September was  a busy month for the Service Club for the Blind.  Our President, Kathleen (Kitty) Demsky made a decision to retire after giving us 18 years of service – 12 1/2 of those serving as President.  We will miss having her around the office and we thank her for being a gracious President and friend for all these years.

Thanks to Kitty, the Service Club for the Blind building had a major renovation.  The building was previously a hardware store (Mardel Hardware) so it needed gutting and some TLC.  The building is now more energy efficient, all partitions removed, new flooring, windows, doors, cabinetry, kitchen overhaul etc.  It is a building that the staff, members and clients can be proud of.

As of October 1st 2016 the Service Club for the Blind has a new President, Jack Lenk.  All client and member benefits remain the same until further notice.

“By changing nothing, nothing changes.”– Tony Robbins


Picture insert: Jack Lenk – President

Do you have an Emergency Plan?

Do you have an emergency plan in the event of severe weather? Have you discussed this plan with your family? The American Red Cross suggests the following:

1. Why make a plan?
Planning ahead will provide your loved ones with specific steps to take during any emergency. By having a practiced plan in place, you and your loved ones can make quick, informed decisions to better ensure the safety of your household, your pets, and even your property. Your plan should account for small scale disasters, such as single family fires, and for large scale disasters, such as tornadoes or earthquakes. Make sure to practice your plan, update your plan at least every six months, and post your plan in a visible location.

2. Household members and pets.
It is important to include EVERY member of your household in the planning process because they will be more likely to use it. Make sure to list every member of the household and the best way to contact them. In addition, list each pet/service animal and be sure you’ve made a plan for them in any emergency.

3. Local Contact.
A local contact could be a nearby relative, friend, or neighbor and should be someone you have several ways to contact.

4. Outside-of-Area Contact.
This is a relative or friend that is geographically removed from the disaster and relatively easy to get in touch with. Each family member should know how to reach this person and should contact him/her rather than further congesting local lines.

5. Emergency Information
Some important names and phone numbers to list in your plan include:
a) Your pharmacy;
b) Doctor’s office;
c) Insurance agents;
d) Utility Companies;
e) Place of employment;
f) Children’s Schools;
g) Anyone you’d need to get in contact with after an emergency.
These numbers are useful immediately following the emergency and to help speed up recovery time.

6. Additional Information
It is important to note any specific needs that your family may have: i.e. mobility issues, medications, etc.

7. Meeting Location (outside of the home)
As a household, identify a meeting place outside of your home that is a safe distance from the house to be used during a single home evacuation, such as a fire. Practice to ensure that the meeting place can be easily and safely reached. Each family member’s first priority is to get out and stay out. Call 911 for additional assistance.

8. Meeting Location (Outside of neighborhood)
As a household, identify a meeting place outside of your neighborhood if you are not able to meet at your home because of large scale evacuation, such as flooding. Practice to ensure the meeting place can be reached by several routes and everyone is familiar and comfortable with the location.

9. Home Evacuation Route
Every family member should know at least two exits from each room in the home. Map the layout of the house, the primary escape routes (in one color), and the secondary escape routes (in a different color). Make sure your loved ones know what to do in the hazards that can affect your home if both exits are blocked.

10. Out of Neighborhood Evacuation Route and Alternate Route
Every family member should know at least two ways to get to your out of neighborhood meeting place. Pre-map out your routes, knowing that one (or both) may be disrupted based on road closures or traffic. Have additional maps and/or GPS directions ready so you can be flexible and consider all your options.

11. Tornado Safe Spot
Every household should have a safe spot identified to go during a tornado watch or warning. Ideally, this should be a basement or the lowest level of a solid structure in the center most part of the building. Remember, a mobile home is never a safe spot to be during severe winds or tornado.

Tornado Safety Checklist

What should I do if a tornado warning is issued?
The safest place to be in in an underground shelter, basement or safe room.
If no underground shelter or safe room is available, a small, windowless interior room or hallway on the lowest level of a sturdy building is the safest alternative.

• Mobile homes are not safe during tornadoes or other severe winds.
• If you have access to a sturdy shelter or a vehicle, abandon your mobile home immediately. If you need to drive to get to a sturdy shelter, always wear your seat belt.
• Don’t wait until you see a tornado to take action. If a warning is issued, seek shelter immediately.

Watch or Warning?

Watch: Tornadoes are possible in and near the area. Be ready to act quickly if a warning is issued.
Warning: A tornado has been sighted or indicated by weather radar. A tornado poses imminent danger to life and property.

