DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS
Bay Pines VA Healthcare System Post Office Box 5005
Bay Pines, Florida 33744
July 2018 VIST (Visual Impairment Services Team)
Blinded Veterans Association Florida Regional Group Official Website
FRG Presidents Message: I would like to briefly introduce myself, my name is Carlos Pere and Im your newly elected Florida Regional Group President. I served honorably in the U.S. Marine Corps and later attained a Bachelors in Digital and Commercial Arts. I currently live in Tampa, which I performed the duties of Central West District Director for 2017. My goal as President is to have an open line of communication and be accessible to the members. At this time I would also like to congratulate the re-election of some of the presiding District Directors and welcome two new District Directors: Virginia Vogel of the Central West District and Doug Cram of the Central North District. As some already know, Dr. George Stocking has been dealing with some health complications. We all wish him a full and speedy recovery, but we also need to prepare for the unknown. I believe that an individual with many accomplishments, impactful contributions and years of service should be acknowledged and celebrated. Dr. Stocking: this newsletter should be about you, telling your stoiy. Give us guidance in order to serve other blinded men and women with the same principles you established within your years of representing and advocating for the blind. I hope that we are allowed more time to work together and know each other better.
US Legislative Update: The US Senate and House of Representatives has passed legislation that will improve veterans healthcare at the VA medical facilities and will only send care that is not available at the VA facilities to the private sector. As a result, 42 veterans service organizations had recommended its passage. In late May, the Senate passed this bill at a vote of 92 to 5 and the House voted 347 to 70 and sent it to the President. The President has since signed this major legislation into law.
Message from I am taking a few lines in the FRG newsletter to thank all the veterans
in Florida for their support over the 10 out of the last 20 years that I served as president. I also wish to thank all the VIST and BROS that I had worked with when I was advocating or representing a blinded veteran. There are two reasons for my decision to step down. I feel that no one should serve
as the president indefinitely. There is always a need for new ideas as our world changes. The other
reason is for those of you who do not know, I have over the last 9 months lost my voice, and it now
has reached a state where I can hardly be understood. Unfortunately, the VA after running a myriad
of tests still have no idea what has caused my impaired speech. I am of staying on the FRG board as
the Immediate Past President, and with the aid of various electronic devices, I plan to stay active.
Once again thanks to one and all, Terry King, Immediate Past President.
FRG Convention Report: The first activities at this convention were late registration and welcoming
to those in attendance. The hospitality room was open for socializing throughout the convention. At
5PM on May 3, BVs were treated to liquid refreshments. This was followed by the banquet at 7PM on
Thursday. The opening business meeting was held on Friday morning and the minutes of that meeting
are at the end of this newsletter. As indicated in the minutes below, a number of vendors demonstrated
new sensoiy aids for the blind. At 3 PM on Friday afternoon, the first informational seminar was held.
The first speaker was from the Hadley School for the Blind. It operates many educational programs
designed for blind individuals. In general, there is no cost for these classes. Next, Zaskia Blondette,
Chief of the West Palm Beach Blind Rehab Center (BRC) described the many services available through the BRC. She encouraged all BVs who had not been to a BRC to take advantage of these many
services. At 6PM, Friday evening, the hospitality room was open for a pizza party for Convention
attendees. On Saturday afternoon, a second informational seminar was presented. Guy Borgeson from
the VA Regional Office outlined a new process for making appeals of VRO decisions. He was followed
by Jim Woolyhand, Chief of the Brail and Talking Book Library, who gave us an update on talking
book library services. The hospitality room was open again following this seminar from 5 to 7PM. The
Installation Banquet was held at 7PM. Joseph Bogart, the new BVA Executive Director was guest
speaker at the banquet. Following Joe Bogarts message, the officers and directors for the 2018-2019
year were sworn in by Bruce Davis. Those in attendance adjourned to the hospitality room for more
socializing. Sunday was the time for good byes and travel home.
FRG Annua] Business Meeting Minutes: The First Business Meeting was called to order at
9:43AM on May 4, 2018 by FRG President Terry King. Carlos Pere led the pledge to the flag. The
roll call of Members and Associate Members registered for the Convention was read by Becky Pere.
Mike Taylor made a motion to waive the reading of the April 28-30, 2017 Annual Business Meeting
Minutes. The motion was seconded and passed unanimously. Becky Pere read the Treasurers
Report. The income and expenses listed in this report are for 2017 FRG Convention. The final
income and expenses for the 2018 FRG Convention were not known as of date of this report.
There is an opening balance of $43,540.87
The dues apportionment $4,847.67
Checking account interest $37.16
District meeting registration $2,055.00
Convention registration $2,295.00
Donations, Unrestricted Account $1,517.30
Donations, Restricted Account Scholarship Fund $2,548.00
The total income as of March 31, 2018 is $13,300.11
In addition $3,000.00 was transferred from the Scholarship CD to pay for 2017-2018 Scholarships
Total available balance for FRG use is $59,840.98
Printing, primarily newsletter $2,886.33
District meeting expense $9,320.93
2017 Convention expense $7,193.91
Scholarship payments $4,000.00
TB Talking Book Library donation $2,000
Florida Division court renewal fee $61.75
BVA Convention ad $100.00
Bank Charges $173.06 Total Expenses $23,949.19
The checking account balance as of March 31, 2018 is $35,891.79
The only fund raising for the year by the FRG was the scholarship raffle tickets at the District
luncheons and the State Convention.
