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Lighting up someone’s darkness

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Do you remember the last time you got stuck in a power outage away from your flashlight?

You probably stumbled around a bit, and cursed more than you’d care to admit, as you stumbled around in the shadows not being to make out anything with your eyes.

That’s a lot like what being blind is like, noted Louise Michaud, co-ordinator of district volunteer services for the Canadian National Institute of the Blind.

But in a way, being a volunteer helps disperse some of the darkness.

Michaud came to Fort Frances on Monday to perform a service day for CNIB clients in the area, bringing talking clocks, high powered closed-circuit magnifying devices, and other items you can’t buy in local stores.

But perhaps more important than the service day at Sister Kennedy Centre was the volunteer orientation later that night at St. Francis School, given volunteers today are a rare commodity.

“In Fort Frances, we have a few people that do a lot but we need a few more," Michaud stressed. "It’s safe to say we have a shortage.”

People can give their time anywhere from half a day a month to three hours a week to half a day every day of the week. Michaud said the CNIB tries to be very flexible with its volunteers.

“We can still use you," she said. ”The CNIB supports its volunteers by giving them training that they think they need.

“Nobody has no qualifications," she added. "They just don’t know what they are yet.”

After a criminal record check, all candidates are interviewed to help determine what kind of volunteer position is most suitable for them—from driving people to doctors’ appointments to just visiting.

“We have people from all years and [trades] and we have a variety of places to put volunteers,” Michaud said, noting the only requirement was all volunteers had to be at least 14 years of age.

If you are interested in volunteering for the CNIB, contact Michaud at 1-800-441-3337 or call the Fort Frances Volunteer Bureau (274-9555).

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