What should I do to prepare for a tornado?
Pick a safe room in your home where household members and pets may gather during a tornado. This should be a basement, storm cellar, or an interior room (closet, hallway, or bathroom) on the lowest floor with no windows.

Watch for tornado danger signs:
• Dark, often greenish clouds;
• Wall cloud – an isolated lowering of the base of a thunderstorm;
• Cloud of debris;
• Large hail;
• Funnel cloud – a visible rotating extension of the cloud base;
• Roaring noises.

Refer to our old posting on preparing an emergency kit. Remember to update this kit every 6 months.


Easter is coming early in 2016!

What does Easter celebrate?
Easter also called Pasch or Resurrection Sunday, is a festival and holiday celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, described in the New Testament as having occurred on the third day of his burial after his crucifixion by Romans at Calvary c. 30 AD. It is the culmination of the Passion of Christ, preceded by Lent (or Great Lent), a forty-day period of fasting, prayer, and penance.

Why is the date different every year?
Easter is a movable feast because the earliest believers in the church of Asia Minor wished to keep the observance of Easter correlated to the Jewish Passover. The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ happened after the Passover, so followers wanted Easter to always be celebrated subsequent to the Passover.

The Jewish holiday calendar is based on solar and lunar cycles, so each feast day is movable, with dates shifting from year to year. Today in Western Christianity, Easter is commonly celebrated on the Sunday immediately following the Paschal Full Moon date of the year. The Paschal Full Moon can vary as much as two days from the date of the actual full moon, with dates ranging from March 21 to April 18. As a result, Easter dates can range from March 22 through April 25 in Western Christianity. The dates of many Christian holidays depend on the Easter date. Some of these holidays include: Palm Sunday, Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Ascension Day, Pentecost/Whitsunday.

According to the Bible, Jesus’ death and resurrection occurred around the time of the Jewish Passover, which was celebrated on the first full moon following the vernal equinox. This soon led to Christians celebrating Easter on different dates. At the end of the 2nd century, some churches celebrated Easter on the day of the Passover, while others celebrated it on the following Sunday.

The Easter Bunny
The Bible makes no mention of a long-eared, short-tailed creature who delivers decorated eggs to well-behaved children on Easter Sunday; nevertheless, the Easter bunny has become a prominent symbol of Christianity’s most important holiday. The exact origins of this mythical mammal are unclear, but rabbits, known to be prolific pro-creators, are an ancient symbol of fertility and new life. According to some sources, the Easter bunny first arrived in America in the 1700’s with German immigrants who settled in Pennsylvania and transported their tradition of an egg-laying hare called “Osterhase” or “Oschter Haws.” Their children made nests in which this creature could lay its colored eggs. Eventually, the custom spread across the U.S. and the fabled rabbit’s Easter morning deliveries expanded to include chocolate and other types of candy and gifts, while decorated baskets replaced nests. Additionally, children often left out carrots for the bunny in case he got hungry from all his hopping.

Did You Know?
The largest Easter egg ever made was over 25 feet high and weighed over 8,000 pounds. It was built out of chocolate and marshmallow and supported by an internal steel frame.

Easter Eggs
Easter is a religious holiday, but some of its customs, such as Easter eggs, are likely linked to pagan traditions. The custom of the Easter egg originated in the early Christian community of Mesopotamia, who stained eggs red in memory of the blood of Christ, shed at his crucifixion. As such, for Christians, the Easter egg is a symbol of the empty tomb. The oldest tradition is to use dyed chicken eggs, but a modern custom is to substitute eggs made from chocolate, or plastic eggs filled with candy such as jellybeans. The celebrated House of Fabergé workshops created exquisite jeweled eggs for the Russian Imperial Court.

The egg, an ancient symbol of new life, has been associated with pagan festivals celebrating spring. From a Christian perspective, Easter eggs are said to represent Jesus’ emergence from the tomb and resurrection. Decorating eggs for Easter is a tradition that dates back to at least the 13th century, according to some sources. One explanation for this custom is that eggs were formerly a forbidden food during the Lenten season, so people would paint and decorate them to mark the end of the period of penance and fasting, and then eat them on Easter as a celebration.

Easter egg hunts and egg rolling are two popular egg-related traditions. In the U.S., the White House Easter Egg Roll, a race in which children push decorated, hard-boiled eggs across the White House lawn, is an annual event held the Monday after Easter. The first official White House egg roll occurred in 1878, when Rutherford B. Hayes was president. The event has no religious significance, although some people have considered egg rolling symbolic of the stone blocking Jesus’ tomb being rolled away, leading to his resurrection.

