthacb@yahoo.com. We will also accept nominations from the floor for any open position. Anyone being nominated must have been approached beforehand and be present at the meeting.

Executive Board Descriptions
Section 1 - President
The President shall be the chief executive officer of the Corporation; he/she shall preside at all meetings, shall be Chairperson of the Executive Committee, and appoint all committees. The President shall serve no more than two consecutive elected terms and shall be legally blind.
Section 2 - First Vice-President
The First Vice-President shall assume all of the duties of the President when he/she is unable for any reason to fulfill them. This person shall be legally blind.
Section 3 - Second Vice-President
The Second Vice-President shall assume all of the duties of the President when both President and First Vice-President are unable for any reason to fulfill them. This person shall be legally blind.
Section 4- Secretary
The Secretary shall be responsible for receiving and sending all correspondence carried on in the name of the Corporation. He/she shall maintain custody of all said correspondence. The Secretary shall be responsible for keeping a record of all meetings of the Assembly and Executive Committee. He/she shall have custody of all minutes and correspondence of the Corporation.
Section 5 - Treasurer
The Treasurer shall be responsible for receiving and disbursing the funds of the Corporation, subject to the supervision of the Executive Committee and in line with the general policies of the Corporation, as set forth by the General Assembly. Such funds are to be deposited in a bank approved by the Executive Committee, and easily accessible by the Treasurer. He/she shall have custody of all financial and corporate records of the Corporation.

Seeing the Bright Side at the End of an Era
by Miss Ruth

This year, I was finally able to install a white picket fence on my front porch. Oh, my goodness, was I psyched!

I ordered a blue-grey rocking chair from Amazon. Took a small, square table I had in the basement and sat it next to the chair. Put a tiny white vase of fake pink roses with even faker green leaves on the table. Perked up a nice, fresh cup of java and stepped out onto the porch. After all the sweltering summer days we’ve had to endure, finally, it was a cool day.

Sat down in my chair, feeling all warm and fuzzy, and finally looked fully at what was in front of me through the “zoom in” feature on my phone’s camera:

Vantage point is looking out over a white picket fence on a porch with a tall white beam on the left side. There is a small tree with purple leaves just to the right of the picket fence. On the street in front of this house, a rusted landscaping truck with an attached green trailer is parked and takes up most of the view. Behind the truck is a house under construction, with Tyvek house wrap that reads, 'Lowes.' In front of the house being renovated, there is an enormous, dead evergreen, covered with brown needles.

Alt text: Vantage point is looking out over a white picket fence on a porch with a tall white beam on the left side. There is a small tree with purple leaves just to the right of the picket fence. On the street in front of this house, a rusted landscaping truck with an attached green trailer is parked and takes up most of the view. Behind the truck is a house under construction, with Tyvek house wrap that reads, "Lowes." In front of the house being renovated, there is an enormous, dead evergreen, covered with brown needles.

My neighbor, a landscaper, had parked his rusted-out truck and trailer right in front of my house. Behind it loomed the monstrosity that is my neighbor’s “avant garde” design of a house renovation that is still under construction after a year and a half. To top it all off, there was an enormous, dead tree, having been decimated by the dreaded lanternfly.

I felt myself starting to stew. This is the view I get to look at? Come on!

But fairly quickly, I toggled my psyche to a different setting: Seeing the bright side.

The bright side is that I’ve got a warm, welcoming home and a sweet, silly cat named Squeaky. I’ve got a wonderful son who’s a man of few words, but when he gives his word, he keeps it. I’ve got projects that give me a sense of purpose when I wake up every day. I’ve got a deep and abiding faith that sustains me through every hill and valley. I’ve got friends who would bail me out of jail at midnight on a Monday, no questions asked. Heck, they might even bake me a cupcake with a nail file in it!

So I was able to shift gears and enjoy my time on the porch, despite the less than picturesque scene. And it reminded me that life is a constant state of change. What is immovable is what we store as treasure in our hearts.

Which brings me to the fact that this is the end of an era for the Council.

Our beloved Wanda Williford’s tenure as president is coming to a close. She’s served two terms, and, according to the rules, she may no longer serve in that role.

