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March 2015 Adult Program

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March 2015 Schedule

Date: Tuesday, March 3

 Time: 10am-12pm

 Recommended Road Runner pickup 12:15pm

Event: Welcome Day

Location: LAB Office

Cost: Free

 Description: Have you recently lost your vision and are looking to meet others dealing with or have dealt with vision loss? Then come join us at LAB along with members from Massachusetts Commission for the Blind for coffee and refreshments and we will tell you how we can help.

Date: Thursday, March 5

Time: 10am-12pm

Recommended Road Runner Pickup 12:30

Event: Breakfast Club

Location: Shaw’s Dracut

Cost: You are responsible for the cost of your own food.

Description: So we got snowed out twice when planning to go to Vic’s in Lowell so let’s wait for spring. Let’s try Shaw’s in Dracut this time and hopefully no snow!!

Date: Tuesday, March 10

Time: 9:30am-3pm

Recommended Road Runner Pickup 3:30

Event: Blind Legislative Informational Networking Day (B.L.I.N.D) 2015

Location: Statehouse, Boston, MA

Cost: FREE

Description: If you’re interested in attending, please let us know as soon as possible so we can register by Monday, March 3. First come first serve basis.

Date: Thursday, March 12

Time: 10am-1pm

Recommended Road Runner Pickup 1:15

Event: Breakfast Club and Craft

Location: LAB Office

Cost: $2

Description: Join us for breakfast and crafts. We will be making St. Patrick’s Day decorations!

Date: Tuesday, March 17

Time: 11am-1pm

Recommended Road Runner Pickup 1:15

Event: St. Patrick’s Day Party/Souper Bowl

Cost: FREE

Description: Let’s bring the “Souper Bowl” Party to St. Patrick’s Day party. Many different soups will be served. We all know who the Champions of the Super Bowl are but we can still crown a “Souper” winner!

Date: Thursday, March 19

Time: 12-12:30pm

Recommended Road Runner Pickup 1:00

Event: Breakfast Club

Location: Comet’s in Tyngsboro

Cost: You are responsible for your own purchases.

Description: Join us for a breakfast favorite.

Date: Tuesday, March 24

Time: 10am-12pm

Recommended Road Runner Pickup 12:30

Event: Bowling Location: Lowell

Cost: $2

Description: Come on, let’s go bowling at Brunswick! Date:

Thursday, March 26 TENTATIVE

Time: 9:30am-3pm

Recommended Road Runner Pickup 3:30

Event: Circus of the Senses

Location: City Hall Plaza, Boston

Cost: FREE – Bring a lunch or money for lunch

Description: Welcome to Big Apple Circus! Catch the high-spirits and pulse-racing thrills of the World’s Greatest Circus Artists in one ring under our Big Top! Watch rowdy pups perform amazing tricks, double trapeze artists soaring high above, a bashful clown, an irrepressible flimflam man, and a juggler extraordinaire; teeter-board acrobats flying through the air, a cavalcade of magnificent steeds, and a couple of amazing wire-walkers suspended in mid-air. Wireless audio headsets, which use a state-of-the-art infrared transmission system, are distributed to allow visually impaired audience members to hear Circus Founders Paul Binder and Michael Christensen deliver a live play-by-play description of the action in the ring. We have applied for tickets to the Circus and as of this publication, we have not heard back. If we do receive tickets they will be limited. Pre-registration is a must as tickets are limited. Call Shelagh as soon as possible at 978-454-5704 x15 to reserve your spot! First come first serve!

Date: Tuesday, March 31

Time: 10am-12pm

Recommended Road Runner Pickup 12:15

Event: Easter craft

Location: LAB Office

Cost: Free

Description: Come join us for Easter crafts.

 To register for all events, please call Shelagh at 978-454-5704 x15.

   

Meet Rob Kanzer: Star Coach on LAB’s Team

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By Suzanne Wilson

On January 15, our radio station aired an interview between our own Maria Martin and Rob Kanzer. If his name sounds familiar, it’s because you can hear Rob every Tuesday on the Talking Information Center. As with all of our amazing readers, Rob brings to us a life rich with experience and overflowing with wisdom.

Rob2009

Now 58 years old, Rob grew up in Weston, MA. He describes his childhood years as a mixture of the idyllic and the difficult: “Healthy, happy, carefree, with two professional, intelligent, loving parents. A neighborhood where there were a gang of kids, where we could play sports and run free.” At the same time, his mother had acute schizophrenia, a mental illness that often prevented her from being available to her children when they needed her. Because of her fragility, Rob learned early on to be a strong communicator and an intermediary between his younger brothers and their father. The fact that his dad was a workaholic ultimately made Rob into what he describes as virtually a surrogate parent, inculcating him with skills that he would later use in his personal and professional life.