Certificates of Deposit, General Fund Balance as of March 31, 2018 $102,393.99
Scholarship CD balance as of March 31, 2018 $8,849.02 which is available for future FRG
Total Certificates of Deposit $111,243.01
Total Cash Assets as of March 31, 2018 $147,134.80
Note transfer from Scholarship CD to General Fund $3,000
The Membership Committee Report: Our membership numbers are down this past year.
Whether that is from members passing away or moving out of state, we need to work on getting ou
numbers back up. Currently we have 920 Members and Associate Members who have served in
every war or conflict since WWII and during Peacetime. Our best source of new contacts is from tl
VIST/BROS. Mike Taylor encouraged all of the District Directors to develop a strong working
relationship with the VIST/BROS so that they will be more inclined to pass along new contacts to
for potential BVA members. From Dr. George Stocking.
National Legislature Report: March 14, 2018 The US Senate and House of Representatives are
working on legislation to improve medical treatment for veterans. At the writing of this report, no
definitive action has been taken. Further information will be provided in future newsletters. From ]
Mike Taylors Report of the Nominating Committee: President - Carlos Pere. Vice-President -
Nate Gorham. Secretary/Treasurer- Dr. George Stocking. District Director 1 (North) David Zang
District Director 2 (Central North) Doug Cram. District Director 3 (Central West) vacated by Car]
Pere. District Director 4 (Central East) Jeff Ebbers. District Director 5 (Southwest) Anna Clarke.
District Director 6 (Southeast) James McCoy.
Activities at the 2018 FRG Annual Convention include a large number of exhibits showcasing the
latest updated products such as the wireless ORCAM, easier to use prescription readers, and Apple
integrated technology. The old business portion of the meeting concluded at 10:13AM. President
Terry King adjourned the meeting until 9:00AM Saturday.
President Terry King called the Saturday morning Business Meeting to order at 9:02AM.
The pledge was led by Carlos Pere. Roll Call was read by Chris King. The first order of New
Business at the meeting was the election of Officers and Directors for the coming year. The
following Officers were elected: President - Carlos Pere. Vice-President - Nate Gorham. Secretary
Treasurer -Dr. George Stocking. Terry King will serve as Immediate Past President. District
Directors: District 1 (North) David Zang. District 2 (Central North) Doug Cram. District 3 (Central
West) Virginia Vogel. District 4 (Central East) Jeff Ebbers. District 5 (Southwest) Anna Clarke.
District 6 (Southeast) James McCoy. Election of Delegates to the National Convention are as
follows: Head Delegate - Carlos Pere. First Alternate - Mike Taylor. Second Alternate - Paul
Kaminsky. Third Alternate - Israel Chance. Fourth Alternate - Terry King.
The proposed Bylaw Amendment on Transparency did not pass by the following votes: 5 Yes
9 No 5 Abstain.
Mike Taylor was elected as the Representative for the Bylaws and Resolutions Committee. A
motion was passed for the Head Delegate to receive $1,000.00 from the FRG to help defray costs to
the National Convention and for the remaining delegates to serve on the Resolutions Committee. A
motion passed to allow all delegates to vote unobstructed.
The FRG is donating $2,000.00 to the TB Talking Book Library; $100.00 will be given for the National Convention ad. The FRG will be giving out two $2,000.00 scholarships for the 2018
2019 academic year at the evening banquet.
Paul Kaminskys motion passed to purchase 10 bronze flags that has the Pledge of Allegiance in
braille on top of the flag, over the next 12 months at a total purchase price of $2,500.00. The board
will decide when to purchase each flag and where to place the flags around the state. A suggestion
was made that the first flag be placed at the BRC in West Palm. Additionally, the board will decide
what will go on the name plate.
$400.00 was approved to be sent to National to help them purchase computers.
A motion was passed directing the Board to amend the Bylaws so that Members in good standing
who are unable to attend the State Convention can vote by proxy.
A resolution was passed authorizing the FRG to maintain its bank accounts in the First National
Bank of South Miami, with the President and the Secretary-Treasurer as co-signers on all accounts.
Additional co-signers on the accounts may be added by the Board of Directors in order to carry out
the FRG mission. Further be it resolved that the President and the Secretary-Treasurer, with the
approval of the Board of Directors, are authorized to move those accounts if more advantageous
interest rates can be obtained. The 44th Annual Business Meeting was adjourned at 11:03AM after a
standing ovation to former President Terry King for his many years of service.
Respectfully Submitted, Anna Clarke, Acting Secretary