Community Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired


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The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), announced $4.5 billion in assistance today to help lower heating costs for American families this winter. Today’s announcement is part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s work to lower costs and give working and middle-class American families more breathing room.

The Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) funds – distributed by ACF’s Office of Community Services – will go to states, territories, and tribes. In addition to subsidizing home heating costs this winter and covering unpaid utility bills, the federal program will help families make cost-effective home energy repairs to lower their heating and cooling bills.
The funds announced today are a combination of regular appropriations by Congress, $100 million from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and additional emergency funding Congress included in the September continuing resolution following the Biden-Harris Administration’s request for these funds. “For more than 40 years, this program has helped low-income families pay their home heating and cooling bills,” said HHS Secretary Xavier Becerra. “As heating costs increase, it is more important than ever to help families struggling to make ends meet. With this funding, we will help protect the health and well-being of Americans by keeping them safe and warm this winter.”
This past year, LIHEAP served over 5.3 million households with heating, cooling, and weatherization services. This support was particularly important during the winter and summer months, as millions of Americans dealt with extreme weather and natural disasters. “No family or person should have to go without needed heating or cooling in their home,” said ACF Assistant Secretary January Contreras. “This funding will support struggling individuals and families by helping lift the economic burden of staying warm this winter.”
“Low-income households spend three times more of their income on energy costs than more affluent households,” said Dr. Lanikque Howard, director of ACF Office of Community Services. “As extreme weather events increase in frequency, it is more important than ever that we do everything we can to ensure individuals and families are aware of, apply for, and receive assistance.”
The Biden-Harris Administration is committed to lowering energy costs for American families, especially as winter approaches and Russia’s war in Ukraine continues to pressure the global energy market. President Biden is releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to lower gas prices and calling on energy companies to pass on their savings from lower oil and wholesale gas prices to consumers. He also secured the Inflation Reduction Act, which utility CEOs say will save American families hundreds of dollars a month on utility bills.
Individuals interested in applying for energy assistance can visit or call the National Energy Assistance Referral (NEAR) hotline toll-free at: 1-866-674-6327.


The Biden-Harris Administration has launched a new initiative to expand the availability of at-home tests that are more accessible for people who are blind or have low vision. The tests work with a compatible Bluetooth-enabled smartphone and a free app to provide users with audible instructions and audible test results. Read more about the tests. How to get the tests: Order online or by calling 1-800-232-0233.

  • Each order will include two rapid-antigen tests that are more accessible for people who are blind or have low vision.
  • Orders will ship free, while supplies last.  

Because supplies are limited, please order the more accessible tests only if you do not have options for using the standard tests. If you have someone you trust who can help you administer the test and interpret results (in person, or through a video platform like FaceTime or Zoom), or can use assistive technology (such as AIRA or Be My Eyes), please order the standard tests. This initiative complements the Administration’s efforts to expand production of more accessible tests and work with private sector partners on the development of new accessible tests.  Need more assistance?  The trained staff at the Disability Information and Access Line (DIAL) can provide additional assistance with:

  • Ordering tests.
  • Understanding instructions for test administration and test results.
  • Providing alternative instructions for traditional at-home tests for people who are unable to access, read, or understand the manufacturer’s version.
  • For those who cannot use an at-home test, DIAL operators can:
    • Assist with ordering “swab and send” kits to collect a sample and mail it back for results.
    • Connect callers to local organizations for assistance locating other testing options in their community, including in-home testing programs or transportation or companion support to visit a community-based testing site.

Call 888-677-1199 Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. (Eastern) or email

San Joaquin Regional Transit District (RTD) in partnership with Stockton Unified School District (SUSD) will provide complimentary transit for all 7th – 12th grade SUSD students beginning Wednesday, June 1 just in time for summer school. Students can ride RTD buses at no cost by simply showing their valid student ID to the bus operator and hop aboard.

Beyond trips to school, students can travel to after-school programs, community centers, libraries, summer jobs, and more. Complementary trips are valid within the Stockton Metropolitan area all year round and does not include RTD Van Go! and Commuter services.

