Celebrating National Volunteer Week

Editor’s Note: National Volunteer Week is April 12-18, 2015. This week is about inspiring, recognizing, and encouraging people to seek out imaginative ways to engage in their communities. Empish Thomas kicks off the week with this post and several others are coming your way this week.

national volunteer logo saying celebrate service

Working With Sighted Volunteers

You never realize how much you need help with something until you can’t do it for yourself anymore. I would have to say that from the beginning of my vision loss, which was in 1996, I have always worked with sighted volunteers. They have helped me with rides to doctor’s appointments, grocery shopping, and running other errands. They have also helped with reading the large piles of junk mail, filling out forms, organizing my paper files, and reading my statements so that I could pay my bills. I have even had sighted volunteers teach me how to better use my computer, help me move into a new place, and complete small home improvement tasks. I am so grateful and appreciative of all of the sighted people that have come and gone that have helped me to live a better life. I know that I couldn’t have done it all without them. National Volunteer Week is a perfect time for all of us with a visual impairment to reflect on the sighted people in our lives who have helped us to live better lives.

volunteers talking around a table

Thinking of Ways to Give

It is also a good time to think about ways that we as blind and visually impaired people can give back to our community. Is there a way you can serve? Do you have talents or skills that could assist another person in some kind of way? I know for myself I volunteered for many years to be a mentor in the Center for the Visually Impaired’s STARS Youth program. It was a great opportunity for me to work with visually impaired kids. Today, I volunteer by providing career mentoring through AFB’s CareerConnect Program. I also facilitate a book discussion group for the Atlanta Metro Library for Accessible Services, the talking book library in Atlanta. So, sit down, make a list of your talents, skills, or gifts. Ask friends and family for ways you can help. Or check out this list of ideas right on the VisionAware site called “The Good of Volunteering.”

Still stumped on what to do? For additional ideas on ways to give back or say thank-you to people who have volunteered in your life be sure to subscribe to the blog for these upcoming posts from three peer advisors:

  • Maribel Steel writes about how blindness can bring kindness. She lists small and simple ways to show gratitude to people that volunteer to help you.
  • Mary Hiland’s offers ways to give back as a person who is blind or visually impaired.
  • Sue Martin offers a different perspective on volunteering. Her post is about her experience volunteering at a blind rehab center and how that led to employment at the Veterans Administration.