Eye On Central Minnesota

Eye On Central Minnesota

By Lori Peglow

CMC-NFB President’s Message

The other day, a friend of mine was talking to a mutual friend of ours, and in the course of the conversation, this mutual friend referred to herself as a “nothing.”  Both my friend and I were deeply moved and saddened by the words “I’m a nothing.”

Sometimes, you and I can be caught in that scenario too.  Life doesn’t seem fair — especially when we have to deal with our visual impairment. We would like to do some things we feel incapable of doing.  Under our breath, we say, “I’m just not like somebody else.  I’m a nobody/nothing.” When we feel limited as a person, it is so easy for those negative feelings to come forth into negative thoughts about ourselves.  These negative thoughts, we begin to wear consciously and unconsciously inside and outside of ourselves as “labels” as to who we are and what we are about.  These negative thoughts are not true, but we can act them as if they were real.  When this happens, we do not pursue our rights or help establish the rights of others.  Only knowing the truth and implementing the truth will bring about corrective and constructive change.

So what is the truth?  The pilgrims and the puritans came to this country to build a foundation of truth for every one of us.  Remember the words that the  founders of this country framed when they said, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal and endowed by their creator, with certain inalienable rights.  Among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”  Since its inception, some 75+ years ago, the National Federation of the Blind has fought for our rights, and engaged the governmental power for our equality and that our life might have meaning and purpose.

The question posed is, where does this motivational power come from?  To see ourselves as a somebody, to act on our own behalf and on the behalf of others, comes to us from the word of God.  It is here that we learn that we were created by God in His image, and especially designed by Him as individuals.  Secondly, we learn from God’s love, God’s love for us and all of mankind.  We hear in John 3:16, “For God so loved that world, that he gave His only begotten son that whosoever believes in Him, may not perish but have everlasting life.”  Thirdly, we see God presenting us the truth when we look at the cross.  It was on the cross that God totally demonstrated His love for you and for me, each one of us is a somebody.  We now have a mission to speak and to live out that truth here on this earth, and to witness to it in all that we do and say as to how we think about ourselves, how we get involved in governmental affairs, how we treat and communicate God’s love.

God’s blessings to all of you!

CMC-NFB President Reverend Ronald Mahnke

Meet the Members

Gwynith Copner is one of the newer members of the CMCNFB.  She joined about six months ago.  An acquaintance at church knew Ron Mahnke, President of the CMCNFB and helped put Gwynith in touch with him.  Gwynith was originally diagnosed ten years ago with dry macular degeneration.  Her condition was stable until about three years ago.

Gwynith has two daughters who each have two children.  She also has six great grandchildren.  She raised one of her granddaughters.  Her mom and stepfather raised her.  Her stepfather is now 96 years old and is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.  Gwynith’s father retired as a major in the Air Force.  He has remarried and raised two stepchildren.  Because of his career in the Air Force, their family moved around a lot.  Gwynith went to six high schools in six different states in four years.  At the time, she didn’t appreciate moving around.  But now when she looks back, she values the cultures she was exposed to and she also learned to enjoy traveling.  She eventually went to school to become a travel agent, but is not pursuing that career anymore.  Gwynith also went to college and earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Business.

For the past five years, Gwynith has lived in St. Joseph Minnesota.  One granddaughter and great-granddaughter and another member of the CMCNFB, LisaMarie Thomas, all live upstairs above Gwynith.

Crafts are one of Gwynith’s hobbies.  She used to take goose eggs and at one time, a couple of ostrich eggs, cut them open and decorate them.  Those eggs are now protected so she uses plastic eggs in her craft.  Gwynith also works with porcelain and plaster of Paris.  She once made an 18-piece nativity set.  She also enjoys working on crafts for children, such as Easter eggs and bunnies.

Gwynith belongs to the Love of Christ Lutheran Church in St. Cloud where she is very active.  For six years, she was part of the Altar Guild, helping set up communion.  Because her eyesight is deteriorating, she no longer does that.  But she volunteers in the church office and is a greeter and usher.  Gwynith also enjoys being part of the Bible studies at church.  Currently she attends the JOY program (Just Over Youth) which consists of mainly retired people.  They meet to have Bible studies, socialize and have attended some mission trips to Devils Lake, North Dakota where they assisted with the Daily Vacation Bible Schools.

As far as technology, Gwynith just got her first white cane.  She needs training on how to use it.  She is hoping to learn about what other technology is available when she attends the National Convention in Florida this summer.

Her advice to others is that when you are first diagnosed with a visual impairment or condition, learn all you can.  Don’t wait until your vision is gone or it will be twice as hard to get information and help.  Also, she says it’s important to keep active.  Don’t hole yourself up in your house and not go out and participate in life.

Annual Events in the Area

This summer the CMCNFB held their annual brat sale.  The sale was held on July 3 at the Cashwise West in Waite Park starting at 11 a.m.

Our chapter summer picnic will be held on August 8 this year.  Members from the Metro chapter also join us at the picnic.  Members from the Twin Cities who plan to attend need to let Jennifer Dunnam know as soon as possible.

We will be holding our annual elections in September this year.  Members of the CMCNFB are asked to keep that in mind and be thinking about what office you want to run for or who you want to nominate.  On a side note and for fun, don’t be absent from that meeting or you might find yourself elected to an office (just kidding).