Meet Natasha. Natasha has volunteered for CNIB in Ottawa since 2013. During her time here, she has made phone calls to donors on behalf of the CNIB, and has taken on the role of receptionist in order to relieve staff. Since the end of April 2014, Natasha has been working as the receptionist for half a day, once a week.
Photo: CNIB volunteer Natasha
Here's the first in a series of interviews with our volunteers about their experience with CNIB.
Q: What compelled you to start volunteering at CNIB?
Natasha: When thinking about medical school as a future, the health care experience most people try to get before applying is generally in hospitals, doctor clinics, etc. Even though I do have experience in those areas, I really like the idea of gaining experience in more unexpected and unique areas of health care, such as CNIB, counselling services, smoking cessation groups, etc. where people’s lives are being changed for the better with the same amount (if not, more) of compassion and care as if they were in a hospital. A lot of people underestimate and undervalue organizations such as CNIB and I wanted to be a part of this amazing group of helpers.
Q: What do you do when you’re not volunteering with CNIB?
N: I’m pretty busy! During the school year, I attend the University of Guelph. I am about to enter my fourth year of a Biological Sciences degree and I am applying to medical school this year as well. Throughout the school year, I jog outside a lot, play soccer, volunteer at an elementary school, volunteer at the school Health and Performance Centre, work for the Prep101 MCAT prep course company and study to keep my grades up! During this summer while home in Ottawa, I volunteer at a Heart Institute Research Lab, volunteer at the Civic hospital, travel, play a standardized patient in medical school exams, exercise a lot and continue to prepare my medical school application!
Q: What was your first reaction when you heard about CNIB and what we do?
N: My first reaction was realizing how many people use the various resources the CNIB offers, and how important CNIB is to its many clients! A lot of young people do not know much at all about CNIB, and when I learned more about all that it offers, I was so impressed with how a non-profit organization with so many volunteers can change so many lives not only physically and functionally through products, but through compassionate counselling, care and unfailing friendliness.
Q: What makes you continue volunteering? Was the experience what you expected?
N:The friendliness of the staff and volunteers at the CNIB makes me look forward to my volunteer shift. Everyone is so helpful and nice and I feel comfortable and at home here! The amazing people here made my experience better than what I expected; I can’t say enough good things about them! There aren’t many opportunities for an undergraduate student like myself to directly help clients in the same way that a fully trained doctor, nurse or specialist can, however when helping clients at the CNIB, I feel like I am making a difference and that our clients really appreciate the help, whether it be in person or on the phone.
Q: What has been the best experience you’ve had during your time at CNIB?
N: I think the best experience was meeting the different people with vision loss, whether they are clients or employees/volunteers here. I am always so impressed with how people adapt to a new way of life whether it be with special glasses or gadgets, a service dog, support person, learning braille, etc. I really enjoyed learning from the independent living skills specialists about the different gadgets and appliances people can use in their homes! The tool that you touch against something to learn its colour is one of my favourites! So cool!
Q: Is there anything you would like others to know about volunteering with CNIB?
N: People should know that the people at CNIB work so hard and always with a smile on their face. Literally! Everyone should also remember that there are resources out there just like CNIB that can be extremely helpful to people with various health difficulties, no matter how “small” they may seem. Many people simply are not aware of what resources are available to them, and the discovery of some of these resources can change their life. Volunteering here makes me feel like a part of that amazing change.
Thanks to Natasha for sharing her experience! Join our team of amazing volunteers today! Visit our website to find local volunteer opportunities, or call 1-800-563-2642 and ask to be connected with your local volunteer coordinator.