When I walked into the Ivy Street school for the Massachusetts Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (MABVI) in Brookline a few weeks ago, I didn’t know what to expect. I had signed up for a training session to become a sighted helper for blind people in need, so at most I thought it would be a quick information session with a few pointers about how to assist the blind and visually impaired. I definitely wasn’t expecting the next 3 hours to change my perspective on service and life.
The training session was led by Jen, an inspiring woman who shared with us her own struggles with losing her sight and how she had learned to live life as visually impaired. Her experiences as a member of the blind community had motivated her to become involved with MABVI, and now she spends her time educating people like us about what it’s truly like to be blind or visually impaired and how sighted people can help. As she talked, I got the chance to hear firsthand how difficult it is to be visually impaired, something I had never really thought about before. I learned about the difficulties of getting to work every day (she has a 2+ hour commute on public transportation), navigating crowded theaters, and being an involved and active parent. She shared with us that being visually impaired is more than just having trouble walking around; it impacts every aspect of your life.
As Director of Service for my chapter, I spend a ton of time coordinating service opportunities and speaking with various organizations related to Service for Sight in the Boston area. However, before I attended this training session and heard from Jen, I never really thought about how the service we do as a chapter truly makes a difference in people’s lives. I now know that whenever and however we help is truly making a big difference in the lives of the blind and visually impaired.
Going forward, I would encourage everyone to attend a training session and become a volunteer with MABVI, regardless of whether Service for Sight is a part of your philanthropy. I’m incredibly grateful for Jen and the other people of MABVI for opening my eyes to another side of the blind and visually impaired community, and I can’t wait to be matched with a visually impaired person and start volunteering.
~ Maisie Guzi