Fifty-Sixth MCB Annual Convention

October 8, 2012

MCB News Wire

Denny Huff

I believe that the Fifty-Sixth annual convention of the Missouri Council of the Blind was one of the best I have ever attended. There were 196 registered in attendance with many guests.

We began on Thursday with the board meeting. During that meeting the board approved the selection of a new CPA recommended by the budget and finance committee.

The board also voted to donate $500.00 to the St. Louis blind bowling league for transportation to the mid-west tournament, $1,800.00 to the 2013 Power-Up conference and $3,000.00 to the 2013 Children's Vision Summit.

The policy committee presented guidelines for their committee and also duties and responsibilities for the officers of MCB. Both were approved by the board. All of the policies that have been approved will be available to all members and to the new board members.

The board also approved to allow a person to attend a week long camp at Cobblestone Lodge and also the extended week-end camp.

Our executive director presented some options for voting in our elections. This included a ballot box that would be passed around to those voting and also an electronic voting system. The board was very excited about the electronic system and has asked Chris to explore that option further.

The board also heard a report from our thrift store chair William Hawkins.

The convention attendee's enjoyed tours of the Wolfner library and the prison in Jefferson City. We had several vendors in the exhibit room which included several new vendors.

The convention began on Friday afternoon and after the preliminaries which included a welcome from the mayor of Jefferson City we heard from the Missouri Assistive Technology coordinator of the TAP-I program Brenda Whitlock and the director of the Wolfner library Dr. Richard Smith. We also heard several committee reports and were introduced to three people that received the first timer's scholarship.

There were two new affiliates presented to us which included an affiliate in the Kansas City area called, Act Now Council of the Blind and one in the Columbia area called, Tiger Council of the Blind. Both affiliates were approved for charter in the Missouri Council of the Blind.

On Friday evening we enjoyed a great hospitality time which was highlighted by our first auction. Pat Kelly of Granby MO was our auctioneer who also happens to be legally blind. He made the auction enjoyable with his humorous approach and even had Shirley and Melvin bidding against each other on the same item.

The auction brought in over $4,000.00. My thanks to all of the affiliates and individuals that donated items and to Melvin Smith and Wanda Lentz for getting the auction organized.

Saturday morning we began hearing the 12 amendments that were presented for the by-laws. All of the amendments passed with the exception of the one concerning allowing NFB members to also be a member of MCB. Although a majority of the members voted to strike the line from our by-laws that prohibits MCB members to also belong to the NFB, it requires a two-thirds majority vote to amend the by-laws and although it was very close, it just wasn't enough.

We heard and excellent presentation from David Westbrook on Saturday morning which was motivational and inspiring. David is the chief strategy officer and first vice president of the Mercy Children's Hospital in Kansas City.

We also heard from Michael St. Julien, Assistant Deputy Director of the Rehab Services for the Blind in Missouri.

The membership selected Springfield as the site for our 2014 convention. Next year it will be in St. Louis in the Central West End area.

The banquet on Saturday was great! The food was some of the best banquet food I have ever had. Yvonne presented the 12 recipients of the member of the month and Louise Laythrup was selected as the member of the year.

Awards were presented to several individuals including William and Traci Hawkins for the Nathaniel Johnson award. Chip Hailey for the Darrel M. Lauer award, Darren Bone for the president's award and Senators Jason Crowell and Jim Lembke for the Ellis M. Forshee award. Senator Lembke spoke to us about his passion for the blind of Missouri and his promise to continue to fight for us in legislative areas.

We presented the Excellence in Media award to Charlie Brennan of KMOX radio for his coverage of the fight to restore medical coverage for the blind in Missouri. Mr. Brennan delighted the audience with his stories of broadcasting and his reasons for taking up the fight for the blind of Missouri...

Sunday morning was dedicated to the election of officers. They are as follows...

  • President - Patty Schonlau
  • First Vice President - DeAnna Noriega
  • Second Vice President - Mike Keller
  • Secretary - Joe Morgan
  • Board Director - Linda Gerken

Congratulations to all of the officers.

My thanks to a lot of people that made the convention possible this year. I know I will probably leave somebody out but let me say a special thanks to the Blind of Central Missouri affiliate for hosting the convention. To Susan Sanders as our convention coordinator, the office staff for all of the work they did, Beau Barnhart for taking care of the sound, to Virginia Berberick who has served as our parliamentarian for 27 years, to our special guests and all of the members that attended.

Although this is my last year to serve as your president I still plan on being active in whatever area I can serve MCB. Thank you MCB for giving me the privilege of serving you for four years.

Denny Huff
Missouri Council of the Blind