October / November 2023 Minute Message

Fellow Federationists: I’m so thankful for each and every one of you. Our people are our greatest strength, and our members are the heartbeat of the movement. We just concluded our 2023 Affiliate Business Meeting, which was a mini-convention, held virtually on November 11, 2023. There, we conducted our 2023 business, including adopting resolutions, conducting seminars, honoring our veterans, and engaging with one another in significant and meaningful ways. In October, our chapters celebrated Blind Equality Achievement Month, where we once again staffed a water station at the Baltimore Running Festival, hosted Wizarding Weekend on Magical Main, participated in Trunk or Treat festivities, participated in Possibilities Fairs, and so much more. We are busy preparing for the myriad of activities as we move ever closer to the 2024 Day in Annapolis, Washington Seminar, our 2023 – 2024 State Convention, and so much more. Read on for news and information. Expect Much, Give Much, Get Much: The State Convention is Coming! You will not want to miss the state convention at the Sheraton Baltimore North Hotel in Towson which takes place on February 16 - 18, 2024. Come and meet our National Representative, Kevan Worley. You may reserve your room by calling the Sheraton Baltimore North at 410-321-7400. Convention Room Rates: Standard Room - $99 per night. Tax on sleeping rooms is 17.5%. These room rates start on Thursday, February 15, 2024. The deadline for making room reservations is January 15, 2024. Please note the new date and location, as the NFB of Maryland Board of Directors voted to move the 2023 convention and combine it with the 2024 convention in light of the abrupt closure of our original venue in October 2023. Those who pre-registered for the original in-person convention will have their registration transferred to the new date. However, individuals will need to make a new reservation with the hotel directly, as all previous hotel reservations at the Delta were not transferred to the Sheraton. Pre-registration is open through January 15, 2024. Visit https://nfbmd.org/convention to register online, or look in your mailbox for hard copy registration forms. Below are the prices for the various convention activities (prices are per person unless otherwise stated): - Pre-registration = $25 until January 15, 2024; $30 on-site - Banquet ticket = $55 until January 15, 2024; $60 on-site - Parent, Senior, or Student Luncheon ticket = $30 until January 15, 2024; $35 on-site - Friday boxed lunch = $20 until January 15, 2024; $25 on-site - Dinner & a Play ticket = $25 until January 15, 2024; $25 on-site - Transportation from New Carrollton Train Station = $50 until January 15, 2024; this covers round-trip travel - Childcare = $30 per day and on sliding scale based on need Seeking Resolutions for the State Convention The Convention is the supreme authority of the National Federation of the Blind, and this too is true of the affiliates. One of the most important charges of the Convention is to consider and vote on resolutions that come before it; those resolutions become the policy of the organization. To that end, individuals interested in submitting resolutions should send them to NFBMD Resolutions Chairperson Chris Danielsen by email at cdanielsen@nfb.org by January 31, 2024. Seeking Door Prize Donations We are seeking donations of door prizes to give away at the NFB of Maryland Annual Convention. Door prizes should have a cash value of a minimum of $25 each. For questions, please contact Door Prize Co-chairs Qualik Ford at QSFord@outlook.com and Juhi Narula at juhin13@gmail.com. Please bring door prizes to the convention. Seeking Donations for the NFBMD Bake and Experience Auction! We are seeking donations of baked goods and experiences for the NFBMD auction. Some examples of experiences include taking the winner to dinner, giving cooking lessons, musical or show tickets, etc. We are asking for donation commitments prior to January 31, 2024. Please notify Convention Logistics Co-chair Justin Young of your donation via email at Jyoung@nfb.org. Seeking Baked Deliciousness for NFBMD Fire Sale! Attention all! This message is going out to all you bakers, non-bakers, and anyone else with baked goods. As state convention rolls around again, so does our annual fire sale. If you want to help feed our movement and fund the important work we do, please take the time to donate your freshly baked goods, whatever they may be. Cookies, cakes, candies and croissants, we'll take them all. Please contact Justin Young with your donation commitment via email at Jyoung@nfb.org. State Convention Orientation: February 8, 2024 All first-time convention attendees are cordially invited to attend a First-Timers Orientation from 8 to 9:30 p.m., on Thursday, February 8. The Ambassadors Committee will walk you through the events that will take place throughout the weekend, explain processes such as door prizes and voting, as well as make sure every first-time convention attendee is matched with a mentor. Connection information is as follows: Zoom Meeting ID: 624 813 8327 One-Number Conference Call: 339-209-4083 NFBMD Convention Donation Drive and Drawing!! Want to win either $500 or have your 2025 State Convention hotel and meals covered? Here's your chance! The National Federation of the Blind of Maryland is hosting the 2023 - 2024 NFBMD Convention donation drive. For each $20 donation, you will get one chance in the Convention drawing. For example, if you donate $100, you will get five chances. The winner will have their choice of either $500 or their 2025 state convention hotel (two nights) and meals covered by the affiliate. The drawing will take place at the NFBMD banquet on Saturday, February 17, 2024. The winner does not need to be present. The fundraiser is open through 3PM on Saturday, February 17, 2024. The rules for the drawing are as follows: 1. For each $20 donated, the donor will receive one chance. For example, if the donor contributes $100, that equates to 5 chances. 2. The donor must expressly state that they wish to have their name placed in the convention drawing. 3. Donations must be made separately from any door prize contributions, convention registration donations, or end-of-year sharing contributions. 4. Donations must be received on or before 3PM on February 17, 2024. Individuals may make donations using the PayPal button located at https://nfbmd.org/DonationDrive, via Zelle (President@nfbmd.org), or by mailing checks to: National Federation of the Blind of Maryland Convention Donation Drive 1800 Johnson Street, Suite N1 Baltimore, MD 21230


