Table of Contents


Personnel Actions

Success Story

Around the State

End Zone


Family Café

By Shelanda Shaw

Shelanda Shaw and Danette Maldonado

The Division of Blind Services (DBS) was well represented at the 16th Annual Family Café in Orlando, Fla. June 6-8. Director Robert Doyle hosted a session to discuss DBS initiatives, priorities and services to help remove barriers to education, employment and independence. Orlando and Tallahassee office employees worked the information tables. These individuals included: Pam Jones, Kelli Parker, Kelly James, Vanessa Medina, Christopher DeBonis, Danette Maldonado, Shelanda Shaw and Tiffany Baylor.

Christopher DeBonis talking with participants

Vanessa Medina and Danette Maldonado talking to participants

Pamela Jones reading to youth participant

Personnel Actions

We welcome our newest employees to the DBS family:

We Offer Congratulations to:

We wish our retirees the best in their future endeavors:

Success Story

Going Strong in Pensacola

By Janet Chernoff

Lourena MellottIn 1989, Lourena Mellott attended Broward Community College with the goal of becoming a teacher. In July of that year, she realized that her visual acuity was decreasing and decided not to continue to pursue her degree. She inquired about the Bureau of Business Enterprise (BBE) program and was recommended for training. Mellott became a licensed vendor January 1991. According to her evaluations, her strong points include a willingness to learn new things and the ability to adapt. Other evaluations suggested that she was quick, intelligent and good with customers. She operated facilities in South Florida until 2002 when she relocated to Pensacola.

Twenty-three years after she began her business, Mellott is still going strong. She currently operates vending at the Federal Correctional Institution in Pensacola and the United States Navy Saufley Field. Recently, she accepted the challenge of operating a vending route at the Pensacola Naval Air Station. This facility is new to the BBE program so she is responsible for assessing the route and sales figures. Eventually the route will be a business opportunity for another vendor.

Mellott gives back to the BBE program by acting as a mentor to new vendors in her area and by representing her district on the State Committee of Vendors. Mellott is an example of a BBE operator who is ready, willing and able to do what needs to be done.

Around the State

Gainesville Beeping Egg Hunt

Children with Easter BunnyThe University of Florida Delta Gamma Sorority held a Beeping Egg Hunt for children with sensory impairment and their families Saturday, April 5, in Gainesville, Fla. Sorority member Kaitlyn Harrow organized the event, which was held at P.K. Younge School. DBS counselor David Linn and Teresa Donaldson Thomas with the Florida School for the Deaf and the Blind assisted in the planning, preparation, and welcoming of families to the event. Twenty-three families participated.

Delta Gamma provided arts and crafts, a bounce house, music, games, snacks, live bunnies and a puppy for the children to pet. The children also enjoyed a visit by the Easter Bunny. Volunteers from Hamm radio provided the Beeping Eggs for the hunt. The adults enjoyed meeting each other while their children were supervised one-on-one by the Delta Gamma members.

After several hours of fun, games and finding beeping eggs, the children and their families were given Easter baskets full of candy and memories of a wonderful day spent with very special friends.

Career Day at Somerset Academy

By Christina Panczak

Child with gogglesI participated in a career fair May 27 and 28 at Somerset Academy that was organized by my former client, Tiffany Bowman. This event introduced students to careers such as being a firefighter, police officer, banker, farmer, access technology instructor, veterinarian and vocational rehabilitation counselor. Students had an opportunity to ask questions of all of the presenters.

I had an opportunity to educate students about working as a DBS counselor and since I am visually impaired, I talked about how I perform my job with the aid of assistive technology. I talked to them about braille, JAWS and the braille note apex. They also learned about working with my dog guide, Roma. The students asked great questions and they were engaged the entire time.

Christina Panczak talking to studentsDBS provided support and assistance to Bowman while she earned her bachelor’s degree in education and also with assistive technology when she began to teach at Somerset Academy. The academy is a new charter school and did not have the funds available to purchase the needed technology. Bowman is in her second year as a second-grade teacher at Somerset Academy and this was her second successful career day event. She is quick to express her appreciation for the assistance that helped her obtain her education and employment. I am pleased to have the opportunity to work with her as a client and now as a second-grade teacher.

Tiffany Bowman talking to students

Disability Expo

By Amanda Honingford

I attended the Agency for Persons with Disabilities Waiver Provider Disability Expo in Tampa, Fla., Saturday, May 24, and provided information about DBS services to more than 100 families and service providers in the Tampa Bay area. Everyone was very interested in the information provided and had a great time.

Amanda Honingford at DBS display table

End Zone

Publication and Submission Information

We hope you found this month’s newsletter interesting. Remember, we need your submissions each month. Let us know what’s going on in your district or facility. The publication date for the Visionary newsletter is the first week of each month. The deadline for submissions is the 15th of each month. Comments, suggestions, and submissions should be directed to:

DBS Communications:

Additional useful links and telephone numbers:

To request a Braille version of this edition of the Visionary contact the Braille and Talking Book Library: or call 800-226-6075.

MIS Help Desk:
Phone: 850-245-0360

AWARE Help Desk:
Phone: 850-245-0395 or 866-841-0912

Division of Blind Services website (external):

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