Attending the excellent public schools in Weston furnished him with additional tools. The emphasis was on creativity, freedom of expression, excellence in sports and liberal arts. Upon graduating from high school, Rob attended the University of Hartford, majoring in human communication dynamics. “I had a chance to have my own radio program where I interviewed people, and I liked that,” Rob elaborated. “I was also the chairperson of the Video Committee, which meant I could go around campus interviewing people on video, again in this kind of personal style. Also, there was a television program where I got to host, interview, talk and listen. So that really, as an undergraduate, shaped me in very fine ways.” Following this enriching experience, Rob obtained a certification in mediation and dispute resolution from the University of Massachusetts.

While these diplomas and credentials were invaluable, they only represented the formal portion of Rob’s education. Equally crucial to his growth as a man and a professional was what he learned outside the classroom—in particular, in 1981 in a bookstore in Cambridge. Captivated by a flyer posted on a telephone pole advertising a seminar in nonviolent communication, Rob went to the weekend workshop. In truth, he found the class to be uncomfortable and difficult in many ways. He ended up thinking “I don’t know if I have the patience to deal with people who are treating me in a way that I think is disrespectful.” A mere few weeks later, however, he found himself using some of the very techniques he had learned at the seminar. Much to his surprise, these strategies helped to resolve a difficult conflict he was having with a housemate. Indeed, they made such a pivotal difference that he began sharing the skills he had learned in that bookstore. In fact, he launched a business as a result.

Some of his first clients were Vietnam veterans at an outreach center in Cambridge. He taught them the basics of compassionate communication, skills that could help them overcome the obstacles that challenged them after returning from their devastating experiences in Southeast Asia. Slowly but surely, Rob’s seminar business began to flower.

Then, life threw an unexpected surprise his way. Rob learned that he would soon be a father, with all of the financial realities that parenthood entails. After taking a cold, hard look at his situation, Rob realized that he would need to find a job that brought in a steady paycheck. That was when he began delivering newspapers. For weeks, he was ashamed that he, a well-educated and privileged young man from the suburbs, had resorted to a job that didn’t require even a college degree. But then he realized that he was one of the only workers who showed up on time, every day. “I learned . . . amazing lessons when I delivered newspapers which helped me develop a newspaper distribution company in a very short time. With what I had learned, I built my company . . . I had 15 drivers working for me delivering 40 newspapers to five thousand locations in 150 towns in and around Boston, with four managers and a giant warehouse. And I became financially independent. Who knew that I would learn this lesson, turning my shame into appreciation?”

These days, most of Rob’s professional time is spent running his thriving seminar and life coaching business. Whether working with a Fortune 500 company’s corporate team or a family in distress, the foundational principles remain the same:  pay attention and listen; honor the individual or group by first getting to know them, with no assumptions. Then reflect back what they are saying to make sure you understand. Finally, model compassionate communication strategies so that students can incorporate them into their own toolkits.

Although it might sound complicated, Rob says that life and business coaching ultimately helps people answer just two questions:  How do you feel? And What do you want? In order to guide students on this road, Rob encourages people to get into the habit of asking for help. In addition, he assists them in recognizing their own internal success mechanisms. At his or her best, a coach is a neutral person who works with someone to help create the game or life strategy they want to play.

Now, over three decades after starting on his unique career path, Rob has nothing but good things to say about the experience of being a life and business coach:  “I feel absolutely inspired and in debt to all of the thousands of people that I have talked to and not only coached, but also learned from them on how to be more compassionate, how to put into language ways of solving problems that ultimately meet all of our human needs.”
 

When asked for a final thought he would like to impart to our listeners and readers, Rob’s ready reply rang with conviction:  “The way to stay pumped up is to notice how you feel in your body when you feel good. . . The wisdom that you have in your body and in your heart can be like your own coach. It’s with you 100 percent of the time. Some people call this spirit, some call it God, some people call it the body of wisdom. All I do is help you remember to stay in that place.” 

