Thanks to the leadership of Chapter President JoAnn Cooper, the writing ability of Kathy Hanson,
 the foresight of Al Barthel and the hard work of Jerry Fedor, Marlin Parker, and Denny Johnson
Minnesota walked away from the 2014 Region Meeting with a Project Excellence Award

In 1960, Pioneers became the official Talking Book repair depot for the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped. There are only a few places in the United States where the older style "cassette" talking books are still repaired.

Dedicated and loyal to a long-established Pioneer mission to serve the sight impaired a small group of men gather in a quiet little-used CenturyLink workspace in rural Minnesota to continue this long standing service.

The gathering began in early 2008 after Al Barthel of Little Falls Minnesota heard of the need for people to repair and refurbish Talking Books equipment. He found others eager to use their technical skills as well for this project. Those other volunteers were Denny Johnson, Marlin Parker and Jerry Fedor.




Minnesota State Services for the Blind relies heavily on Pioneer volunteers to keep Talking Book equipment available to customers because itísí on- site volunteer staff has been reduced. Mr. Hal Schardin of the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) states the Pioneer volunteer repairers do good work, save the expense of having to send equipment out for repair. Because these volunteers are able to repair and turn the equipment they have been able to supply clients as soon as equipment is requested, rather than put them on a wait list as was the previous practice.

Once a sight impaired reader has a Talking Book machine, text books and recreational books are, in the majority, provided through the Minnesota Braille and Talking Book Library in Faribault Minnesota. The city of Faribault is also the site of the Minnesota State Academy for the Deaf.

Demand for repairs has grown for the four person Pioneer volunteer group since undertaking the project.


Jerry Fedor, Marlin Parker, Denny Johnson and Al Barthel
Jerry is holding the award


  Pete and Peggy Boccuzzi from New Mexico stopped by on there way home to show the guys how to repair the new digital talking books.

Marlin Parker, Jerry Fedor and Pete Boccuzzi getting started.



Al with some questions


 Peggy also helping the guys


We must have puzzling looks




Pete tries to explain it to us



Here are the guts of the machine