Select Text Size: A A A A A

Select Screen Contrast

Black on
White on
Yellow on Black
Home Our Services About Us Calendar Ways To Help  

Earle Baum Center Newsletter

Audio Newsletters
Archived Printed Newsletters

Current Newsletter

March 2014 Volume 14 Issue 1


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


There is nothing like starting the New Year with a new program with motivation to get in shape.

The Earle Baum Center has joined with the United States Association of Blind Athletes for a 10 month fitness challenge geared toward participants who are visually impaired and between the ages of 15 and early 40’s. We currently have 21 participants who have all been fitted with a Nike Fuelband bracelet that monitors their movements and tracks their personal progress. Our 21 participants are part of 800 participants nationwide. The idea behind the program is to get hooked on fitness through use of a team approach and the use of technology in the Nike Fuelband combined with social media. The launch of the program was here at the Earle Baum Center where clients met each other, got fitted with the Nike Fuelband, and tested the results of how many fuel points were gained after walking the almost 1 mile trail. We are in the process of planning monthly exciting fitness activities. If you are interested in joining us, want more information, or would like to sponsor a fitness activity please contact Denise Vancil, Fitness Challenge Leader at 523-7832.

EBC Group visits the
de Young Museum, San Francisco
By Nancy Turner

On December 9, 2013 seven of us from the Earle Baum Center went to the de Young Museum in San Francisco to see art by David Hockney. We were particularly interested in seeing this exhibition, as most of us in the group had recently been involved in an art history class, which was arranged by Patricia Jefferson and taught at the EBC by Deborah Littlebear, an art therapist who works mostly with seniors. The day we went to San Francisco was a Special Access day for people with all kinds of disabilities and there were docents who described some of his artwork. We had a docent tour at 10 A.M. for an hour or so and then looked at some of the artists’ work on our own.

David Hockney is the best known British artist of his generation. This exhibit is the first comprehensive survey of his work since 2002. He uses new technologies in his art, such as the Polaroid camera, fax machine, and iPhone and iPad. The exhibition highlights his Photoshop portraits, digital videos that track the changing seasons, and bright landscapes created using the iPad. It also encompasses more traditional media such as oil paintings, charcoal drawings and the artist's first extensive exploration of watercolor.

Just a Glimpse — EBC Client Phyllis Levitt

Born in New York City, Phyllis was married and raised two children while she simultaneously managed a very impressive career teaching everything from pre-school to graduate school. She and her family lived in New Zealand for ten years where Phyllis received her Doctorate in Education and Sociology. On the cutting edge of the Women’s Movement in the early seventies, she was one of the original founders of the Dunedin Collective for Women in New Zealand.

When Phyllis retired in 1990 after a very fulfilling and rewarding career, she saw an opening to revive her girlhood dream of becoming an artist. Though she says after a lifetime in the academic world she thought she would never go back to school, she enrolled and completed three years of art training. But, as her vision declined, she found it more and more difficult to paint. “Losing the ability to paint was a very distressing thing – it took me away from that right brain kind of focus that I had come to cherish.” Enter the DaVinci reader! Phyllis explained that a camera on the DaVinci can capture a section of a painting that she is working on. She can magnify what the camera has captured up to 14 times to see more detail and then go back to the painting and make a correction or revision. Her dream of painting has been revived – she is painting and she is thrilled!

For about twenty-five years, Phyllis has been very gradually loosing her vision. She was diagnosed with Macular Degeneration when she was in her early sixties, but didn’t find her visual limitation interfered too much until about six or seven years ago. Phyllis is a very strong and courageous woman, but she admits that when her husband died after fifty-eight years of marriage and her vision was diminishing, there came a point when she started “feeling alone, without any idea where to get some help.” During that time, she was in a fabric store with a friend and someone offered her a pattern book to look at. She declined because she couldn’t see well enough and the woman told her about the Earle Baum Center. She called the Center and says that her life began to open and unfold! She says that she was “ripe for something wonderful to happen and EBC was that wonderful thing!”

Phyllis began taking classes at EBC in May 2013 and she has taken both Susan Hirshfield and Denise Vancil’s classes. She continues instruction with Regina Kutches and computer skills with Jacques Law who both travel to her home. She thinks she might be nearing the end of working with Regina, but given the major challenges with the computer, she thinks she’ll be seeing Jacques for a while! She says all of the things she has learned have been “extraordinarily helpful!”

