“City of Festivals” To Welcome BVA

Official Notice

Pursuant to the provisions of Section 3b of Article IX (National Convention) of the BVA National Bylaws, all members of the Blinded Veterans Association in good standing are hereby notified that the BVA 71st National Convention will be held at the Hilton Milwaukee City Center Hotel and the Milwaukee Convention Center, 509 West Wisconsin Avenue, Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53203. The official dates of the convention are Monday, August 22, through Friday, August 26, 2016.

Periodic updates regarding the convention will be posted to the Convention page on the BVA website, www.bva.org/convention.

BVA National Headquarters will host the 71st National Convention.

BVA members in good standing who wish to vote by proxy may request a special proxy form by writing or calling the Administrative Director at BVA National Headquarters no later than 45 days before the opening day of the 71st National Convention. Because the convention’s opening day is August 21, the deadline for requesting a proxy form is July 8, 2016.

In compliance with Section 2c of Article IX, the proxy form must be completed and returned to BVA National Headquarters (Attn: Administrative Director). To be considered valid, the envelope containing the form must be postmarked no later than 21 days before the opening date of the convention. The due date is therefore August 1, 2016.

Convention Highlights

A new year means a new convention!

Efforts are again in full swing to craft this year’s convention components to match the needs and interests of our member attendees. Technology and education sessions, for example, are being re-vamped. The Exhibit Hall will be the largest yet.

Be sure to join us August 22-26 at the Hilton Milwaukee City Center located in the heart of downtown Milwaukee. We want this convention to be fueled by the needs of our members so please give us your input.

Are you an iPhone user who knows some tricks of the trade? Or are you an experienced regional group officer? If so, we would like to know. This year we are expanding technology and education sessions to feature an array of topics taught by our members. Sessions will include Smartphone technology, how to host a meeting, membership outreach, and regional group officer training. Other topic suggestions are welcome as we still have openings to fill.

Therefore, if you are confident in your skills and are interested in instructing or co-instructing a session, please contact me, Christina Hitchcock (chitchcock@bva.org).

Please also visit the BVA website, where you will find a session topic suggestion form that can be downloaded, completed, and emailed to Chelsey Dumond (projectassistant@bva.org). Chelsey can also be contacted by email to request that a form be mailed to any home address.

In addition, Field Service staff from BVA National Headquarters will provide accredited VA claims assistance onsite to check the status of claims, assist with new ones, and guide blinded veterans through the process of gathering the necessary information to submit or appeal a claim. We wish to provide an additional service to our members and expand our one-stop Field Service Resource Center for your convenience. Wade Davis will be accepting appointments in advance of the convention for time slots during August 22-26. If you are interested in making an appointment in advance, please contact Wade at wdavis@bva.org or 202-371-8880, Ext. 308.

BVA National Headquarters will continue to offer Volunteer National Service Officer (VNSO) training for those already accredited and also for individuals who have recently become interested in VNSO accreditation. This training will occur August 22-23. Contact Wade also to reserve and confirm your spot in the appropriate training session.

If there are items that are not being covered at the convention, or exhibitors of whom you may be aware and who have not been invited, please let us know. We wish to ensure that this convention suits the needs of our convention participants. Please contact Christina or Chelsey to share your ideas.

Getting around Milwaukee

Jim Hogan of the Southern California Regional Group has passed along the following helpful information to our prospective convention attendees who may be concerned about transportation within the City of Milwaukee during their stay.

Those eligible for Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) paratransit service in their home communities may ride with Transit Plus for up to 21 days with documentation of their paratransit eligibility. Have your local paratransit provider fax your eligibility to Transit Plus at 414-343-1787.

Milwaukee has excellent services as follows:

Van Service—Paratransit van service is a wheelchair accessible “shared ride service,” which means other riders may be picked up and dropped off along the way. You must call at least 14 days in advance to request a trip. Fare is $3.50.