Listen to the interview here on YouTube: Click Here 
   

LAB Has Success with iOS & Be My Eyes

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Innovations in technology are attractive to most aspiring people. Whether it be hardware, software, appliances, or books on how to program code, there is a constant need of development. Luckily, we have numerous tech events throughout the U.S. each year such as the Worldwide Developers Conference, Interop, Electronic Entertainment Expo, and the recent 2015 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) held in Las Vegas last month. This year, CES focused primarily on emerging technologies in many sectors including a continued interest in display technology and the mobile phone market. Events like these are geared towards video bloggers, reviewer, and gain a ton of media attention throughout the web. Don’t be mistaken, though. Tech development is on the rise at the global level. Organizations from around the world gain popularity thanks to social media, and a prime example of that is the newly released Danish application for iOS, “BeMyEyes.” When I heard about this from my coworker, Ally, I went straight to the App Store.

Released on the market on January 15th, this application is aimed to bridge the sighted community with those who are visually impaired. As a non-profit, the strategy is to crowdsource and have direct community involvement with those in need of assistance. Demand for applications like this has never been higher, and with almost 2 billion smartphone users in the world, the guys at BeMyEyes can rest assured that someone will want to help. That someone turned into thousands within hours of launch, and the momentum became so strong that the team was forced to upgrade their servers to keep up with demand. As of right now, the number of sighted participants stands at 88,438 with 6,688 blind registered, and 15,997 people helped. That. Is. Astounding!

Free to download at the moment, the user launches the App Store on an iPhone and downloads the app, “BeMyEyes.” Launch the app and select whether you are sighted or blind, and fill out basic information to get rolling, including language preferences. If you are blind, you can call for help anytime and be connected to a random sighted user through video conferencing. If you are sighted, close out of the app and await for your service. Simple, and easy!

So, I followed my own instructions last week. A few hours after registering, my phone starts to buzz, “Ali needs your assistance. Slide or tap to help.” Of course, I’m very excited now that I have been connected with somebody. It turns out that the gentleman was from Iraq. I was blown away that the servers were able to route through Iraq’s network and Denmark’s into my phone. We converse for a minute, he seemed a very pleasant man, and he asks me if I understand computers at all. Being the IT guy at LAB, I jumped up and down and feel a thrill run up my spine. Geek speak aside, I directed him for a half hour and was able to help his computer boot without a blue screen. The likelihood that he would have reached me was much less than 1%. It felt great. Assuming it would have taken him weeks to lend his computer to a technician and receive a working PC in return, I fell in love with the potential of this app.

And since then, I wait for users of “BeMyEyes” to contact me for help. Most of the time, the video connection is strong and that helps to transmit the image clearly. Innovations like this app prove that we do have an obligation to lending our eyes whenever we can. As citizens of a free nation, we can all spread the word and try to aid internationally if possible. Describe the photo of her daughter, help them pick out a can of soup, tell them which tie looks better with their suit. It will make your day and certainly make theirs. I guarantee it.

-Sal Kapadia 

   

February 2015 Adult Schedule

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Date: Tuesday,February 3

Time: 10am-12:00pm

Suggested Road Runner Pickup: 12:15

Event: Welcome Day

Location: LAB Office

 Cost: Free

Description: Have you recently lost your vision and looking to meet others dealing with vision loss? Join us for coffee and refreshments and we will tell you how we can help.

 

Date: Thursday, February 5

Time: 10am-12pm

Suggested Road Runner Pickup: 12:30

 Event: Breakfast Club

Location: Vic’s in Lowell

Cost: You are responsible for your on purchases.

Description: We missed our visit to Vic’s in January due to very cold weather. Let’s try this again in February!

 

 Date: Tuesday, February 10

Time: 10am-12pm

Event: Valentine’s Craft Day

Suggested Road Runner Pickup: 12:15

 Location: LAB office Cost: FREE Description: Join Ally in making some creative decorations for Valentine’s Day. Light refreshments will be served.

 

Date: Thursday, February 12

Time: 10am-1pm

Suggested Road Runner Pickup: 1:15

Event: Valentine’s Day Party

Location: LAB Office

Cost: Free

Description: Join us for our annual Valentine’s Day celebration! Feel free to bring something to share. Let Shelagh know what you plan to bring so we can plan accordingly! 

 

 Date: Tuesday, February 17

Time: 11AM – 1:30pm

Suggested Road Runner Pickup: 2:00

Event: Lunch Location: Good Times in Lowell

Cost: You are responsible for the cost of your lunch.

Description: Let’s enjoy lunch at Good Times. It has been a long time since we have gone. Shelagh has never been so let’s show her a “Good Time”!

