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Volume 16, Issue 1 May 2016


To provide opportunities for people who are blind or visually impaired to improve and enrich their personal, social and economic lives.

Telephone: (707) 523-3222
Fax: (707) 636-2768



Five years ago, Laurie Ballard had a stroke, which injured her brain and left her with limited sight. She can see the outlines of bodies, for instance, but can’t make out facial features. As you can imagine, it was an overwhelming experience. She felt lost, confused, and really needed help.

Laurie started in classes at the Center but her loss of brain function made it hard to converse and absorb what was being said. Still, she took in as much as she could and as she healed, she was better able to learn. Laurie’s first major hurdle was taking paratransit alone. Earle Baum classes had taught her how to give money and receive correct change but she was still stressed out. She worked up her nerve and boarded the bus but her ticket was expired. She ran back into her house and unearthed some silver dollars she’d been saving. She was sorry to part with them but really wanted to attend the Earle Baum picnic!

Laurie now rides the paratransit easily, though at one point, she thought she’d have to quit because she couldn’t afford the bus. Earle Baum arranged for a scholarship to cover her visits to the Center. For those of you readers who have donated and helped defray costs for these types of scholarships, thank you! Laurie’s long hours for volunteering more than make up for the cost of the tickets.

As a volunteer, Laurie leads guided walks, keeps the trail and walk ways clean and clear, assures that the dog bowls are full of fresh, clean water, makes reminder calls to clients, and fills in at the front desk during staff meetings.

Earle Baum is a very safe place for Laurie. “You’re with people in the same situation and you feel welcome,” she says. As for the staff, “It’s like they were hand picked. They’re top notch and treat us very well!”

Staying positive is important to her. There’s always someone worse off than you, she says. When you feel bad, force yourself to be happy and, strangely, it brings about that outcome! Volunteering helps. If you can’t volunteer, donate cards, she suggests. Get-well cards, sympathy cards, blank cards—all will be used to help brighten someone’s day!

YOU being here for us today

Ensures WE will be here for you tomorrow

Spring in the Garden of

Good and Better

Spring at EBC. A time of renewal. The walking trail has dried out, the wildflowers are in full glory, and there are new leaves on the trees! There are new students, too, learning how to be independent, safe, active, and have a vibrant life undaunted by vision loss.

For over 16 years, we have been providing training and services to the blind and visually impaired in Northern California. In addition to our core training in independent living, safe travel, assistive technology, and Braille, we offer camaraderie and support to adjust to vision loss. We also offer recreation, education, and social activities, like our new Ukulele and yoga classes. In short, the EBC is meeting Earle’s goal of being a place of “work, play, and fellowship.”

But we still have work to do. Vision rehabilitation is not covered by insurance. Our state and federal government continue to contribute a smaller portion of our income (reduced from 47% to 24% over the past 10 years). And we’re serving more people than ever. The number of people with age-related vision loss is predicted to double as a large group of Baby Boomers become seniors.

For these reasons, we need your help urgently. We must come together as a community to support those of us living with vision loss. Chances are you already know someone suffering from loss of vision. It may be you, me, a friend, or a family member. We’ve said it before but it’s worth repeating: If you’re here for us today, we will be here for you tomorrow.

Please give generously in any way that works for you. I am always touched when someone in our community donates their time, expertise, money, stock, required IRA withdrawal, or savings bond proceeds. Because of you, we’re able to help people succeed in living lives they love, undeterred by vision loss.

Many thanks to our donors, volunteers, and our highly trained staff of instructors and professionals.


Dan Needham


Veteran Overcomes Adversity

Leaves Legacy for People Living With Vision Loss

Robert Carlyle Baugh (May 9, 1917–Dec 30, 1991) fought in WWII at Normandy, where his Navy ship was struck during battle. While he was away at war, his first wife divorced him, serving him with papers that arrived unexpectedly. It created for him a rough patch that stuck with him awhile, even after he’d returned from war. His father brought him home to Salt Lake City, and the love he received from his family there brought him back on an even keel.”

Robert met his future wife in Japan after the war. They had to struggle through three years of applications, tests, and medical exams, but finally they were married and Robert brought her to live with him in California, where he had made his home after returning from Salt Lake City. Here in California, Robert worked as an engineer on a tanker owned by Chevron Shipping (then called Standard Oil), which followed Navy ships.

