Dear DeafBlind Community Members and Allies:
We are now entering the final weekend of summer before Labor Day weekend, and it has been quite a summer for many of us. So many things going on everywhere, it seems like one of the busiest summers ever for some of us. And LeCOBDA has been busy as well. Let’s review:
In June, members of LeCOBDA gathered at the Thompson Center in Downtown Chicago for a candlelight vigil to demand that the state legislature and governor pass a budget so that important services affecting many communities do not shut down. There were many different groups at this event, and LeCOBDA and the DeaefBlind community was one of the biggeer groups. Awesome! This was important because it showed that you all care and you want to see positive changes!
Then in July, we gathered again to join the Disability Pride Parade. Vice President Jason Salerno made this amazing tactile banner to represent us, it was a large hand as a fist holding a large cane. It had to be carried by four people in the parade Darrell Washington led us all in shouting “DeafBlind Rocks! DeafBlind Rocks!” About 30 people showed up. As President, I want to tell you that I was so proud of all of you. And Secretary Suzanne Salerno did a lot of work helping to organize the event and the picnic afterward. We had this wonderful private picnic at Millenium Park after the parade to celebrate and enjoy ourselves.
This represents a change for LeCOBDA. We will become more actively involved in the community and show more leadership and involvement. You are important.
The officers of LeCOBDA also made an important decision. Beginning in 2017, we will no longer have closed months. In the past, LeCOBDA did not meet in January, June or August. We believe this is wrong and we are going to change that. We are DeafBlind 12 months a year, it does not stop for 3 months! We have the right and should get together and socialize and discuss important issues together. No one should be stuck left alone during important holiday months.
There were also some tough moments that happened this summer. Mindy Joy Mayer, who has been a huge activist in the LeCOBDA activities over the years, lost her mother to illness this summer. Officers went to Shiva (a Jewish remembrance) to represent LeCOBDA and join Mindy and her family in prayer.
Then we lost another beloved member, Jerrie Lawhorn. Jerrie was one of the founders of LeCOBDA 38 years ago and was treasurer for all those years until she stepped down in May. Less than 2 months later. Jerrie passed away at the age of 99 and a half years young. She has been sorely missed by many people around the country and within our own community. Jerrie was laid to rest this weekend on August 27th at Glenwood Cemetery after a beautiful and moving service filled with song, poetry, speeches, and memories. A LeCOBDA officer was present to represent the organization in grateful thanks to Jerrie for her many years of contributions.
The Fall season is almost here and that means we have lots of new activities and meetings to plan. Soon, it will be holidays and we will have our wonderful annual gatherings.
On September 10, Jason Salerno will organize an outing for those of you who would like to go to Farmer’s Market. Jason will email you all with the details very soon this coming week about where to meet and what time.
On October 1, we will be hosting an historic event. The first ever Chicagoland DeafBLind Forum. This is something you all need to attend. It will be held at Columbia College on Saturday October 1 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Please mark your calendars for this super important event that needs your participation. We will be sending more updates about the Forum after Labor Day holiday.
All of this is just the beginning. The officers of LeCOBDA are in agreement that we must do more to empower our members, to get our members more involved, and to make our organization strong, healthy, financially secure, and bold! We are going to build new relationships and allyships around the region. We will become a modern organiztion that fights for your needs and still provides the important and enjoyable socialization time.
The beginning is HERE!
Bryen M Yunashko – President of LeCOBDA