National Federation of the Blind of Florida

Board Meeting Minutes

August 16, 2009


Dan Hicks called the meeting to order at 8:14 PM.

Present were:

Dan Hicks - President

Joe Minichiello - Second Vice President

Sherri Brun - Secretary

Gloria Hicks - Treasurer

Betty McNally - Board Member

Gina Minichiello – Board Member

Sherrill O'Brien - Board Member


Dwight Sayer - First Vice President – Absent.

Kathy Davis – Board Member – Absent.


The minutes for the meeting of July 21, 2009 were approved as read.


Gloria Hicks then gave the treasurer’s report. Balance for all accounts is: Wachovia $152,421.72, Newsline® 18,382.50, operations account $15,876.57. The total is $186,680.79. We have made some money this time, some from Wachovia account and some from Newsline®. $10,000 of that money was put in the Wachovia account from Newsline®, because we borrowed from Wachovia when we did not have money allocated to pay our Newsline® bills to the National Office. $67,000 was sent to National for Newsline® because no bills had been submitted from National for some time. Sherrill O’Brien suggested that we put the other two accounts into money market funds, but Gloria said we spend the money so fast that it would not be worth it, because money markets are very low interest-bearing. Gloria explained how the Excel file is set up. For our convention Netbook fundraiser, we collected a total before expenses of $955. For Newsline®, we have received $123,214.00 year to date. Newsline® year-to-date expenses are marketing hours $3,997 year to date. Service fees:  $26,879 for July, but total for year-to-date is $80,527.50. The treasurer’s report was accepted as given.


Dan gave the president’s report. Most of the items will be covered in the agenda. The NFB of Florida has sent out 2130 letters and brochures to Martendale-Hubbelllist. We have gotten approximately 100 back with incorrect addresses. It was suggested that the envelopes with incorrect addresses be kept to see if we can correct the address at the next issuing of the Martendale-Hubbell CD.


Committee reports were given. Sherrill said that the Florida Association of Dog Guide Users (FLAGDU) website has been updated with correct information. The site now has a link to The National Association of Dog Guide Users, (NAGDU). When information is added to a website, it must be done through the webmaster. NAGDU currently has 43 members. The site and the remainder of this year is being dedicated to Dave Anspach. Dan said that items could be added if we set up a blog which could be accessed from the website. He will look into that.


Joe Minichiello gave the report for the Parents’ Division. Lenora Marten, the Florida Organization of Parents of Blind Children president is trying to get the constitution corrected and approved. Dan said to send us the most up-to-date version. Sherri suggested an e-mail vote. We should get the latest draft, send corrections and then approve it. They have done Saturday parent events throughout the state. They received a thousand dollar donation from someone who had asked about the group. Larry Marten is working on trying to get the parents and children a free day at Disney World the day before the parents seminar at convention.


No student division report was given. Dan has updated the student division website and has heard from Toni Clavie, the student division president.


Gina Minichiello has been talking with Georgia Kellog who is somewhat interested in taking on the responsibilities of the merchants’ division. It was suggested that Dan give her a call to refer her to someone at National. Gloria said because it is set up as a division, a board must be elected. Gloria suggested that Paul Prescott might be involved. Georgia knows many merchants. We could appoint a committee to help revitalize the division. The division just needs to be reorganized. Gloria and Dan are willing to talk with Georgia. Gloria also needs to talk with Debby Hietala to find out about the bank account for the division.


Sherri Brun, the NFBF Newsline® coordinator gave the Newsline® report. Newsline® statistics both in usage and sign-ups are good with Florida holding the #1 position. Sabrina Deaton’s computer/printer issue was discussed. She has no printer. We will purchase a printer at a maximum price of $100. She is willing to take on the welcome letters again. She is also willing to go through the phone numbers and change the incorrect phone numbers. There needs to be accountability. Sherri is going to ask all Newsline® marketers to send her their monthly logs. She would like to see the Newsline® committee grow with representation from throughout the states. She is also forming a volunteer network of people willing to follow up with new Newsline® subscribers.


Fund-raising is doing well. Gina Minichiello said she is looking for someone who can write grants. She asked if anyone on the board could write grants. Most grants have guidelines for each specific grant. Betty suggested talking to Barbara in the PR office. Pam Allen who is at the Louisiana Center is also good at writing grants. Betty also suggested contacting someone from United Way. Sherri suggested contacting members of SCORE through the small business administration.


Sherrill says that chapter building has a core committee, but she is trying to include in the committee a representative from each chapter. Sherrill suggested that for the newer chapters, the president should probably serve. Gina Minichiello suggested a meeting for North Florida with Gainesville and Tallahassee to see if they could work together to formulate new ideas and keep the chapters thriving. We could have a conference call with Tallahassee to see how they are doing and with Gainesville as well. Joe will check with Judy Hamilton to see if we can offer any help. The next meeting of the Tallahassee chapter is September 8. We need to encourage chapter leaders to attend the up-coming Leadership Seminar. Betty says the Palm Beach chapter is doing okay. They have had legislators at their meeting. Sherrill and others have a problem with the Dining In the Dark project. There is some question as to who exactly is sponsoring the project. Betty says that the rehab center at Baptist Hospital is going to have dialoguing in the dark, where guests will be taught to use blindfolds, use canes and order an hors d’oeuvre. A chapter member will be with each person.


