Volunteering can make everyone's lives a little richer
NEWMARKET, ON, April 8, 2019 /CNW/ - "Volunteering makes me feel connected to something bigger than just myself," explained Tiffany Barker, board member and chair of the Client Services Committee at DeafBlind Ontario Services.
Six years ago, when she was first approached about a board role, Tiffany admits she knew little about the deafblind community and the unique supports DeafBlind Ontario Services provides.
DeafBlind Ontario Services is a not-for-profit organization that helps individuals with deafblindness increase their independence and improve their quality of life through specialized services. Their volunteer board of directors, consisting of members like Tiffany, are responsible for providing strategic leadership, and ensuring the organization's mission, vision, and values are at the core of everything they do.
"I started learning more and was very excited to get involved. As a new board member, I had the honour of touring one of DeafBlind Ontario Services' locations… I will never forget that day! I was impressed by the individualized program plans and the breadth of planning that went into the accessible design of the house. As a nurse, I have been in many care facilities, but none has felt or looked like this one. It is truly a home."
Tiffany also learned more about deafblindness, a combined loss of hearing and vision that impacts access to information, communication, as well as mobility. The number of individuals who are deafblind in Canada is 368, 412. This number is based on prevalence estimates of 1% (average number based on all age groups) using Census 2016 population data.
"At first, I was unaware of the important role that intervenors play in the lives of people with deafblindness," explained Tiffany.
Individuals with deafblindness have the capacity to build their life skills, gain independence and contribute to the greater community with the support of professional intervenors. The philosophy of DeafBlind Ontario Services' intervenors is "do with, not for". They work with people with deafblindness, helping them learn through experience, empowering them to make informed decisions and be active participants in all areas of their lives.
"As I learned more about the work of the organization and got to know some of the employees and management team, I saw how committed and driven they are. I have learned a lot about how passion, innovative thinking, and diligence can lead to success."
A year after joining the board, Tiffany made the move out west to British Columbia. "Even though I was moving across the country, I requested to stay on the board of directors. Although I am geographically far, I haven't felt disconnected… video conferencing for meetings is great; it's nice to see people 'face-to-face'."
Volunteering is often seen as a selfless act; a person gives their time, skills, experience, and passion to help others, without expecting anything in return. And while volunteering is a form of service, many volunteers will tell you that "you get more than you give". "Giving to others is something that I strive to do and volunteering one's time is such an important way to give. It makes me feel happy and valued at the same time", said Tiffany.
"Being a nurse and working in the area of Public Health and Health Promotion, I care deeply about the work DeafBlind Ontario Services does to advocate, support, and enrich the lives of people with deafblindness. I relate to the values of the organization and recognize the importance of their work. Volunteering with DeafBlind Ontario Services is a good 'fit' for me."
"Our volunteers, like Tiffany, are so important to our entire team, especially to the people we support. Her dedication to the board and community-minded spirit are at the heart of what volunteerism is all about," said DeafBlind Ontario Services' Chief Executive Officer, Roxanna Spruyt-Rocks.
Tiffany is one of 12.7 million volunteers making a difference in Canada. This National Volunteer Week, April 7-13, join Volunteer Canada in celebrating and recognizing the contributions of volunteers in our communities. "It is important to contribute in big and small ways; together we can make everyone's lives a little richer," explained Tiffany.
For thirty years, DeafBlind Ontario Services has been enriching lives, one touch at a time for individuals with deafblindness. Since their beginning in 1989, they have made it their mission to inspire the spirit and determination of the people they support. To learn more about how you can make a difference, visit www.deafblindontario.com.
1 Open Your Eyes and Ears – To Estimates of Canadian Individuals with Deafblindness and Age-Related Dual Sensory Loss, 2018
SOURCE DeafBlind Ontario Services