 

Date: Thursday, February 19

Time: 10am-12pm

Suggested Road Runner Pickup: 12:30

Event: Breakfast Club

 Location: Owl Diner in Lowell

Cost: You are responsible for the cost of your own food.

Description: Join us for a delicious breakfast at the Owl Diner in Lowell!

 

Date: Tuesday, February 24

Time: 10am-12:30pm

Suggested Road Runner Pickup: 12:45

Event: Movie In

Location: LAB Office

Cost: Free

Description: Come join us for an audio described movie (title TBD) and snacks. 

 

 Date: Thursday, February 26

Time: 10am-12pm

Event: Breakfast Club

 Location: LAB office

Cost: $2

Description: Join us for a delicious breakfast cooked in the LAB office. We’ll be having waffles and bacon!

 

***Coming soon – our new Essential Skills Program – watch for special announcement***

   

Volunteers: the Heart of LAB

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By Suzanne WIlson

With November being the month of Thanksgiving, we thought that there couldn’t be a better time than this to introduce you to some of the twenty-plus volunteers who spread LAB’s voice across the Merrimack Valley on our radio station. Each hour that these volunteers donate furnishes hundreds of visually impaired and blind Greater Lowell residents with access to local news that they would have great difficulty finding anywhere else. Recently, three of our dedicated radio readers sat down with Jim Barrett to discuss their lives and their reasons for supporting our community each and every week.

Meet Connie Murphy 

Imagine living quite a distance away from Lowell in Medford. Now think about the dedication it would take for you to make the trip up to our city every week. Finally, picture yourself doing this as a volunteer, with no paycheck on the horizon. That is exactly what Connie Murphy’s life is like. Since LAB opened its radio studio, Connie has been one of our most faithful readers.

Connie is not one to let any grass grow under his feet. In addition to his service to the blind community, he is also president of the Medford Council on Aging. Even so, his allegiance to us is clear:  “I would say the best part of our life is helping at the Lowell Association for the Blind, and principally the reading of the daily newspapers on Tuesdays,” he says. “One of the nice things about this is to have a blind person at an outside event suddenly come up to you and say that they enjoy hearing you on the radio. It’s a good feeling.”

Working in radio seems to be in Connie’s blood; he has been doing it for decades. In the mid-1950s, he spent many Saturdays at what was then WTAO helping the librarian pick out records for the disc jockeys to play on the radio. When the Talking Information Center came on the scene in Marshfield, it was originally housed in that town’s public library. A far cry from the multi-million-dollar studio of today, this fledgling operation was housed in a closet. Its soundproofing was nothing more than egg cartons glued to the walls.

Whether he’s working in a primitive studio or in LAB’s state-of-the-art one, Connie embodies the spirit of volunteerism that runs wide and deep here at LAB. We are truly fortunate to have Connie as an integral part of our LAB family. Who else among us can claim to have known sportscasters Kurt Gowdy and Mel Allen, or to get the chance each year to interview the winners of the Faith International Foundation awards when he attends their annual convention? Indeed, who among us can also recount stories of his work as a clown who went into mental health facilities to brighten the lives of their residents?

When asked if he has any final thoughts to be communicated to our community, Connie responds:  “I hope they continue listening. . . and also, if they have a member of their family who happens to have problems seeing, one of the best things to do is to visit the Lowell Association for the Blind . . . They have an awful lot, not only on the technical end, but also they go out. Every time I come in here, my first question is “Where are you going today?”,” From someone who revels in being an active and dynamic volunteer, this is high praise indeed.

Meet Joanne Fox 

Ten years ago, Joanne Fox became a volunteer reader here at LAB, a decision that enabled her to add an important element of service to her life. Unable to work at a fulltime job due to painful fibromyalgia, she devotes two mornings a week to the visually impaired listeners of our radio station, in addition to attending Mass and visiting her elderly mother on a weekly basis. She has two daughters from a previous marriage, as well as a seven-year-old grandson. There is no doubt at all that she is a very proud grandma:  “He’s such an intelligent little boy,” she enthuses. “He can do things on his iPad that I can’t even dream of doing. He’s very smart and the teacher says in his class, he’s number one.” Those who listen to the radio station probably already know the voice of Joanne’s husband, Paul Fox, who joins her on Fridays to read the papers.

