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The New Jersey Council of the Blind
April 2024

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
by Sabastian Warren

Happy April NJCB Family

I am enjoying being president. I think one of the most challenging parts of being president may be writing messages every quarter. It is a task, however, that I am willing to undertake. First, I want to say thank you to everybody that is a loyal member and all the volunteers that help in so many ways. I also want to thank the executive board. They are a great support to me and collaborative. We work well together and consider many ideas. Thank you to everyone who has joined our fund raising and scholarship committees. I look forward to working with each of these committees to help raise funds and scholarship monies to further the education for as many college students as possible.

Second, recruitment is another area of focus. There is power in numbers and together we can do more for our communities as visually impaired and blind individuals. Further, with increased membership we can begin NJCB advocacy work, which is an essential committee for our needs, and I believe one of our most important endeavors. As an individual, I have based many obstacles in my life, which I believe many of us have endured. For example, transportation problems such as filling out paperwork at government facilities, difficulty navigating traffic lights without pedestrian assistance, and the lack of affordable technology to help facilitate our daily lives.

As we grow our numbers, we build a collective voice to advocate for these necessities. The advocacy committee will be extremely helpful in building a plan and determining strategies to make real change in New Jersey. In conclusion I feel that all these goals can be accomplished in promoting the NJCB as a force to be reckoned with in making New Jersey a more inclusive state for visually impaired and blind individuals.

I look forward to seeing everyone at our next Quarterly meeting on April 27th. Meeting information is below.

April Quarterly Meeting Notice

Our April Quarterly meeting will take place on Saturday, April 27, 2024. We will meet in person at the Trinity United Methodist Church, 1985 Pennington Rd, Ewing NJ 08618, (Find directions at the end.) 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. For those planning on attending in person and want to eat the pizza, please RSVP at 609-672-7059 no later than April 24th. To attend virtually call 719-300-3278, no access code needed at 1:00 pm. We hope all of you will join us!

About our Guest Speaker

Dr. Jennifer R. Warren, born and raised in New Jersey, holds a Ph.D. in Health Communication from Penn State University and is faculty at George Mason University in Virginia. For the past 20 years and counting, Dr. Warren has pursued health disparities research to seek health equity solutions. She has more than 34 peer-reviewed publications and has presented her research in diverse venues, including scientific and community-based programs.

A large portion of Dr. Warren’s efforts focus on community engagement with underserved populations across the nation who are not seen and whose health needs are not addressed. Understanding that health is essential to life satisfaction, she has a passion for developing collaborative and relevant interventions to increase community mobilization in health activism and advocacy.

Dr. Warren is excited about the opportunity to present at NJCB, and not just because the president is her nephew. Dr. Warren knows many of the obstacles faced by people with disabilities. However, she has learned a great deal about the lack of relevant services to facilitate effective daily living among visually impaired and blind individuals.

As our speaker in April, Dr. Warren’s presentation is titled, One Collective Voice: Advocating Life Equity for Visually Impaired and Blind Persons. She will present and, ideally, have a discussion with NJCB members about advocacy and how to plan, determine strategies, and coordinate action to speak as one collective voice to diverse New Jersey stakeholders to advocate for change. Collective advocacy is essential to expose the challenges and gather relevant support that leads to relevant land effective life transformation among visually impaired and blind individuals.

2024 NJCB Bernard Zuckerman Scholarship Information

It is not too late to apply for the 2024 Scholarship program. To apply, eligible candidates must be legally blind, will be a full-time college student, undergraduate or graduate, in the 2024 – 2025 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

Mercer County Happenings!
by Wanda Williford

April showers bring May flowers, here in Mercer County. Our spirits are not dampened by the soggy, rainy weather this Spring. The Mercer County Association of the Blind is looking forward to a garden bounty of activities and information this season. We will host a beautiful bouquet of speakers with a wide range of topics that will enrich many aspects of our lives.

April is typically the time we examine our financial health. April 15th, Tax Day is known to send shivers down many a spine. April guest speaker Tax Attorney, Peter Gorman, will help us navigate the month. With more than 50 years’ experience, he will share information on estate planning, living wills, advanced directives and how to protect you and your family.

