Volunteering with the CNIB

Editor’s note: CNIB is VisionAware’s featured agency in August. One of our peer advisors carries out numerous volunteer activities for the agency. In this post she highlights the importance of volunteers to the agency’s mission as well as what volunteering has meant to her.

Ashley wearing blue blouse and black cardigan smiling at camera

A Way of Giving Back

Volunteering with the CNIB has been something I have been passionate about for a while. I feel like it is my way to give back to an organization that has been a part of my life for the last 25 years. They have given me the skills and confidence to live a fulfilling successful life, which is what I want to give to others. I have been volunteering in many different ways in the organization and they have all been great opportunities. Here are some of the ways I help:

Seniors Support Group

support group sitting around tables talking

The one thing that I do on a ongoing basis is a seniors support group. This is a group I run for seniors that are new to vision loss or are struggling with vision loss. This group has been running for a while now and it has been a great group of people. Many in the group are now doing things that they weren’t six months ago, which is amazing. Many of our seniors that have vision loss become very isolated because they often have more medical issues than just the vision loss. The support group is a way to help make them not so isolated and feeling alone.

Dine in the Dark

Dine in the Dark is a fundraising event that the CNIB holds in different cities around the province and people are blindfolded while they enjoy a beautiful four course meal. I was very privileged to be asked to speak at their event, telling my story during the dinner. They also have a client who lives with blindness or partial sight giving instructions how to eat their meal without wearing most of it. It is a great event that showcases that people who are blind or visually impaired are very capable.

Speaking About CNIB

Interviews and showcasing what the CNIB does in the community is always a part of the organization. I have been honored to speak to different organizations answering questions about blindness, and showcasing what CNIB clients are doing. I have also demonstrated some of the adaptive technology that many of the clients of the CNIB use and is available in their store.

Connecting With People New to Vision Loss

People with vision loss sometimes want to speak to someone going through the same things that they are going through, who are around the same age or at the same point in life. I have been able to be connect with clients who are struggling to accept their new blindness or low vision to help them see that this diagnosis does not mean their life is over. As their friend, I have been able to help them conquer their fears with vision loss. This has been something that I am very happy to do as I would have liked to have had the same opportunity when my vision was deteriorating.

Counselor At Day Camp For Kids Who Are Blind or Visually Impaired

The last thing that I have been volunteering for is being a counselor at CNIB’s day camp for kids who are blind or partially sighted. The kids are amazing and resilient. At camp they can practice their independent living and orientation and mobility skills and have a blast while they do it. This is a great opportunity for the kids to get together with other children going through the same things they are and also to have adult counselors who are blind or partially sighted. In this way kids can see that they can be successful adults with vision loss.

Amazing Opportunities to Volunteer

There are so many amazing opportunities within the CNIB to volunteer and make a difference. It is always a great organization to with which to work as they are very supportive and inclusive. As someone with vision loss, it is nice to be able to give back at the CNIB as well as to be treated as an equal and never have my abilities questioned. Volunteers are always needed and welcome.