Taxi Service—Paratransit taxi service is available to ambulatory persons and wheelchair users who can transfer without assistance in and out of the taxi. Same day service is available. Taxi service is limited to travel within Milwaukee County. Taxi service is non-ADA, curb-to-curb service. All taxi users must pay the initial $3.50 fare using cash or a Transit Plus ticket. Fare tickets may only be used for the initial $3.50 portion of the fare. Any amount owed after the meter reaches $14.60 must be paid in cash.

All in all, using the Milwaukee paratransit system should enhance the time our blinded veterans spend in the “City of Festivals” while saving them some cash at the same time. Free travel training is available.

Paratransit transportation is possible wherever there is an existing transit system throughout the 50 states. However, arrangements must be made well in advance. Now is definitely the time to get one’s eligibility in order.

Paratransit is a help that Jim and his wife, Pam, take advantage of whenever and wherever they travel. For blinded veterans who do not have paratransit eligibility at home, now would be a great time to seek it out and get connected. Jim is making himself available for anyone who needs a bit of guidance in getting the paperwork completed. He is at ja2paroses@aol.com or 661-251-7870. He hopes to see everyone in Milwaukee and wishes all safe travels.

Critical Dates And Deadlines

BVA National Headquarters distributed notices in January regarding nominations for Certificates of Appreciation, the Maas and Diener Awards, and the David L. Schnair Volunteer Service Award. These actions also occurred in compliance with articles within the BVA National Bylaws.

A reminder was mailed to regional group presidents and secretaries on March 21 regarding the due date for submission of bylaw amendments for consideration at the convention. A mailing to all BVA members in good standing and residing in Districts 3 and 4 also occurred on March 25 (150 days leading up to August 21). The mailing called for nominations for District Director.

Three copies of the credentials form were also mailed on April 15 to all regional groups.

Both regional groups and individuals should refer to the following timeline in preparing for the convention. Items listed include actions required of the Association’s national headquarters, regional groups, and individuals. Questions can be addressed by calling 800-669-7079. Asterisks indicate actions required by the BVA National Bylaws.

  1. April 15*—Mail credentials forms to regional group presidents, vice presidents, secretaries, and treasurers (three copies each).
  2. April 15*—Nominations for BVA Certificates of Appreciation, the Melvin J. Maas and Irving Diener Awards, and the David L. Schnair Service Award all due at national headquarters.
  3. Mid-May*—71st National Convention pre-registration package prepared and sent to printer.
  4. Mid-May*—71st National Convention proxy forms mailed but only by request to national headquarters Administrative Director.
  5. May 13 (no earlier than 100 days before convention)—Earliest date to mail pre-registration package and official convention notice to potential attendees.
  6. May 24 (no earlier than 90 days before convention)—Earliest date to distribute ballots to Districts 3 and 4.
  7. May 24 (no later than 90 days before convention)—Envelopes containing proposed bylaw amendments must be directed to national headquarters and postmarked.
  8. May 24 (no earlier than 90 days before convention)—Earliest date to mail proposed bylaw amendments to members in good standing.
  9. May 24 (90 days before convention and 60 days following original mail call referred to above)—Nominations for regular elections of Directors of Districts 3 and 4.
  10. June 8 (no later than 75 days before convention)—Latest date to mail pre-registration package and official convention notice from national headquarters.
  11. June 13 (no later than 70 days before convention)—Latest date for national headquarters to mail ballots for regular elections of Directors of Districts 3 and 4.
  12. June 15*—National headquarters mails annual financial report forms (three copies) to treasurers of regional groups.
  13. July 8 (no later than 45 days before convention)—Ballots for regular elections of Directors of Districts 3 and 4 due at national headquarters.
  14. July 8 (no later than 45 days before convention)—Latest date to mail proposed bylaw amendments to members in good standing.
  15. July 13 (no later than 40 days before convention)—Regional group meeting notices to elect convention delegates must be mailed to group members. A copy of the notice must also be mailed to national headquarters at the same time it is mailed to the group membership.
  16. July 18 (35 days before convention)—National headquarters counts election ballots for regular elections of Directors of Districts 3 and 4.
  17. August 1 (21 days before convention)—Completed delegate credentials forms and proxy forms must be postmarked no later than midnight.

