The Braille Monitor                                                                              August/September 2005



by Kevan Worley

Kevin Worley, chair of the Imagination Fund, addresses the convention.
Kevan Worley, chair of the Imagination Fund, addresses the convention.

From the Editor: On Tuesday afternoon, July 5, following the reports by President Maurer and Dr. Zaborowski found elsewhere in this issue and an exciting report by Mark Riccobono and three of last summerís Science Academy participants, Kevan Worley, chairman of the Imagination Fund, came to the microphone to summarize the accomplishments of the first year of the Imagination Fund and to kick off the coming yearís activities. This is what he said:

We have dreamed; we have planned; we have built. Now we devote ourselves to a future full of imagination. President Maurer, members of the board of directors, Mrs. Jernigan, Jernigan Institute Director Zaborowski, honored guests, and fellow Federationists, good afternoon. Imagine! I wonder if our founders and those of the following generations had any inkling, any idea at all of the kind of future they began building for the blind of today. I know they were dreamers, workers, builders; but seriously, how proud they would be of all of us here today, building on the legacy of the founders, the builders, the dreamers, the doers, the original imaginators of our National Federation of the Blind.† How proud the pioneers would be of the work we are doing, the money we are raising to fund the work, the consciousness we are raising, the lives we are changing, the opportunities we are creating through the work of the National Federation of the Blind.

Through the NFB Jernigan Institute and our Imagination Fund we are doing the work, proudly and boldly building on the legacy and imagining and creating better lives for the blind of America and the world, the blind of today and tomorrow. I am here this afternoon first and foremost to say congratulations and thank you to you all. We did miraculous work in the first year of the Imagination Fund, important, creative, meaningful work--thank you. What a wonderful presidential report we heard earlier. President Maurer, what a fabulous and full recitation of our accomplishments and aspirations--thank you. You are definitely our lead imaginator. You imagine that future full of opportunity for all of us and those who will follow us. You imagine it, you inspire it, and often you insist upon it.

We have developed the Imagination Fund to finance the creative and critical work of our new NFB Jernigan Institute and fund the imaginative, grassroots efforts of our mighty Federation all across America. I am proud to have been selected by our national president to serve as the first chairman of our Imagination Fund, but more than that, I am very proud of our Imagination Fund committee, our state coordinators, the dedicated staff at our National Center, our state presidents, and all of you who did the hard work to make the first year of our Imagination Fund such a resounding success. I think that we should stop right here to recognize two special, hard-working, imaginative people. I believe Dr. Maurer has in his hand two awards: a medal for the imaginator who raised the most money. Come up here, John Parť. Congratulations. John raised the most money, $2,700.

President Maurer also has a medal in hand for the imaginator who garnered the most contributions--Bill Isaacs. Come up here, Bill. I also want to mention two of our own who gave the largest donations, $5,000: Carl Smith (thank you, Carl) and our longtime contributor, supporter, and great friend, Herb Magin. Thank you, Herb. Letís celebrate these giving, hard-working, imaginative Federationists. [applause] By the way, let me just say, Mr. Parť, that I was only about a hundred and a half behind you. Just imagine over this next year that I am at your heels, my friend. As we recognize some of our lead imaginators this first year, I would just like to compliment Frank Lee and a number of our colleagues who were very active associate recruiters. I am struck by and impressed by how many of our stellar associate recruiters have worked very hard in support of our new Imagination Fund. Thank you.

Fellow Federationists, with ingenuity and enthusiasm we raised $375,000 in our first year of the Imagination Fund--$375,000! Thank you. And each dollar has been or will be spent wisely in pursuit of our dreams. Absolutely every single dollar raised by us has been or will be spent sensibly and single-mindedly on the evolution of opportunity for the blind, ensuring economic security for the blind and insisting on equality for the blind. As I speak, a number of our colleagues are distributing checks in the amount of $1,802.46--$1,802.46 to each of our fifty-two affiliate presidents. Thatís equal to one quarter of the money raised in our first Imagination Fund campaign. Now you will recall that 50 percent of the funds raised go directly to finance the work of the NFB Jernigan Institute, some of the amazing work we have heard about today, and we know thatís just the beginning. What a great job by Dr. Zaborowski and her team.

Twenty-five percent of the dollars we raised over this past year is now being distributed back to the affiliates to help fund our grassroots efforts. Itís a nice beginning. The other 25 percent will be spent on special projects imagined by our affiliates. With each check each affiliate is now receiving, the state president is also being handed a packet of information that you can use to apply for a portion of that remaining 25 percent targeted to affiliate special projects.

Be imaginative. Do something new, do something maybe that youíve never done before on the affiliate level. Dream up something unique, something that unites us, something that even maybe a few short years ago was unimaginable--unattainable because maybe we didnít have the money or didnít possess the technology, the understanding, or the infrastructure and support of our NFB Jernigan Institute. Imagine projects your affiliate might do in concert with the Jernigan Institute--low-vision fairs, early-childhood-intervention projects, technology seminars at state conventions, and the like. (How about developing a new training curriculum for your stateís blind vendors? Just a thought.) Dr. Maurer will appoint a panel of distinguished imaginators to consider all of the applications and requests for special projects. We want to be sure that a number of worthwhile, highly imaginative endeavors are funded, so work with your state presidents to develop proposals in the two-to-five-thousand-dollar range.

