New Year’s Resolution to Volunteer?

Six MABVI volunteers are gathered at the MABVI office in Brookline.

MABVI volunteers

Have a New Year’s resolution to give back? Ever considered volunteering for a blind or visually impaired person? Hear what our MABVI volunteers have to say about volunteering:

“At first, I just got the pleasure of giving back,” one volunteer said. “I hadn’t done much volunteer work before. I was busy building a life, and a career, and having a family. Then I started helping June, helping with her correspondence, sometimes with her checkbook, filling out forms. Neighbor helping neighbor. It’s simple things, but it gives me a feeling of community and connectedness that I really value. I look forward to the time we spend together. She’s my friend.”

Watch a video of a volunteer

People volunteer for many different reasons. “I had a family member with a disability (not blindness, though), and I understand some of the difficulties blind and other ‘differently abled’ people face,” said volunteer Erica. “I wanted to volunteer with an individual – rather than, say, serve in a policy role or on a committee in an organization – because of the direct impact I could have on someone’s life. When I started volunteering, I was going through a difficult time, so I wanted to ‘get out of myself’ and become involved in a different world, one in which I could help others.”

Volunteers often form long-lasting friendships with the individuals they work with. “It has given me and my wife an opportunity to form a very good family relation with the person I work with as a volunteer. I have also benefitted by being exposed to an individual with a superior mind,” says volunteer Stan.

“I have become friends with the blind woman with whom I volunteer,” Erica says. “We have many interests in common.”

As much as volunteers help the person with answering mail or grocery shopping – every day tasks of daily life – MABVI volunteers say they benefit from the experience as well. “I have learned to see things (albeit to a limited extent) from her perspective, which is often through the sense of touch,” Erica says. “I touch my clothing, my jewelry, my face, and perceive them in a new and fuller way.”

For more information on how you can become a volunteer, visit our website.

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About mabvi

Pressing Need The number of seniors with low vision is expected to double by 2030, as the “baby boomers” experience sight loss such as glaucoma, cataracts, diabetic retinopathy and macular degeneration. Low vision makes it difficult to complete activities of daily living, puts elders at increased risk of falls, and complicates health care compliance. There is a pressing need for low vision services today more than ever, to ensure people with vision loss can continue to live the lives they want. Elders are the fastest-growing and most vulnerable population of persons with sight loss. Four of the five major causes of blindness are directly related to the aging process: age related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and cataracts. According to data published by the Commission for the Blind and the National Society for the Prevention of Blindness, there are an estimated 105,000 elders in Massachusetts with serious sight loss who cannot receive state-funded services because they are not “legally blind.” Nevertheless, their vision impairment is serious, and without appropriate intervention, can have a devastating impact on their independence.

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