Easter Candy
Easter is the second best-selling candy holiday in America, after Halloween. Among the most popular sweet treats associated with this day are chocolate eggs, which date back to early 19th century Europe. Eggs have long been associated with Easter as a symbol of new life and Jesus’ resurrection. Another egg-shaped candy, the jelly bean, became associated with Easter in the 1930’s (although the jelly bean’s origins reportedly date all the way back to a Biblical-era concoction called a Turkish Delight). According to the National Confectioners Association, over 16 billion jelly beans are made in the U.S. each year for Easter, enough to fill a giant egg measuring 89 feet high and 60 feet wide. For the past decade, the top-selling non-chocolate Easter candy has been the marshmallow Peep, a sugary, pastel-colored confection. Bethlehem, Pennsylvania-based candy manufacturer Just Born (founded by Russian immigrant Sam Born in 1923) began selling Peeps in the 1950’s. The original Peeps were handmade, marshmallow-flavored yellow chicks, but other shapes and flavors were later introduced, including chocolate mousse bunnies.

However you celebrate the Easter season, we wish you a joyous time filled with the treat of your choice!

Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day

Happy Groundhog Day! Punxsutawney Phil has declared an early Spring for 2016 as he did not see his shadow.

How did Groundhog Day originate?
Groundhog Day is a traditional holiday that started as a Pennsylvania German custom in the 18th and 19th centuries. Candlemas (also known as Crêpes Day or Chandeleur) is a Catholic holiday that corresponds with the presentation of Jesus at the Temple. It falls on February 2nd, which is 40 days after Christmas. The first documented American reference to Groundhog Day can be found in a diary entry, dated February 4th, 1841, of Morgantown, Pennsylvania, storekeeper James Morris: “Last Tuesday, the 2nd, was Candlemas day, the day on which, according to the Germans, the Groundhog peeps out of his winter quarters and if he sees his shadow he pops back for another six weeks nap, but if the day be cloudy he remains out, as the weather is to be moderate.”

What is a groundhog?
The groundhog is a rodent, belonging to the ground squirrel family.

The largest Groundhog Day celebration is held in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, where crowds as large as 40,000 have gathered to celebrate the holiday since at least 1886. Groundhog Day was made popular by the movie “Groundhog Day”, starring Bill Murray and Andie McDowell.

Prediction Accuracy
According to the StormFax Weather Almanac and records kept since 1887, Punxsutawney Phil’s weather predictions have been correct 39% of the time. The National Climatic Data Center has described the forecasts as “on average, inaccurate” and stated that “the groundhog has shown no talent for predicting the arrival of spring, especially in recent years.” He is, essentially, a rodent – not a meteorologist!

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year and welcome to 2016! We trust this will be a wonderful year for you, full of success, health and happiness.

With the onset of a new year come new resolutions. Many people start the year off with determination and commit themselves to new ways to improve their health, spend more time with family, become debt-free, improve mental well-being, improve on their careers, increase their education, take a trip, volunteer etc., but how many of us actually stick to it throughout the year? Commitment can be a bitter pill to swallow however sincere our intentions are. We start off being diligent, and regardless of circumstances we excel at it. Then come the storms of life and various temptations, be it bad weather, parties, invitations to various events and little by little we start to slip.

According to Wikipedia, at the end of the Great Depression, about a quarter of American adults formed New Year’s resolutions. At the start of the 21st century, an estimated 40% did. In fact, according to the American Medical Association (AMA), approximately 40% to 50% of Americans participate in the New Year’s resolution tradition. It should also be noted that 46% of those who endeavor to make common resolutions (e.g. weight loss, exercise programs, quitting smoking) were over 10-times more likely to have a rate of success as compared to only 4% who chose not to make resolutions. The most common reason for participants failing their New Years’ Resolutions was setting themselves unrealistic goals (35%), while 33% didn’t keep track of their progress and a further 23% forgot about it. About one in 10 respondents claimed they made too many resolutions.