Remember to Pay Your 2024 Dues!

NFBMD maintains an online portal for individuals to pay their chapter and division dues.  We are asking members to pay their 2024 dues by January 31, 2024 so we can ensure that our rolls are accurate for voting at the State Convention and the annual national membership data call.


Individuals may use NFBMD’s Dues Portal to pay their 2024 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.  The portal is located at http://nfbmd.org/dues.  Alternatively, individuals may mail a check to their chapter or division treasurer.


Please note that those paying via the online portal will incur a small processing fee.



Seeking Attendees for 2024 Day in Annapolis!

The 2024 session of the Maryland General Assembly will begin on January 10, and we are working hard to prepare for our NFBMD Day in Annapolis, which will take place on January 18, 2024 in person.  We meet with all 188 Delegates and Senators early in the session in order to maximize the time we have to push our issues through both chambers. 


We are seeking volunteers to attend our Day in Annapolis to educate our legislators on our legislative priorities.  We will provide transportation from the National Center in Baltimore and the New Carrollton Metro Station for those interested in attending.  We will conduct our usual debriefing over dinner, and participants are asked to plan to bring at least $30 with them for dinner, but we’ll share final prices with those who RSVP. 


The State Capital and surrounding buildings continue to undergo major renovations, resulting in the tunnel system’s closure.  As a result, individuals will need to walk outside and occasionally cross streets to get to meetings and group gathering locations (like the cafeteria).  Those who attend should plan accordingly.


If you plan to attend, please RSVP to both myself and Sharon Maneki by December 31, 2023. Please email President@nfbmd.org and Nfbmdsm@gmail.com or call us at 443-426-4110 and 410-715-9596.  Be sure to tell us your name, how we can best reach you, your state legislative district, if you know it, and your county.


We will post the legislative priorities soon.  The fact sheets will be available at https://nfbmd.org in early January.


Washington Seminar Is Coming!

On January 29 and 30, Maryland will join Federationists in person from throughout the country to let Congress know about our legislative priorities for blind Americans. We will share the legislative priorities once they become available.  You may read the Washington Seminar fact sheets by visiting https://nfb.org/washington-seminar or via Newsline.  The Great Gathering In will take place at 5:00PM on Monday, January 29, 2024 at the Holiday Inn Capitol Hotel.  Maryland will be visiting our Congressional Delegation on Tuesday, January 30, 2024 in person on the Hill.  If you would like to attend  Congressional appointments, please let me know by January 15, 2024 by emailing President@nfbmd.org or by calling 443-426-4110.


Get ready for Orlando in 2024!