On my phone, Wanda is listed as “President-Friend.” Oh great. Now I’ve got to conquer my phone contacts feature and change it to “1VP-Friend.” Thanks a lot, Wanda!🙂

Even though she is no longer going to be President, she’ll still be my friend, I assume. If not, I guess I’ll just transfer my loyalty to Sebastian, or whomever eventually takes on the role. Honestly, I prefer to only be friends with powerful people. Just kidding!

Luckily, there is no term limit on friendship.

Maya Angelou famously said, “I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

I could tell you what you already know: that Wanda has worked tirelessly to ensure that projects are being completed on time and that everyone involved has what they need. That she’s represented the ACB and the garden state with great aplomb, even as her own vision transitioned, necessitating mobility training and adjustments aplenty.

But more importantly, she made us all feel important. Wanda has set a kind and caring tone as president of the Council, and it feels as if she is glad to hear us as we call into the quarterly meetings. She’s been a bright star in our sky for as long as we’ve known her, and that won’t change, no matter what title she holds.

So we thank President Williford for her years of service and her warm presence. The bright side is she’ll still be around as First Vice President. In whatever capacity she may serve, we’re all glad she’s been - and will continue to be - part of our lives.

Chapter News

News from Blind Citizen’s Association
By Sarah Toma

Greetings from Camp Happiness!

It is the beginning of Fall, and I am sitting at my desk, listening to the wonderful sounds of laughter and friendly interaction between our Campers and staff of Family and Children’s Service who are presenting their W.I.S.E. program.

Like many of you, we were impacted by the heat wave and storms that swept in unexpectedly, but the spirit of our Campers was not dampened even though we did have to cancel a trip and some outside activities.

Talking about trips…. With the support of the Monmouth Park Charity Fund, we received funding to support a new program called, Blinds on the Go. This new program, named by one of our members, has given us the capabilities to unlock even more opportunities for our members and also has opened the potential to break down barriers and bias regarding blindness. Campers dined at No Limits Café and enjoyed concerts at PNC Arts Center and Middletown Arts Center. The Eddie Testa band repeatedly acknowledged ”New Jersey Blind Citizens in the house!” much to the delight of our Campers. Next week, Campers will be visiting the Monmouth County Parks System to learn about local history with hands on presentations on the Lenni Lenape Native American tribe that inhabited the sacred lands we are on. In addition, we are scheduled to attend plays at the Jersey Shore Arts Center and more programs are in the planning stages. We are truly thankful for the support of our volunteers who participate in making these trips more special for our Campers.

Blinds on the Go programs are in addition to our regularly scheduled Wednesday and Thursday fun and educational activities that take place at Camp Happiness. They include creative arts, crocheting, knitting, painting, sculpture, wellness programs, meditation, mindfulness, and mobility training. Campers are also treated to performances by local musicians, and educational forums by representatives of county government who share valuable resources that could further enhance their lives. To combat food insecurity, we provide morning snacks, nutritious lunches donated by Lunchbreak and fresh fruits and vegetables for Campers to take home with them.

We are once again partnering with Monmouth University’s Doctoral Occupational Therapy program where Campers will be attending one class a month on Campus working together with the students to provide a greater understanding of vision loss. After acting as Subject Matter Experts on a Beach Accessibility study during the summer with the students, Campers returned from the experience with a feeling of hope and empowerment acting as their own advocates.

Internationally known Chef David Burke started a Dinner in the Dark after watching the Seeing Eye Dogs walking with their new owners by one of his restaurants. We approached him and he has enthusiastically embraced NJBCA. A Dinner in the Dark will be held on Thursday, October 12 at his GOAT restaurant in Union Beach. I attended one of the dinners a few weeks ago and have to say the food was amazing but the impact on the people at the dinner was even more so. For more information on the dinner or to reserve a place at the table, please visit thegoatbydb.com/event10-12-dinner-in-the-dark. We look forward to sharing this culinary adventure with you. Funding from this project will assist us in making our kitchen code compliant and supporting the costs of our programs.