In May, we will host, Alexa Snitkoff with OrCam. Alexa will demonstrate, live and in person, this amazing device. OrCam is a visual interpretative device that enables a blind or low vision individuals to read documents, recognize faces and accomplish our many other important tasks that enable and foster independence.

Springing ahead and losing an hour of sleep is not the only thing that disrupts our rest. Non-24 is a sleep disorder that affects many in the blind community. Commonly causing individuals to develop erratic sleep patterns, such as experiencing difficulty sleeping at night and staying awake during the day. In June, Maggie Felton, with Vanda Pharmaceuticals, will join to discuss ways to combat Non-24 and offer tips to getting a proper night's rest.

In addition to our fantastic group of presenters, MCAB will enjoy other fun activities. We will again attend a performance at Hunterdon Hills Playhouse for a tribute to country singer and icon Patsy Cline. There are also plans to hold workshops to increase technology literacy. Lastly, we welcome our newest member, Paul Ressler, to the MCAB family. Happy Spring and warm weather wishes to all!

Are you a lover of cycling?
by Barbara Plunkett

Are you a cycling enthusiast? I have been a lover of cycling ever since I was a little kid on a tricycle. About twenty years ago I was introduced to tandem cycling and immediately loved the idea of two pedaling as one! Over the ensuing years I have logged many miles with many stokers, some blind or visually impaired. For those unfamiliar with tandem terminology, the person in the front seat who steers is called the captain, and the person in the rear seat is called the stoker.

In addition to the basic physical challenge of pedaling a bike, tandem cycling requires good communication between captain and stoker. Getting started, slowing and stopping, making turns, and setting a pedaling speed agreeable to both parties all require the development of an effective language between the tandem team.

I have found in my many outings with new stokers that some take to it right away, and others just don’t feel comfortable and can’t wait for the ride to be over. So, it’s definitely not for everyone, but it is for some! If you think you may be among “the some” and want to give tandem cycling a try, or if you are already an experienced rider looking for a captain, please feel free to contact me.

Note: I have a medium size tandem that is good for both the road and/or path and am willing to travel a bit to meet you at your home. We can hopefully find some safe roads or parks in your area that are good for cycling. A helmet is a must so please have one ready for the ride or let me know if you need one.

Barbara Plunkett contact information
(609) 947-0730

Let Go of What Doesn't Serve You to Make Way for Projects that Deserve You
by Miss Ruth
Thumbnail image of a sunflower

With all the stress in our lives, it’s more important than ever to maintain work-life balance, and that’s a work in progress for me.

To that end, I’ve created a sacred space of sorts in my home: my prayer chair. Just a comfy chair by the fireplace where I can sit, listen to books, knit on my round loom, pat my cat, and, of course, pray. It helps me to decompress from my busy days.

To describe this chair, it's an orange red that compliments the color of the bricks in the fireplace. It's just big enough to fit one regulation Kindly-Auntie-type (me) and one zaftig feline (Squeaky, the tiger-striped tabby cat who secretly runs the household.)

As I sit in my prayer chair, every so often, I'll receive what I call “words on my heart.”

Last year, I was feeling overwhelmed because I belonged to so many disability community boards and councils, and as I sat in my prayer chair, I got these three words on my heart:

“Of equal measure.”

I knew it meant that if I don't get something of equal measure in return for the energy I put into a project, it's time to walk away. If my contribution isn't valued, or worse, if I feel I'm not being respected, then that commitment is complete.

I left a few long-standing projects and gave no explanation except that I was leaving. Explaining yourself to people who don't value you or respect you is not necessary. This freed up time for projects that deserved my attention.

It’s also important to your mental health to know when you’ve bitten off more than you can chew.

My big project two years ago was creating an app that would list all the resources a person with vision loss might need.

I took a course on how to create a business to sell a product or service. I wanted to learn how designers create an app from the ground up, so I participated in a project in which people who are blind or have low vision tested a navigation app and gave feedback so that the app could be revised. I came up with a catchy name for my app: “Blind Finder: Vision Loss Resource Locator App.”

I consulted with Wanda as I considered the order of the resources to include in my app.

