The Auxiliary's View...

by Darian Slayton Fleming

The Auxiliary activities held in conjunction with the BVA 66th National Convention were a resounding success this year. New activities, coupled with the traditional elections, brought enthusiasm and camaraderie to the organization that resulted in new BVAA members who joined onsite.

One of our newly added events was an invigorating presentation by blinded veteran Rae Hail regarding the challenges and comical aspects of blindness. Rae, husband of our National President, Patti, touched on the positive aspects of life amid the difficult realities of blindness. I am sure that those attending, both BVA members as well as their loved ones, learned something helpful.

I had the opportunity to moderate a panel discussion that addressed how spouses and other caregivers can better take care of themselves so that they have the energy and stamina to better meet the needs of their veterans. Participation in BVAA regional and national Auxiliary activities, confiding in supportive individuals and groups outside the family, doing something extra for oneself in the personal care realm (manicures or new hairdos), or scheduling time alone were all ideas mentioned.

Our panel also elaborated on the importance of helping our veterans do things outside the home with sighted friends and relatives beyond the immediate family, thus allowing the caregiver some time to stay home to focus on household chores, take a nap, read, meditate, or work in the garden. We concluded that our veterans must find meaning in life with friends that take them out of their comfort zones. Thanks go to panelists Melissa Johnson, Edna Dixon, and Pam Hogan for their helpful thoughts on some challenging issues.

During the course of the convention, Patti offered a format for strategic planning intended to assist regional groups to feel connected to the Auxiliary National Board.

Patti also provided ideas on how members can create opportunities to creatively serve and associate with one another in their local areas. She suggested using a calendar to note regular and anticipated events such as meetings, holidays, advocacy and education events such as White Cane Safety Day, members' birthdays, and available dates for fundraising events. Such planning, she said, also guides BVAA members and officers to get a jump start on organizing so that they have more time to address important details.

The convention's Silent Auction was very successful this year. Thanks are extended to Lottie Davis, Lillian Bentley, and Lori Wolfe for their hard work and dedication to this project. Thanks also to those who donated items.

Although cookbook sales were spectacular, a limited supply is still available. They may be purchased by contacting Karen Teachout by email at sagelakesadie_2000@yahoo.com or by phone at 989-473-2446. Large print books or CDs by themselves are $13 each. The two versions purchased as a set are $19. The prices include shipping fees.

Our Auxiliary officers for 2011-12 will remain the same as they were last year. We thank most especially our Immediate Past National President, Hazel Powell, for the invaluable guidance and support she provided to the mostly new Board throughout our first year.

The convention banquet was a highlight for many of us. Led by President Lori Wolfe, the BVAA Southern Nevada Regional Group received its charter and became our newest group! We extend a special welcome to this group and its members, at the same time expressing our gratitude for their hard work to make the convention a success. The banquet also saw congratulations offered to the BVAA Southern Arizona Regional Group for being the most active group during 2010-11.

BVA and BVAA forged a more cohesive working relationship this past year. We thank BVA's outgoing Executive Director, Tom Miller, for his thoughtful support. Best wishes to Tom for a wonderful future full of personal fulfillment.

Thank you to those who have emailed success stories to me. Please keep them coming to dlsfleming@gmail.com. I plan to forward these success stories to our readers and feature some in future Auxiliary's View columns.