January gets its name from Janus, the two-faced god who looks backwards into the old year and forwards into the new. Janus was also the patron and protector of arches (Ianus in Latin), gates, doors, doorways, endings and beginnings. The custom of setting “New Year’s resolutions” began in Rome two millennia ago, as they made such resolutions with a moral flavor: mostly to be good to others. But when the Roman Empire took Christianity as its official state religion in the 4th century, these moral intentions were replaced by prayers and fasting. For example, Christians chose to observe the Feast of the Circumcision on January 1 in place of the revelry otherwise indulged in by those who did not share the faith. This replacement had varying degrees of success over the centuries, and Christians hesitated observing some of the New Year practices associated with honoring the pagan god Janus. Even as recently as the 17th century, Puritans in Colonial America avoided the indulgences associated with New Year’s celebrations and other holidays. In the 18th century, Puritans avoiding even naming Janus. Instead they called January “First Month.”

In contrast to this, the Puritans urged their children to skip the revelry and instead spend their time reflecting on the year past and contemplating the year to come. In this way they adopted again the old custom of making resolutions. These were enumerated as commitments to better employ their talents, treat their neighbors with charity, and avoid their habitual sins.

The great American theologian Jonathan Edwards, brought up in New England Puritan culture, took the writing of resolutions to an art form. But he did not write his resolutions on a single day. Rather, during a two-year period when he was about 19 or 20 following his graduation from Yale, he compiled some 70 resolutions on various aspects of his life, which he committed to reviewing each week. Here are just three:

  • Resolved, in narrations never to speak anything but the pure and simple verity.
  • Resolved, never to speak evil of any, except I have some particular good call for it.
  • Resolved, always to do what I can towards making, maintaining and establishing peace, when it can be without over-balancing detriment in other respects.

Whether you made any resolutions for the New Year or not, we wish you well and hope that you’ll make a resolution to follow our blog 🙂

White Cane Safety Day – 2015

White Cane Safety Day commemorates a law that was passed in 1930 granting blind pedestrians protection and the right-of-way while carrying a white cane.

The NFB (National Federation of the Blind) worked hard with governors from every state in 1963 to request that October 15th of each year be recognized as White Cane Safety Day. This was approved on October 6th 1964 by joint resolution of the United States Congress, H.R. 753, and was signed into law as Pub.L. 88–628, and codified at 36 U.S.C. § 142. This resolution authorized the President of the United States to proclaim October 15th of each year as “White Cane Safety Day”. President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the first White Cane Safety Day proclamation within hours of the passage of the joint resolution.

The white cane is an international symbol of blindness or visual impairment and allows people greater mobility and a sense of safety as they navigate various places. The white cane was properly introduced after World War I.

In 2011, White Cane Safety Day was also named Blind Americans Equality Day by President Barack Obama.

Lions Club – White Cane Safety Day

Happy Birthday Missouri!

On August 10, 1821, Missouri entered the Union as the twenty-fourth state. Named after the Native American people who originally inhabited the land, Missouri was acquired by the U.S. as part of the 1803 Louisiana Purchase. At that time, the territory’s occupants were mainly French settlers. After the War of 1812, American settlers poured into the region.

In November 1818, the Missouri territorial legislature adopted a request for statehood, and it submitted the request to the U.S. Congress in December 1818. However, what would otherwise have been a routine admission became mired in a national controversy due to the delicate balance between slave and free states. The Missouri legislature had requested admission as a slave state, but antislavery members of Congress attached amendments to the legislation accepting Missouri as a state. In 1820, the Missouri Compromise cleared the way for Missouri’s entry to the union as a slave state, along with Maine, a free state, to preserve the balance. Additionally, the Missouri Compromise stated that the remaining portion of the Louisiana Territory above the 36°30′ line was to be free from slavery. This same year, the first Missouri constitution was adopted. The following year, 1821, Missouri was admitted as the 24th state, with the state capital temporarily located in Saint Charles until a permanent capital could be built. Missouri was the first state entirely west of the Mississippi River to be admitted to the Union. The state capital moved to Jefferson City in 1826.

At the time of its admission, the western border of Missouri was a straight line from Iowa to Arkansas based on the confluence of the Kaw River with the Missouri River in the Kansas City West Bottoms. Land in what is now northwest Missouri was deeded to the Iowa (tribe) and the combined Sac (tribe) and Fox (tribe). Following encroachments on the land by white settlers—most notably Joseph Robidoux — William Clark persuaded the tribes to agree give up their land in exchange for $7,500 in the 1836 Platte Purchase. The land was ratified by Congress in 1837. The purchase received widespread support from Southern Congressmen since it would mean adding territory to the only slave state north of Missouri’s southern border. An area only somewhat smaller than the combined area of Rhode Island and Delaware was added to Missouri. It consisted of the Andrew, Atchison, Buchanan, Holt, Nodaway and Platte counties.

