The Auxiliary's View... 

by Darian Slayton Fleming and Pam Hogan

BVA’s 69th, BVAA’s 37th

Left to right, newly elected Auxiliary Reporter Pam Hogan with BVAA National Vice President Edna Dixon and National President Sandy Krasnodemski.
Left to right, newly elected Auxiliary Reporter Pam Hogan with BVAA National Vice President Edna Dixon and National President Sandy Krasnodemski.

Having now completed our business mixed with considerable fun, we must say that much was accomplished at the BVAA 37th National Convention. The number “37” is significant. BVAA National was initiated and chartered in 1977, 32 years after the founding of the Blinded Veterans Association in 1945. Adding 32 to our number provides the BVA number, which is currently at 69.

The election results for our BVAA National Board of Directors for the upcoming fiscal year brought the following: President, Sandy Krasnodemski; Vice President, Edna Kirksey-Dixon; Secretary, Melissa Johnson; Treasurer, Carl Hytinen; Reporter, Pam Hogan; and Past President, Patricia Hail.

The Silent Auction was another wonderful success with a huge variety of items donated from far and near.  Many showcased the crafty talents of some of our members and the blinded veterans. Although we sold cookbooks themselves and also CDs containing the cookbooks at the convention, we still have some and they are definitely for sale.

If you have an upcoming sales event of some type and believe that these books may sell for you, please consider using them. They need to get gone!  The National Auxiliary is asking for $6 for a cookbook and a CD together. You may add to that price and your group can keep anything over the $6 amount per set.  Please contact Pam at 661-251-7870 or to order them or to obtain additional information.

Our guest speaker at this convention was one of our lovely VIST Coordinators, Valerie Duffy.  Val shared information with us on the following topic: "83 Things Every Survivor Should Do.” This was an eye opener for some and a boost to all to begin gathering information that we must have at our fingertips in case of an emergency or the unthinkable. There was much discussion and sharing on this topic.  

The BVAA Florida Regional Group received its long-awaited charter at the Awards Banquet. We welcome the members of this group. They have worked hard to re-establish their group and prepare for the opportunities for service they will now have as a functioning organization.

We would ask that each Auxiliary regional group designate an individual to send Pam a monthly snippet of what the group is doing. We would love to let everyone know what is going on and then share and learn what is working in your area.  Hopefully we can get editions of the BVAA Star out more frequently. 

Volunteer Challenge


This year we would like to focus on getting the BVA and BVAA names out for a more public viewing. What better way is there to do that than volunteering in the name of one of the two organizations? This can be done almost anywhere and is not limited to your local VA facility. 

The following is excerpted from the original “VOLUNTEER CHALLENGE for all members of the Blinded Veterans Association Auxiliary.” It is a challenge from the Auxiliary to its individual members.
Giving service to others accomplishes several things:
  • BVAA and our individual members are seen in a positive light.
  • Support is built for oneself, BVA, BVAA, and all blinded veterans.
  • Doors are opened for our blinded veterans and BVA.
  • Real service is given freely, without expectations of any return, but the return can be priceless in the form of a smile, a simple thank you, or sometimes even a sigh of relief.
  • Our BVAA purpose is realized in a way that builds BVA, our blinded veterans, and each other. We come together as individuals to form a team that promotes all of us.
  • We give back and pay forward so that we are the ones everyone wants to know and be around, again building and growing the positive image of BVA and our blinded veterans.

So, what is in the spirit of giving? It is volunteers serving others. The national organization of BVAA challenges every individual within it to:

  • Volunteer to serve others – whether one hour a month, one hour a day, or somewhere in between or beyond.
  • Keep track of your time and provide a title for your activity. Turn in your volunteer time on or about the first of every odd-numbered month. This first year will be only ten months long (beginning September 1 and ending June 30).
  • Record how much time the volunteers in each regional group are contributing if they are indeed associated with a BVAA regional group. Send their “timesheets” to the BVAA National Volunteer Service Chairman. These results will be announced in the first newsletter after the convention each year. Let’s see how many hours of volunteer service to others our membership can log each year and then attempt to beat it each subsequent year!

A. How do we count volunteer service hours to BVA and BVAA?

  • Count them when helping a blinded veteran, other than “your” veteran, get to BVA meetings or activities.
  • Assist a BVA officer as a reader, scribe, driver, etc. when BVA “work” is involved
  • Participate in informative/educational programs that promote BVA, our blinded veterans, White Cane Safety Day, etc.
  • Support another BVAA member with free babysitting, respite care, transportation, or informal mentoring.

B. Count the hours when they are donated on behalf of other veterans and Veteran Service Organizations.

  • Volunteering at a VA facility or BRC with the VIST or VISOR program.
  • Volunteering to assist another Veterans Service Organization with any of its activities.
  • Giving or participating in informational/educational programs that promote veterans and/or patriotic endeavors.

C. Community Service:

  • Volunteering at a community crisis center, library, visitor center, religious facility/activity, or other community oriented business or organization.
  • Assisting another local organization (such as Lions, Elks, and other service/fraternal organizations that have 501(c)3 designations within your community).
  • Volunteering in a school, hospital (VA Hospital work is classified under Veterans), or retirement center to help make life easier for others.

D. Things that do not count:

  • Anything involving the receiving of money or gifts in payment, or as a thank you.
  • Anything involving an entry fee or other money to participate.
  • Fundraising activities for BVA or BVAA.
  • Double-dipping (recording the same hours under multiple headings).
  • Family responsibilities.

Volunteers give of themselves for the benefit of others. We thank them and trust them to report their time as they deem appropriate.

I Love Being Older

Adapted by the Reverend Edna Kirksey-Dixon

As I've aged, I've become kinder to, and less critical of, myself. I've become my own best friend. Both of my parents are gone and now I am the oldest living member of my family.

I have seen too many dear friends leave this world too soon, before they understood the great freedom that comes with aging. 

Whose business is it if I choose to read or play on the computer until 4:00 a.m., or sleep until noon? I will dance with myself to those wonderful tunes of the 50s, 60s, and 70s. If I, at the same time, wish to weep over a lost love, I will. 

I will walk the beach in a swimsuit that is stretched over a bulging body and will dive into the waves with abandon if I choose to, despite the pitying glances from the jet set. They will get old one day. 

I know I am sometimes forgetful. But there again, some of life is just as well forgotten. And, eventually, I remember the important things. The ones who know say that seniors have trouble remembering because we have so much information stored in our brains.  

Sure, over the years, my heart has been broken. How can your heart not break when you lose a loved one or when you see a child suffer? But broken hearts are what give us strength and understanding and compassion. A heart never broken is pristine and sterile and will never know the joy of being imperfect. 

I am so blessed to have lived long enough to experience my hair turning gray, (but I still color it) and to have my youthful laughs be forever etched into deep grooves on my face. If you don’t have wrinkles, you have not laughed enough. So many have never laughed and so many have died before their hair could turn silver.

As you get older, it is easier to be positive. You care less about what other people think. I don't question myself anymore. I’ve even earned the right to be wrong. 

So, I like being old. It has set me free. I like the person I have become. I am not going to live forever but while I am still here I will not waste time lamenting what could have been or worrying about what will be. And I shall eat dessert every single day (if I feel like it) and make sure a lot of chocolate ice cream is included!