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Sharing Space Support Group

BALANCE will be offering our Sharing Space Support Group, with Lisa Derencinovic, on Wednesday afternoons from 1:30-3:30 p.m. from May 2 to July 18, 2018 at the West Toronto Support Services, located at 1709 Bloor Street West, side entrance off Indian Grove (please tell WheelTrans the side entrance off Indian Grove).

Nearest Subway station: Keele Station. Lisa Derencinovic has agreed to return in order to facilitate her “Sharing Space Support Group”for those BALANCE clients who have not yet had an opportunity to share with others and benefit from Lisa’s experience and superb facilitation skills. The feedback from participants was excellent. The group is shaped around the concerns of participants, with some structured topics built in to every session. Participants will spend 12 weeks getting to know each other, sharing experiences and learning from each other.

Detailed information:

  • 12 sessions, each lasting 2 hours, from 1:30 to 3:30 pm., please plan to arrive on time
  • First meeting: Wednesday May 2
  • Last meeting: Wednesday  July 18

Discussions could include: understanding ableism, effects on self-esteem, dealing with negative emotions, and building strength and resilience.

The group will be facilitated by a registered Social Worker, Lisa Derencinovic. Lisa runs her own counselling practice specializing in working with people with disabilities. She has also facilitated many groups throughout her career. Lisa knows first-hand the experience of living with visual impairment, having been diagnosed at age 4 with a genetic eye disease causing blindness.

Group minimum-5, group maximum-10. First come, first served.

Stress Reduction Through Mindfulness Training

BALANCE is pleased to again offer our course in Stress Reduction through mindfulness and breathing practice, led by Fazia Ackbarali*, our Yoga Instructor.

Visually impaired adults live with daily stresses related to getting around, getting things done, accessing information, as well as the attitudes of others in society. Becoming more mindful can help with concentration and focus, and assist in the prevention of accidents and injuries. The objective of this program is to teach adults with vision loss how to manage stress using mindfulness practices, which are relaxation techniques done with breath awareness.

The course, made up of 8 sessions of 2 hours each, will cover topics such as:

  • Relaxation techniques
  • Seated/standing yoga
  • Seated meditation
  • Mindfulness in everyday activities
  • Body Scan

Detailed information:

Timing: Tuesday afternoons, 1:30-3:30 p.m.

Start date: May 8

End date: July 3, (one week off during the 8 weeks of sessions)

*Fazia has 30 years of experience in Yoga, 16 of them as an instructor. She specializes in teaching people who require adaptations to typical yoga practice.

Location:

West Toronto Support Services, 1709 Bloor St. West, at Keele Subway Station (south side of Bloor) (please go to the side entrance on Indian Grove, and PLEASE tell WheelTrans to drop you at the side entrance on Indian Grove!

Please register by April 26: Call Laura Monday through Thursday at 416-236-1796, extension 0

Welcome to Naomi Hazlett, Occupational Therapist

Naomi is smiling and is outside under the trees.
Naomi Hazlett

We are pleased to welcome the newest addition to our staff team, Naomi Hazlett, MSc.OT. Naomi brings a wealth of relevant experience and creative energy to the position.  She is a recent graduate of the occupational therapy program at the University of Toronto, and holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and cognitive science, also from U. of T. She has a wide variety of interests and passions including health & wellness, accessibility, education, research, writing, and promoting mental health in all areas of life. Naomi’s strong recreation/leisure background and her deep knowledge of Toronto community and neighbourhoods, will provide BALANCE with added expertise to support, encourage and teach our clients.

Balancing the Power

A Vibrant Discussion Group for Women who are Blind and Partially Sighted!

Are you interested in connecting with other urban women living with vision loss?  Are you interested in learning about and sharing your experiences with issues facing women with vision loss?

BALANCE is pleased to offer a discussion group for women, with the theme of empowerment. Facilitated by Chelsea Mohler*, with a number of excellent guest speakers, the group will start on Tuesday, January 10, 2018 and will run for 7 weeks, ending February 20. Sessions will be held from 2 until 4 PM at the Four Villages Community Health Centre, located at 1700 Bloor St. W., in the Multi-purpose room.

The theme of this series is empowerment of women who are blind and partially sighted, through discussion of key issues in a safe and supportive setting. This group will address issues such as: networking as someone with vision loss; online safety when dating or using social media; mental wellness, self-esteem and body image; developing your personal image and style (even on a tight budget); violence prevention and self-defence specifically for women with vision loss; and relationships, dating, and the intersection of disability.  Come on out and check out the group!

If interested, please contact Chelsea at c.mohler@balancefba.org or 416.236.1796 X. 225 for more information or to sign up. We are happy to provide orientation in advance of the series to anyone requiring assistance to locate the Four Villages Health Centre.  A commitment to all 7 sessions is expected in order to preserve the “safe setting” philosophy. (Exceptions to be discussed with the facilitator.) Please respond if interested no later than January 5, 2017.

