In October of 2012, I relocated to Atlanta from Orlando. My main reason for such a move was because Atlanta has far better transit than anything I’ve found in Florida. Blind since birth, I knew it would be no easy task to learn my way around, get on with daily functioning, and form new friendships. I was thrilled when I heard that CVI does what they can to provide volunteers, and so placed a call to Lara Tillery, CVI’s Volunteer Coordinator.
Lara and I had a couple of phone conversations and a home visit. I understood that it might take time to obtain a volunteer, since there is a waiting list. I also understood that I might receive a shopper, a visitor, (either or both), and that it might be weekly or only monthly, depending upon volunteer interest and availability.
I sat back and waited. Mail to read, papers to fill out, places to go…I was anxious to get things done and still somewhat lonely for some one or more who would be there for me. There are those who say “Sure, give me a call if you need anything,” but they don’t offer. They don’t say “Hey, I’m going to the store, do you need anything?” or “Hey, we’re grilling tonight, want to come have dinner with us?”
From previous experience with volunteers elsewhere, I expected they would be older people. Nothing wrong with that, I recently turned 60, but I don’t feel it though. So I was pleasantly surprised when I got not only one but two wonderful young women who were in their twenties! One has been here a few times. My paperwork got done in far less time than it takes to build the stress of it piling up. We went and mailed my application to obtain my state massage license. We went to a couple of bakeries for snacks and some coffee (yum)!
I’d just lost my job. This same volunteer stopped by after work. She brought pastries. I fixed some lentil soup. We spent the evening having a great time. We both love music, and so I had been sharing quite a bit of that.
My other volunteer and I just met. She came, took me to Wal-Mart, and helped me find the dough cycle on my bread machine. She looked at a bit of my mail, and helped me get cat and dog hair off a bag that I want to carry food to church. She also talked about a couple of very fun places we can go walking, and also says to call her any time I need something, even if it’s last minute.
I can’t say enough about how important that is to me and to those of us who are blind, to hear someone, so friendly and open, genuinely wanting to help and just enjoying new friendship. So often, it’s public transportation, which has its pros and cons, or arranging with other people, not with such a degree of invitation and freedom! People sometimes say, “Let me know if you need anything,". Even though they might be genuine, they miss the fact that what some of us want (and enjoy) real friendships with people who also happen to be helpful.
Needless to say, I am most appreciative to Lara, to CVI, and to these two wonderful volunteers! Thank you so much!
If you are a CVI client who would like to learn more about CVI's volunteer services or would like to become a CVI volunteer, please visit the Volunteer page.