Mahatma Ghandi once said “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” Are you being that change? Do you see the impact you have on another’s life?
At CVI, there are many ways you can volunteer your time--many ways you can make an impact. One of those ways is to be a friendly visitor to a client. What is a friendly visitor you ask? A friendly visitor is a volunteer that visits a visually impaired client once or twice a month to read their mail, help pay bills, assist with labeling canned goods, take a walk in the neighborhood and most importantly, have conversation. This service is very important to our clients since many of them are homebound or isolated. Having someone stop by even for friendly conversation can make a tremendous difference. This one on one volunteer activity is an excellent way to see the impact you are having on another’s life. Let me share an example from an event that occurred about two years ago.
One of CVI’s volunteers was visiting one of our senior clients. He visited her about twice a month to help her read her mail, pay bills and talk. While going through her mail, he noticed some discrepancies on her bank statement. He immediately alerted the client. Money was being withdrawn from her account. The client was understandably concerned. The volunteer, with permission from the client, contacted her bank and the major credit agencies to alert them of possible fraud. That same weekend the volunteer emailed me a very long email documenting everything that he found and the steps he had taken to that point. I quickly emailed the volunteer back thanking him for everything he had done and for keeping me in the loop. I promised I would call the client first thing on Monday morning. When I spoke with her that Monday morning, she was very upset. She had hired a caretaker to come in to her home and help clean her house, prepare food etc…What the client didn’t know was that the caretaker was stealing checks from her and account numbers to both her savings and checking account. The caretaker had also set up a car payment to be automatically withdrawn from the client’s account every month. I left work, picked the client up, drove her to her bank and then to the police department to file a report. A detective was assigned to her case.
When all was said and done, this client had over $10,000 stolen from her life savings. Fortunately, however, she was able to have all of the money returned. If it wasn’t for the volunteer discovering this discrepancy and setting the wheels in motion, who knows what would have happened to the client and her life savings. This client is forever in her volunteer’s debt for coming to her aid. And the volunteer saw firsthand the difference he was able to make in her life.
The volunteer has since moved, changed jobs and started a family, but maintains contact with the client on a regular basis. Both individuals have forged a friendship that goes beyond volunteering. I shared this story with you to illustrate the impact that this one volunteer had on a client. This week, we celebrate National Volunteer Week. National Volunteer Week is about inspiring, acknowledging and encouraging people to seek out ways to engage in their community. It’s about demonstrating that by working together, we have the tenacity to meet our challenges and accomplish our goals. It is about taking action by actively demonstrating your collective power to make a difference. It is about being the change you wish to see in this world.
Are you willing to take that step to be the change you want to see? Are you interested in volunteering at CVI? If so, check out the volunteer page on the CVI website for more information.