Wearing a black skirt and white blouse with black accents, a brown-haired woman stands beside the fountain. The broad base is white, about table-height, filled with round, black stones where water falls and splashes. Rising up from the rocks more than a foot above the woman’s head, is the rough-surfaced sharp mountain peak in reds, rusts and browns.
On a recent visit to the National Federation of the Blind Jernigan Institute, Center Director Julie Deden and I were able to preview the new McGeorge Living Room at the NFB’s headquarters. It is a comfortable, couch-bestrewn space with a fireplace in the center of the room. From one corner comes the soothing sound of trickling water. It’s the lovely fountain shown in the photo, a Rocky Mountain accent in the heart of Baltimore. The new living room will be dedicated today to Diane and Ray McGeorge for their decades of tireless commitment to creating positive change in the training, opportunities and fundamental rights of blind Americans, and certainly blind Coloradans. Diane, as president of the NFB of Colorado for nearly 30 years, founded the Colorado Center for the Blind in 1988, with the unwavering support of her late husband Ray beside her. Though not a precise replica, This sculptor’s rendition pays honor to one that Ray built in the McGeorge back yard on Steele Street in Denver, which Ray wrote about in the Braille Monitor in February, 2006. For several generations of visiting leaders of the National Federation of the Blind, and especially blind Coloradans and Center students, Ray’s fountain evokes warm evenings on the deck as guests of Diane and Ray, basking in the warmth of their hospitality, their love and mentorship. of course, Julie was one of those people, as was National Federation of the Blind President Mark Riccobono, a graduate of the Colorado Center for the Blind.
Diane will be present in Baltimore for the dedication reception this evening. It is a fitting tribute, and a proud moment for the NFB of Colorado and the Colorado Center for the Blind. No two people have done more to improve the lives of the blind in Colorado than Diane and Ray. The fountain and the living room named for them are also testament to more than a half-century’s commitment to the blind of the United States through the efforts of the National Federation of the Blind. The kinds of changes that the McGeorges worked for were changes that gave blind Coloradans greater independence, skills and confidence to pursue careers, grounded in the belief in our standing as equal citizens in our communities. Those were not things that were common when Ray and Diane first married and started their family in the 1950s.
In 2019, the high bar of commitment, passion, determination and love are still the standards for training at the Colorado Center for the Blind. Challenge and high expectations tempered with support and encouragement are what set our programs, and our students and alumni, apart from any others. The training and programs at the Colorado Center for the Blind revolutionized training for blind people in Colorado and far beyond our borders, but that revolution, now 30-some years old, started long before 1988. Diane and Ray were part, often the catalysts, of those changes, and the seeds that germinated into the CCB more than 30 years before our doors opened. We have no intention of letting up in the next 30 years, or beyond.
Please support us with a contribution on Colorado Gives Day, Dec. 10 when your gift counts for more thanks to the $1 Million Incentive Fund from Community First Foundation and First Bank. We’re looking forward to the revolution of the next 30 years in independence and achievement for blind Coloradans. We can go a long, long way with your help and the example of Diane and Ray McGeorge to ensure all blind people have the opportunity to “Take Charge with Confidence and Self-reliance”!