Newsletter July 2015

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MARRS: an all-volunteer nonprofit linking people who are blind, visually or print impaired to their Western North Carolina Community through audio access to print material

~SíSe Habla Español en MARRS
~Unitarians Pass Plate . . . All the Way to MARRS
~2015-16 Fundraiser Begins with a Smile
~Changes on Board
~A Prince Visits Studio
~Special Thanks to Special People
~New Computer Installed in Hendersonville

Latino News Hour Gets Underway

Thanks to grants from the Cathedral of All Souls and Gannett Foundation, and with a lot of hard work by a team of good people, Spanish is now spoken on MARRS. Althea Gonzalez and Dora McCollough read the Spanish Language News Saturdays at 6:00 PM, just before the Urban News.  The Spanish program repeats Tuesdays at 2:00 PM.

UNC Asheville student intern, Emily Powell, got the project started last summer by translating our large-print brochure. Althea, Program Manager for NC Hispanics in Philanthropy, recruited listeners and edited the Spanish brochure, which was printed by former MARRS board member, Katy Farlow, Marketing Director of Asheville Eye Associates.

DORA, our Spanish-fluent office assistant, worked with the Basilica of St. Lawrence to solicit listeners from the parish.  And MARRS President Emeritus and day manager Dan Bradshaw collaborated with our engineerJonathan Milam on the logistics to get the program on the air.

UU Congregation Passes Plate to Support MARRS

Jim and Marlyn Weekly help out MARRS as regular readers of the Wednesday Alternative News.  Turns out Jim and Marlyn were also good stewards for MARRS on Sundays.  Members of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Asheville, they arranged for “Pass-the-Plate” donations to go to MARRS.  As a result, MARRS received a total of $2,058 from the Congregation in June.

That amount represents about 20% of the annual budget and gets MARRS’s new fiscal year (which started July 1) off to a good start. See the next two articles for ways you can help insure that MARRS has another successful year of service to blind and visually impaired citizens in WNC.

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is: Option One

If you or folks you know shop online at Amazon, one easy way to help MARRS financially is to switch to Amazon Smile and designate MARRS as the nonprofit you want to support.

Bookmark the site for easy return, and from then on Amazon will donate to MARRS 0.5% of most purchases you make.  It’s a small amount and free to you, but if hundreds of Amazon shoppers support MARRS, the proceeds will amount to a lot.

So that’s Option 1: please ask your friends who shop at Amazon to support MARRS through Amazon Smile.  An easy way to do that is an email to everyone on your contacts list.

Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is: Option Two

Another way to keep the MARRS ship afloat is through a tax-deductible donation.  You can give online easily and securely at the MARRS website.

Of course you can always bring a check to the studio or mail it to: MARRS Treasurer, 75 Haywood Street, Suite G-4, Asheville, NC 28801.

All donations go directly to the unique service we provide listeners and may help you save money come tax time.  Please tell your friends about this opportunity too.

One of our hard-to-find-a-gift-for volunteers asks his loved ones to contribute to MARRS rather than buy him birthday presents.  People are often eager to support a cause they know you love and volunteer for, so it’s easy to ask.

Changes on MARRS
Board of Directors

At its June 2015 annual meeting the MARRS Board of Directors elected a slate of officers: Richard Caro, President; Judy Davis, Secretary; Phyllis Youngberg, Treasurer.

Isaac Coleman was elected Vice President. Among a number of other community service hats Isaac wears is that of founder and chairman of Read to Succeed Asheville.

Tyler Pittman had resigned the office of president early in the year due to the demands of a new job and a new baby in the family: Blythe Lucille, shown in photo in the arms of her proud “big” brother Connor.

Shirley Cohen has resigned from the board due to difficulties with transportation to the meetings.

And the board added a new member, Kathi Petersen

“I am thrilled about the chance to volunteer with MARRS,” says Kathi. “As a public relations professional, I work with both print and broadcast journalists. Serving with MARRS allows me to draw upon this experience while helping those with visual impairments. Thank you for this meaningful opportunity.”

If you have the time and energy and are eager to roll up your sleeves and work on the board, send an email indicating your interest and background to 

A Princely Visit

MARRS Secretary Judy Davis brought the newest member of her family to the last Board of Directors meeting. He’s her guide dog Prince, a yellow Labrador Retriever. The two met and trained together at Guiding Eyes in Yorktown Heights, NY.

Judy runs a low vision support group at the Mission Health’s Low Vision Center on Sardis Road, next to Industries for the Blind. Prince is her right-hand dog there too. And everyone who meets him (and is careful to avoid interacting with him while he’s working) reports he’s, well, a prince of a guy.

Dynamic Trio Deserves Our Special Thanks

The past year has not been an easy one for MARRS, but three stalwarts have picked up the slack and kept operations going.  They are the folks you’re most likely to see at the studio when you come in for your reading stint: Dora McCollough, Dan Bradshaw and Fred Klappenberger.

As our Office Assistant from Land of Sky Regional Council’s RSVP program, Dora is at the studio first and last every day. Fred volunteers as a day manager and reader. So does Dan, who, as President Emeritus, is steeped in MARRS lore and know-how. MARRS listeners and volunteers owe this dynamic trio much gratitude for their good work, especially over the past year.

Dora is shown in the top left photo taken at the June Board meeting.  (back row: Richard Caro, Dora McCollough, Phyllis Youngberg, Laura Jansen, Isaac Coleman; front row: Shirley Cohen, Tom Leeder, Judy Davis and Prince.)  

Fred, wearing his yarmulka-headphone, is in the photo below.  (Dan cleverly stayed behind the camera.)

Hendersonville Gets New Computer

A year ago the Asheville studio received a major equipment upgrade funded by a generous CFWNC Janirve Sudden and Urgent Needs Grant.  But our studio in Hendersonville has been limping along with an ancient PC and Windows XP to get on the air.  That changed after the Board voted to replace the computer and a team of MARRS folks made it happen.

Last month Dan Bradshaw delivered the new server, and regular Hendersonville readerLarry Mobley installed it with our engineer and Triad Information Reading Service President Jonathan Milam providing guidance over the telephone.  The operation was a success and we can expect Hendersonville to keep humming over the airwaves for years to come.

In the photo, Larry is the thorn between two fellow Hendersonville roses: Kathy Meersman (left) and Karen Bashkin, who coordinates studio operations tamiflu online. 




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