National Volunteer Week 2021

It’s National Volunteer Week and to help celebrate we wanted to highlight a handful of volunteers that help make the work we do supporting and inspiring children and youth who are blind or partially sighted possible. Without their hard work and dedication many of the programs that we offer would not be possible.

Adam

Adam sits cross-legged on the floor with a children's book open while several children gather around him in a circle as he reads during an Early Intervention Retreat.Adam has volunteered with Blind Beginnings for over 11 years now and is no stranger to anyone who has attended any of our events. He helps us with everything from Junior Explorers Clubs and Early Intervention Retreats to our Youth Leadership Programs and Family Adventure Camps. These days you can catch him reading stories over Zoom during the ever popular “Adam’s Accessible Story Time” every other Saturday morning. We asked him a few questions about his time with us, and you can find those along with his answers below.

Q: What in particular interested you in volunteering for Blind Beginnings?
A: I have had the great privilege of learning with students with visual impairments for the past 15 years as an educator. Volunteering with Blind Beginnings gives me an opportunity to connect with families and communities in a way that isn’t always possible at school. We have an incredible community here in British Columbia supporting visually impaired children and youth that I am proud to be a part of. Blind Beginnings is one of the cornerstones of this community!

Q: What’s your favorite memory or highlight of your involvement with us?
A: I have so many great memories! My favourite part of Accessible Story Hour is hearing the connections that everyone makes to the stories we read, as well as the requests. Quite selfishly, I use the story requests from Story Hour as inspiration for new titles in our library at PRCVI!

Thank you for all your hard work and dedication to our programs over the years, Adam!

Clement

Clement picks at the strings of his acoustic guitar as he sits surrounded by Youth at one of our Adventure Camps.Clement is another one of our volunteers that has been with us for many years and has helped us with so many events — certainly too many to count! From lending his musical talent to multiple sing-a-longs to helping us run our very ever-popular Harry Potter Book Club, Clement has been instrumental (musical pun intended) to so many of our events and programs. We asked him a few questions about his time with us, and you can find those along with his answers below.

Q: What in particular interested you in volunteering for Blind Beginnings?
A: My interest in volunteering for Blind Beginnings is a combination of things. I am absolutely committed to our idea of creating a world of seeing things differently, because everyone’s perspective is different yet valuable. I’ve always loved working with young people, and every volunteer opportunity I participate in feels like an acknowledgement to all the volunteers that did their best to guide me beyond my own limits when I was younger and still trying to figure out what I could do in this world as someone who was seen as different from everyone else because of my blindness, and I want to do the same for other children and youth who are blind, and their families. My family also never had the amazing resource of other blind people who were older but still from a similar age demographic to turn to for questions or advice, and I want to do my part to make sure that both parents and kids have that absolutely critical resource in their lives, and to be one of those people to the best of my abilities. And all of it is just a pure lot of fun!

Q: What’s your favorite memory or highlight of your involvement with us?
A: I wouldn’t say I have a specific moment I have out of volunteering. There are too many good ones, and they’re all of equal value to me. But every time I have a seemingly minor conversation with a parent or child, and I see them walk away feeling a bit more encouraged, it reminds me again of why I have always and will continue to do this, and those are the best moments.

Thank you for all your enthusiastic energy and support of our mission, Clement!

Kathie

Kathie smiles on a bicycle while behind her rows of pink, red, purple, and yellow flowers bloom in the afternoon sun.Kathie is one of our volunteers whose tireless work behind the scenes helps our organization run as smoothly as it can. She sits on our Board of Directors as well as volunteering for our Fundraising and Finance Committees. Volunteers like Kathie are crucial to our operations, lending us specialized expertise and insight into everything from building policy to developing fundraising activities. We asked Kathie a few questions about her time with us, and you can find those and her answers below.

Q: What in particular interested you in volunteering for Blind Beginnings?
A: To me it is important to use my skills to give back wherever I can. I think that people in general have a lot of untapped potential and as I have had several blind relatives, Blind Beginning’s mandate – “Limitless potential is all we see”, attracted me when I was looking for volunteer opportunities.

Q: What’s your favorite memory or highlight of your involvement with us?
A: There are many but I particularly enjoyed volunteering at our recent Trivia Night. During these COVID times, it was fun to volunteer and interact with people in a virtual way.

Thank you for all your wisdom and time spent in support of our mission, Kathie!

Nika

Nika holds a microphone as she speaks at a Volunteer event.Nika has been a regular part of many of our Youth-run programs and committees for years. She’s a regular and enthusiastic contributor to both the Limitless Blog and Podcast, and has been helping run our online Creating Connections Program during COVID, which has been so key in helping reduce the feeling of social isolation for many of the youth and children we serve. We asked Nika a few questions about her time with us, and you can find those and her answers below.

Q: What in particular interested you in volunteering for Blind Beginnings?
A: I was interested in volunteering for Blind Beginnings and still am because I want to give back to an organization that has helped me so much. When I first joined, it was an opportunity for me to have fun and make new friendships. As I got older and life became more complicated, the various Creating Confidence workshops and support groups were essential for me during that time. I know so many other people will benefit from these programs just like I have, which is why I believe volunteering is so important.

Q: What’s your favorite memory or highlight of your involvement with us?
A: Rather than highlighting a particular event I’d like to highlight an aspect of volunteering which I thoroughly enjoy. I love meeting new people and answering any questions they have. Even though I don’t always have the answers, I hope that my experience can help someone who is struggling with the same things I did. Volunteering with Blind Beginnings has given me the confidence to venture out and seek opportunities in my community as well as giving me the reassurance I needed that I can be successful in University. I will use the skills I’ve learned such as self advocacy or team building to assist me in my future career.

Thank you for all your contributions, Nika, and for lending your voice to help spread our message of Limitless potential!

Candice

Candice, wearing sunglasses, smiles and poses for the camera.Candice is a volunteer for us who sits on our Board of Directors, and has also given her time on the Fundraising Committee, Diversity Committee, and even produced a video for us! Candice has been an invaluable resource and tireless worker for our cause, and we are grateful that we were able to connect with her and her family. We asked Candice a few questions about her time with us, and you can find those and her answers below.

Q: What in particular interested you in volunteering for Blind Beginnings?
A: I’ve been interested and have been volunteering for Blind Beginnings since 2019. At that point, our eldest son, who was born with retina coloboma and is partially sighted, was almost a year old. During the first year of his life, our family felt isolated and overwhelmed with his diagnosis and didn’t know where to turn to, until I saw Shawn’s Facebook post about volunteer opportunities to help with Blind Beginnings’ fundraising events. After learning more about Blind Beginnings’ mission, I knew this was an organization that I wanted to help and get involved in. Our family has been warmly welcomed to this new community that continues to help us. Volunteering on the board, various committees and in whatever capacity best serves the organization, is my small way of giving back.

Q: What’s your favorite memory or highlight of your involvement with us?
A: One of my highlights volunteering with Blind Beginnings was being part of the fundraising committee to help with the first online gala in 2020. Due to the pandemic, we had to postpone the event and quickly change the gala format to an online event scheduled for the fall. What I enjoyed most about the whole experience was everyone coming together to adapt to a changing world, think of creative solutions, have an open mind and take a chance on something new. Our fundraising committee is already busy planning for another exciting online gala this fall in 2021, stay tuned!

Thank you Candice, for your endless enthusiasm and hard work!

Blind Beginnings butterflyOf course these are just a handful of the many volunteers who continue to dedicate their time to Blind Beginnings. We want to thank every single one of our many volunteers, from the bottom of our hearts, for all the work and effort you put in on a regular basis and for your belief in our mission.

Thank you!