Phyllis lives in Healdsburg with her Springer Spaniel, Alfred. She has lived there for about twenty years, so she has garnered a true sense of community in her neighborhood and beyond. But she really values the community she has experienced at the Earle Baum Center and her relationships with instructors and new friends.

If Phyllis met a person with low vision, her advice would be: “Get in touch with the Earle Baum Center – there’s no doubt about that!” She has referred at least two people to the Center and carries the EBC phone number with her at all times, just in case she meets someone who might benefit from the Center’s services as much as she has.

Phyllis Levitt is an interesting, engaging and very articulate woman with a life story that can only be very peripherally recounted in such a short article. She is a member of this, your dazzling Earle Baum Center community. Hopefully, you will have the good fortune to cross paths with her one day!

Art History through Touch and Sound

EBC is sponsoring an art history class series using a program developed by Art Education for the Blind, Inc. This multisensory learning system for the blind and visually impaired uses textbooks that feature Braille, large print writing, and raised line drawings alongside the photographs of famous artwork and architecture. Using the tactile symbols as a guide, the students feel the variations of textures, shapes and lines that tell the story of each painting.

Currently we are studying European Modernism: 1900-1940. Discussions of the evolution of art through time and how it relates to the present.

Instructor Deborah Little Bear, a creative arts facilitator with degrees in fine arts, psychology/art therapy and gerontology. She brings her many years of experience teaching for the SRJC and elder care facilities to EBC and this art program.

Ten years ago a client herself, Adelyn Richardson and her family helped the EBC to purchase the first group of textbooks and art materials. With a master’s degree in art history Adelyn taught the first series of classes.

Recently Jack Stuppin, who is a local artist, and his wife Diane learned about our need for financial support of this program. As one of the programs they support through the Community Foundation, they gave a sizeable donation of money for the purchase of textbooks and to pay for the cost of the instructor.

After her second day of class, Flora Crane talked about her experience saying, “we didn’t have art in school when I was young and I didn’t go to college because I was raising my family. I find this art history class just fascinating!” Another student commented by saying, “at the end of our first class, we drew in the air using a chopstick as we listened to music of the time by Artie Shaw playing ‘Begin the Beguine’.”

This is an ongoing art class. In the future we will feature; the Baroque Art of the 17th Century; The South Pacific and the Americas; and The Building Blocks of Art. For more information contact Patricia at EBC 636-2314

From the Center

Recently, I have spent a great deal of time feeling concerned by the fact that we, and others serving the needs of people facing sight loss, have been experiencing an ongoing decrease in the level of support from the “system.” In preparing to write this article, I worried it would paint a bleak picture for future services for the visually impaired people in our community.

Then, a friend threw out a word to me that kept reverberating in my head: Gratitude. Memories took me back over 20 years when my work began with the Earle Baum Center (EBC).

In the early 1990s, I learned about the dreams of a blind farmer who left his property in trust to be developed into an educational and recreational center for people living with sight loss. That farmer was Earle Baum and little did I know how his legacy would impact me, and, more importantly, the many people living in the large region surrounding Santa Rosa. His foresight eventually led to the founding of the EBC.

Early on, I became acquainted and eventually became working partners with members of the Redwood Lions Memorial Foundation (RLMF), the trustees of the property. I feel grateful that the RLMF Board was committed to pursuing the establishment of a quality program where people could learn and grow regardless of their degree of blindness and for their wisdom in supporting and trusting members of the blind community to manage and operate EBC’s future. The long-term lease RLMF offered the newly formed Earle Baum Center of the Blind and the support from the Lions, Rotary, and Kiwanis clubs, as well as local developers, contractors and philanthropists helped make the EBC a reality. It was a team effort.

I am grateful for my partnership with Larry Swenson with his role of managing the legal work in creating the EBC while sharing his vision of a successful center. My focus was on administering and overseeing the development of the EBC. Later, much of Larry’s focus was in guiding people with sight loss in understanding the amazing power of learning from one another.

“The greatest use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it.”

Being selected as the Chair of the first Board of Directors of the EBC—a group of some of the greatest visionaries in the blind community—was a great honor for me. Together, we built a well-conceived, impactful and sustainable model that shared the heart and passion we all felt for our mission.

For those instructors and volunteers who believed in the future of the new and untested EBC and were willing to accept the risks of building an organization, I’m thankful. Over the last 14 years, many other wonderful people were added to the ranks and became equally dedicated to the EBC. From the beginning, this organization has enjoyed an enlightened and committed Board of Directors that always looked at that which can be done rather than that which cannot.

