Regional Group Manual
This digital copy is for informational purpose and is intended to be a guideline for regional group success. There are sections that have not yet been updated. This will be an ongoing project. Please consult with the BVA National Headquarters or District Director if you require clarification or to confirm accuracy before implementation.
LETTER FROM THE PAST EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
Since 1945, the BVA has operated on the principle of our founding members at Avon Old Farms Convalescent Home in Avon, Connecticut. The BVA would be an organization of blinded veterans providing assistance to other blinded veterans. Over the years, BVA has attempted to provide assistance to blinded veterans in a variety of ways and with a variety of programs. On the National level, BVA has conducted the National Field Service Program for years assisting veterans in adjusting to blindness, obtaining Federal, State and local benefits to which they are entitled, receiving blind rehabilitation and a host of other obstacles they may be encountering. Additionally, for many years, BVA operated an Outreach Employment Program assisting veterans seeking employment and educating prospective employers to the abilities of blind veterans and how jobs can be modified to accommodate the blind.
BVA has also conducted an aggressive Advocacy Program on a national level in an effort to influence and educate the legislative and executive branches of government regarding the special needs of blinded veterans. Consistent with this objective, BVA has worked closely with organizations of and for the blind as well as other disability groups to enhance the lives of all disabled Americans. If BVA is to truly maximize its efforts and goal of assisting other blinded veterans, the best place to provide this assistance is at the local level. This means BVA must have a solid, stable, active network of regional groups. The regional group is where the bulk of the work can be most effectively accomplished and is closest to the blinded veteran and most keenly aware of his\her needs. If BVA is to provide more assistance to blinded veterans and positively impact their lives it must occur at the RG level.
Service can be delivered more efficiently and timely at the RG level and grass root advocacy must occur at the RG local level if BVA National's efforts are to be effective. Advocacy within the state or states composing a RG must occur at the RG level if meaningful improvements in the lives of blinded veterans are to be affected within the state. Recognizing the need for a strong, stable, vital regional group Network, BVA National Board of Directors has directed the production of a RG Manual that can serve as a guide not only for the formation of new RG's but also for existing groups so they can be more effective and attractive to other blinded veterans. Given our mission to provide assistance to other blinded veterans, RG programs and service activities should be defined by the needs of the blind veterans in their geographic areas. Therefore, no two RG's are exactly the same nor do the same activities necessarily work for each RG. The members of the RG must define how and what they do within the context of the BVA National By-Laws .
This manual is an attempt to provide guidance on the formation and operation of a RG clearly pointing out what the National By-Laws prescribe and where the RG can use its own discretion. RG officers should refer frequently to this manual for suggestions and guidance, particularly those who are newly elected and may not have a great deal of experience in BVA. The RG leaders should never hesitate to contact BVA National Headquarters for clarification of anything contained in this manual. Regional group officers should understand their respective District Directors (see list in Appendix) are their direct contacts with the National Board of Directors. Additionally, BVA professional staff, field Representatives and Washington office staff are always willing to provide assistance or answer questions.
The bottom line is that the success of any RG is almost entirely dependent upon the desires of the membership and the amount of energy devoted to making it work and the commitment to providing service to other blinded veterans.
Regional groups must actively pursue ways of involving more blinded veterans into becoming active. Find ways to encourage attendance at meetings. Investigate what the membership needs or wants that would attract them to the meetings. Actively pursue organizational models that would facilitate greater participation such as dividing the group into districts or chapters who could have their own officers and meeting schedule pointing towards annual meetings of the entire group. RG's are only limited by their own initiative and creativity.
Your BVA National Board of Directors is committed to revitalizing BVA and is convinced that effort must begin at the RG level. A first step to meeting this commitment is the production of this manual. Use this as a guide and where it is lacking let us know if it does not meet your needs. We welcome your input and Ideas for improvement. Your Board of Directors is planning other initiatives to provide a greater level of assistance to the RG's such as Leadership Training programs and other ideas. Clearly the Board is making an investment in the RG, and now it is up to each group to decide for itself how it can best assist in successfully meeting our goal of providing assistance to blinded veterans.
Thomas H. Miller
Past Executive Director