We should all take great pride and satisfaction in the effort we have put into this first year of our Imagination Fund, particularly in view of the fact that this was our first go at it. Moreover, it came on the heels of a multi-year, concerted capital or building campaign. During that capital campaign, wildly successful beyond many of our wildest dreams, we all sacrificed much. We asked many of our family members, friends, and business associates to give what they could to support the building of our great institute. We learned from that effort that they would give in significant measure if they were asked. But itís often easier for folks to get behind a building campaign. Many organizations have found this true. Now the building of the building, our fabulous, state-of-the-art building is behind us. We did it, we built it.

Itís been a year and a half since the grand opening of our new NFB Jernigan Institute. As you have heard this afternoon, we are now building the programs. Our staff has moved in. Many of the experts, technologists, trainers, thinkers, and administrators have been assembled--at least the first wave of them. As you have heard this afternoon, in issues of the Braille Monitor, and on presidential releases over the past year, we have begun the work we imagined we would do. Now each and every one of us should and must rededicate ourselves to raise the money to fund our imaginative work in remarkable ways. We must be as determined as ever to reach out to our family and friends and business contacts and others in order to garner the resources to change lives, change the system, change society.

We can do this; we did it for the capital campaign. We began with a mighty effort during the first year of our Imagination Fund when we raised $375,000, no easy feat on the heels of a wildly successful capital campaign. Again, thank you to all of you who have given and thank you to all of you who contributed your names and contact information lists so that we could experiment with some imaginative mailings to reach out to new people and gain their support. Thank you to each of you who asked your families and friends and acquaintances to contribute. The capital campaign is well behind us. We learned much from that effort, and we have learned much from the first year of our Imagination Fund campaign. It is now time to roll up our sleeves, ramp up our effort, and open up our wallets with all our pride and love of our cause.

Ladies and gentlemen, fellow Federationists, announcing the National Federation of the Blind Imagination Fund annual campaign for 2005. Beginning at this convention, we are asking all of you to think about how much you can give or pledge. Beginning at this convention, we ask you to consider joining our core of imaginators. Beginning at this inspiring NFB convention, we ask all of you to think about the ways you can help our annual campaign be even more successful. By any measure $375,000 this past year was a commendable start, but it is only the beginning. Our work demands that we consider it only the beginning. Fellow Federationists, during the months of September, October, and November we will conduct an annual Imagination Fund drive. During those three months, with our Meet the Blind Month squarely in the middle, we will ask everyone to reach out to potential contributors. It will be an amazing, concerted, energetic, three-month drive. We must develop chapter and affiliate events to raise awareness and money during our three-month annual Imagination Fund campaign. Help us think big, imagine big, dream big, and raise big dollars during this annual campaign because the work we must do is big. It is cutting-edge, important work on behalf of the blind of today and tomorrow. If itís going to happen, we must find ways to fund it.

At this convention we must begin the planning of our annual Imagination Fund campaign, which begins in fifty-five days. We must recruit a mighty core group of imaginators to help in this effort. Imaginators are those who are willing to make a real commitment to this annual campaign. Imaginators agree to get at least ten contributions or at least seriously ask ten people to contribute to our annual campaign. Some imaginators will instead agree to provide lists of names and contact information for at least ten potential donors who are likely to give during our upcoming annual campaign. These imaginators, the ones who provide lists of potential donors for our database, will also agree to make that all-important follow-up call once a mailing has gone out during this first annual fall campaign.

We learned much about what to do and what not to do during last yearís successful Imagination Fund effort. For one thing, we learned from all of you that you wanted a shorter, more intense campaign: thus the annual campaign during September, October, and November. But this means that all of us must really give what we can and really work hard on imaginative events to encourage others to give. Get involved with the Imagination Fund at this convention and during the crucial three months of September, October, and November. We in the National Federation of the Blind have always been both realists and dreamers. We have always imagined, and weíve always been willing and able to do the hard work. During our first Imagination Fund effort we raised $375,000. During our 2005 annual campaign your Imagination Fund steering committee has set a goal of a half a million dollars--half a million dollars!

We can do this. We can raise $500,000 to develop new, amazing, cutting-edge technologies; to educate medical doctors about the National Federation of the Blind; to do publicity and outreach for NFB-NEWSLINE; to develop Braille Is Beautiful programs in our local schools; to establish and carry on formal mentoring programs for our new members; to ensure the continued development, manufacture, and marketing of the first handheld Kurzweil NFB reading machine; to make it possible for more seniors to attend possibility fairs; to train and inspire professionals working with the blind; to make science and math a real possibility for more blind children.

My friends and my colleagues, imagine, imagine what we can do together. We are beginning the work at this convention. We are making our plan so that in fifty-five days we will start a robust, three-month Imagination Fund campaign. Help us plan it, be a part of it. An Imagination Fund table is in the back of this hall. We are ready to take your contributions and your pledges. We are ready to sign you up as an imaginator. You will receive your imagine pin and your very own packet of Imagination Fund brochures, which will help you as you contact family, friends, business colleagues, and corporations. We must start here and now this week at this convention. We will continue it throughout the fall, and we need each one of you. Every imaginator will be critical to the success of this annual campaign. As Dr. Maurer has said, ďWe invite you to help us by sharing your ideas, talents, and treasure.Ē