So many clients have given us their trust and shared with us their fears, hopes, dreams, successes and love and for that, I am deeply grateful. We are fortunate to have been allowed into their lives during very challenging, life-changing times.

I’m grateful, too, for the opportunity to serve clients of the Department of Rehabilitation, Veteran’s Administration, schools and universities, businesses and more. The contributions of foundations and individual donors have shown their belief that the EBC is worthy of support. It is an honor to be the steward of their funds.

And last but not least, I am grateful for the incredible people who had roles in establishing and sustaining EarleFest as a benefit concert and a way to help the greater community become acquainted with the EBC. Over the last six years, their dedication has made EarleFest a premier event in the region, helping it evolve from a startup event to a real “happening.”

On a personal note, I am honored to have been the CEO of the EBC since its inception. I give thanks for those who have touched my life, given me guidance and supported the EBC and me without doubt or hesitation. I have so many reasons to be grateful.

The times are not easy and there are still many challenges and hurdles to cross. However, looking back with gratitude at all that made us and looking forward to new possibilities puts all the hard work into perspective and makes the future feel much better.

Here’s to everyone who has made a mark on the EBC.

Allan Brenner, CEO

Flat Screen TV/Monitors Needed

Since 2003, the EBC has been providing video magnifiers to those in need from a loaner program. Often, these devices are donated by clients who can no longer use them or the family donates the equipment.

We are in need of flat screen televisions for this program.

We now have several video magnifier models that use a television for the monitor screen. When the old style televisions fail, we do not have the funds to purchase new ones. This is very costly; video magnifiers that could potentially be used are left sitting on a shelf.

We now have several waiting to go to clients to help them read and see items they must see to live their daily lives.

If anyone has a late model flat screen television to donate or would like to purchase a new one for this program, please contact Patricia at EBC 707-636-2314

Sonoma Access

Sonoma County residents can find resources and trip planning services on the Sonoma Access website ( or call 211 and work with the call center staff to plan their trip.


Carmen McReynolds   Jack & Diane Stuppin/Community Foundation of So. Co.

Patrick Caskey/North Bay Vitreoretinal Consultants   Elizabeth Brown

Keith Turner/Safeway Foundation   Charles Lahm   Gary & Gina Dahl

Whittier Trust Company   Hopmonk Tavern   Allan Brenner   Ken Coker

Terry Dale   Bill Howard   Paul & Jean Hull   Bozena Kluz

Montgomery Village Lions   Soroptimist Int'l of Santa Rosa   Daniel Shanahan

Agilent Technologies
Antique Society
Center for Spiritual Living
Corvettes of Sonoma County
Forestville Pharmacy
Forks Catering
Golden Opportunities
Jeffrey & Susan Petersen
Mallory Service Buildings, Inc.
Napa Valley Center for Spiritual Living
Oakmont Gardens
Off The Page Reader’s Theater/Michael Hayes
Presbyterian Church / Roses
Steve Gustafson
Real Cool Treats
Sunshine Coffee
The BBQ Spot
The Heck Foundation
KRSH Wine Country Radio
UBS Financial Services, Inc.

