May 2023 Minute Message


Fellow Federationists:


As the flowers bloom and the weather warms, we continue to help Marylanders live the lives they want.  This past month, we hosted a seminar for seniors, a seminar for parents, and a STEM seminar for kids.  We also held a wildly successful Scholarship Dinner and Auction in support of our John T. McCraw Scholarship Program.  We held our Spring Raffle throughout May.  We selected our NFB of Maryland Scholarship Finalists for 2023.  Our Baltimore County Chapter held its first fundraiser in the form of food, trivia, and karaoke.  And we saw our collective action come to fruition when Governor Moore signed into law two bills we championed in the 2023 Maryland legislative session.


We are busy getting ready for the NFB 2023 national convention.  Our Merchants Division is finalizing plans for our annual Networking Mixer.  We are also working on our NFB BELL and BELLX Academies.  We are even beginning to make significant plans for the 2023 State Convention.  That is just a snapshot of some of the initiatives on which we’ve been working.  Read on to learn about our current and upcoming initiatives.


Success in Annapolis!

On April 24, 2023, Governor Moore signed into law SB 535 / HB 608, which expands protections in housing to include retired service animals, meaning those who use service animals no longer have to make the difficult decision to move, rehome their dogs, pay pet fees they can’t afford, or even euthanize their dogs when they retire simply because housing protections don’t apply to retired service animals.


On May 3, 2023, Governor Moore signed into law HB 456 / SB 940, which requires pharmacies to make available accessible prescription labels for blind, low vision, and print disabled patients, at no additional cost and at the same time as other patients.


We were in attendance for both bill signings to see our hard work and collective action come to fruition.  Congratulations to us all!


Save the date of January 18, 2024 for our 2024 Day in Annapolis!


2023 State Convention Theme Contest

Each year, we choose a State Convention theme that is representative of our hope, priorities, or expectations for the convention and what comes after.  Recent themes have included: “Celebrating our Stories, Defining our Future,” “Rise Up,” “Focus Forward,” and “Reconnect, Reimagine, Reignite.”


We use the theme to inform the opening ceremonies, tie together the presidential report, and hold seminars and other activities. 


If you have a suggested theme, please call, text, or email it to me by June 30, 2023.  The person whose theme is chosen will get a free banquet ticket for the 2023 state convention.


Please email me at, text me at 443-426-4110, or call me at that number.  Please be sure to tell me in your email, texts, or voicemail who you are.


The BELLs Toll Once Again in Maryland! 

The NFB BELL Academy provides children with Braille and nonvisual skills instruction through fun, hands-on learning activities.  The NFB BELL Academy—which stands for National Federation of the Blind Braille Enrichment for Literacy and Learning®—is a nationwide summer program that prepares blind and low-vision children to grow into confident and independent blind people who live the lives they want.  Activities at NFB Maryland BELL are provided in a day program. In addition to Braille crafts, games, and other engaging projects, children learn vital independent living skills, interact with blind adult mentors, and enjoy field trips to sites related to the NFB BELL Academy curriculum. Through these activities and interactions, the children learn that blindness or low vision does not define them or their future.


The NFB BELL Academy is appropriate for blind and low vision children ages four through twelve who:

  • Do not receive enough Braille and nonvisual skills instruction in school
  • Could benefit from more Braille exposure over the summer
  • Would enjoy connecting with blind role models


The National Federation of the Blind of Maryland is offering a two-week in person NFB BELL Academy session in Baltimore, Maryland, From August 7, 2023 – August 18, 2023.  We are also offering, with the support of the Maryland School for the Blind Outreach Department, NFB BELL Academy Southern Maryland, a one-week in-person session, in St. Mary’s County from July 17 – 21, 2023.  We are also holding NFB BELLX, in partnership with Blind Industries and Services of Maryland, in Salisbury, from August 7 – 11, 2023 for older kids.  The National Federation of the Blind is also offering one three-week virtual program of the NFB BELL Academy In-Home Edition July 24 through August 11, 2023, for which options are available for beginner, intermediate, and advanced students. Space is limited. 