Her road to volunteerism began with a simple perusal of her church bulletin, in which an advertisement for LAB radio reading opportunities was featured. Coming here has had a profound effect on Joanne’s outlook:  “Before I started doing this, I never thought about my eyesight. I took it for granted,” she explains. “Once I started doing this, I saw many people coming in and out with dogs and white canes and such, . . . it blows my mind the things that they do and can do. I don’t take my eyesight for granted anymore. . . I want to give back something that I have that they don’t.”

After spending as much time in front of a microphone as she has, Joanne can easily recount some of the experiences that stand out in her mind. Perhaps the funniest occurs on a pretty regular basis:  She will read an article and, just minutes later, Paul frequently picks the same one even though they share the same studio. (You can make your own conclusions about selective hearing between spouses.) The saddest times are when she reads the obituaries, something she does because she knows that people would have no other way to learn of the death of a friend or loved one without this service.

Meet Paul Fox

Other than being the loving husband of our volunteer veteran Joanne Fox, Paul is a fascinating person in his own right. A native of New York City, he moved to Lowell in 1996. Shortly thereafter, he met Joanne. They married three years later. Paul has a grown daughter from a previous marriage and works as a luthier. If you don’t know what that is, don’t be too upset; even the computer’s spell-check function will tell you it isn’t a word. Yet it is, referring to the building and repair of guitars and other stringed instruments. Specifically, Paul builds guitars and makes vintage replacement guitar parts. “I build acoustic guitars, which are very difficult,” he explains. “One thing about building acoustic guitars is you have no idea if it’s going to sound any good until you’re all done and have put strings on it. You kind of just hope that it comes out like a good-sounding guitar.” In addition to these activities, Paul also does volunteer work for the Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

His commitment to service is both straightforward and profound:  “I think one of the things about being a human being in this world is trying to help other people,” he elaborates. “That’s one of the most important things we can do with our life. . . My intention is to try and make a difference with people.” His affinity for LAB and all of the people in our community is great.  “It’s nice to be able to come here and read the newspaper. Hopefully, there are folks listening and getting some benefit from it.” Considering that there are several hundred listeners in the immediate area and close to 24,000 statewide, it’s safe to say that Paul’s dedication is appreciated many times over.
 

The next morning you turn on your TIC radio, you might just hear one of these three fine volunteers, each of whom provides his or her own special take on the local news. We hope this glimpse at just some of our devoted volunteers will make them even more welcome in your home each week.

Listen here:
   

UML Grads and Alum Take Over LAB

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Local communities embrace the existence of nonprofits for their continued, missionary-style development strategies.  We often overlook those who are responsible for maintaining the ecosystem and who drive the approach.  Building a reputation for the past 91 years in greater Lowell is none other than yours truly.  Organizations such as the Lowell Association for the Blind (LAB) involved in supportive roles stick out in the growing nonprofit sector of Massachusetts, and compared with the array of obliging organizations in the New England community, LAB’s team excels at preserving its mission and continues to serve a diverse, growing, and urban community.  The downtown location invites dynamic individuals seeking to stay involved and engage in a team responsibility.  

Defining LAB is to say define the core values of UMass Lowell. LAB is compiled of a team originating from the Commonwealth and delivers the value of assurance.  Several of the staff members in the portfolio are alumni or active students of the University and agreed to questionnaires regarding the collaborations with the campus.  Here is a collection of some of their responses.

We asked each of them about their undergraduate/post-graduate backgrounds:

Elizabeth Cannon: Bachelor of Science, Administration of Law and Justice

Shelagh Doherty: Bachelor of Science, Business Administration

Ally Bull: Bachelor of Arts, Psychology

Sal Kapadia: Bachelor of Science, Business Administration, Concentration: Accounting (May 2015)

Ben Webb: Bachelor of Science, Business Administration (May 2017)

Other members in the office include: Dorothy Donovan (braille instructor) who has been with the organization for decades; Maria who is involved with the VOICE program; Christie and Tiana, who help Ally with the Youth Program, are also attendees of UMass Lowell.

Let us hear about the roles at LAB!

Elizabeth: I am the Executive Director of the Lowell Association for the Blind.  I oversee all of the day-to-day operations of the organization.

Ally: I am currently the new Youth Program Coordinator at LAB.  I work with three youth groups: the youth, senior youth, and VIP programs.  The age of the kids ranges from seven to twenty.  I plan and coordinate the four programs each month (two for youth, one for senior youth, and one for VIP).  We have a great time!

