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AFBAmerican Foundation®
for the Blind

Expanding possibilities for people with vision loss

Finding Volunteer Positions As an Individual Who Is Blind or Visually Impaired

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Did you read the 8 Work-Related Benefits of Volunteering for Job Seekers Who are Blind or Visually Impaired? Did you find yourself saying, "Shannon" (I'm glad you said Shannon, because we're on a first-name basis), "I like the idea of volunteering, but what kind of volunteer position should I get? How do I get a volunteer position?"

I'm glad you asked. This blog post is for you.

Read through these helpful tips on finding a volunteer position; it's à la carte (just like a pick-and-choose hot lunch in middle school, only better), so take the advice you need to hear and leave the rest for others.

When considering a volunteer position that would be a good fit for you...

  • Inventory your interests. Write them down and dig deep. When you think you've written all your interests, write more. Self-awareness is a great starting place for finding volunteer or paid work that meshes with you.
  • Inventory your values. Consider all the causes you would want to benefit with your time and talents. Literacy? Children with terminal illness? Youth athletics? Art in schools? Racial equality? Educating the public on blindness and visual impairments? Quality time with foster children? Reading to the elderly? Feeding the hungry? Environmental protection? Animal care? Keep thinking. There are numerous worthy causes.
  • Inventory your skills. What can you contribute to the cause(s) or people? Examples: reading to others, playing with children, walking or feeding animals, preparing or serving food, talking with others, writing, gardening, administrative work, answering telephones, cleaning, presenting, crocheting, repairing malfunctioning technology (for the record, I do not have this skill), medical expertise, legal advice, photography, etc.
  • If you are using volunteer work to prepare you for paid work, list the skills you would like to learn and/or practice through volunteering. What types of volunteer activities will best train and equip you for your professional goals?
  • Think through your limitations. Maybe it's your restricted availability, inefficient use of assistive technology, or inaccessible public transportation. Problem solve: What volunteer positions can you participate in regardless of your limitations? Is there a position that can help you to improve or provide the motivation to improve a limitation?

Now that you know what types of activities would be a good fit, here are volunteer-position-seeking tips...whew, that's a mouthful!

  • Talk with those in your social network. Does your neighbor or church friend work at a location in which you would like to volunteer? Ask about the agency, ask about gaps that need to be filled, and ask who you can contact about filling a gap.
  • Search the Internet for local volunteer opportunities that match your interests, values, skills, and professional goals. Peruse volunteer-matching websites such as the American Red Cross and volunteer wanted ads.
  • Make cold calls. If you know right where you want to volunteer, call the agency. Let them know how you can be of service. Ask if you can meet up to discuss a volunteer position or ask if you can be e-mailed a volunteer application. Send the completed application back with a cover letter.

You got the "job"? Send a thank-you letter to anyone who helped to connect you with the position.

If you have tips for finding a volunteer position, leave it in the comments section!

If you are a teacher working with students who are blind or visually impaired, utilize the Volunteering lesson plan to assist your students in finding a volunteer position.


Topics:
Planning for the Future
Employment
Education
Transition
Social Skills
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