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A Newsletter of Vision Impaired of Marin

Newsletter Archives Winter - Spring 2015-2016

Welcome to VIM's New Board Member

VIM's newest Board Member is Ron Leach, former owner of Rafael Floors. (You may have seen him as an actor in the TV ads for his business-he's the tall, gray haired distinguished one). Ron brings a wealth of experience to our Board not only as asuccessful business owner/manager but as an active member of many for-profit, non-profit and industry Boards. Some of the non-profit organizations he has served are the BBB, San Rafael Chamber of Commerce, Business Executive Association of Marin, Marin Builders' Exchange, Kiwanis, Mission San Rafael Rotary and as President and Board Member of Whistlestop Senior Center. VIM welcomes Ron to our Board and we know we will benefit greatly from his knowledge and experience.

The Luncheon

VIM's February luncheon was held at Jackson's Cafe. The next luncheon will be held April 9th at the Lucas Valley Community Church, 2000 Las Gallinas Ave, San Rafael. We are returning to the location where VIM held its luncheons many years ago. It is close to Hwy 101 and has lots of parking. The entrance to the community room is at the back of the lot and there is a ramp for ease of entry. We enjoyed having lunch in a light and friendly space before and we know we will again. See you April 9th.


VIM is delighted to receive a grant frotn the Aliensby Charitable Trust Fund of the San Rafael Elks Lodge on January 19th. Larriece Stuart accepted the check on behalf of VIM. The attendees were treated to a lovely reception with wonderful food and any libation you wished. The Allensby was founded from funds left the Elks Lodge by Floyd Allensby. Mr. Allensby charged the Trustees with supporting Marin County schools, outreach programs, and organizations such as VIM who exist to help those who need support. VIM President Lilli Dreyer and Board Member Ara Apkarian also attended.

Newsletter by Email

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What are VIM Support Groups? *Information * Fellowship * Friendship

VIM Support Groups meet monthly throughout Marin County. Currently we have five Support groups. The groups share information about eye care and tips for coping with vision loss, for example.

Our groups promote VIM’s motto to provide members with information, fellowship and friendship.

Join one of our current groups or, if you have five interested people, we can train a new facilitator for your group.

Our groups meet monthly
Below is the day, time and location

2nd Tuesday 11:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.
Latino Support Group
Pickleweed Community Center

2nd Wednesday 2:00 p.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Mill Valley Support Group
The Redwoods in Mill Valley

2nd Friday 1:00 p.m. ‐ 3:00 p.m.
Novato Support Group
All Saint's Lutheran Church in Novato

4th Monday 10:00 a.m. - Noon
New Location:
Community Action Marin in San Rafael

4th Friday 11:00 a.m. - 12:30 p.m.
Whistlestop Building in San Rafael

When Vision is lost
Vision Impaired of Marin provides:
Information ~ Support
Activities ~ Compassion ~ Fellowship

Another Book Club

VIM has been proud of our Support Group for Spanish speaking members and watching it's membership swell. Now, a book club for Spanish speaking members (and friends) is underway. It is facilitated with the help of Prof. (Emeritus) Albert Lozano, a professor of languages who is working with facilitator Anabella Denisoff to bring not only the joy of "reading" through Talking Books, but opening the doors to a broader understanding of the world of diverse literature. Anabella tells us the group is delighted with this interesting and instructive approach to learning. We are very appreciative of Prof. Lozano's volunteering to help with this VIM program. For additional information, please call the VIM office.

VIM Activities

*The Art Class
Our lnstructor, Bobbie Gray, is an accomplished artist. The Art Class meets at 1515 Third Street, San Rafael for two classes each quarter.

*Volunteer Readers Program
Volunteer readers can read your mail to you, your newspaper or books

*The Talking Book Club
The Talking Book Club has an active discussion with questions concerning the audio book selected the previous month.

*Latino Book Club
Abook club for Spanish speaking members (and friends)

*The Braille Club
VIM's Braille Club is for people who want to practice Braille with card games, board games, etc

For more information:   Call 415-459-5066


Macular Degeneration
August Colenbrander, MD – February 2015

Dr. Colenbrander is an ophthalmologist, who is a nationally and internationally recognized authority on vision rehabilitation and a long‐time member of the Board of Directors of (VIM) Vision Impaired of Marin.

QUESTION:I have macular degeneration. I have seen pictures that describe macular degeneration as seeing a black blotch in the center of your vision. I have never noticed that. Does that mean that my vision is too bad to even see those dots?

ANSWER: No. Your observation is correct. The pictures are wrong. Your eye is often compared to acamera, which has a lens in the front and afilm (the retina) in the back. That comparison is not inappropriate, but it is a very incomplete description of vision. Abetter analogy compares the eye to a television camera, connected via a cable (the optic nerve) to a monitor, which resides in the brain. The camera is only one part of the system; the monitor image that we perceive resides in the brain. Our mind is not looking inside the camera; it is looking at the monitor in the brain.

I call that image on the monitor the "Mental Model" of our environment. The Mental Model is quite different from the retinal image. To begin with, the retinal image disappears when we close our eyes, but the Mental Model that represents our awareness of our environment persists. The retinal image shifts with every eye movement, but the Mental Model that it generates is rock solid.

Copies of the total article are available in English & Spanish. For a copy call the VIM office (415) 459-5066.

Currency Reader

If you have not yet received the free, handheld Currency Reader for eligible blind and visually impaired citizens from the US Bureau of Engraving and Printing (BEP), you may contact BEP directly:

Toll-free at (844) 815-9388,
by email at or

2016 Board Members & Officers

Lillian Dreyer, President
James Procter, Esq., Vice President
Ara Apkarian, Secretary
Susan Malardino, Treasurer
Anabella Denisoff
Ron Leach
August Colenbrander, M.D.

Get Well Soon

To member Ana Maria Mendoza, who is recovering at home from injuries sustained when she was hit by a car a block from her home in Novato .

To member Gregorio Lopez who is recovering from major surgery.

*In Memoriam*

Scott Holt ............ 1928 - 2015
Roger Lim ............1935 - 2015
Uta Hekman ........ 1920 - 2016

On the Move Again!

It was just a little over a year ago that Whistlestop asked us (and all the other nonprofits) to vacate our offices. We are very fortunate to have found nice new offices which we share with Lighthouse. While we moved our offices, some of the support groups and talking book club continued to meet at Whistlestop at no charge. Our luncheons continued to be held at Jackson's Cafe at a nominal cost.

In December VIM was advised that a new rental policy had been adopted which requires a rental fee from VIM for any space used. For instance, the published rental of the Cafe is now $125.00 per hour. On the low end, the Arcade is now $30.00 per hour. This turn of events became a deep concern to the Board. Something had to be done. Fortunately many of our support and other groups do not meet at Whistlestop but decisions had to be made.

Two groups will continue to meet at Whistlestop. The support group facilitated by Larriece Stuart that meets the fourth Monday of each month will meet at the same time at the offices of Community Action Marin located on Fourth Street between Mary and Grand Streets. First meeting will be February 22nd.

The Art Class

After many years of holding VIM's art classes at the Art and Garden facility in Ross, we lost our space. We are moving along with the Marin Society of Artists who have been great supporters of VIM's art groups. The new address is 1515 Third Street in San Rafael at "E" Street. It is the former location of Patrick's Stationary Store.

Following are the scheduled class dates for 2016:
February 18th & 25th April 21st & 28th
July 21st & 28th October 20th & 27th

There is a small fee of $10 for supplies. Anyone who would like to know more about the art classes call the VIM office for more information - 415-459-5066.