Slade Abbott
Kat Aby
Barny Adams
Yvonne Aimo
Linda Almeida
Florence Aquilina
Margery Backman
Rosemary Barlesi
William Barboni
Patricia Barnes
Tamae Baugh
Robert Baughman
Shirley Beaver
Paul Bose
Sam Boutwell
Harriet Boysen
Kay Brady
Lois Brady
Roselie Brenner
Ronnie Brenner
Catherine Brock
Judith Burness
Denise Burns
Sylvia Busch
Payette Caldwell
Joanne Cale
Richard Camp
Maurine Caplinger
Rebecca Christiansen
Dorothy Clark
Mark & Linda Cohen
Linea Collins
Alan & Carol Compton
Kathleen Cooke
Virginia Craig
Diana Crain
Lee Crawford
Carlene Crocker
Homer Dalbey
Joy Davol
Lucie Demoret Jensen
Luther Dintiman
Richard & Rochelle Doble
Fred Duarte
Shari Edwards
Shirley Ezra
Robert Falkin
Gene Fanucchi
Marlene Farber
Merle Featherstone
Alonzo Ferrell
Donald Field
Karen Fleming
Jabob Foster
Sarah Fredericks
Stephen French
Vera Gates
Nancy Giambastiani
Jeanne Gianakos
Marge Gladden
Linda Graves
Betty Green
Brigitte Grimshaw
Roberta Grover
Barbara Guggemos
Harriet Guggenheim
Donald Hansen
Janeece Harding
Del & Carolyn Harrington
Sandra Harris
Jaye Hayes
Robin Herrick
Susan Hirshfield
Roberta Holleman
Beatrice Hooper
Brad Horrall
Ivor Horsfall
Roger Howard
Patricia Hust
Marti Ingemansson
William & Linda Ingram
Edward Jacobson
Helen Jaramillo
Arthur Jaseau
Patricia Jefferson
Virginia Johnson
Kathleen Jones
Kathi Kapell
Sharon Kaufman
John Keating
Wes Kendall
Dennis & Linda Kooplen
Phyllis Kowalski
Theresa Lackey
Keith Lamb
Lucienne Lanson
Jan Lawson
Catherine Lawson
Murray Levish
Helen Liggett
Duncan Looney
Margaret Lowery
Devra & Arnie Lupowitz
Dorothea Lyman
LaRee Magurie
William & Patricia Makray
Ursula Malloch
Jean Makarian
Kristine Martinovich
Debra Martinovich
William Mathews
Kathleen Matovich
Christine McCann
Mary Jane McGrath
Marilyn McKae
Beatrice McQuaid
Joan Meyer
Jane Micks
James Miller
Paulette Miller
Michael & Penny Miller
Tom Mills
Judy Mistelske-Anklam
Shah & Lora Monemzadeh
Mike Moore
Barry & Judith Moorman
Trudy Mortenson
Howard Moss
Donald Munsch
Marian Murphy
Dan Needham
Winifred Newill
Lynn Newton
Michael O’Donnell
Lorraine O’Hern
Kelly O’Neill
Antoinette Papapietro
Loralyn Parmelee
Lois Patterson
Alex & Lupe Perez
Charles Perotti
Paul Phillips
John & Barb Potts
Barbara Prine-Caldwell
Holly Pruett
Noel Quinn
Jeannette Ramacciotti
Ingrid Ramsay
Thelma Ramsey
Jeanine Rhodes
Eldon Rich
Dale Richardson
Laura Jean Rick
John Roarick
Charles Robinson
Bruce Rodda
Samuel Rothbart
Robert Ryan
Phyllis Saccani
Louis Sambuck
Delores Sanchez
Suzette Sanford
Hilma Schaffer
Margaret Schild
Marge Schmoll
Evelyn Schneckloth
Marie Schutz
Janice Seeley
John Seymour
Nancy Shaw
Judy Sims
Jacqueline Single
Tony Sivillo
Susan Smile
Edgar Smith
Robert Smith
Hollie Smith
Dortha Sonnikson
John Soracco
Joseph Soule
Nancy Spaletta
Helen Spencer
David & Marcia Sperling
James Spicer
Doris Spingola
Linda Spomer
Molly Stanton
Walter Stebbins
Helge Stepanoff
Cordel Stillman
John Stuppin
Alice Claire Swan
Laurajean Sweetman
Patricia Szecsey
Alma Terribilini
Deidre Terry
Roland & Yvonne Thibault
William Thomas
Aileen Thomas
Bernice Thomas
Ray Thompson
Barbara Titchenal
Naomi Tolf
Paul Toussaint
Helen Treiner
Martin & Carol Turner
Nancy Turner
Marjolein Van Hasselt
Tom Vandell
Gladys Vice
Victoria Villalovos
Dorothy Vitali
James Wagele
William Ward
Phillip & Marilyn Warden
Arlene Wasserman
Barbara Wesdorf
David & Julie West
Elizabeth Weston
Karen Wilhelmson
Maxine Williams
Laurie Winkler
Gail Winmill-Lee
Sally Wood
Pete Wurtz
Betsy Yeager
Betty Zuck

September 27, 2014 EARLEFEST 2014
A Celebration of Americana Music

New Tractor for Earle Baum Center

The Earle Baum Center is on 17 beautiful acres. Ray Thompson, our facilities manager, keeps them in fine shape. The Petaluma Paddlers and many of Ray’s other friends donated to help replace the used riding mower that finally couldn’t be repaired. Would you like to help us too?

Click the Donate Now button on our secure website,, or choose an option below which you’ll make your gift.

By Mail - Fill out the enclosed donation envelope and return to our office.

In Person - Drop by the Center. We would be thrilled to see you.

By Phone - Call us and we can process your gift right away.



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.

Shop at and a portion will be donated to Earle Baum Center