To register for NFB BELL Academy In Person in Baltimore, NFB BELL Academy in person in St. Mary’s County, NFB BELLX in Salisbury, or NFB BELL In Home Edition, visit:  For questions, contact NFB of Maryland NFB BELL Academy Coordinator Brittany Bomboy at 757-969-3724 or by email at


Get ready for Houston in 2023!

The NFB 2023 National Convention will take place from July 1 – 6, 2023 in Houston, Texas.  The convention will take place at the Hilton Americas – Houston Hotel, and all rooms at the main hotel are sold out.  The overflow hotel is the Marriott Marquis Houston.  To reserve a room at the overflow hotel, call 1-877-622-3056. The rooming rate is $124 per night plus tax.  Preregistration for the convention closed May 31, 2023, but on-site registration will be available beginning July 1.  There is also a virtual convention experience, for which registration is free.  To register for the virtual experience, go to


We can’t wait to see you in Houston!


NFBMD National Convention Orientation – Thursday, June 22, 2023 at 8:00PM

The National Federation of the Blind of Maryland will once again be hosting a National Convention Orientation for Marylanders on Thursday, June 22, 2023 starting at 8:00PM.  All Marylanders who are attending an in-person NFB national convention for the first time or those who just want information about the Convention are welcome.  We will be discussing what to expect, Maryland-specific events and activities, and mentoring and getting assistance during the convention.

Click this link to join: 


Meeting ID: 624 813 8327

One tap mobile




We will be holding the Maryland Caucus in person during the NFB National Convention, and it promises to be action-packed.  Come to meet the NFBMD State Scholarship winners, our National scholarship winners, discuss the resolutions that will come before the convention, and so much more!  This is a very important event, so please plan to attend.


We don’t yet know the date, time, and location of the Caucus, but we will widely disseminate the information once it is finalized.


Maryland National Scholarship Finalist

This year, Tyler Hoppe has been selected as an NFB National Scholarship Finalist.  Tyler will be a junior at Penn State University in the Fall,  majoring in Political Science.  Tyler plans to attend law school and become a politician with his sights set on the U.S. Senate.  Tyler is a member of the Board of Directors of the Maryland Association of Blind Students.  He and his 29 scholarship classmates will receive scholarships in the amount of $8,000 each at the NFB National Convention in Houston.  Tyler will attend the National Convention and the NFBMD State convention in Hunt Valley this November, so you will have the opportunity to get to know him better.  Please join me in congratulating Tyler.


NFBMD Scholarship Finalists

The National Federation of the Blind of Maryland is pleased to announce that this year, three students have been selected as 2023 John T. McCraw Scholarship finalists.  Shuketa Johnson will be attending Coppin State University working toward a Masters Degree in Addiction Counseling.  Shuketa intends to work toward ending intergenerational addiction.  Osoluchokwu (Oso) Ozo-Onyali will be attending the University of Delaware as an incoming freshman.  She plans to study cognitive science with the goal of becoming a psychiatrist.  Sherria Young-Smith will attend St. Mary’s Ecumenical Institution where she plans to earn a Doctorate in Ministry.  She will also work toward a paralegal degree at Baltimore County Community College.  Sherria plans to be a paralegal, focusing on youth, children, and juvenile crime cases.  She also plans to continue her church ministry.


They will all be attending the NFB National Convention in Houston and the NFBMD State Convention in Hunt Valley, so you will have the chance to get to know them.  They will receive their NFBMD scholarships of $4,000 each, at the state convention in November provided they remain eligible.  We are thrilled with this year’s scholarship class and know you will be impressed as well.


Greater Baltimore Chapter Pamper a Pal Donation Drawing!

Support the greater Baltimore Chapter by donating in exchange for a chance to win a fabulous basket of prizes with a total value of $350. Each donation of $5 earns you one chance to win, and you get an extra chance for a donation of $20, making a total of five chances.


