Julia & Juliette: A volunteer and a VI dancer’s bond

Hi! I’m Julia Wiener and I love MABVI!

I’ve been volunteering for a year now, ever since a Teen Community Service fair at the Chestnut Hill Mall. I remember looking around at all the different programs, and signing up for just about everything. However, I have a very busy schedule with school, sports and extracurricular activities that take up a great deal of my day. As each organization responded, I was disappointed to realize that I didn’t have time for anything. I soon realized how flexible MABVI is. Any couple of hours that were convenient for me, worked with them!

Before being matched up, I remember thinking, “Okay, I’ll just be helping someone out once a week.” This is true, but my expectations were very much exceeded. I really enjoyed helping my match and found myself making more and more time for MABVI volunteering.

I was set up with a woman named Juliette. I still meet her at the library, once a week for two hours. I help her check her e-mail, grade papers and write quizzes for the ESL class she teaches, and with any other small tasks with which she needs assistance. This has shown me how tasks that seem simple to me, such as checking my e-mail, can be very difficult for some people. I no longer take for granted my eyesight, and I’m so happy for the opportunity to share it.

As an individual, Juliette really impresses me. She is a visually impaired belly dance choreographer, which is so cool! She organizes performances and I help her put things up on Facebook and on belly dance group calendars. She’s even used her dance troupe for fundraisers. Her disability doesn’t stop her from anything! She’s so nice and easy to talk to. When I first met her, I was actually surprised. Juliette doesn’t have a cane, and I likely wouldn’t have recognized her as visually impaired.

Julia (left) volunteers for Juliette.

Julia (left) volunteers for Juliette.

Juliette once told me about her visual impairment; she lost a lot of her eyesight from ages 10 to 20. I can’t even imagine how terrifying that is, to see less and less over time, especially when you’re trying to grow up and go through high school and college. She’s explained that when she looks at me, everything is blurry. She can focus in on my eyes, but the rest of my face hazes out. I find Juliette so strong and interesting. Sometimes we just get sidetracked and start talking about the most random things! She’s really fun to be around.

I still meet with Juliette every week and look forward to spending time with her and at MABVI throughout the next year until I head off to college. Being set up with a match led me to what I’m doing this summer: volunteering at Perkins and MABHab in addition to MABVI. Some of the people I work with at MABHab are mentally disabled so we work on things like cooking and drawing pictures. Last week we had a fashion show which was very cute. I have met some of the sweetest and most incredible people through these volunteer opportunities, all thanks to MABVI!

Post written by Julia, MABVI Volunteer.