“As an agency, RTD is focused on providing equitable access to transportation for all,” said RTD CEO Alex Clifford. “Transportation should not be a barrier to education. As gas prices continue to soar, this is a timely partnership. Not only does this program helps students gain access to transportation, but it will also help our continued efforts in reducing greenhouse gases and carbon footprint from single occupancy vehicles.”

Parents and students can learn more at

San Joaquin County Public Health Officer Dr. Maggie Park told the Board of Supervisors yesterday that COVID-19 case rates, hospitalizations, and deaths are starting to slowly increase. COVID-19 case rates have risen from 6.5 per 100,000 on April 18th to 22 per 100,000 on May 23rd. This is likely due to the latest Omicron variant, BA.2.12.1, which is more transmissible than its predecessors.

San Joaquin County COVID-19 latest statistics as of May 23, 2022:

• 171,099 total COVID-19 cases; 2,233 deaths; 28 people hospitalized; 5 patients in ICU.

• 64.4% of San Joaquin County’s total population are fully vaccinated.

To view weekly updates of the County’s COVID-19 statistics, visit: San Joaquin County Public COVID Dashboard 

Dr. Park gave an update on the latest Omicron variant stating, “The most recent dominant variant is more contagious than previous versions resulting in an uptick in COVID-19 cases over the past month. However, the current number of cases is most likely much higher because of underreporting by people who are taking rapid antigen tests at home and not sharing the results. We are currently in a surge with rising case rates and hospitalizations, but our hope is that deaths will remain minimal.”

Dr. Park reported that the County’s two OptumServe sites in Lodi and Stockton continue to provide free rapid antigen and PCR tests but are now offering new “test to treat” services at no cost. This means people who visit one of the sites and test positive for COVID-19 would be seen by a nurse or medical assistant, consult with a telehealth doctor who could assess their condition and then prescribe and dispense a COVID-19 treatment. Dr. Park said that a third test to treat site will open at the Larch Clover Community Center in Tracy beginning May 26th and will be open Thursday – Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. In addition:

• The County will soon distribute free at-home rapid antigen tests to cities and community-based organizations for countywide distribution. Future sites will open soon where additional free at-home tests will be distributed.

• Up to 8 free at-home COVID-19 tests are available through

• Residents are encouraged to check or for information about testing and vaccine locations and hours of operation.

Dr. Park shared details regarding second COVID-19 booster doses. She said that the CDC recommends the following individuals should get their second booster dose:

• People 12 and older who are immunocompromised and anyone 50 and older at least 4 months after their first.

• People ages 18 and older who received their primary and booster dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine.

• Children ages 5 through 11 years should receive a booster shot 5 months after their initial Pfizer-BioNTech vaccination series.

Dr. Park also updated the Board about the new Public Health Services website, newsletter and dashboard which highlight the latest COVID-19 information and community services.

Supervisor Chuck Winn, Chair of the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors stated, “It appears COVID-19 is becoming a manageable condition much like seasonal flu. Moving forward, it will be important to make decisions and take actions based on the most up-to-date information, not on speculation. We need to take it one step at a time and take appropriate action in what we are experiencing at the moment rather than predicting what might happen in the future.”

Families up and down our state are worried about how to put food on the table as prices for food, gas and other necessities spiral out of reach. The economic pain of the pandemic, along with skyrocketing inflation and the high cost of living throughout our state is breaking the bank for many Californians who are already on the brink of poverty.

My food resource map connects residents to critical food resources in every single California county so that anyone in need of assistance can find free, nutritious food. Check it out at

Braille and Talking Book Library is partnering with for an Older Americans/55+ Pilot using the Bookshare service with Amazon smart speakers (i.e., Alexa/Echo). is an electronic braille and synthetic speech audio book download service. The FREE Older Americans/55+ Bookshare Smart Speaker Pilot will kick off in the summer of 2022, so if you fit the 55 and over age bracket, are a Bookshare user or are interested in becoming one, and would like to provide feedback on using Bookshare with an Alexa-enabled smart speaker, please contact BTBL. For the 55+ Pilot, a portion of participants will be eligible for 50 free smart speakers furnished by Bookshare, first come first served. For more information about the 55+ Pilot, visit

Honor Stockton Blue Run

The Stockton Police Chaplaincy will host the Honor Stockton Blue Run this April 24, 2022, right in town at the UOP campus! We intend for this to become an annual event to honor fallen officers and to support our local law enforcement communities.  