The Louisiana Purchase is considered the greatest real estate deal in history. The United States purchased the Louisiana Territory from France at a price of $15 million, or approximately four cents an acre. The signing of the Louisiana Purchase treaty on April 30, 1803, doubled the size of the United States and opened up the continent to its westward expansion.

Missouri was the westernmost state in the Union until Texas was granted statehood in 1845. St. Louis, located at the confluence of the Missouri and Mississippi rivers in the southeastern part of the state, was called the “Gateway to the West” because it served as a staging area for wagon trains in the nineteenth century. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the city captured the world’s attention while hosting the much celebrated Louisiana Purchase Exposition (St. Louis World’s Fair) of 1904.

Happy 194th birthday Missouri!

Heat Stroke?

What do you do if you suspect you have heat stroke? The St. Louis City website has some great information here: Heat Stroke.

If you have a service dog, take special precautions to ensure that the ground doesn’t burn their paws, that your dog drinks plenty of water and that it gets plenty of rest time in the cool shade.

Here are some Summer weather resources to assist you if needed: Emergency.

Don’t forget to check on your neighbors and ask them to check on you, stay hydrated and enjoy the Summer season!

The dog days of Summer

After all the rain we’ve had over the last week (my yard registered 10 1/2″ in the rain gauge) we are finally getting a glimmer of the sun and a taste of the intense summery weather. With the rain come humidity and for those of you who enjoy the “soupy” weather you’ll be happy to know that there will be plenty of it!

We are starting to enter the “Dog Days of Summer”. This is commonly understood to be 40 days from early July to mid-August in the northern hemisphere. In the southern hemisphere it is from February through March. It is literally a period of stagnation.

Why is it called “dog days”?

In ancient times it was common practice for people all over the world to create images or pictures in the sky by joining the dots of the stars in the night sky. Nowadays these are called constellations and they were mapped out by Europeans. One of the constellations that were created was Canis Major and Canis Minor. The brightest star within Canis Major is called Sirius – the big dog.

In the summer, Sirius (Dog Star) rises and sets with the sun. The people believed that this star added heat to the sun when it was in conjunction with the sun, thereby creating a period of swelteringly hot weather. They named the 20 days before and the 20 days after, “dog days” after the Dog Star.

Today, dog days occur during the period between July 3 and August 11. Although it is certainly the warmest period of the summer, the heat is not due to the added radiation from a far-away star. Instead the heat of summer is a direct result of the earth’s tilt.

Whatever you are planning to do during the dog days of summer, make sure you drink plenty of water, use lots of sunscreen and do something fun!

Are you prepared for Spring weather?

April is nearly over.  Spring is in the air and Summer is on its way.  This is the season of drastic weather changes and it is time to get an emergency kit prepared!  Here in St. Louis, Missouri we are no stranger to major natural phenomena such as severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, earthquakes.  Do you and your family have a plan in the event of an emergency or bad weather?  Do you have a special meeting place where family members can get together after a catastrophe?

What to do in the event of a natural disaster:

–  Make sure your family members know where to meet up after a disaster.  Bear in mind that buildings could be the least secure place.

–  Prepare a disaster kit that includes items such as a can opener, knife, flashlight, batteries, weather radio, clothing, pet food (if you have pets), extra medications, first aid kit, canned or long life foods, copies of your ID’s and next of kin, blanket etc.  For info on disaster kits, check out this website:

–  Have a place of safety to go to during the disaster, for example your basement, a room with no windows, the lowest level of your house.  Keep the windows closed.

–  Get a NOAA weather radio and batteries or subscribe to websites such as that will send you automated text messages and/or emails advising you of any immediate danger.

–  Prepare yourself in advance with information about natural disasters.  Knowledge is power (and peace of mind).  This website can help:

Once the immediate disaster is over, check in with your family and friends – bear in mind that the communication towers may be destroyed and the use of cell phones will be useless.  Remember to have a specific meeting place to go to after the disaster.

After natural catastrophes, FEMA, or other emergency rescuers may not be able to get to you straight away, so ensure that you have 2-3 day’s worth of clothing, food and water (don’t forget your pets!)

A good time to remember to check your supplies in preparation for Spring and in preparation for Winter is when the clocks go forward and when they go back.

Don’t forget that you can never be over-prepared!  Be sensible, be prepared, don’t panic and above all, stay safe!