March Message

Fellow Federationists:

This message is coming to you later in the month because the NFBMD was experiencing March Madness.  Just as in basketball, NFBMD’s March Madness involved high energy, lots of movement and many unexpected results.  We conducted two very successful fundraisers within a week and two days of each other.  Many thanks to everyone who participated in Basket Bingo on Friday, March 13.  A special thank you to the Central MD chapter for their efforts in planning and working this event.  Many people think that Friday the 13th is an unlucky day.    The many winners at Basket Bingo will tell you otherwise.  We look forward to seeing everyone on March 11, 2016 for the next Basket Bingo.

On March 22, we conducted our first afternoon of musical inspiration for the benefit of NFBMD Youth Programs.  A special word of thanks to Latonya Phipps for her leadership and direction of this very successful event.  Latonya was ably assisted by a committee with members from both the TLC Chapter and the Greater Baltimore Chapter.  Proceeds will be used to operate our three NFB BELL programs and to provide assistance for middle-school and high-school students to attend special summer training programs.  The musical talent presented at this event was truly inspirational and enjoyable.

During the first week of March, we attended 6 bill hearings.  This is quite a record especially because of the snow event on March 5.  We had compelling testimony about why blind and visually impaired children need more orientation and mobility instruction from Dezman Jackson, Fatoumata Boiro, Virginia Anderson and Melissa Riccobono.  As a mobility instructor, Dezman explained the importance of giving children the opportunity to acquire these skills at an early age.  Fatoumata explained the hardships she faced because she never received mobility instruction at school.  Virginia Anderson and Melissa Riccobono, two parents who each have two visually impaired daughters, gave the parent perspective on this very important issue. Mike Bullis and Aloma Bouma offered testimony on why custody rights for parents with disabilities need to be strengthened.

In addition to working on our three legislative priorities, we often have to react quickly to other bills.  Programs at LBPH and at BISM were under attack.  The Library for the Blind was scheduled to take a severe budget cut over a ten-year period.  During the budget hearings on March 3 and 4, Henry Smith, Sandy and Amy Bishop and Melissa Lomax told legislators why this program was important.  LBPH would not last if it had to undergo such a ten-year budget reduction.  Workers at BISM will lose their jobs if legislation removing their priority in janitorial services becomes law. With a 70% rate of unemployment and under-employment among the working-age blind, the last thing we need is a reduction in employment opportunities. The hearings on these BISM bills were on March 16 and March 19.

On March 24 we will be in Annapolis again to protect the rights of blind passengers who wish to use the services of the new transportation network companies.  As we sprint to the finish line, we will continue to make every effort to overcome challenges and achieve our goals in the Maryland General Assembly.  The session will end on April 13.

Blind students should be sprinting to meet both the National and State scholarship application deadlines.  The deadline for National scholarship applications is March 31.  The deadline for NFBMD scholarship applications is April 15.

I am looking forward to seeing as many people as possible at the NFBMD Board of Directors meeting on March 28, so that we may continue to plan to build and strengthen our organization. Many thanks to the National Harbor Chapter who will be hosting this meeting. The meeting takes place at 9:30 AM at Colmar Manor Town Hall, 3701 Lawrence Street, Colmar Manor, MD 20722.  Let Michelle Clark know if you plan to attend this event.

As you can see March Madness is an apt description for our activities this month. By working together, with everyone doing their part, March Madness in the NFBMD will lead to a brighter future for blind persons in Maryland.  Please take note of the following calendar events:

April 11. UEB Workshop, sponsored by NFBMD and ACBMD, to be held at LBPH.

April 15. Deadline for NFBMD Scholarship applications. For applications go to:

April 18. Bowl-a-thon to benefit Maryland Parents of Blind Children. Get your team ready to bowl from 2-4pm. For more information, contact Teresa Graham at

May 9. Be OK with Blindness.  This seminar, presented by MDPOBC and BISM, is for parents, siblings and teachers of BVI children. Location: 3345 Washington Blvd, Baltimore, MD.  For more information send an email to Melissa Riccobono,

June 7. Third annual Dot Dash 6k. Run or walk for Braille literacy. Race begins at 200 East Wells Street at Jernigan Place, Baltimore, MD 21230.

July 5-10. 75th Annual Convention of the National Federation of the Blind.

July 27 thru August 7, excluding weekends.  NFB BELL programs in Baltimore, Glendale and Salisbury.

August 7. Crab Feast to be held at Columbus Gardens, 4301 Klosterman Ave Baltimore, MD 21236. For the benefit of the John T. McGraw Scholarship.

November 13-15.  NFBMD Annual State Convention, to be held in Ocean City, MD.

Sharon Maneki, President

National Federation of the Blind of Maryland