AngelaHuston@zoominternet.net CRHuston@zoominternet.net

The chapel at Brookdale Medina South, 100 High Point Drive, was the setting for the monthly meeting of Friends 'N Focus October 14, at which time they made a special presentation.

President Don Kalman presented a hand-held, battery-operated device with a 12-inch screen that magnifies objects 12 times their size to Taya Newman, Supervisor of the Program for Visually Impaired Students in the Brunswick City School District. Newman accepted with great appreciation on behalf of classroom teacher Kristie Alberti, who was unable to come because of a family emergency.

Alberti responded when Kalman approached the school about donating this piece of equipment to help visually-impaired students. The $1,400 Eschenbach device will be given to a current senior who will be able to take it home to do his homework. When he graduates, he will return it to Alberti, who will then make it available for another student. Visually challenged students from Pre-K through grade 12 are serviced by this school program.

For those unfamiliar with the group, Friends 'N Focus was founded in 1994 by Chuck Norman. Its purpose is to provide strength and support to those dealing with the challenges of visual impairment. The members of the group identify the common challenges they face, and then work together to provide helpful solutions for ways of living with vision loss for themselves and for others in the community.

Friends 'N Focus acquires magnifying machines by hosting a limited number of fund raisers and the generosity of donors who understand their value. They have been able to give more than 30 CCTVs to people in the community to help ease their situations.

Friends 'N Focus, a 501 (c) (3) organization, is the Medina Chapter of the American Council of the Blind (ACB). In addition to providing much-needed equipment they advocate for local improvements and services. Presently they are working with local government to return the audible signals at the intersection of Northland Drive and Pearl Road that were removed during the road construction along Route #42.

The group is investigating devices called ScripTalk that read prescriptions; local pharmacies now using these devices include Wal-Mart, CVS, and Rite-Aide. The group also has another hand-held device, RUBY HD; the members take turns using this $700 piece of equipment.

The original group continued to grow over the years and now has 36 active members. Kalman said he and a few others were recently interviewed by Lori Betz, for Brunswick Access Television (BAT); the interview will run for viewer appreciation and education through the month of November.

This year, Don Kalman received the distinguished 2019 JPMorgan Chase Leadership Fellow Award, a grant that "allows the ACB to invest in leadership activities for new and emerging leaders."

Kalman was one of only five selected individuals active in affiliate leadership roles from candidates in Ohio, Virginia, Michigan, Illinois, and Kentucky. In a quote after attending the week-long event Kalman said, "During the conference I came to understand the importance of advocacy. If we don't advocate when we need something, nothing will get done."

Friends 'N Focus would like to be able to service more visually impaired people by offering them the use of a CCTV or other valuable devices that would ease their situations. They welcome any donations that would help them do this. Your tax-deductible contributions may be sent to Friends 'N Focus, P.O. Box 1996, Medina, Ohio 44258.

The group's regular meetings are held the second Monday of each month, noon to 2 p.m., March through December, at the Office for Older Adults, 246 Northland Drive, Medina. Further information can be obtained by contacting Kalman, at 330-635-7027, or by visiting a meeting.