The NFB 2024 National Convention will take place from July 3 – 8, 2024 in Orlando, Florida.  The Rosen Center Hotel will be the primary location, and we’ll share information about pricing and how to make reservations soon.  You can also visit https://nfb.org/convention for this information.  You may make your hotel reservation starting January 1, 2024 with a cut-off date of May 31, 2024.  Preregistration for the convention will open on March 1 and will close May 31, 2024. 


First time national convention attendees may apply for the Kenneth Jernigan Scholarship, which is a grant the NFB provides to people who have not attended a national convention in person previously.  The deadline is April 15, 2024.  Visit this link for more information on how to apply.  https://nfb.org/get-involved/national-convention/kenneth-jernigan-convention-scholarship


Those from Maryland who are seeking financial assistance should speak with their chapter president to find out what assistance their local chapter may have available.  The affiliate’s Financial Assistance Application Form will go live in January and must be submitted by March 31, 2024.  Please note that though the Financial Assistance Committee will give due consideration to every application, the affiliate has limited resources and is unable to grant every request.  Priority will be given to those who have not attended a national convention in the past and to students.  Individuals will need to make their own hotel reservations and pay the initial deposit.  For questions about the Financial Assistance Application Program, please reach out to your chapter president or me at President@nfbmd.org.


do You Feel Lucky?

The NFBMD spring raffle is beginning. During the month of May, you have the opportunity to win $50 Sunday through Friday, or $100 on Saturday.  After that, purchase a 3-digit number raffle ticket for $5. You will be the only one who has this number. Tickets are available from chapter presidents and affiliate Board Members.  Help us sell all 1,000 tickets!  To reserve a specific number, contact Melissa Riccobono at MelissaARiccobono@gmail.com on or before January 10, 2024.


NFB and NFBMD Scholarship Programs

The National Federation of the Blind and the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland each administer a separate scholarship program for post-secondary students.  The deadline to apply for an NFB scholarship is March 31, 2024, and the deadline to apply for an NFBMD Scholarship is April 15, 2024.


National Scholarship Program: Each year, the NFB awards 30 merit-based scholarships totaling $240,000. 

  • Each scholarship recipient will receive $8,000 and additional prizes.
  • Scholarships are awarded based on academic achievement, leadership, and community service.
  • The 30 scholarship finalists are announced in the spring and attend the NFB National Convention, where they are mentored by blind role models.
  • Application materials must be submitted (online or postmarked) by 11:59PM on March 31, 2024.
  • To be eligible, applicants must:
    • Be legally blind in both eyes;
    • Reside in the United States, the District of Columbia, or Puerto Rico;
    • Be pursuing or planning to pursue a full-time, post-secondary course of study in a degree program at a U.S. institution in the Fall of 2024 (one scholarship may be awarded to an individual who works full-time and attends school part-time);
    • Be age 18 before July 2, 2024; and
    • Attend the entire National Convention of the National Federation of the Blind (and all scholarship activities) in Orlando, Florida from July 3 through 8, 2024 (scholarship finalists will receive convention grants).
  • To apply, submit an application using the online application system at https://scholarships.nfb.org/.


State Scholarship Program: The NFB of Maryland will award up to four scholarships of $4,000 each as part of the John T. McCraw Scholarship Program. NFBMD may award a scholarship to a former McCraw scholarship recipient. 

  • Scholarships are merit-based and awarded based on academic achievement, community involvement, and leadership.
  • Application materials must be submitted (online or postmarked) by 11:59PM on April 15, 2024.
  • To be eligible, applicants must:
    • Be legally blind in both eyes;
    • reside in Maryland or be pursuing post-secondary studies at a school in Maryland;
    • be age 18 prior to July 2, 2024;
    • Be pursuing or planning to pursue a full-time or part-time, post-secondary course of study in a degree program in the Fall of 2024 and Spring of 2025 (priority will be given to full-time students); and
    • Attend the entire National Convention of the National Federation of the Blind in Orlando, Florida from July 3 through 8, 2024 and the annual convention of the National Federation of the Blind of Maryland in Maryland in February 2025 (scholarship finalists will receive convention grants).
  • To apply:

Download, complete, and email or mail in a hard copy application form by visiting: http://nfbmd.org/scholarship.


NFBMD Committees: Are You Interested?