As we do not receive any government funding, maintaining a program that still provides free programs and serves as a resource and referral agency on a statewide level, funding is always an issue. We are ramping things up with a 50/50 raffle that will be starting in October. The drawing will be held at our office on November 20 as a kickoff to the holiday season. Extra money for Black Friday (hint, hint…) If you are interested in purchasing a ticket, please contact the office at 732-291-0878. Your support is greatly appreciated.

On a sad note, we lost two members recently, Clay and Frank. Both men were wonderful members of Camp Happiness. Clay was a longtime volunteer prior to losing his vision and could always be counted on for his mischievous humor. Frank was a quiet soul, but when he had something to say it was definitely worth listening to. He also entertained us with playing his harmonica. When Frank entered the hospice and could not attend Camp anymore, he wrote a beautiful letter thanking us for allowing him to be part of this organization. Both of these men enriched our lives at Camp and are sorely missed.

On a happier note, we added two new Campers, Delores, and Martha. We feel fortunate to have them as new members of our Camp Happiness family. Additional interviews are scheduled for new Campers.

As mentioned in an earlier communication, we have added nine new members to our 12-member Board of Trustees. It is a diverse group of talented professionals with non-profit and corporate experience. In a short period of time, the Finance and Fundraising committees have been formed and the Advisory Board members list is expanding. We are very thankful for their support.

I have been invited to participate in the Monmouth County ACTS, which is a group of dedicated non-profit and county professionals who are working cohesively to create simpler approach for service delivery to those in need. I am honored to be part of this outstanding group.

I have also been invited to be part of the new group, the Accessible Voting Coalition, which is working to create more opportunities for people with disabilities to vote. Members currently are Disability Rights NJ, Vision Alliance of NJ, American Council for the Blind, National Federation of the Blind NJ. A letter was drafted to support legislation and member agencies were asked to sign in. I am also honored to be of part of this wonderful group of professionals as well.

After Evelyn Murphy, PhD, co-chair of the Monmouth County League of Women Voters, gave a presentation for our Campers, I joined the group. It was a real learning experience for everyone, and I recommend, if you have the opportunity, attend one of their forums. On another note, this group has a DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) component that I will be part of. There are chapters in every county if you are interested in learning more.

I met with Michele O’Schaughnessy, the Director of the Monmouth County Office of Senior Services recently to advise her on the services that we provide. We are both looking forward to working together in the very near future.

When I was recently invited to meet with the Toms River based Eye Openers Group, I had the opportunity to meet with Maria La Face, the Director of the Ocean County Office of Senior Services prior to the meeting. The Eye Openers meet at the Toms River Library. The County transportation system provides the members with rides to the meetings and once a month to a place for a luncheon. I have also learned that there are or were additional groups in Ocean County, one in Manahawkin and Barnegat. If anyone has contacts for any of these groups, please send their information me to me at director@njbca.org or call the office at 732-291-0878. We would like to know more about them. Thank you.

My best always,


Mercer County Association Of The Blind (MCAB) Happenings!
By Wanda Williford

Crunchy leaves under foot, crisp morning air and apple cider donuts, these are welcome signs Fall has arrived in the Garden state. Our Summer break is over and we’re ready to get back to business, Pumpkin Spice Lattes in hand. The Mercer County Association of the Blind has an exciting calendar of events planned for this autumn season. We will explore audio described theater, hold our biennial elections and take a much-deserved field trip.

Audio description enhances the enjoyment of viewing television, movies and theater for the blind and low vision community. We are fortunate here in NJ, there are several theaters that offer live audio description. Princeton University’s McCarter Theater has been a pioneer in live audio described theater for many years. They will join us in person to share highlights of their upcoming schedule of musicals, dramas and concerts. In addition to explaining the ways to purchase tickets to an event and their commitment to providing accessible performances for all. To view the list of NJ theaters that offer audio description, check out the American Council of the Blind’s, Audio Description Project website adp.acb.org.

We are also thrilled to take our first post pandemic field trip. A return to Hunterdon Hills Playhouse in Hampton, NJ. We will enjoy lunch, followed by a ‘Tribute to Tina Turner.’ Many thanks to the Fundraising Committee; Mary Jane Dunn, Cathy Ingra, Barbara Knoblock, Angela Lampkin and Barbara Plunkett for all their hard work raising money towards transportation. MCAB members donated new and gently used items that were sold at Columbus Flea Market. Additional thanks to MCAB member, Nicole Gorman and her father Peter Gorman, for their generous donation of $1500. Their kind support enables MCAB members to attend the performance at no cost. The hope is we can hit the road at least once a year, moving forward. Broadway here we come!

