“Day of Caring” Project a Highlight for Volunteers and Customers
On Thursday, September 27, 2012, volunteers from one community organization and one business joined Center for Vision Loss customers to celebrate the United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley’s annual “Day of Caring” organized by the Volunteer Center of the Lehigh Valley. This year’s project was a Shopping Day at the Lehigh Valley Mall. Each volunteer was paired with a customer who is blind or visually impaired. The volunteers first learned the techniques of how to be an effective sighted guide then met their companions at the Mall where they shopped, strolled, chatted, laughed and lunched together.
The 9-member volunteer team consisted of 8 staff members from the United Way’s Community Impact Team and one staff member from Aetna. The United Way Community Impact Team is responsible for managing the investments in the community in the areas of Education, Older Adults and Basic Needs. The Aetna representative works in Aetna’s National Accounts, Dedicated Patient Management.
After the “Day” ended, we couldn’t tell who was happier with their experiences–the volunteers or our customers! On the volunteer side we received comments such as this one from Kayla Lovallo, the United Way’s COMPASS Community School Outreach Coordinator/AmericCorps VISTA: “I thought it was an amazing experience. It is great knowing that you are making a difference in someone’s life [if] only for a short period of time. My client simply just wanted to hang out and enjoy the day with good company. It was great just spending time with him, learning about each other, and having meaningful conversations.” Aetna’s Renee Golaszewski stated that “I want to thank your organization for the opportunity to participate in the Day of Caring as it was the most personally rewarding contribution I have done in a very long time although I believe that every day should be a day of caring for our fellow man/woman.”
The shopping project is developed and directed by Rita Lang, the Center for Vision Loss’s Manager of Innovative Programs and Volunteer Coordinator. Rita shared that the loss of indepedence is probably the most negative feeling about vision loss. “When you can no longer just jump into your car to go shopping whenever you please, you can understand that a day at the Mall spent leisurely walking, shopping, going to the spa, lunching and meeting a new friend is so important to our customers,” she said. “Our shopping project helps many of our customers avoid isolation by providing an upbeat, fun experience that restores their self-confidence and their quality of life.”
The Center for Vision Loss thanks everyone who participated in this year’s “Day of Caring” and created a meaningful experience for all.