I am beginning to appoint 2024 committee appointments for the NFB of Maryland, and Groups are also continuing their work.  If you are interested in being appointed to a particular committee, please send me an email with the name of the committee or committees for which you are interested.  I can’t promise everyone will be appointed to the committees they request, but it is very helpful to know where people are interested in contributing most.  Please send your interest email to me at President@nfbmd.org by January 15, 2024.  In addition, if you are interested in joining a particular group, please reach out directly to the chair of that group. 


If there are committees that you think should be added, please also let me know.


Below is a list of the 2024 committees and groups as they currently stand.  The individuals listed below have been asked to chair these committees or groups, but this may change slightly when final appointments are sent out.


Advocacy Committee

Sharon Maneki and TBD, Co-chairpersons

Advocates with employers, schools, Vocational Rehabilitation entities, and other public or private agencies for blind residents of Maryland


Ambassadors Committee

Judy Rasmussen and Debbie Brown, co-chairpersons

responsible for orienting first-time attendees to state and national Convention and mentoring first-timers at those events


Audit Committee

Barry Hond and Justin Young, Co-chairpersons

responsible for auditing financial accounts and spending for the affiliate, local chapters, and divisions


BELL Committee

Brittany Bomboy and TBD, co-chairpersons

plans and administers the Maryland Bell program and incorporating Bell into NFBMD conventions and seminars


Braille Spectator Committee

Ronza Othman and Sharon Maneki, editors

Responsible for sourcing and creating content, assembling, editing, formatting, and disseminating the semi-annual magazine of the NFB of Maryland


Deaf-Blind and Hearing Loss Issues Committee

Janice Toothman and Heather Guy, Co-chairpersons

works on issues of concern and interest to the deaf-blind of Maryland


Development and Fundraising Committee

Jenivieve White and Ellen Ringlein, Co-chairpersons

coordinates long-term and short-term fundraising initiatives including: preparing and submitting grant proposals; sending out annual appeal letters;  working with estate attorneys; administering Spring and Fall raffles; marketing Amazon smile; planning Basket Bingo, Crab Feast, and other fundraisers


Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee

Qualik Ford and Juhi Narula, co-chairpersons

Provides leadership and guidance to the affiliate and chapters and divisions on matters related to diversity, equity, and inclusion. 


Employment Committee

Pam Goodman and Jannis Forbes, co-chairpersons

Provides guidance and support related to strategies for increasing the employment of Maryland’s blind.


Guide Dog Issues Committee

Sherri Shirek, chairperson

works on issues of concern and interest to guide dog users in Maryland


Legislation Committee

Sharon Maneki and TBD, Co-chairpersons

responsible for State and Federal legislative action and educating elected officials on issues of importance to the blind of Maryland


Membership Committee

Dezman Jackson and TBD, co-chairpersons

responsible for helping chapters and divisions with recruitment, retention, and development of members


PAC Plan Committee

John Paré and Ann-Marie Laney, co-chairpersons

Coordinate the Maryland Pre-Authorized Check (PAC) efforts.


Public Relations Committee

Chris Danielsen, chairperson

responsible for marketing NFBMD programs and initiatives


Resolutions Committee

Chris Danielsen, chairperson

responsible for recommending (or not) that resolutions submitted by members be brought to the NFBMD Convention floor


Scholarship Committee

Mildred Rivera, chairperson

responsible for administering the John T. McCraw Scholarship Program, including mentoring candidates at national and state conventions and beyond


Sharon Maneki Youth Empowerment Grant Committee

Sharon Maneki, chairperson

responsible for reviewing and approving (or not) grant applications for youth to attend blindness programs and training or to receive technology


Social Media Committee

Karen Anderson, chairperson

responsible for NFBMD’s social media presence, communication, and outreach using forums like Twitter and Facebook


Spanish Services Committee

Teresa Graham, chairperson

responsible for coordinating programming, outreach, and language interpretation for Spanish speakers


Sports and Recreation Committee

Qualik Ford and Lou Ann Blake, co-chairpersons

responsible for coordinating sports and rec activities for the affiliate.