*Chelsea Mohler, M.A., is an Assistive Technology Instructor at BALANCE, lives with vision loss herself, and was co-facilitator of BALANCE’s pre-employment program for young adults in 2017. Chelsea holds a Master’s degree in Occupational Science from Western University, and has been instructing adults in 1:1 lessons, leading workshops and teaching groups for 5 years.

Self-Care for Carers

Taking good care of yourself while supporting or caring for a family member or friend who is experiencing vision loss

Are you a sighted spouse, partner, parent, adult child, sibling, or friend of someone who is living with vision loss, blindness or partial sight? Would you like to share your experiences and learn from others? Because helpers often need help too, and sometimes find they have become unable to take care of themselves, this group will help you start to focus on YOU so that you can meet your own needs while also facing the challenges of living with someone who is experiencing vision loss.

We will cover topics such as: the stages of adjustment, how your own feelings can echo the feelings of the person with vision loss, the grieving process for both of you, changing expectations and roles, communication strategies, conflict resolution,  the care giver relationship, knowing when to help and when to step back,  and personal self-care for the caregiver.

The group will be facilitated by Lisa Derencinovic, a registered social worker and counsellor. Lisa runs her own counselling practise specializing in people with disabilities. She has also facilitated many groups throughout her career. Lisa knows first-hand the experience of living with sight loss, having been diagnosed at age 4 with a genetic eye disease.

The group will meet Wednesdays, February 7-March 28, 2018, from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at BALANCE for Blind Adults, 2340 Dundas St. West, Toronto. We will spend 8 weeks supporting each other, sharing our experiences and learning from each other. Please register by calling the BALANCE office at 416-236-1796, ext. 0 and leaving a message with your name and a number where you can be reached in order to confirm. Registration deadline: January 26, 2018. Note: this group will run with a minimum of 4 participants and a maximum of 10.

Preventing Slips, Trips and Falls

An 8 part class series specifically designed for adults who are blind or partially sighted, this group will run from January 16 to March 6, at West Toronto Support Services, on Tuesday afternoons from 2-3:30 p.m. (shortly after yoga class completes each Tuesday). The instructors will be Anita Laurnitus, Orientation and Mobility Instructor, and Fazia Ackbarali, Yoga Instructor.

Topics will include the many tips and strategies for creating a safe environment, and for navigating safely as a blind person, as well as:
foot care, proper footwear, coordination, balance/stability, environmental awareness strategies, strengthening core and leg muscles, and what to do if there is a fall, and if there is an injury also. If you have tripped, slipped or fallen in the past year, are not going out now because you are afraid of falling, or have attended a falls prevention course that did not address your needs as a blind person, then this program is for you!

You will be our first participants, and thus will help us shape this new group program! There is a maximum of 10 places for this, so we require a commitment to attend at least 6 of the 8 sessions, and we will require a minimum of 4 participants to run the program, due to the amount of preparation work to make it a success. To register and complete the telephone based questionnaire, contact Anita at (416) 236-1796 extension 228 by Friday January 4 at the latest, leave a message and she will call you back.

We are so pleased to be able to offer you new programs related to wellness. Always check our website under “Courses and Workshops” or look out for our emails promoting all our new groups, workshops, and class series.

Trio of Wheel-Trans Teleconferences

Are you considering applying for Wheel-Trans and don’t know what it is or how to apply? Are you concerned the application process is not accessible, or unsure of where to locate the forms?  Are you already a Wheel-Trans user who books by phone and is tired of those long waits and never-ending hold music?   Do you have Wheel-Trans and want to book using your iPhone on-the-go?

These tele-workshops will allow you to get the information all without leaving the comfort of your own home!  Tune in to any number of this terrific trio of workshops and learn about everything from how to apply for Wheel-Trans, to how to book online, to how to book using a Smart phone.  This series will run on 3 consecutive Tuesdays, starting on January 23 from 6:30-8:00p.m.  These information packed workshops allot ample time for your questions to be answered!

All workshops start at 6:30 p.m. SHARP
and end at 8:00 p.m.

Tuesday, January 23rd: The Wheel-Trans Application

Tuesday, January 30th: Booking Wheel-Trans trips online

Tuesday, February 6th: Wheel-Trans with your iPhone

You need only take part in the workshops that pertain to your situation.

This trio will be co-facilitated by BALANCE assistive technology instructors (and experienced workshop facilitators) Chelsea Mohler and Rosie Arcuri. Each session will begin with a quick review of how to use available teleconference technologies for maximum benefit.

If you have any questions or to register please contact Rosie Arcuri at r.arcuri@balancefba.org or 416.236.1796 X. 230. Upon registration, you will be provided with the numbers needed to join the teleconference.

Please sign up no later than January 17 so you don’t miss this educational series!

Yoga for People with Vision Loss

Space is currently available in our yoga program, which is carefully adapted for participation by people with vision loss. Offered year-round, and taught by yoga therapy expert Fazia Ackbarali, our program has helped a number of participants to gain strength, stability and a sense of calm in their everyday lives, as well as to recover from injury and chronic pain.

