Saying ‘Thank You’ During National Volunteer Month

Sara Werbeckes snuggling with her dog Murphy on a sofa
Council volunteer Sara Werbeckes and her dog Murphy

Over the years, the Council has benefited greatly from the efforts of our many volunteers. Every April, we honor their contributions by recognizing National Volunteer Month. In 2021, volunteers clocked in over 760 hours for the Council. Here’s a sampling of what they did:

  • Created audio recordings of publications, including the Council Courier, On Sight and our Annual Report
  • Cleaned and repaired brailling equipment
  • Gardened
  • Assembled information packets for special events
  • Supported staff by preparing donated laptops, reviewing data and spreadsheets and more.
  • Served on the board of directors and participating in various work groups, including the Scholarship Work Group

National Volunteer Week began in Canada in 1943 as a way to honor the women who supported war efforts on the homefront. The idea was embraced in the U.S in 1974, and it was expanded to National Volunteer Month in 1990.

Sara Werbeckes has worn several different volunteer hats for the Council. She has helped with photography in the past, and then after moving to Minneapolis she began volunteering remotely during the height of the COVID pandemic. Using free audio software called Audacity, Sara recorded the Council Couriers, the annual reports, and more.

“I was happy to be able to help in my free time during the lockdown, and to do it safely from my home,” Sara says. “It’s a good feeling to know that a simple hour of lending my voice can help so many people stay updated on the great work the Council does.”

To Sara and the rest of our wonderful volunteers, we say a big THANK YOU! If you’re interested in volunteering your time to help advance the Council’s mission, we have some opportunities available right now:

  • We’re seeking a bilingual Spanish-English speaker to translate product descriptions on our Sharper Vision Store website into Spanish.
  • We are also recruiting people to apply to join our board of directors a bit later this year. People who are blind or visually impaired are strongly encouraged to apply.

If you’re interested in becoming a Council volunteer, contact Kathleen Callen at 608-237-8120 or

Many other organizations could use your help as well. You can find other opportunities at

As with paying jobs, people with vision loss may face unnecessary barriers when pursuing volunteer opportunities. Some employers are likely to make incorrect assumptions about the capabilities of volunteers who are visually impaired. In those instances, it’s important to stay positive, advocate for yourself, and help the people at those organizations better understand how effectively you can contribute with the appropriate accommodations.

Volunteering is a wonderful way to serve your community, and you might even make some new friends along the way. It’s win-win!

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