Transportation  Committee

Cheryl Fogle-Hatch and Aloma Bouma, co-chairpersons

responsible for coordinating transportation-related advocacy and working to improve the state of public transportation in Maryland


Website and Technology Committee

John Berggren, chairperson

responsible for NFBMD.org content and formatting, NFBMD databases, AV/IT at conventions, seminars, and other events, and other technology necessary for the operations of the NFB of Maryland


Youth Activity Committee

Brittany Bomboy and Erin Zobell, co-chairpersons

responsible for engaging youth and planning youth-focused programs


Convention-Related Committees

Anna Freysz Cable Award Committee

Debbie Brown, chairperson

administers award program for an adult who has demonstrated exceptional effort in learning blindness skills, which is given at the NFBMD Convention


Convention Child Care Committee

Brittany Bomboy, chairperson

coordinates childcare at the NFBMD Convention


Convention Organization and Activities

Justin Young, chairperson

coordinates the NFBMD Convention, including planning and logistics


Convention Registration Committee

Marie Marucci, chairperson

Coordinates and oversees convention registration.


Distinguished Educator of Blind Children Award Committee

Teresa Graham, chairperson

administers award to an exceptional teacher of the blind in Maryland; awarded at the NFBMD Convention


Door Prize Committee

Juhi Narula and Qualik Ford, co-chairpersons

coordinates and runs NFBMD Convention door prize activities


Gold Cup Crab Race Committee

Juhi Narula and Jen White, co-chairpersons

Administers Gold Crab Race Fundraiser at state convention


Jennifer Baker Award Committee

Melissa Riccobono, chairperson

administers award program for a child who has overcome significant challenges to learn blindness skills; administered at the NFBMD Convention


Kenneth Jernigan Award Committee

Mary Ellen Jernigan, chairperson

administers award program for a Federationist who has demonstrated exceptional and sustained service and commitment to the NFB of Maryland; awarded at the NFBMD Convention


National Funding Support Auction Committee

Joel Zimba, chairperson

Administers the NFB of Maryland Bake and Experience Auction at the state convention.


Nominating Committee

TBD, chairperson

responsible for recommending to the NFBMD Convention individuals for open Board seats


 NFBMD Groups

Blind Parents Group

Faith Waybright, chairperson


Crafters Group

Danielle McCann and Karen Anderson, co-chairpersons


Diabetes Action Network Group

Eileen Ley, chairperson


Performing Arts Group

Chris Danielsen, chairperson


Sighted Significant Others and Loved Ones Group

Jen White and David Waybright, co-chairpersons


Veterans Group

Ed Jackson, chairperson




Important Upcoming Dates

  • December 3 – 10, 2023 – NFBMD Blind Cruising 2023, Bahamas
  • January 10, 2024 – Deadline to reserve Spring Raffle specific numbers
  • January 18, 2024 – NFBMD Day in Annapolis, Annapolis, Maryland
  • January 29, 2024 – Great Gathering In, Washington, DC
  • January 30, 2024 – NFBMD Day on the Hill, Washington, DC
  • February 16 – 18, 2024 – NFBMD 2023 – 2024 Convention, Towson, Maryland
  • March 1, 2024 – Preregistration opens for NFB National Convention
  • March 8, 2024 – Basket Bingo, Catonsville, Maryland
  • March 31, 2024 – Deadline for National Scholarship Applications.
  • March 31, 2024 – Deadline for applications for NFBMD Financial Assistance for National Convention
  • April 15, 2024 – Deadline for NFBMD Scholarship Applications
  • April 15, 2024 – Deadline for Jernigan Fund applications for National Convention
  • Spring 2024 (date TBD) – NFBMD STEM2U, Baltimore, Maryland
  • May 31, 2024 – Deadline to Preregister for NFB Annual Convention, Orlando, Florida
  • July 3 – 8, 2024 – NFB National Convention, Orlando, Florida
  • Summer 2024 (date TBD) – In Person NFB BELL Academy, Baltimore, Maryland
  • Summer 2024 (date TBD) – In Person NFB BELL Academy, Salisbury, Maryland
  • Summer 2024 (date TBD) – In Person NFB BELL Academy, Southern Maryland
  • September 20, 2024 – NFBMD Crab Feast, Rosedale, Maryland
  • October 1 – 31, 2024 – Blind Equality Achievement Month