The MJ Schmitt First Timers Award was created in March of 2008 to honor one of the founding members of the American Council of the Blind for her grass roots advocacy, lifetime commitment and inspirational leadership. MJ Schmitt, originally from Rochester, New York, has dedicated a lifetime of work toward improving the lives of blind and visually impaired Americans. For over forty years, MJ Schmitt has held numerous board positions and served on various ACB committees on a state and national level.
The purpose of this award is to enable members from across New York State to attend the annual ACBNY legislative seminar or state convention for the first time. The intent of this award is to provide members with an opportunity to gain the knowledge and inspiration to continue the work of the organization demonstrated by the ACBNY leadership.
Application criteria and guidelines
- Applicants must not have previously attended the ACBNY annual Legislative Seminar or ACBNY State Convention, depending upon which award is sought, in any capacity.
- Applicants must be a blind, vision impaired or deaf-blind member of an affiliate of ACBNY or a member at large for at least six months.
- Applicants must be a New York state resident for at least six months.
- Applicants must have a strong interest in advocacy and becoming a more involved, active member of the ACBNY state affiliate and local chapter or community. The applicant’s desire and explanation of this criteria will be highly considered for the award.
Applicants must submit a letter of interest, no less than 2 pages and no more than 5 pages, including:
- Name, address, phone number and email address (if available)
- A short autobiography including life experience with blindness, hobbies, school and/or work. Include involvement with ACBNY activities on a state or local level.
- The reason for applying for the ACBNY M.J. Schmitt First-timer’s award for the Legislative Seminar or State Convention and expectations of the event in question.
LETTER OF RECOMMENDATION
Applicants must obtain a letter of recommendation based on membership status:
Affiliated members must obtain a letter of recommendation from their local affiliate President.
At-large members must contact the ACBNY delegate at-large and obtain a letter of recommendation from one of the following:
- CBVH counselor
- Vision Rehabilitation Therapist (VRT) or Orientation & Mobility Instructor (O&M)
- Teacher of the Visually Impaired (TVI) or Itinerant Teacher
- High School teacher or College Professor
- Community leader
- Boss or supervisor
- friend or ACBNY member
ACBNY Legislative SeminarApplications will be accepted until February 1 of the year in which the seminar is held. ACBNY State Convention applications will be accepted until July 1 of the year in which the convention is held.
Application material will only be accepted in electronic format via email. If the applicant is unable, then another person is permitted to submit on the applicant’s behalf.
In the Subject line of email submissions, write the following: ACBNY MJ Schmitt First Timers Award application
Attach letter of interest and letter of recommendation and email to the ACBNY Awards Committee Chairperson, whose email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Awardee RESPONSIBILITY AND EXPECTATIONS
All awardees will be assigned a mentor to provide guidance and support before, during and after the ACBNY Legislative Seminar or State Convention. The mentor will contact the awardee within one week of award notification.
- Maintain ongoing communication with mentor prior, during and after the event.
- Obtain ACBNY Legislative Seminar or State Convention information and preregistration instructions.
- Obtain, read and understand the Legislative Agenda or State Convention Program and any informational documentation provided before the event (to the best of the awardees’ ability).
- Obtain, read and understand meeting Minutes from the immediate past ACBNY Board meeting.
- Obtain, read and understand the ACBNY Board meeting agenda.
- Plan to attend the ACBNY Legislative Committee meeting (at legislative seminars) and contact its chairperson about time and place of the meeting prior to the event.
- Inquire about any expenses that are not included in the award. Plan to bring extra spending money.
- Travel to the event and transportation reservations are the responsibility of the awardee
- Awardees will not be reimbursed for door to door car service, or for trips otherwise accessible via public transportation
li>Receipts must be submitted for transportation reimbursement within 1 week of the close of the event
- Awardees are responsible for completing preregistration.
- Complete the pre-regisration form including all meals and hotel room. Expect a roommate to be assigned whose name will be provided prior to the event.
- Include the total cost and note MJ Schmitt First Timer’s Awardee. Do not pay.
- Check in at the ACBNY registration table upon arrival to the hotel.
Expectations OF AWARDEE
- Arrive to the hotel by 12pm of the first day of the event, check in and register.
- Meet with mentor as previously planned.
- Attend all scheduled meetings, training and activities.
- Attend the ACBNY Legislative Committee meeting (at Legislative Seminars).
- Attend the ACBNY banquet and accept the award certificate during a brief introduction.
- Participate in all seminar advocacy activities, which may or may not include visits to legislators at the Legislative Office Building (at Legislative Seminars).
- Write an article for Insight, the ACBNY newsletter about the Legislative Seminar or ACBNY State Convention experience as the awardee. Submit within one month of the event’s conclusion.
- Continue advocacy efforts with local affiliate/community including visits to local legislators.
- This award includes registration fees, hotel sleeping rooms, meals and travel to and from the event, excluding noted restrictions
- Meal expenses are eligible for reimbursement
- Total expenses that exceed $500.00 are the awardees’ responsibility
- This award does not include expenses for alcoholic beverages, spa treatments, room service, or any extra amenities in the hotel or outside of the hotel.
- Receipts must be submitted for transportation and meal reimbursement within 1 week of the close of the event
- Awardees unable to fulfill the above award obligations, or who leave the event early for any reason are not guaranteed reimbursement. Each situation will be considered on an individual basis.
- Preregistration is not permitted until a signed agreement is received.
The MJ Schmitt First Timer’s Award Committee
American Council of the Blind of New York, Inc.