The basket includes:

• A gift certificate for a one-hour table massage at The QG’s downtown Baltimore location, plus $30 toward a meal at its Clock Restoration bar;

• 1 vanilla mint candle from Sobotanical;

• 1 bag of Threads coffee, along with a coffee mug;

• 1 bottle of wine with two wine glasses;

• A $50 gift certificate to Herbal Nails on Fort Avenue in Baltimore; and

• Bath scrub, soap, and lotion made by blind entrepreneur Lisamaria Martinez.


The drawing closes on June 17.


To donate for a chance to win, you can pay Chris Danielsen, Lou Ann Blake, or Karen Anderson directly or use the PayPal button located at:


Remember to Pay Your 2023 Dues!

NFBMD maintains an online portal for individuals to pay their chapter and division dues.  We are asking members to pay their 2023 dues as soon as possible so we can ensure that our rolls are accurate for the annual national membership data call. 


Individuals may use NFBMD’s Dues Portal to pay their 2023 annual dues and/or lifetime membership dues for those chapters that have lifetime membership.  The portal lists all NFBMD chapters and divisions and their dues amounts.  Individuals may pay for as many chapters and divisions as they wish.  One dollar will be added to chapter and division annual dues amounts for processing those dues payments online.  The portal is located at  Alternatively, individuals may mail a check to their chapter or division treasurer.


NFBMD Advocacy Skills Training Session: Avoiding the Pitfalls of Social Security

The Advocacy Committee will present its first offering for 2023 on July 29 called "Avoiding the Pitfalls of Social Security".  We will explore common mistakes made by people when applying for benefits, keeping track of SSI and SSDI regulations, and what you do when you get a letter from Social Security about the dreaded overpayment.  At the end of the afternoon you will be able to help someone with the basics of Social Security or tell them where to go for help.  To sign up for this session, please email Sharon Maneki at


Seeking Blind Veterans

Do you have all of your benefits?  Are you aware of the PACT Act? Do you need support as a blind  or low vision veteran? Would you find value in speaking to other blind and low vision veterans?  We’re starting an NFB of Maryland group to help us help one another to live the lives we want.  We will have zoom calls and hopefully in person meetings to bring us together  for assistance and camaraderie.  If you are interested, please send your contact information to Guy Kelly, Central MD Chapter at or 202-286-2610. Like a Swiss Army knife, we reveal our capabilities when we open up.


Important Upcoming Dates

  • June 10, 2023 – Maryland Association of Blind Merchants Networking Mixer, Baltimore, Maryland
  • June 12, 2023 – NFB of Maryland Board Meeting, anywhere and everywhere
  • June 17, 2023 – NFB Greater Baltimore Pampering Yourself Fundraiser Deadline, anywhere and everywhere
  • June 22, 2023 – NFBMD National Convention Orientation, anywhere and everywhere
  • July 1 – 6, 2023 – NFB National Convention, Houston, Texas
  • July 17 – 21, 2023 – In Person NFB BELL Academy, Leonardtown, Maryland
  • July 25– August 11, 2023 –NFB BELL Academy In Home Edition, Anywhere and Everywhere
  • August 7 – 18, 2023 – In Person NFB BELL Academy, Baltimore, Maryland
  • August 7 – 11, 2023 – In Person NFB BELLX Academy, Salisbury, Maryland
  • September 15, 2023 – NFBMD Crab Feast, Rosedale, Maryland
  • October 1 – 31, 2023 – Blind Equality Achievement Month
  • October 6 – 8, 2023 – Wizarding Weekend on Magical Main Festival, Ellicott City, Maryland
  • October 21, 2023 – NFB Greater Baltimore Chapter Meet the Blind Month Activity: Baltimore Running Festival Water Station, Baltimore, Maryland
  • November 10 – 12, 2023 – NFBMD Annual Convention, Hunt Valley, Maryland
  • December 3 – 10, 2023 – NFBMD Blind Cruising 2023, Bahamas
  • January 18, 2024 – NFBMD Day in Annapolis, Annapolis, Maryland