Reading volunteers get special thanks


August 16, 1991|By Sylvia Badger

ROBERT LEWIS is always trying to find ways to "better" the Baltimore Radio Reading Service, an organization for the blind and "print handicapped." Lewis, himself blind, is the electronics genius at the service who knows all 225 volunteers by their footsteps and the sound of their voices as they read six daily newspapers, 35 magazines, books and other information on the air for people who have difficulty reading on their own. Those who are eligible for the reading service, whose headquarters are Liberty Heights Avenue, are given a specially tuned radio to hear the broadcasts. (To find out if you are eligible, call 396-0990, which is also the number to call if you'd like to volunteer.)

For some time, Lewis has wanted to get all of the volunteers together for a thank-you and get-to-know-each-other party. What better way to socialize than at a picnic, especially when your chairman of the board is Mary Jo Pons, who lives on a divine Harford County horse farm, Country Life Farms?

On Aug. 24, volunteers and their guests are planning a day at the farm. Among the "readers" invited are Nancy Claster, originator of Romper Room; Mary Conaway, Baltimore City Register of Wills; Harlow Fullwood, Fullwood Foods Inc.; Rolf Hertsgaard, former television newsman; Mary Ellen Holmes, harpist; Doug Tillett, actor for media commercials; Jack Bensel, Blind Industries; and Karen Meadow, executive director of Baltimore Radio Reading Service.

A SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY: "Pardon me boys, is that the Chattanooga Choo Choo?" The famous train from that old song will stop in Baltimore at 11:30 a.m. Sept. 8. We are one of the stops the train will make on its trip from New York City (Track 29?) to Chattanooga as part of the train's 50th anniversary celebration. The nostalgic trip is sponsored by the Chattanooga Visitor's Bureau, which is filling the train with dignitaries and writers. No word yet on whether Gov. Schaefer will join governors of other states, all of whom are invited to ride the train to Chattanooga. Stop by Penn Station on Sunday morning for the half-hour whistle-stop celebration.

WHAT'S HAPPENING: Black ties are optional if you'd like to go cruising with a handful of Oriole players and their wives Sept. 5. Tickets for the 3rd Annual Orioles Wives Cruise on the Lady Baltimore cost $100, which entitles you to dinner, dancing, open bar, lots of auction packages and the company of Mark Williamson, Gregg Olson, Kevin Hickey and Joe Orsulak. Call 955-8767 by Aug. 23 if you'd like to attend this benefit for the kids at Johns Hopkins Children's Center.

Mayor Kurt Schmoke planned to stop by Channel 2 today to present a proclamation to one of Maryland's favorite sons, Montel Williams, the host of a new one-hour weekday daily talk show on WMAR-TV at 11 a.m. William is a 1974 graduate of Andover High, where he was class president. He joined the Marine Corps and later graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy. Before becoming a talk-show host, Williams, a Glen Burnie native, had a career in the navy as a pilot and in military intelligence. . . .

Doesn't it irk you that Eli Jacobs, the owner of the Baltimore Orioles who doesn't live here and who wants to sell the team, has so much to say about the name of the new stadium? After all, it is Maryland taxpayers who are footing the bill for the new stadium, so why couldn't we have a statewide "ideas for a stadium name" from the real owners of the stadium?

John Bunting, chairman of this year's AIDS walk, knew all the hard work was worthwhile when he turned over a check for $260,000 to Andrew Barasada, executive director of the Health Education Resource Organization, HERO. . . .

BIRTHDAYS: Recent Orioles pitcher Jeff Ballard, Tuesday; former O's manager Earl Weaver, Wednesday; former O's first baseman turned Miller Lite personality Boog Powell, Saturday; Sherrie "Mrs. Turkey Joe" Trabert, Tuesday; WCBM's Michael Plumstead, Saturday.

@NAME: Robert A. Lewis

WORK LIFE: Baltimore Radio Reading Service producer.

JOME LIFE: Married to one of his volunteers, Sheila Washington.

PASSIONS: Wrestling, food, dogs and the reading service.

CLAIM TO FAME: First blind production manager at Baltimore Radio Reading Service. Thanks to him, the station now broadcasts 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

QUOTE: "I knew I had to succeed at this job because if I messed up, no other blind person would be given the chance."


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