By Rachael Vacanti
University of Nebraska at Omaha alum attended a local meet and greet with the Omaha Chapter of the National Federation of the Blind of Nebraska (NFBN) as part of National Meet the Blind Month.
Avic came back to the chapter for support after dropping out of occupational therapy school. Now she wants to improve her personal and professional life as well as receive social support from old friends.
Lincoln chapter president Shane Buresh came to the event to support Omaha and teach a people about the history of the National Federation of the Blind (NFB).
The NFB was started in 1940 by 13 individuals representing seven different states. Currently in its 75th year, this is the oldest and largest blindness advocacy group in the country, with affiliates in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia.
“It empowers people to better themselves because when you’re around other blind people they push you, they challenge you to do things you didn’t do before,” Buresh said. “It’s hard to think less of yourself with all those other people around you all the time, and they’re a good example.”
UNO alum John Gardner recently graduated with his Masters of Science in Criminology and Criminal Justice. Gardner has been a chapter member for a while and enjoys his time there.
“You get a community of people that have some kinds of the same issues as you and it’s friends that you can go to.” Gardner said. “People that have advice for you to help you through some obstacles; some people to talk to about new things in your life that come up that people might’ve never heard of before,” Gardner said.
Gardner finds community in the chapter and is excited about the idea of gaining new members.
“I think we try to appeal to every-body,” Gardner said.
Chapter President described the chapters as a way to get our local community involved in the greater organization.
“I think considering that the type of organization that we are, very specific to advocacy for blind people, we have a pretty good membership going and we actually have gained members over the past few years which is always encouraging,” Pollpeter said.
The chapter had decided to meet at the Barbara Weitz Community Engagement Center because it was centrally located, and long-term, instead of meeting at a different restaurant each week.
“The Barbara Weitz Community Engagement Center caters to non-profits we’re about to meet here free of charge, the facility is a smart facility… and we really like the philosophy behind the CEC because they’re about encouraging non-profits and participation with non-profits in the community,” said Pollpeter.
The move to the CEC could get them a little bit of recognition on the UNO campus. Currently, they just meet on campus, but that could change, as Pollpeter is open to the idea of pairing up with some classes for a Service Learning Component.
“I think definitely that would be a great opportunity for all people involved,” Pollpeter said. “From our perspective it’s always our goal first and foremost… to educate and to outreach and promote the ideals that we believe in.”
Currently, the Omaha Chapter meets in the CEC room 127 on the third Thursday of each month from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Dues are $10 annually, which includes voting rights and the ability to run for board of officers. The time commitment is on average only two hours a month, with a few interspersed fundraising and outreach events throughout the year.