Resolution 2021-1 A Resolution Of Support For The Detroit Blind community In Its Struggle To Keep The Greater Detroit Agency For The Blind And Visually Impaired Open And to Transform It Into A Quality Agency For The Blind
Whereas the Greater Detroit Agency For the Blind And Visually Impaired (GDABVI)Has, Since its founding in 1961, provided an inadequate amount and quality of services to meet the needs of blind people in the Detroit metropolitan area and
Whereas The Greater Detroit Agency For The Blind And Visually Impaired has been hostile to blind people and our organizations, Refusing to consider any of our proposals to improve the agency’s programs and refusing to bring representatives from the organized blind movement onto it’s board of directors and
Whereas This situation began to improve in the last ten years when Victor Arbulu was hired as director and
Where as we will never know if Mr. Arbulu would have made the systemic changes necessary to meet the needs of our community, since the Board Chairman Fredrick Simpson fought him at every turn and finally forced his resignation around new year’s 2021 and
Whereas Fredrick Simpson Refused to allow creation of “virtual programming” during the pandemic, which all responsible agency’s have done and
Whereas he forced the resignation of the interim director a few weeks after pushing Mr. Arbulu out and
Whereas he has reduced the staff to one secretary and one rehabilitation teacher as well as forcing those Board members who wouldn’t support him to leave and
Whereas Mr. Simpson told the blind community that he had no plans to reopen the agency and was concerned with cosmetic improvements to the building at the same time he was leading donors to believe that their donations were being used to serve blind people and
Whereas All this happened during the Pandemic when newly blinded people are more isolated than usual and need instruction in the skills of blindness more than ever and
Whereas This deplorable situation caused many blind people, and a number of “support groups” who had never demonstrated before to organize several demonstrations in front of the agency in a truly spontaneous and unprecedented attempt to get justice at the GDABVI and
Whereas this loose coalition of blind people and organizations have created the following 6 policy recommendations to reform the GDABVI,
- The GDABVI shall convert its daily operations and bylaws from that of a private nonprofit organization to that of a public nonprofit organization thus granting the general public legal rights to access to and reasonable prior knowledge of GDABVI Board Meetings, votes, and related documents and procedures, in addition to the timely posting of all minutes from GDABVI Board Meetings on GDABVI’s web site.
- The GDABVI shall be sanitized, cleaned, and reopened immediately for daily operations and the provision of urgently needed rehabilitation services to the blind and visually impaired with appropriate staffing, cleaning, and pandemic related safety protocols put in place prior to reopening.
- The GDABVI shall add and at all times maintain at least four members on its Board of Trustees who are accomplished leaders in the Detroit Blind Community specifically and who have authoritative knowledge of the scope of needs and capabilities of blind people.
- The GDABVI shall hire and maintain an executive director who has a strong background in business financing and fund raising, an impressive track record of training/working with blind and visually impaired people, and authoritative knowledge of the scope of needs and capabilities of blind people.
- The GDABVI shall remain a key hub for social, recreational, educational, and political activity throughout the Greater Detroit Blind Community continuing to provide blind consumers, organizations, and community leaders with access to the facilities and a welcoming space for such activities at no-to-very-low cost as established under Former Executive Director Victor Arbulu.
- Staff at the GDABVI shall emphasize personal independence and mastery of blindness skills to consumers across all rehabilitation service areas.” And
Whereas the National Federation Of The Blind Detroit Chapter has participated in these demonstrations and supported the policy recommendations and
Whereas in response to this movement of blind people, the Lions District Council, which is the agency’s Major funding source, suspended all financial support of the GDABVI until January 2022 and
Whereas two blind Detroiters have brought a complaint regarding all of these matters and violations of law to the Michigan Attorney General who is currently investigating and
Whereas in response to all this Fredrick Simpson suddenly decided to hire a new Executive Director who’s qualifications as posted on the GDABVI website must include business and financial training but no mention of blindness, skills, of blindness, Blind people or organizations of the blind, the word “blind” does not appear once, Whatever else he is doing or planning remains a mystery since he continues to stay silent, refusing to speak to anyone in the blind community which his organization exists to serve Now
Therefore be it resolved in convention assembled this 13th of November 2021 that The National Federation of The Blind Of Michigan continue to support the Detroit blind community to achieve justice at the GDABVI and
Be it further resolved that the NFBMI call upon the Lions Clubs and all other donors to withhold all financial support from the GDABVI until Fredrick Simpson is removed from the agency, the Board is restructured to include qualified blind people
including representatives of the National federation of the blind and other organizations of the blind, and the 6 policy recommendations are met.