Sal: I started out as an intern through the University in the Co-Op Scholarship Program in May 2012.  Coming here was one of the best decisions of my life, and I loved being here in the summer so much that I stayed on part-time during the school year to help with the Adult and Youth programs.  As time progressed and we earned grants for technology, the office needed some assistance with picking out merchandise and setting up access, and I had previously worked with computer maintenance and thus slid into the role of IT coordinator.  Currently, I am the IT Coordinator. Primarily, I am responsible for maintaining the website, keeping in touch with the community through social media campaigns, coordinating with staff about upcoming events, and creating and promoting the LAB Newsletter.  If you haven’t already done so, please like our Facebook page, follow us on Twitter, look out for some new video projects on YouTube in the coming year, and subscribe to our newsletter mailing list on Constant Contact!

Ben: I am a social media intern at LAB and I’ve been here for a semester now.  My job requires me to do a lot with the Twitter and Facebook pages and occasionally anything else around the office.  Occasionally I am required to work with my coworkers, which is never a problem because of classes at UML that encourage group work.  I would say I fit in well with LAB because everyone here has welcomed me in with open arms and helped me with anything I need. I am still learning new things every week, like proper blind etiquette and also software functionality with Constant Contact and Photoshop.

Shelagh has the pleasure of being the first person to greet the clients as she sits at the front of the office answering phone calls, keeping track of meetings, organizing Adult programs with Elizabeth, and maintaining the donor management system.

Everyone in the organization interacts daily with the clients.   Regardless of title, LAB clutches onto a promise of equality: crafting, serving, cleaning, you name it!  Everybody pitches in to keep the place running to the best of its capacity.

What were some of your favorite classes taken at UML?

Elizabeth: I enjoyed all the classes for the Criminal Justice major, but also enjoyed the Psychology classes that I took for a minor in Psychology.

Shelagh: My favorite courses were in Marketing. The creativity required in those classes really allowed me to express myself.

Ally: I definitely enjoyed my Psychology Practicum with Dr. Gloria Seeman.  This is the class that originally got me involved with Lowell Association for the Blind and really influenced my future.  Getting involved in the community was an incredible experience.  Another favorite of mine was the Social Theory (I and II) with Dr. Daniel Egan.  This class especially had a heavy influence on how I view society and the world around me…I was also involved with the radio station at WUML. This club was very influential on my leadership skills. As an intern, I was given the opportunity to become a licensed DJ on air. Once achieving this, I continued to get involved with the station and eventually became the Office Manager. This position required me to be responsible and consistent. It is great that UML offers this program to students because there is a lot to learn from this group!

Sal: I would have to go with First Year Management Seminar as one of my favorite courses because of the content and because I met Dr. Finch, who then referred me to LAB.  Also, I finished Accounting Information Systems with Dr. Strickland this fall semester, which really helped me develop my role in Information Systems.  Being an accounting nerd, I have to say I’ve appreciated all of my accounting courses with Dr. Strickland, Dr. Suh, Dr. Tate, and Dr. Li.

Ben: Some of my favorite classes at UML have occurred during this semester.  My nutrition class was pretty interesting to me and I’m definitely glad I took it as an elective.  My Professional Communications class with Professor Lazer was kept interesting, even though it was a 3-hour class.  I learned many useful life skills and presentation skills.

UMass Lowell focuses on teaching a lot of core values that represent the nonprofit world. How has the University helped you develop into your role?

Ally: UMass Lowell did a great job at targeting specific skills I would need for my major. As a psych student, I was taught how to communicate and work with others, as well as get involved with the community. Both the practicum (mentioned earlier) and my Intro to Disabilities class encouraged me to get involved with the field. I was also involved with the radio station at WUML. This club was very influential on my leadership skills. As an intern, I was given the opportunity to become a licensed DJ on air. Once achieving this, I continued to get involved with the station and eventually became the Office Manager. This position required me to be responsible and consistent. It is great that UML offers this program to students because there is a lot to learn from this group!

Sal: The Manning School of Business at UML has offered classes that help me make wiser personal decisions. Interacting day-to-day with the clients reminds me of the focus on presentation skills in my core business classes. We learned in Professional Communications about the importance of word choice and clarity; that is exactly what speaking to our clients is all about. What sets LAB apart from the other organizations is how we create relationships with our clients. The University offers great, accessible faculty that encourage us to meet with them outside of class and approach them for our college and professional career. UMass Lowell is undoubtedly the reason I am the person I am today.

Some of the staff members have lived in Lowell. Here are their opinions about the city.

Elizabeth: I was born and raised in Lowell and I still live on the street that I grew up on.  Lowell is like a small town.  Everyone knows everybody! 