With the loss of Officer Jimmy Inn and Captain Max Fortuna, it is increasing important to show our support and encouragement for those who daily serve our community. All proceeds will be going to the Stockton Police Chaplaincy program which supports the men and women of the Stockton Police Department and their families. You can find information on this Nonprofit program at

I’m sharing this information with you for several reasons. Some of you may want to join in the run! We would love to have you come out on that Sunday morning to show your support and have a little run or walk in the fresh morning hours!  

Secondly, we could use your help in spreading the word.

And finally, we are looking for financial sponsors. We can use all the help we can get to get this landmark event off the ground and up and running!! (pun intended) 

If you go to our website at you will find more information about how to register for the race and some options for sponsorship. Again, every bit helps. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at or call 209-937-7424.

Jesse Kenyon 

Senior Chaplain 

Stockton Police Chaplaincy

New Executive Director Named

The Community Center for the Blind and Visually Impaired (CCBVI) Board of Directors announces with great pleasure the hiring of Elsie Hirata as the agency's new Executive Director. Elsie has served as a volunteer, Director of Client Services and Interim Director for the last seven years. Her knowledge of CCBVI as a client, volunteer and employee qualifies her to manage CCBVI with skill and expertise.

Please join the board in welcoming new Executive Director Elsie Hirata!

The federal government is providing up to four free at-home COVID-19 antigen tests through its website ( that will be shipped directly to each individual’s home.

What to Know:

  • Order your test online at
  • It takes less than a minute to order the tests
  • All that is needed to order tests is first and last names and shipping address
  • Every home in the U.S. is eligible to order four (4) free at-⁠home COVID-⁠19 tests
  • The federal government has tests for every residential address in the U.S.
  • Tests are free and will be shipped by the U.S. Postal Services
  • Tests should arrive by USPS within 7-10 days from order

The Free At-Home COVID-19 Tests:

  • Are rapid antigen at-home tests, not PCR
  • Can be taken anywhere
  • Give results within 30 minutes (no lab drop-off required)
  • Work whether or not you have COVID-⁠19 symptoms
  • Work whether or not you are up to date on your COVID-⁠19 vaccines
  • Are also referred to self-tests or over-the-counter (OTC) tests

For more information about the at-home COVID-19 tests, please visit Tests can be ordered online at To place an order, all you need is your name and residential address. No ID, credit card, or health insurance information is required. You may also share your email address to get updates on your order.

Stockton, CA— San Joaquin Regional Transit District (RTD) welcomes RydeTrans, its new provider for Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Paratransit Dial-A-Ride services effective January 1, 2022.

“This is a very important service, and we are excited to partner with RydeTrans to provide excellent paratransit service to all ADA-certified passengers,” said RTD’s Board Member Joni Bauer.  “RTD consistently strives to make all of our services even more accessible to ADA passengers to give them more options and freedom.”

Locally based in Stockton, RydeTrans is a premier operator in the transit industry and offers its own standardized fleet with professionally-trained drivers to complement RTD’s fixed-route service.  Drivers, dispatchers, and reservationists are directly trained and employed by RydeTrans, and they will collaborate with RTD to ensure the highest quality of service.  Continuous training and attention to quality assurance will elevate customer service levels throughout the RydeTrans-RTD relationship.

San Joaquin Regional Transit District (RTD) is the regional transit provider for San Joaquin County.  RTD’s mission is to provide a safe, reliable, and efficient transportation system for the region.  For more information visit, follow RTD on Facebook and Twitter, or call (209) 943-1111.