Braille Monitor                                                                    August/September 2006


Are You Ready?

by Kevan Worley

Kevan Worley

From the Editor: Tuesday afternoon, July 4, Kevan Worley, chairman of the NFB Imagination Fund Committee, reported on Imagination Fund activity for the preceding year and unfolded some exciting plans for the year to come. This is what he said:

Thank you, Dr. Maurer, members of our national board of directors, Mrs. Jernigan, Institute Director Zaborowski, Imaginators, and fellow Federationists. Dolores, are you ready? Are you ready to imagine the flame, the spirit that builds our future? Each year your Imagination Fund steering committee awards an Imaginator of the Year. A person who through energy, creativity, and good old hard work has helped to fan the flame of progress, educating members of the public and gaining donations for our NFB Jernigan Institute. This year the committee is very proud to recognize Dolores Reisinger of our Iowa affiliate, where the roots of Federationism indeed grow deep in the soil (isn't that right, Peggy?). Here is your Imaginator of the Year for 2006, Dolores Reisinger. [Dolores was then handed an acrylic crystal statue about ten inches high, surmounted by a star. Etched in the statue were the words, "Imaginator of the Year, 2006, Dolores Reisinger." The NFB logo was etched in the base.]

Thank you, Dolores.

Kevan Worley prepares to present Dolores Reisinger with the Imaginator of the Year Award.

It is indeed a pleasure for me to serve again as chair of our Imagination Fund campaign and as the master of ceremonies of our Imagination campaign report and kick-off rally. Are you ready? Are you ready to honor many affiliates and individual Imaginators who have helped us throughout our '05-'06 Imagination Fund campaign? You know that the flame that is our Federation spirit truly burns bright. I would like to share with you the top ten state affiliates:

10. Illinois, $4,691
9. Kentucky, $5,327
8. Florida, $5,460
7. New Jersey, $5,501
6. California, $6,055
5. Arizona, $7,173
4. Massachusetts, $7,830
3. Connecticut, $27,126.89
2. Colorado, $44,060
1. Maryland, $62,305

Congratulations to the top ten and to all affiliates who participated in this last campaign.

Now let's credit our top ten Imaginators of the 05-06 campaign, and they are:
10. Dolores Reisinger, $1,748
9. Ed Vaughan, $1,850
8. Chris Danielson, $2,260
7. Patricia Maurer, $4,130
6. Betsy Zaborowski, $4,295
5. Charlie Allen, $4,762
4 Amy Phelps and Scott LaBarre, $5,000 each
3. John Paré, $7,500
2. Mary Ellen Jernigan, $12,650
1. Kevan Worley, $23,034

Let us also pay tribute to our talented, hard working, gifted, and giving National Center for the Blind staff. Are you ready for this amount? Our National Center staff donated $57,425.71. Isn't that sensational? Sensational but not surprising. Thank you. Many, many of you worked hard to make this campaign successful. Now are you ready for the grand total from the 2005-2006 Imagination Fund campaign? $315,982.28

Remember that 50 percent of all of the money raised during our Imagination Fund annual campaign funds the imaginative, important work, the big ideas at our NFB Jernigan Institute. Twenty-five percent of the dollars raised is divided equally among our fifty-two affiliates. This year each affiliate is being handed a check in the amount of $1,519.15. Along with your check, state presidents or delegates are being provided critical information about our next Imagination Fund campaign and the process we will use for the dissemination of additional grant dollars for special Imagination-funded projects. Remember that 25 percent of all dollars raised through our Imagination Fund is made available for special projects. We urge affiliates to apply for these grants.

For example, making sure that the flame of Federationism burns bright on the Internet, here is National Board Member Joe Ruffalo to tell us how the New Jersey affiliate used grant money from our Imagination Fund. [The musical introduction to a radio program then began playing over the public address system, and an announcer introduced Joe Ruffalo as the host of the Internet broadcast, Through Our Joe then described how Imagination Fund grant monies helped launch this Internet broadcast.] Thank you, New Jersey President Joe Ruffalo. This is a project that exemplifies our NFB spirit and imagination.