Shelagh was also brought up around the corner of Elizabeth and loves the many conveniences of Lowell, especially being able to come in and help at LAB! Shelagh was formerly President of the Board of Directors and has been involved with LAB since her teenage years!

 

Since the University is right down the street, we thought it would be appropriate to gather some comments about noticeable changes to the city as an effect of UML.

Elizabeth is a Lowell native. UML has grown dramatically over the last 8-10 years. It is great to have both UML and Middlesex Community College in Lowell. In recent years, I have seen an effort to have UML students get some real world experience in addition to their academic studies with internships, co-ops and service learning. I think this provides the student with great experience to draw on when going out into the work world. It also provides, in our case, some much-needed assistance. Students bring an energy and enthusiasm to local businesses and nonprofits.

As far as Shelagh goes, her father was a professor for 40 years starting with Lowell Technological Institute, so she has seen the progression for a great portion of her life. Seeing that LTI was part of her childhood, UML as it stands today is a phenomenal advantage to the landscape of the city!

All we hear are positive things about these UMass Lowell candidates. What if the University were to send some more help your way?

According to Elizabeth, LAB also has members of the Board of Directors who are faculty and graduates of the University or in Graduate Programs at the University.  She would definitely hire a UML grad! The UML students that LAB has worked with are committed and dedicated.  They are willing to help with a variety of tasks whether they are here 1 hour a week or 10 hours a week.  They come in ready and willing to work. UML students and alumnae help in all areas of the organization. Elizabeth says she would not hesitate to hire UML graduates for future positions at LAB. 

New hires, especially college graduates, often make employers nervous because classroom learning does not typically focus on real-world experience. However, we've gathered that nonprofits like to reach out to as many young community members as possible. How do you think having staff from UML helps make the team at LAB more dynamic?

Elizabeth: It is interesting that so many of the LAB staff is UML graduates without even trying!  Several staff come to LAB as interns or volunteers and have joined the staff.  They have found their passion for helping the blind/visually impaired.  Their willingness to come in and volunteer time gets them familiar with the programs and services of the organization and get the LAB staff familiar with them it only natural that when a position opens up that they would be a natural fit.


At the end of the day, our neighbors all agree how Lowell Association for the Blind is a valuable asset to the Merrimack Valley. To volunteers, clients, and staff members, this place is a hub where they can create meaningful relationships and memories that will last a lifetime. UMass Lowell’s curriculum helps the association recruit motivated individuals who can keep the mission alive. Thank you, UMass Lowell.

   

January Adult Program Schedule 2015

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Date: Thursday, January 22

Time: 10am-12:30pm Suggested Road Runner Pickup: 1:00

Event: Breakfast Club

Location: Cracker Barrel, Tewksbury

Cost: You are responsible for the cost of your own food. Description: Join us for a delicious breakfast at Cracker Barrel in Tewksbury!

Date: Tuesday, January 27

Time: 10am-1pm Suggested Road Runner Pickup: 1:30

 Event: Trader Joes

 Location: Nashua, NH

Cost: You are responsible for the cost of your purchases. Description: As we get back into the swing of regular life, we need to make a trip to Trader Joe’s to fuel ourselves back up! 

 Date: Thursday, January 29

Time: 11am-2pm Suggested Road Runner Pickup: 2:15

Event: “Souper Bowl”

Location: LAB office

Cost: Free

Description: Join us for our own version of the “Souper Bowl”. Several staff and Board members will be making different kinds of soup for all to try. You all get to pick the “Souper Bowl” champs. Wear your team colors (hopefully Patriot colors).

   

Steven Roberts: Our Weather Guru and Prognosticator Extraordinaire

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By Suzanne Wilson

 

You’ve heard it a thousand times:  if you don’t like the weather here in New England, just wait five minutes and it will change. While that is definitely true, there are experts out there who can predict, with a great deal of accuracy based on scientific knowledge, whether it will rain or snow, be sunny or cloudy. Some of these pundits work for the government; others grace the local evening news. But there is one whom we can proudly claim as part of the LAB family. His name is Steven P. Roberts, published author and meteorological maven. Back in May, Steven had a chat with LAB’s Jim Barrett, during which they talked about Steven, his love of all things meteorological and his recent literary accomplishment. 