Betty said that the legislative committee met last week, but only half the committee was available and there were technical problems with the telephone, but once we were able to get good communication, we dealt with several issues which included:  the White Cane Law, Funding for Newsline®, which there is definite interest in the legislation. There is also definite interest in creating a bill for the Florida Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). The initiative to improve Florida government websites was also discussed. Betty is researching the formulation of an independent commission for the blind. She sent out literature to the legislative committee on effective communication with legislators. We are trying to gain co-sponsors on signing on our national legislation. We only have five right now. The committee will meet again the end of September or the first part of October. We have 185 reps on the quiet cars legislation and 41 for the senate.


The Martendale-Hubbell list was discussed. We are charging 20 cents per name. It was difficult to search and modify the names. Gina informed us that we received a total for July for sales of names of $130, but have received a total of roughly $270 in total invoices. Gloria moved that we offer the attorney’s list for 50 cents per name. The motion carried. Dan said he would again send something to the president’s list and will call state presidents. Other board members will contact state presidents.


The board decided to send a copy of the brochure if requested and will sell the PDF file of the brochure for $50 per file.


The up-coming NFBF Leadership Seminar was discussed. We talked about how many people we should send. Dan had a question about the contract about the Act of God clause. Betty went over her proposal she created to give us some idea of the cost of this seminar. For two nights at the hotel, the room cost will come to $4100. Food will probably come up to $1750. Transportation of $50 per person will be given. When figuring out other costs, expenses totaled $8, 600. The motion was made that those invited should include all chapter and division presidents, other leaders and spouses or significant others if involved. The hotel contract will be signed upon the approval of the president and the treasurer.  Betty will send her proposal to Dan and to Gloria.


Gina Minichiello, Joe Minichiello, Lenora Marten and Kathy Davis will work on the Parents grant and Sherri Brun, Gloria Hicks, Sherrill O’Brien and Betty McNally will work on the Leadership Seminar grant.                     


Dan then explained the circumstances of the upcoming meeting to take place between Scott White, the national director of Newsline® and Joyce Hildreth, the director of The Florida Division of Blind Services. Dan was contacted by Scott White. He suggested a month ago that Dan and he meet with Joyce Hildreth. On Wednesday August 26, Dan will fly to Tallahassee for the meeting with Scott and Joyce. Scott thinks he will need to demo Newsline®, but it was made clear that Joyce is a user of Newsline®.  They are concerned that DBS are receiving many complaints for withdrawing funding from the Radio Reading Service. Scott’s concern is that Newsline® be adequately funded next year. Sherri and others were concerned as to why she learned of this only last Wednesday if it has been planned for over a month. Sherri Brun serves as the Newsline® coordinator for NFB of Florida and was appointed by the Board of Directors of the NFB of Florida. Since Sherri has known Joyce Hildreth for years, as Joyce was the director of Lighthouse Central Florida and since Sherri has a good rapport with Joyce and because of Sherri’s position as Newsline® coordinator, it was felt necessary that she attend this meeting as well. Sherri stated that she felt her position as chair of Newsline® of Florida was undermined, because she was not invited to attend this most important meeting. The motion was made that Sherri Brun be allowed to accompany Dan Hicks to the meeting with Scott White and Joyce Hildreth. The motion carried.


A conference call was held about the Louis Braille coin. As of last Tuesday, we sold just short of 178,000, which is far short of the necessary goal. John Paré, director of strategic initiatives for the National Federation of the Blind has devised a 10-week plan for each affiliate to sell coins. Florida is supposed to sell $4,000. They recommend that we buy some of the coins to sell as fund-raisers. We also should carry a coin around with us. After much discussion, it was suggested that throughout the state, a celebrity or sports figure should be contacted to flip a coin at the beginning of their particular sports event. This could be carried to a national level. It was also suggested that Dan Hicks create a PSA encouraging the purchase of the Louis Braille bicentennial coin, which would be played on radio and television stations throughout Florida. It was also discussed that each chapter should be encouraged to purchase one coin, which the NFB of Florida will buy for distribution. Since some chapters already have coins which they can display, the motion was made that 10 coins be purchased to be distributed by the state board as it sees fit. The motion carried.


Gina has become aware of a company selling individualized table covers and thinks the purchase of these by our chapters would help make our chapters look professional at events. She will check further into prices for purchasing in bulk.


Gina also suggested it would be a great incentive if every March 15 after all dues have been sent into Gloria, we have a drawing and expenses will be paid to the winner for state convention. We could take this further by also paying the expenses to National Convention by drawing a registrants’ name.


We need to encourage chapters to submit scholarships. This will be discussed with Kathy Davis, THE SCHOLARSHIP COMMITTEE CHAIRPERSON.


Joe stated he would like to serve on the budget committee. As second vice-president, he will serve on the committee.


The meeting adjourned at 11:17 P.M.


Respectfully Submitted:


Sherri Brun, Secretary

National Federation of the Blind of Florida


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