Eventually, Robert brought his wife's mother from Japan to live with them on their 2.5-acre farm in West Petaluma, and there she remained for 17 happy years. He loved that property, but could be there only 2-3 months each year due to the nature of his work. Nevertheless, he and his wife kept four cows, one of which became a family pet! As they would mow the lawn, there would be the calf, following row by row. So in tune with the family was this calf that she’d run from the field to the house as soon as the curtain opened in the morning.

Robert’s last few years of work were based in Alaska. When he retired, the travel continued, but now he could explore with his wife at his side. Together, they traveled to many parts of the world, sailing on cruise ships and learning the history and art of other countries. The Panama Canal was a favorite, as was England and Scotland. Here in the U.S., they really enjoyed their trip to New York, going up into the statue of Liberty and standing on the top of the torch, looking out to sea. Other favorites were the Grand Canyon, the landscapes of the southwest, and the territory along the Mississippi river.

Robert was recently honored with a large donation from the family to the Earle Baum Center in his name. Robert’s widow has vision loss, and they had put savings bonds in a safe deposit box in 1985 for a rainy day.” It never rained hard enough that they had to pull it out, so Earle Baum became the grateful recipient of those funds. His legacy will bring training and life-changing skills and activities to many people living with vision loss, including fellow veterans, and for that, we are all very thankful.

Please GIVE Generously to EBC


iPhone 5 or newer, iPod touch 5th Generation, iPad 3 or iPad Mini & Droid Cell Phones

One of the largest barriers to this technology is affordability. The concept of an iDevice recycle program where pre-owned equipment is donated to EBC, refurbished and distributed at a low cost to those we serve, is now in place.

EBC ‘s latest technology project gets powerful mainstream hardware into the hands of our clients.

Become an Earlefest Sponsor

On September 17, 2016, Sonoma Mountain Concerts in cooperation with the Earle Baum Center of the Blind will produce its annual signature fundraising event, Earlefest: A Celebration of Americana Music. This year’s event will be in a larger location to accommodate more fans and supporters. Go to the Earlefest website for more information. www.earlefest.com

Ukulele is all the rage at EBC

The class is in full swing and is a huge success. It is one of the many classes offered at EBC. Please see our website for a full list of classes and events. www.earlebaum.org

Donate your iDevices to the Earle Baum Center

From our Director of Programs

The Earle Baum Center is experiencing the results of “April showers bring May flowers” and blooms are ready to burst open with fragrance and color. We are busy going through closets, boxes, and drawers, wondering why we keep the things we do, and considering the possibility and the consequences of getting rid of something, anything… Yes, Spring is here! Please give generously to EBC to support our wonderful classes, events, activities, and programs.

EBC welcomes the season with new and exciting classes and events. Please drop by the center and experience the many wonderful classes, events and activities we have to offer. months. www.earlebaum.org

Birding By Ear

Birding by Ear is one of our new activities. Is it a CALL or a SONG? Does it rise in pitch or fall? What is the difference between a CHIP and a CHACK anyway? Birds, like humans, have their own unique language and learning it is an essential part of enjoying this wonderful outdoor experience.

Summer TGIF Picnics Are Here!

Save your third Friday of the next 4 months for the EBC summer picnics May 20, June 17, July 15, August 19, and September 16. Music and entertainment from 11 to 12 with GREAT food served from noon to 1pm. Please RSVP 10 days in advance: Cost $5.00 in advance, $7.50 without RSVP.

Riding with the “Baum Squad” at EBC

This tandem cycling club organized through the Earle Baum Center teams experienced cyclist with visually impaired athletes. Rides build stamina and provide social activities that widen the horizons of people who have lost full or partial vision. Look for details and sign up for rides on the EBC website. www.earlebaum.org

For more information from the Earle Baum Center

Call our office for more information: 707-523-3222

Visit our Website: www.earlebaum.org

Sign up for classes and Events on line:



Because you CARE we are HERE

Please become a regular DONOR to EBC



Please make your appointment at the Earle Baum Center a highest priority. Cancellations are one of our largest sources of financial loss. A cancelled appointment that we can’t fill with a replacement can cost us three ways: the lost revenue of delivering the service, the need to pay salaried or hourly staff for that scheduled time, and the lost opportunity to serve another person with vision loss in that time slot. In some instances we may charge you for a missed appointment or discontinue service for those with repeated cancellations or no shows.

Let us know if you need help with tools to remember appointments.