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by: Patricia Useem, State Presidents’ Representative

A great National Conference in Orlando! What a wonderful opportunity to meet up with other LDA State Presidents and exchange ideas and information. Thank you to Kristina Scott, our 2015-16 State Representative to the National Board of Directors, for helping the State Presidents connect throughout the year and for facilitating our activities at the conference.

The National Conference provides an opportunity to recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of the state affiliates, and there is much to celebrate. Even in these changing times, there are still states that produce newsletters and hold workshops and annual conferences, connecting with their constituents. Many affiliates continue to have wonderful volunteers who work tirelessly to promote the mission of LDA. These efforts do not go unnoticed! Every year, states are invited to highlight those remarkable volunteers and outstanding projects.

At February’s conference, several state affiliates recognized their outstanding volunteers. LDA of Illinois recognized two individuals: Dr. Carroll and Ed Schussler. Both of these volunteers have been described as talented, hardworking and invaluable to the organization. Cheri Candelori was acknowledged as the outstanding volunteer from LDA of New Jersey. She has been an individual who was described as “always willing to lend a helping hand.” LDA of South Carolina honored Dr. Tammy Graham as their outstanding volunteer for 2016. Her scholarship, leadership and hard work have been greatly appreciated by her affiliate. From LDA of California, the Pomona Valley/Inland LDA affiliate honored Arline Krieger for her fifty years of dedication and volunteering, “…to the special needs population, working hard to make LDA strong.”

Sometimes one special volunteer stands out; such a person was Flo Curtis from Michigan. Regina Carey’s words best described Flo as one who “worked tirelessly for the LDA. She ran our organization like a superhero! We all loved and respected Flo. Her spunk and passion will continue to live on in our office, our organization and our hearts.” Since Flo’s passing in October 2012, LDA of Michigan has worked to establish her legacy and has created the LDA of Michigan Flo Curtis Education Endowment at Michigan State University. From this, scholarships are presented to support interns in special education placements. This project was entered as LDA of Michigan’s entry as an Affiliate Accolade 2016.

Several other state LDAs also submitted projects for the Affiliate Accolade Award. LDA of Oklahoma entered two projects: Oklahoma’s Healthy Children Brochure was translated into Spanish, to be made available to agencies serving families and children; and New Parent Handout for the IEP process, an up-to-date pamphlet designed by a pre-service special education student. Submitted by LDA of New Jersey was their project Promoting Learning Disabilities Awareness. This included two items: their Bulletin Board, an information platform listing events of interest to its constituents via online distribution; and presentation of a Disability Awareness Fair which was free to the public. LDA of Illinois created and distributed informational displays with tear-away sheets that were placed in public areas such as libraries and YMCAs. They titled this Accolade entry project as Building Awareness of LDA of Illinois through Library and other Key Businesses. The entry from LDA of Georgia was Marketing Project to Raise Consciousness of the Varity of Issues Surrounding Learning Disabilities. The marketing committee created and printed seven bookmarks, each one targeting an area impacted by learning disabilities. The distribution of these has been wide spread across the whole nation. After reviewing all the projects, the awarding of the Affiliate Accolade Award for 2016 was given to Northern California East Bay (NCEB) LDA, for their entry, IEP Clinic. This project involved the NCEB LDA board members holding question and answer forums for parents, helping them question, interpret, and understand their children’s IEPs. The state LDA presidents deemed this outstanding project as truly award-winning.

The State Affiliates play a very important role. It is through their hard work that the mission of LDA of America is spread and advanced across the country. During 2016, we need to continue to develop and share our ideas and projects with each other; this communication is vital to our mission. As the months pass, remember to make note of those outstanding volunteers that make your state LDA hum and your unique projects that promote our mission. These will make great candidates for nominations for Outstanding Volunteers and wonderful entries for the Affiliate Accolade award for 2017.