Finally, we are pleased to report, the MCAB’s annual summer party was a huge success. There were 52 attendees, a great time was had by all. Good food, karaoke, line dancing and lots of laughter highlighted a wonderful day. Thanks to all who contributed to making the day so enjoyable.

Foodie Focus

Recipe by Wanda Williford

There is nothing tastier than a hot bowl of tomato soup and a gooey grilled cheese sandwich, on a chilly Fall Day. This recipe takes tomato soup up a notch, with the addition of white wine. Cannellini beans add richness, making this hearty soup savory and satisfying. Creamy and flavorful, this soup comes together quickly and is a perfect weeknight meal. Add a crunchy salad and a sandwich for a healthy balanced dinner. Freeze the leftovers for next week’s lunch.

Creamy Tomato Bean Soup



Melt butter in a pot over medium high heat. Cook garlic, onion and carrot for about 5 minutes until carrot is soft and sweet. About 3 minutes in, add Italian seasoning to onion mixture.

Turn heat up to high, add tomato paste. Cook for 2 minutes to remove raw flavor. Add white wine. Cook for 3 minutes, until wine smell is gone and wine is mostly evaporated.

Turn heat to medium, add ½ cup beans, stock, parmesan, salt and pepper. Cover and simmer for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Using a stick blender, puree until smooth. (or transfer to a blender)

Add remaining beans, cover and simmer for 3 minutes. Stir in spinach until wilted, then add cream. Add salt and pepper to taste, if needed.

Serve hot in your favorite bowl and enjoy!

Recipes by Patricia Musico



Place one 16-oz frozen peas in a colander. Rinse with cold water to thaw; drain and pat dry. In a 3 or 4 quart Saucepan, heat 2 tsp. Vegetable oil over medium-high. Add 1 tsp. Cumin seeds, crushed and if you like ½ tsp crushed red pepper. Cook and stir for 30 seconds. Stir in peas. Cook for 3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro; cook and stir 30 seconds more. Season with ¼ tsp salt.

*Makes 6 servings ½ cup each)



For vinaigrette, in a large bowl whisk together 3 Tbsp of fresh lemon juice, ¾ tsp. each Dijon mustard and honey, ¼ tsp of salt and 1 pinch black pepper. Slowly drizzle in 3 Tbsp of olive oil, continuing to whisk, until combined. Stir in ¾ cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley. Using a vegetable peeler, peel long, thin strips from 3 medium rainbow carrots, trimmed and scrubbed.
(*you should have about 6 cups lightly packed carrot ribbons)

Add carrots and ⅓ cup each golden raisins and toasted almonds to vinaigrette; toss to combine. Top with additional parsley.

*Makes about 4 servings (1 cup each)



In a medium bowl whisk together ½ cup seasoned rice vinegar, ¼ cup finely chopped fresh dill, and ½ tsp each salt and black pepper. Add 4 cups of very thinly sliced cucumbers; 1 pt. Cherry tomatoes, halved: and ¼ cup finely chopped red onion. Toss to coat. Chill for about 15 minutes. Stir before serving and drizzle with 2 Tbsp. olive oil.

Makes 6 servings (1 cup each).

2024 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. To pay dues online go to New Jersey Council of the Blind (Dues Payment) (njcounciloftheblind.org). Feel free to write us at njcounciloftheblind@gmail.com.

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.

Save The Date

Saturday January 27th Time and Location TBD

Saturday April 27th Time and Location TBD

Saturday July 27th 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 https://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


Get onto Route 95 heading south. (From Route 1 south, from Route 295 heading north or Route 195 heading west to Route 295 north)

Get off at Exit #4 making a left turn onto Pennington Road (Route 31 South toward Ewing)

Turn right at the 4th traffic light, Carlton Avenue. It is across the street from The College of New Jersey. Make the first left to enter the church parking lot. The meeting room entrance is close to the parking spaces and is a single door.

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
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American Council of the Blind

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