When the ball dropped on Time Square at midnight on January 1st, no one could have anticipated the year ahead.  No one’s crystal ball predicted a worldwide pandemic that would have a devastating impact on so many including our blind entrepreneurs.  Randolph-Sheppard was born out of the Great Depression.  It has survived multiple wars, social and racial unrest, great recessions, national health crises and more.  But the COVID-19 Pandemic of 2020 nearly brought our blind entrepreneurs to their knees. 

As we prepare for the holidays and this season of Thanksgiving, we remain thankful for the opportunities Randolph-Sheppard provides to us today and in the future.  We are thankful for the hard-working men and women who make up the Randolph-Sheppard community.  And we are thankful for their fighting spirit and determination to make things better. 

The National Association of Blind Merchants knows that coming out on the other end strong requires effective leadership and we are announcing LEAD 2021 and Beyond.  Beginning on Thursday, January 14, NABM will bring you a 4-part series on leadership.  For 4 consecutive weeks (January 14, 21, 28, and February 4), we will sponsor 90-minute sessions that will begin at 3:00 PM Eastern Time each Thursday.  The training will be free to anyone who wants to attend.  Be on the lookout for the announcement on how you can register and the line-up of great presenters we will be bringing your way. 

As a precursor to LEAD 2021 and Beyond, NABM will be sponsoring a meeting on January 7th to take a look ahead at the coming year.  We are inviting leaders in the convenience service industry to share their ideas on what we might expect in 2021.  We will also look at what the new political landscape means for Randolph-Sheppard.  So, that will be 5 straight weeks of relevant information and training every Thursday.  Stay tuned for more in the coming weeks. 

Is there even more to come?  Maybe.  We have presented our Randolph-Sheppard 101 training at conferences and state meetings in the past.  In the early spring, we hope to bring to you an advanced training on the Randolph-Sheppard Act.  Call it Randolph-Sheppard 201 or Randolph-Sheppard The Honors Course if you choose but we will delve deeper into the Act and its history and bring interesting guest speakers to make the training more interactive.  Much more on this later. 

Is that it?  Probably not but that’s all for now.  But that certainly won’t be all for the New Year.  NABM is proud to be the leader in the Randolph-Sheppard arena when it comes to providing quality virtual training during these unique and challenging times.  We’d prefer doing BLAST in person with 600 of our closest friends participating.  We’d rather be doing smaller regional training like we did in Des Moines in 2018 and Atlantic City in 2019.  We’d love it if we could get back out into the states and present at your annual conferences.  But none of this is possible right now.  So, we adapt and do the next best thing and that is providing the best training we possibly can virtually. 

Sincerely,                                                        Sincerely,

Nicky Gacos, President                                   Terry Smith, Director

National Association of Blind Merchants.      R-S Training & Technical Assistance


Harold Wilson (Virginia), First Vice President

Ed Birmingham (Illinois), Second Vice President

Sharon Treadway (Tennessee), Secretary

Pam Schnurr (Indiana), Treasurer

Melissa Smith (Tennessee), Board Member

Gary Grassman, Board Member

Melba Taylor (Maryland), Board Member

Michael Colbrunn (Minnesota), Board Member

Deb Smith (Arizona), Board Member

Zach Snow (Georgia), Board Member

Barbara Manual (Alabama), Board Member

John Fritz (Wisconsin), Board Member

Lewanda Miranda (Oregon), Board Member

Joe Higdon (Indiana), Board Member