Steven did not become a weather buff overnight; in fact, it has been a huge part of his life even as far back as when he studied at the Perkins School for the Blind. “I’ve been interested in the weather since I could walk and talk and look out the window,” Steven explained. When TIC radio came to Lowell in the 1990s, he was encouraged to share what he knew with their many listeners. He recalls that the first storm he ever covered on the show that he entitled “Weather Wisdom Weekly” was the memorable Hurricane Bertha.

Obviously, the show struck a chord with many people, because it wasn’t long before Steven was inundated with requests to write a weather book. Although he was reluctant to take on the daunting task at first, he somewhat jokingly told our own Dorothy Donovan that if she could come up with the title, he would write the book. You guessed it:  about a week later, she called him with the perfect one, The Whys and Whats of Weather. “I got bagged,” Steven said, laughing. And although it has been a while in the making, with a concentrated effort over two academic years, this 400-plus page compendium of weather wisdom is certainly worth the wait.

Read more: Steven Roberts: Our Weather Guru and Prognosticator Extraordinaire

   

On Prizes and Partnerships: What’s New at LAB

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By Suzanne Wilson

Vacuums are great when you’re conducting chemistry experiments or perhaps cleaning your rug. But everyone knows that people, and especially agencies, cannot operate in them and remain successful. In fact, one of LAB’s most compelling strengths is our willingness to collaborate with a wide variety of individuals, agencies and educational institutions in Greater Lowell. In March, we received recognition of this quality by being awarded the first annual 2014 Service Learning Community Partner Award from UMass Lowell. Our executive director, Elizabeth Cannon, sat down with Jim Barrett to discuss this accomplishment on a recent Talking Information Center broadcast.
 

During their conversation, Elizabeth talked about LAB’s outward-looking mindset.  Our partnerships in Lowell stretch back for many years. One way to network with the community happens at a UMass Lowell breakfast, where decision-makers from local nonprofits have an opportunity to meet with faculty members who have students looking to get internship experiences in the area. The breakfast’s “speed dating” format gives everyone a chance to have brief conversations with many people. Then there is a larger block of time allocated for more in-depth conversations. It is at events such as this that the university’s instructors have gotten a chance to learn about the variety of exciting internship and volunteer opportunities available at our agency. As a direct result, several very productive relationships have evolved between our staff and promising young people in the community. In honor of that, Elizabeth proudly accepted the first annual 2014 Service Learning Community Partner Award.

“It was so amazing to get the award when there are so many wonderful nonprofits that work in the Greater Lowell area and to be recognized for our work with the students,” she enthused. “We get a lot of support from the students and it’s nice to be recognized, that the students realize that they had a good experience here.”
 

Read more: On Prizes and Partnerships: What’s New at LAB

   

Focus on Multiple Sclerosis

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By Suzanne Wilson

When Maria Martin was diagnosed with relapse-remission multiple sclerosis, the news was actually a relief. At last, after a long period of not knowing, she finally had a name to attach and a reason for the visual changes she had been experiencing. In order to share with others some of the important information she has learned throughout her MS journey, she conducted an interview recently for the Talking Information Center with Dr. Arthur Safran, a neurologist specializing in MS and a member of the MS Society of Greater New England who sits on its Clinical Advisory Committee. Also joining them was David Young-Hong, The MS Society of Greater New England’s Associate Vice President of Clinical Programs and Direct Services. It proved to be 30 minutes chockfull of information—with a liberal dash of inspiration as well.

First, it’s important to understand the definition of MS. It is a chronic, usually progressive disorder affecting the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord, not the peripheral nerves in the arms and legs). Although the cause is unknown, there is an immune system component.

There are several types of MS:

• Relapsing-remitting.  This is characterized by an attack and then some level of recovery.

• Progressive. This form gradually worsens over time.

• Relapsing-progressive.  This is a progressive illness interrupted by bouts of attacks from which patients make partial or complete recoveries.

• Secondary progressive.  Characterized by a series of attacks and remissions which eventually evolves into the progressive form.

• Neuromyelitis optica:  found mostly in Asia, this form of the disease does not affect the brain and is focused in the spinal cord and optic nerves.

Although it’s important to be aware of these different types, Dr. Safran stated that this should not be our primary concern:  “The most important thing isn’t the kind of MS that you have, but rather what it has done to you and what limits it may produce. Those are measured by a Kurtzke Scale, named after the person who described it. . . . As an average, it takes about 25 to 30 years to develop what’s called a Kurtzke Scale Six, that is to say the point where someone might have to use a cane to get around.”

Read more: Focus on Multiple Sclerosis

   

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