Somewhere on the list, I’d put, “Learn how to use your phone non-visually,” but Wanda said, “No, that should be the first thing listed on this app.”

And she was right. The phone is our lifeline. Not just in case of emergency to call 911, it's where our life lives, so to speak. It's where our independence is. It contains all our contacts, appointments, emails, files, apps for entertainment like Netflix, Spotify, etc.

I listened to Wanda and changed the app’s layout so that a resource that would help one learn how to use a phone non-visually was listed first.

So I invested a great deal of time in this app project, but one day, while sitting in my prayer chair, I got some more — you guessed it — words on my heart. Those words were:

“Out of my depth.”

That project was for someone with the technical acumen and time to do it justice.

So when Wanda called and asked me to sit in on a Zoom meeting with two tech-savvy Princeton students looking for projects to help the vision loss community, I felt like God spoke. I gave them my idea, my business plan, my contacts and all the research I'd done and wished them luck.

Another big project that grabbed hold of me last year was to repurpose an unused horse racing track in a park into an Orientation and Mobility training area. I got to work on that full-bore. I contacted an accessibility architect to ask if this was possible and found out who was in charge at the parks department.

But one day, sitting in that prayer chair, I realized that this was a nice idea for someone, but again, it was not for me. I got some more — you guessed it — words on my heart.

“Let go for now.”

Finally, the last project that has captured me and has not yet let go is a platform for releasing trauma and accepting yourself as someone with disabilities. It is an accessible, interactive musical play called “Bring it Home.” The main themes are self-acceptance and focusing on what is good in life.

And so, this play has been my heart’s project for the last year or so. My hope is to involve people with disabilities as cast and crew. But this is the sticking point I’m grappling with: how to pay them.

I’m always saying to members of my vision loss community groups, “You should get paid for the work you do.”

To that end, I’ve told them about various “side hustles” I do to make ends meet, such as accessibility studies with Contact Design and Vision Loss Community consulting for various entities.

Even with these side hustles, I’m on a fixed income. So are many members of the community. I can’t turn around and say, “I’ve always told you to ask for the money you are due, sure, but do this play with me for free.” I need to find funding for it if I’m going to do it right and do right by my community.

I can visualize this play in living color, showing the world what people with disabilities are capable of: acting, singing, designing, directing, audio production, set building. All of it.

So is it a pipedream? Maybe. But it’s the one project that has yet to let me go. I’m trusting that it’s in Higher Hands than mine, and if it is meant to be, it will come to pass.

I’m hoping one day to be sitting in my prayer chair and hear these — you guessed it — words on my heart:

“Bring it Home.”

Take care,
Miss Ruth Thumbnail image of a sunflower
Vision Loss Community Advocate
Miss Ruth Here!

Foodie Focus
By Patti Muscico

Spicey Sausage Stew with Summer Vegetables

Serves 4 to 66
Active time 35minutes. Start to finish 60 minutes

When everything looks so good at the farmers markets in late summer, it is easy to end up at home with a lot of vegetables and a few ideas of how to combine them to make something just right. This dish showcases the flavors of peppers, corn, and tomatoes, with just the right amount of spice.



  1. Heat skillet over medium high heat. Add butter. When it is melted, add the onions and garlic and cook, stirring until translucent and slightly brown, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the meat and stir browning on all sides, about 3 minutes. Stir in the spices. Top with the peppers, corn, zucchini, and tomato pieces. Stir and season with salt and pepper.
  3. Cover the skillet, reduce the heat to medium, and cook, covered, for about 20 minutes, checking it occasionally to be sure there is enough liquid and that it is gentle simmer, not a rolling boil. Garnish with parsley if desired. Serve immediately.
  4. Adopt if using crock pot.

Edamame and Black Bean Salad

Serves 6




  1. In a large bowl, mix together all the vegetables.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients, then add to the vegetable mixture.
  3. Chill until cold, about 1 hour and then serve.

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 July 27th location TBD
Saturday October 26th 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, Sabastian Warren (609) 672-7059
1st Vice President, Wanda Williford (609) 375-6682.
2nd Vice President, Lisha Pottackal (215) 948–2210
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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