In our Florida affiliate, grant dollars made sure families of blind children received necessary support. Here is Sheryl O'Brien: [Sheryl O'Brien then introduced Debby Brackett. They talked about the parent seminar conducted at the state convention and the new parents division which was established this spring with Imagination Fund grant money. They also described how lives are being changed.] Thank you, Florida team, for using grant dollars to make sure that the spirit of our movement burns bright for blind children. Now here is Beth Underwood from Big Sky Country to share Camp Eureka with us. [Bird and nature sounds then played while Beth Underwood, who was the key player in developing Camp Eureka for blind kids, and Dan Burke, president of the Montana affiliate, had fun delighting the audience with their exchange about Camp Eureka.] Beth and Dan, thank you, that work would not have happened without collaboration with the NFB Jernigan Institute, our affiliate action team, and our Montana affiliate. We are proud of what you are doing to make sure blind kids learn about nature and have unique experiences, kindling that flame of exploration and imagination. These are the kinds of projects we have supported and must support through this Imagination Fund campaign.

Now we know that the flame burns bright in Indiana. Here is national board member and affiliate president Ron Brown. [Ron then spoke briefly about a how-to and philosophy-of-blindness seminar that the Indiana affiliate held at the Indiana School for the Blind and funded with Imagination Fund dollars.] Thank you, Ron. Bringing more blind people into the movement, developing unique partnerships, that too is what we are all about.

We have just featured four diverse, innovative projects that will have lasting impact. This past year Imagination grant dollars funded twenty-eight projects, NFB projects that are making a difference. Earlier this afternoon you heard about the exciting, big ideas happening at our NFB Jernigan Institute. Earlier this afternoon you also heard Dr. Maurer's annual presidential report, and again this year what a wonderful, wonderful report. Thank you, Dr. Maurer.

Are you ready to help us raise the dollars? To help us continue this imaginative and necessary work? To fan the flames of progress? I can tell you that I am. Dolores, are you ready? Beth, Joe, Ron, Sheryl, are you ready to imagine the flame, the spirit that builds our future? Announcing our 2006-2007 annual Imagination Fund campaign. We want, need, and deeply appreciate all of your contributions and pledges all week throughout this convention, throughout the upcoming campaign. Please go to the Imagination Fund table and begin making them now. And by the way where is that Imagination Fund table? [a disorganized shout from the rear of the room] I'm sorry, where is that Imagination Fund table? [louder shout from several voices at the back]

Let's talk for a minute about how we can get our coworkers, friends, neighbors, family members, fraternal organizations, and others to support the imaginative and vitally important work we do in this organization. There are so many ways to fan the flames and fund this necessary work. There truly are. You have heard this afternoon about the big idea coming next summer, and won't that be a slam? Well, we have a lot of big ideas in the National Federation of the Blind. We always have had. Our philosophy was first, best articulated by Dr. tenBroek and then was boldly expanded by Dr. Jernigan and now with nuance and fullness by Dr. Maurer--a philosophy which in and of itself is a very big idea that should be universally accepted by both blind and sighted people. We must have big funding to expose and expand the big idea of our philosophy.

You can make a personal request of someone or several people you know who may now be outside our movement. Ask them to make a substantial investment in what you do, in what we do. Each of us should think hard and identify someone we know who may be in a position to make a large gift to our Imagination Fund campaign. Over this past campaign I've begun calling this the "big ask." Make a big ask to fund our big ideas. Think of a person or two or three from outside our organization who may be able and willing to donate a substantial gift of $5,000 or more to fund our big ideas. If you want help making the big ask, just ask me or other members of our steering committee. If you have someone in mind who you think should be approached, please talk to me. Perhaps you'll want me or someone from our committee to make the big ask with you. Great! We are ready. You can do this.

