The Auxiliary's View... 

by Virginia Wesley

As the BVA 67th and the BVAA 35th National Conventions simultaneously came to a close, many of our BVAA members, blinded veterans, and family members from Puerto Rico and the southeast—yes, even into Greater Houston and Galveston were keeping a wary eye on Tropical Storm Isaac as it slowly marched across the Caribbean and toward the U.S. mainland. We hope that everyone arrived home safely and that those in Isaac's path fared well.

Our new BVAA national officers were announced at the end of the Convention's Awards Banquet. They are also listed on the inside back cover of the print version of this issue and at the beginning of the audio version. This group appears to be another great team! Please support them.

BVAA members across the country, those within established regional groups and those who do not have groups, should continue to watch for the newsletter, the BVA Auxiliary Star, the in-between E-Star Note, updates on the website (www.bvaaux.org), and the BVA Bulletin for what is happening within our organization.

At the convention, Patti Hail held a seminar entitled "In Support of Our Least Blinded Veterans." She highlighted the "age and stages" of blindness in our veterans, some of the obstacles each age and stage encounters, and how we can be of support. She also singled out individual BVAA supporters of blinded veterans for their stalwart examples, noting in the process the veterans with whom she is personally acquainted who are going through various ages and stages of blindness. She noted the struggles and successes of the latter in becoming one of the "least blinded veterans."

The Reverend Edna Kirksey-Dixon and Melissa Johnson led a Support Interactive Discussion. This session included insights into the great potential for successful relationships between blinded veterans and their spouses/caregivers. Honesty and real caring were mentioned as important variables. A few gulps and even snickers were heard when certain situations were shared. Most of those present identified with the struggles, successes, tips, and ideas that came out during the discussion. They left with smiles, new friends, and the feeling that we all want to do what is best. It was a sufficiently successful session for us to look for it again next year.

Thanks to the many who donated items to the very successful BVAA Silent Auction this year—and to those who successfully bid on them. There were many wood-turned items, afghans, quilts, pictures/frames, candles/holders, audio books, and so much more—all treasures donated to the auction by friends, blinded veterans, and BVAA members—to take home or share with others.

BVAA National President Patti Hail puts exclamation point on comments made during her Monday motivational seminar.
BVAA National President Patti Hail puts exclamation point on comments made during her Monday motivational seminar.

Our raffle was super successful with a diamond heart necklace donated by Charles and Dawn Brooks of Florida and several cash prizes. Half of the prize money was given back to the scholarship fund. The silent auction and raffle, along with donations and bequests, are the primary ways our Renee Feldman Scholarships are funded. BVAA awards three scholarships to the spouses/children of blinded veterans to assist with costs of their educational expenses beyond high school. BVAA Feldman Scholarship recipients for 2012-13 have been awarded to Samantha Hynes of Florida, Genette Stump of Virginia, and Alexia Morris of Oregon.

BVAA introduced a new initiative at the convention. Entitled Volunteer Challenge Effort, the purpose of the program is to challenge us to let the world know who we are and what great things we do for all veterans within the BVA and BVAA communities. The essence of Volunteer Challenge Effort is the spirit of giving service to others. It accomplishes several things:

 

  • BVAA and its membership are spotlighted positively when they selflessly give to others.
  • Support is built for individual members, BVAA, BVA, and all blinded veterans.
  • Doors are opened for blinded veterans and for BVA as an organization when service is rendered and recognized.
  • Although real service is given freely without expectation of any return, the return can be priceless in the form of a smile, a simple thank you, and even a sigh of relief.
  • BVAA members, blinded veterans, and the BVA institution come together to form a team that promotes everyone.
  • As a nonprofit organization, BVAA gives back and pays forward so that others will want to know about the organization and become acquainted with its members, thus building and growing the positive image of BVA and our blinded veterans,

 

What exactly is in the spirit of giving? It involves volunteers serving others. BVAA challenges every individual within our communities to be a part of rendering this service. We invite you afterward to share your efforts with us.

Volunteer Challenge Effort is fully explained in the Fall 2012 BVA Auxiliary Star and will be on our website. Patti Hail is the initiative's 2012 Chair. She can be contacted at waya@pacifier.com.

Everyone's participation in support of the Volunteer Challenge Effort, as well as BVA and BVAA as a whole, is welcomed and encouraged.