Good Standing Requirements

Article XIV of the BVA National Bylaws outlines the criteria by which regional groups are deemed in good standing for national conventions. Groups must accordingly accomplish the following:

1. Meet at least once during the BVA Fiscal Year July 1-June 30 and submit a copy of the minutes to national headquarters within 60 days of such meetings (Section 13a).

2. Submit an annual financial statement to the Administrative Director on forms provided for that purpose no later than September 30 (three months following the end of Fiscal Year 2015).

Regional group officers should review the status of their groups to ensure that the aforementioned requirements have been met. Doing so will ensure that all BVA delegations are appropriately seated at the convention.

Delegates, Alternates, Credentials Forms

Article XIV of the BVA National Bylaws specifies that all regional groups intending to send a delegate to Milwaukee must also hold a meeting to elect and instruct the individual.

Groups must inform all of their members in good standing, in writing, of the date, time, location, and purpose of the meeting no later than July 13, 2016. Notice of the meeting must be distributed to the regional group members no fewer than ten days prior to the regional group meeting.

A copy of the notice must be forwarded to BVA National Headquarters at the same time the notice is distributed to the members. Failure to do so will render the group’s delegation unable to receive seating at the convention.

A set of official BVA credentials forms was mailed in triplicate on light blue-colored paper to all regional group officers on April 15. The credentials must also be completed in triplicate, which includes a signature and dating of the signature by both the regional group president and regional group secretary. One copy should be provided to the elected delegate. A second copy must be mailed to BVA National Headquarters and postmarked no later than August 1, 2016. A third copy should be placed in the regional group files.

Regional groups must also elect alternate delegates to the national convention at the same meeting. In addition, each regional group to be represented should elect a representative to the Bylaws and Resolutions Committee. The representative’s name should be placed in the appropriate blank at the bottom of the second page of the credentials form.

Convention Booklet Ads

Advertisements are currently being accepted until June 22 for the 2016 BVA convention program booklet that each convention attendee will receive upon arrival at the Hilton. Regional groups, veteran organizations, organizations of and for the blind, and individuals are encouraged to share a personalized message with the convention audience. Program ads are a great way to provide financial and moral support.

Regional groups will receive a special discounted rate of $100 on all full-page ads. This year, in addition to the print version, BVA intends to offer the program book in an electronic format and with Voiceye so it can be emailed or downloaded from the website for use after the convention. When creating the advertisement, please keep in mind that text must be in 14-point font or higher with a half-inch margin around the border. Ads may also be created by BVA National Headquarters for an extra fee.

For a full list of advertising and sponsorship opportunities, visit the BVA website or contact Christina Hitchcock or Chelsey Dumond to receive information via mail.

Downtown Milwaukee

The North Old World Third Street Historic District occupies part of three city blocks in the northwest section of Milwaukee's Central Business District. The district is comprised of retail shops, offices, restaurants, and a sausage factory.It also features some of the city’s hottest nightspots, everything from sports bars to music venues, hotel bars, restaurant bars, and places to dance.Photo courtesy of Visit Milwaukee.

Bronze Fonz

The “ Bronze Fonz,” erected in 2008, is a public work of art by American artist Gerald P. Sawyer located on the Milwaukee Riverwalk in the downtown area of the city. The statue depicts Henry Winkler as the Happy Days television character Arthur Fonzarelli, also known as The Fonz. Photo courtesy of Visit Milwaukee

Boating on the Milwaukee River

Milwaukee is a city on the water. Built along the lakefront of Lake Michigan with the Milwaukee River weaving through downtown, convention attendees can experience the city from a unique vantage point—water level! In the background is Hoan Bridge, a tied arch structure that connects Interstate 794 in downtown Milwaukee tothe Lake Freeway across the Milwaukee River inlet. Photo courtesy of Visit Milwaukee.