People always ask, "How do I become an Imaginator? How do I join the ranks of the more than nine hundred Imaginators who signed up during the '05-'06 campaign?" First of all, if you were an Imaginator during the recent campaign, thank you and please sign up again here and now, at this convention. Where is that Imagination Fund table? [shout from the rear]

How to Become an Imaginator

Agree to ask at least ten people to make a contribution, or make a substantial contribution or a pledge yourself to be paid prior to May 31, 2007. Are you ready? Please make a donation yourself, and agree to ask at least ten people to make a donation big or small. Be imaginative. Get out there and spread the word about the big ideas, the life-changing, society-altering philosophy of the National Federation of the Blind and our Jernigan Institute.

This year we are adding a new and exciting component to our Imagination Fund campaign. I believe this will become a very important aspect of our effort.

Imagination Fund Fellows Program

Anybody who gives $10,000 or more before May 31, 2007, may name an NFB Fellow for the year 2007. Anybody who gives from $5,000 to $9,999 before May 31, 2007, may name a 2007 Jernigan Institute Fellow. Anybody who gives from $1,000 to $4,999 before May 31, 2007, may name a Presidential Fellow. Donations of $1,000 or more must be received in a single envelope at the National Office, but if a group wishes to pool its resources to bestow the honor of being named a Fellow on someone in their community, this is up to the group.

Remember that the primary goal of the Imagination Fund is to solicit support from those who are not already active members of the Federation. This affords us a new way to honor and thank our friends as well as to continue to raise funds for the Imagination Fund. The names of 2007 Fellows--Presidential Fellows, Jernigan Institute Fellows, and NFB Fellows--will be printed in the 2007 NFB convention agenda and in the Braille Monitor. In addition each will receive an attractive plaque.

Federationists, when you go to the table throughout this week to join the ranks of Imaginators, you can also indicate your interest in becoming a campaign booster. Campaign boosters are those Imaginators who really get it done, who make the big asks, who ask at least ten people to contribute, and who go above and beyond by helping us promote this outreach campaign by serving on committees, work groups, thinking up the ideas, and getting the message out. Spreading our message is a critical part of this campaign. Please talk to your colleagues, family members, friends, neighbors, fellow students, seniors, fellow church members, customers, public officials, small business owners, and community leaders. Tell them about blindness, what it is and what it is not. Tell them about our work; about our special projects in New Jersey, Florida, Montana, Indiana, and in your own state and community; and tell them about the ground-breaking, historic, and imaginative work we do at our NFB Jernigan Institute. Offer each of those you visit the opportunity to contribute, to become an Imaginator himself or herself, to join with you and your colleagues to fan the flames, to fund the big ideas. Are you ready? Maybe at the next convention you will be the one selected by our steering committee as the Imaginator of the Year, following in the footsteps of Dolores Reisinger.

We need to reach outside of our organization to educate, inspire, and garner support from the public, but I know that many of our colleagues right here in this room may want to contribute to our big ideas to make them come true right now, here, today. I am now asking if any Federationists right now are ready to fan the flame by making a significant pledge or contribution of $5,000 or more from the floor of this convention. [At this point a number of Federationists stepped to the audience microphones to make gifts and pledges. The first was Charles Allen of Kentucky with a $5,000 pledge. Kevan concluded these presentations with the gift of a personal check for $10,000 and a pledge of another $1,500.]

Many of us contributed through the capital campaign to build our magnificent NFB Jernigan Institute. Now we simply must fund the big ideas that emanate from that institute. Are you ready? [cheers and applause] Are you ready? [louder cheers] Are you ready to take it to the next level? [sustained cheer] Please go to the Imagination Fund table. Where is that Imagination Fund table? [shout from the rear]

[At this point Kevan Worley announced that early in the morning of the opening day of next year's convention in Atlanta we will conduct a March for Independence. Together he and President Maurer explained that each person who marches will have raised at least $250. We will also invite leaders in Atlanta's business community to march with us. As plans for this event unfold in coming months, the Braille Monitor will carry the details.]

The flame of our Federation burns bright with imagination, energy, big ideas, spirit, and joy. What once was a spark became a flicker and is now the flame, the spirit that builds our future. Thank you, thank you. [As Kevan concluded his speech, Whozit, almost seven feet tall and in full Whozit colors, entered the ballroom and made his way up the aisle.]