Blind woman seeks a special volunteer
By CRISTINA KUMKA
STAFF WRITER | December 06,2012
Vicki Vest knows all too well what one of her clients with The Vermont Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired is going through in finding a volunteer companion.
Vest, the volunteer coordinator for the Rutland office of the association, is legally blind herself.
She described feeling trapped, isolated and dependent on others.
“I’ve lived it my whole life,” Vest said. “If you have another person in your household who can drive, it’s easy, but if you don’t, you don’t know how you are going to get anything to survive.”
Vest’s blind client, an unidentified Rutland area woman, is looking for a special kind of volunteer during this holiday season and beyond — to take her to grocery stores and doctor appointments.
It might sound like a simple task, but to Vest’s client it means friendship and someone to rely on.
“She wants a person who wants to drive just for her,” Vest said.
She described the woman as needing a “sighted guide” who can not only drive but help in getting groceries from the shelves.
“There is a comfort level in that, having the same person to rely on and start a relationship with,” Vest said. “It becomes a friend more than your helper.”
There are roughly 10,500 visually impaired people in Vermont and the Rutland office of the VABVI serves 94 clients.
Thirty of those Rutland-area clients need volunteer help with transportation.
There are only eight active local volunteers, Vest said.
“We would like to increase the active pool to about 15, needing seven more volunteers,” she said.
Two of those new volunteers would be asked to take care of the same person, rather than picking up different clients each week.
The application process includes a driving record and background check, and volunteers get a mileage reimbursement for the use of their cars.
A press release about the search for volunteers states: “If you are fortunate enough not to need our services, perhaps you would enjoy helping those who are less fortunate ... the rewards are plentiful and you will be helping a person to maintain their independence.”
If you can help or would like more information, call toll-free at 1-877-350-8839.