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Message from the President, Patty Killey

Greetings Michigan AER Members,

The Michigan Chapter of AER (MAER) mission statement states:

Michigan Chapter Association for Education and Rehabilitation of the Blind and Visually Impaired mission is “To render all possible assistance to the promotion, development and improvement of all phases of education and rehabilitation of the blind and visually impaired persons of all ages.” Your MAER board has worked very hard to live up to our mission statement from putting on our annual conference to starting our first annual donation to a local organization that we feel exemplifies our values.

A donation of $500 was given to The Special Needs Vision Clinic in Saginaw Michigan. They are a non-profit organization that provides optometric services to Michigan's mentally and physically challenged population, as well as low vision services to visually impaired/legally blind individuals. What follows is a letter from this organization:

Dear MAER Board and members:

I am writing on behalf of Special Needs Vision Clinic Board of Directors to thank you for the $500 donation (check#1022) received from your agency. As you are likely aware, the Special Needs Vision Clinic is a 501 (c) 3 non-profit clinic that depends heavily on community support to help maintain services to Michigan’s handicapped population. The past couple of years have been a challenge for us all, as we struggle through the Covid pandemic. In addition to affecting our normal client flow due to isolation practices, it has greatly impacted our normal fundraising processes, and in turn, our funds available to cover daily operational expenses. We are so very appreciative of generous folks like yourselves who realize a need in the community and meet that challenge head on. Because of your kind donation we are able to continue providing optometric and low vision services to Michigan’s visually impaired and legally blind populations; a group that often falls through the cracks when State agencies tighten their finances. From the bottom of our hearts, Thank You!!! Not only for the donation, but for all that you do to advocate for those less fortunate.

Dolores J. Kowalski, OD
Executive Director

Our conference theme “Reconnecting for All” marked our 39 th annual conference as well as hopefully our last virtual conference! The sessions provided opportunities for individuals to reconnect with themselves, others, and new professional ideas. Two hundred and five individuals joined our conference this year where they had the opportunity to earn over 20 continuing education credits!

Of course, none of this could be possible without the dedication of your MAER Board. Each member volunteers their own time and energy to help make a difference in our professional field. But we need your help as well. We are looking for volunteers that would like to step up and help with the conference planning or maybe a committee project. If you are interested, please email What does the future of MAER look like? Well, that is a question we hope to have the members help answer. As we look to the future, we hope to expand our outreach to
organizations that demonstrate our values, expand our grant opportunities, and of course provide an enriching conference. If you would like to share your hopes and dreams for MAER, please email us at
Cross your fingers, toes, and anything else that might help us move forward with our plan to have next year’s conference at the Delta Conference Center in Kalamazoo on April 20th and 21st 2023. Please continue to check our website,, for additional information as it becomes available.

Best regards,
Patty Killey
MAER President 2022-23


MAER would like to include two members in each newsletter for the Member Spotlight. The purpose of the Member Spotlight is to help us get to know our membership around the state. Any MAER member can be submitted to be included in this article, regardless of when they started working in the field of blindness and visual impairment. You may send us information about yourself or nominate someone else. You can write something as simple as one paragraph, or more if you prefer. If you nominate someone else, either ask your nominee to write something up for you, or you can write something about another person with their permission. If the words are not directly from the person you are submitting, please provide their contact information so that we can verify the information and
get approval from that person to be included in the newsletter. The member spotlight is not an award and need not be based on merit. But if you know something cool about someone that you would like to share, please include that in your submission. Include a photo if you can! Newsletter submissions may be sent to including the member spotlight. Please indicate in the subject line of the email that it is for the newsletter.


The Bug in My Ear: Let’s Recognize Accomplishments! Somethings “bugging” me. This year, you may have noticed that we did not give out any awards to our Michigan AER chapter members at the conference. This is not because we have no deserving colleagues, but because we did not receive any nominations for awards! Part of that is my fault, as I didn’t nominate anybody either, because I mistakenly thought I shouldn’t nominate because I am on the Board. I know that we are all busy with lots of things with our work and personal lives, so that is why I’m putting this bug in your ear now. Your MAER Board will be asking for nominations before our next conference. Why don’t we start thinking about getting the information together now to recognize the accomplishments of our colleagues? I’m ready to nominate someone already. Are you?

For each of these awards, the Awards Committee will give preference to nominees who are or have been members of MAER.  Preference is also given to individuals who have served on the Michigan AER Board. We are currently in the process of updating the language in the awards criteria, and this will be sent out to the membership when it’s ready.

If you have questions or would like more information on the nomination process, contact Roberta McCall at or You may also visit the awards page of our website to see past recipients:

Submitted by Beth Brabbs

Thank you to the MAER 2022 Conference Vendors

We would like to express our gratitude to the vendors who participated in our 2022 conference and those who donated door prizes. Your involvement helps us support our mission and allows our members to gain valuable knowledge about your services and products. We hope to see you “live and in-person” next year and
we will encourage our membership to visit your booths.

Also, MAER would like to congratulate the winners of the door prizes provided by our vendors.

  • Ann McKay Bacon
  • Amber Willard
  • Judy Davidhizar-Holmes
  • Judy Schermer
  • Jennifer Burch
  • Rikilynn Layher
  • Annette Babinski
  • Michael O’Connor
  • April Shunk
  • Sara Cruchelow
  • Elyse Connors

Submitted by Dr. Joe Todd


SAVE THE DATE! “Gateway to Community” AER International Conference 2022 will be held at Union Station Hotel in St. Louis, Missouri July 21-25, 2022.

SCECHs for the 2022 conference have been sent to the state for processing, and they should appear in your MOECs account now. If you have questions regarding this, please contact Amber Strasz at



Do you have an article, resource, or other information you would like added to the MAER newsletter? Use this opportunity to get information to other members. The next newsletter goes out in February. Please send your submissions to by January 15, 2022.

MAER Board Officers and Directors

Please contact with any questions.

PRESIDENT: Patty Killey
SECRETARY: Roberta McCall
TREASURER: Amy Schreiner
DIRECTORS: Leanne Ford, Jessicia Klenk, John Metz, Kristy Plesscher, Amber Strasz, and
Dr. Joe Todd

Our AER Mission: To render all possible assistance to the promotion, development, and improvement of all phases of education and rehabilitation of blind and visually impaired persons of all ages.