Giving Back Throughout the Pandemic: Volunteers at the Council

A woman with a large gardening hat smiles in a selfie with a garden behind her.Volunteer Denise Williamson has been tending the Council’s
outdoor spaces for several years.


Volunteers, including Council board members, have played a direct role in its mission throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. The 15 volunteers and board members who have volunteered from March through June have collectively logged more than 400 hours of service. They say they get back more than they give through their volunteer work.

“I enjoy contributing to a cause that is important to me,” says Denise Williamson, a volunteer who tends the garden beds around the Council building. “I love to be outside and I do not have a garden of my own, so gardening for the Council fulfills those needs for me.”

Volunteers also play a role in doing computer admin work and recording Council publications. Volunteer Peter Kaufman most recently recorded the Spring 2020 Courier and recent issues of the On Sight enewsletter. He says that reading material out loud has been a new way of volunteering for him.

“I have found it helpful to read the pieces through before I start the recording,” says Peter. “It has been an interesting challenge. I help out in any way I can and I believe in the mission of the Council. Volunteering fills my time and makes me feel good because I am giving back.”

Board members Patty Slaby and Rhonda Staats assist with the Council’s advocacy work as members of the Wisconsin Disability Vote Coalition, of which the Council is a member organization.

“It makes me feel good when I can work as part of a group on a project and see the end result,” says Patty. “I know there is a real need in Wisconsin to advocate for people who are blind or visually impaired. It has always been a very positive experience helping with that work in any way that is needed.”

Rhonda Staats, Council board secretary, says that volunteering for the Council through the pandemic has not brought about many changes in the way she gives back. The Council holds its board meetings online via Zoom to accommodate for a statewide board, as opposed to meeting in-person.

“I thrive on being part of a group whose focus amplifies and extends my volunteer activities,” says Rhonda. “I enjoy being a member of such a thriving, effective and mission-focused organization. I know my individual volunteer efforts have a larger impact when combined with others.”

Chris Richmond, Council board chair, reflects on the role leaders play as they head up volunteer boards during a pandemic.

“During the pandemic, leaders need to remember that everyone processes change differently,” Chris points out. “What one person may view as a welcome re-ordering of their daily routine someone else may find difficult and challenging. Volunteering helps clarify our values by focusing on things that are truly important to us. It helps to give us a sense of purpose. Being motivated by something other than monetary compensation is a virtue to which we all should strive.”

The Council thanks these and all volunteers for assisting in the forward momentum of the work impacting the lives of people who are blind or visually impaired throughout Wisconsin. Your generosity is deeply appreciated.

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