Currently offered once/week on Tuesdays from 12:30-1:30 p.m. at West Toronto Support Services (Keele and Bloor), you may register by calling the BALANCE office at 416-236-1796, ext. 0 and leaving a message for Laura. Cost: $20 for 4 classes, payable to the instructor.

BALANCE Request for Proposals

FUND DEVELOPMENT CONSULTANT

Project Purpose

BALANCE for Blind Adults wishes to retain a Fund Development Consultant who will develop a comprehensive and sustainable fund development plan and a donor engagement strategy.

Who we are

BALANCE for Blind Adults is a lively not-for-profit agency with strong roots in the community. We have more than 30 years’ experience training adults who are blind or partially sighted. We offer free instruction one-on-one or in a group setting.

The BALANCE mission is to generate opportunities for those living with vision loss through innovative, inclusive, community-oriented programming and partnerships. Our strong community focus keeps us grounded and our spirit open to change.

Our vision is for people to live a quality, enriched life that is engaged with communities and free of social barriers.

Background

The services provided by BALANCE are free of charge to our clients, because the cost is covered by the Toronto Central Local Health Integration Network (TC-LHIN)

In addition, our generous donors assist BALANCE to improve and expand our service and program offerings and with our daily operations. Grant revenues are also a part of our financial picture as a not-for-profit organization. We also offer training and consultation to those working with persons who are blind or partially sighted, and to our clients’ workplaces, for a fee.

One of our strategic priorities is to grow the organization’s capacity in fund development. Our Board of Directors and executive leadership are ready to take fund development to its next level. To accomplish this, we need a fund development plan that will establish the necessary building blocks to sustainand grow fund development. We also recognize that with the number of individuals who are connected to our brand, we have a wonderful opportunity to invest in a donor engagement strategy that will allow us to acquire and retain donors.

Scope of Work

Establishing the building blocks of a sustainable Fund Development Program:
  • Develop a Strategic Fund Development Plan.
  • Provide guidance and recommendations to set up and sustain a Board Development Committee.
  • Develop a compelling case for support.
  • Implement a database to manage, support, grow and sustain a long-term fund development plan.
Develop a donor engagement strategy
  • Increase the pool of people who make the first gift.
  • Increase the commitment of current donors.

Proposal

The proposal should include a completed questionnaire (Appendix A of this Request for Proposals) covering various aspects of the criteria.

Questions and Submission:

Deborah Gold, Executive Director, d.gold@balancefba.org

Schedule Date
Request for Proposals Posted February 9, 2018
Questions Submitted Deadline April 6, 2018
Responses provided to all RFP respondents April 18, 2018
Proposals due May 10, 2018
Review and Selection Process May 11-18, 2018
Contract signed and project commencement May 25, 2018
Project completion July 27, 2018

Appendix A

Item Rated Criterion Response
Capabilities of the Firm and Team (40%)
1. Describe your firm, including its size, information on the number of each level of professional staff in the firm and any additional information you think relevant to providing the services to BALANCE.
2. Describe your firm’s experience in creating fund development plans for not-for-profit organizations, especially those funded by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.
3. Please provide 3 client references we may contact.
4. Describe the size, composition and organization of the professional team proposed for this assignment. Please provide the CVs of the proposed partner, manager, and auditors
Value Add (20%)
1. Describe what other value add services your firm can provide to BALANCE for Blind Adults.
Cost (40%)
1. Provide the proposed fee to provide a sustainable fund development plan for BALANCE for Blind Adults. Please provide fee as a fixed cost assessment for the proposed scope of work, exclusive of HST.

Unlocking the power of BlindSquare along with Google Maps

Workshop full!

  • Are you an independent traveler?
  • Are you looking to further that independence?
  • Do you use an iPhone?
  • Have you purchased BlindSquare in the hopes that it would enhance your mobility experience?

If so, these presentations may be just what you require to fulfill this goal.

On Friday February 26, at the BALANCE offices located at 2340 Dundas St. West, Suite G-06, we are presenting a 3 hour workshop from 1:00 – 4:00 pm, focusing on how to get the most from BlindSquare together with Google Maps navigation.

The instructors leading the presentation are Doug Poirier Assistive Technology Instructor, Anita Laurnitus and Bill Phung both Orientation and Mobility Instructors.

As a follow-up to the workshop, there is a practical component to be held at the CNIB Hub located at 1525 Yonge St. In these sessions, you will put into practice what was discussed at the workshop.

The dates for these practical sessions are Friday, March 2nd 1:00 – 4:00 pm and Friday March 9th, 1:00 – 4:00 pm.

You are expected to attend only one of the practical sessions which includes a one-on-one orientation tour of one of  the most inclusive and accessible neighbourhoods in Canada. In addition, Shane Laurnitus of the CNIB Hub will be discussing the CNIB ShopTalk initiative.

In all, participants will come away with a strong understanding of how to use Google Maps along with BlindSquare to enhance both outdoor and indoor navigation through the use of BlindSquare Beacons.

This workshop is now full, however please contact Anita Laurnitus a.laurnitus@balancefba.org X228, or Doug Poirier d.poirier@balancefba.org X224 if you are interested in participating in a future similar workshop.