Charitable organizations have been a love and passion of mine since I was a very young adult. It didn’t start off that way initially. When I was in high school my guidance counselor encouraged me to do some volunteer work to enhance my resume and college applications. But it didn’t take much time for me to recognize the value and importance these organizations had on my life and community.
Giving to Charities Changed Focus
When I entered college I kept volunteering for the happiness and satisfaction it gave me. This mindset continued even after I went blind. However, it shifted and became more laser focused. Instead of just randomly volunteering or donating to the major charities , I gave my time and money to the ones that helped me the most. Perhaps I was being a little selfish but I wanted to give only to disabled nonprofits. It was my way of showing gratitude.
You see it all the time at charity events and in their marketing materials. There is a person sharing this powerful story of how this organization helped them and why you should too. These stories are impactful and highly influential. Now, let me give you some personal examples of what I mean.
1. Giving Back by Mentoring
One of the first ways I gave back was mentoring young people at the Center for the Visually Impaired, a vision rehabilitation center. It was a one-on-one relationship with a blind teenager who also had multiple sclerosis. I was in a program for blind adults and children that mimicked the Boys and Girls Club. I was matched with a male student and for a year or two I was his mentor. We met together for meals, family gatherings and even dinner and a Christmas play.
Then I mentored another high school student. But it was online not in person. She actually found me through the American Foundation for the Blind’s CareerConnect, a website for blind job seekers. I was a registered career mentor and she wanted guidance and support with figuring out life after high school. We regularly talked on the phone and through email. Ironically, she lived in the same city I grew up in. So, I gladly traveled back home to meet her in person and attend her high school graduation.
2. Giving Back with My Journalism Skills
I love writing and thought it would be a good way to give to my community. Since 2013 I have been a volunteer blogger with VisionAware. This is an online resource for people with vision loss. When dealing with a disability it is important to share stories of others who can relate. So, the blog features those of us who are already blind and how we live our lives. I have contributed blog posts on working, cooking, traveling, voting and socializing.
Another way I used my journalism skills was volunteering at a nonprofit radio station. The Georgia Radio Reading Service is where printed materials are read over the air to a blind audience. I hosted and produced a show called Eye on Blindness for about 3 years. I interviewed guests in the blind community on a variety of topics.
3. Giving Back with Monetary Donations
Nonprofits and charities need financial gifts to keep their services and programs available to the community. I am by no means the wealthiest person alive, but I do give monetarily. The Hadley Institute for the Blind and Visually Impaired is one such organization. They help blind and visually impaired people worldwide through remote educational courses. I have boosted my braille, typing and LinkedIn skills through them. I have also taken advantage of their many online workshops, discussion groups and podcasts. So, it was a no-brainer for me to financially contribute to them.
This is the season for giving to charities and I encourage you to do so. There are many ways you can be supportive. Volunteering your time, talents or by monetary donation. We need them in our community, society and the world.