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Search and Rescue: What An Opportunity!

In my life I have been in many positions that have provided me with volunteer opportunities and unique experiences. I have found that volunteering is a wonderful way to "give back to your community" and a very good way to help yourself and others. Being a totally blind individual, it of course was difficult to penetrate into the inner workings of some organizations, but I was successful with one such organization, and later many more.

The most interesting place where I volunteered was Search and Rescue (S&R) in the beautiful Kootenays, located in the southeast corner of British Columbia. I helped with small "blurbs" aired on local radio stations that informed the community of S&R fundraisers, community displays and upcoming events, as well as searches. I also wrote regular articles for community papers outlining the need for volunteers and volunteering benefits, not to mention profiling some volunteers themselves.

After about six months, S&R had me help with scheduling/calling, where I had a list of all the group members, and I contacted them once the first calls came in from the emergency team (police, fire and ambulance). I made sure that teams were put together for each emergency.

I also made coffee for trainings and when rescue points had to be set up for long searches.

I found this to be both a heart wrenching and fulfilling volunteer position. We went on many searches and, as you can well imagine, with different outcomes. There were even humorous searches, which helped me in my article writing to keep things on a lighter note.

Later, through my paid job, I again had an opportunity to work with S&R in order to provide team building. In an organization that deals with crisis, as well as with the politics involved in funding and keeping such a critical organization alive, it can at times be difficult to keep that "team" intact, which is so important.

I truly believe, again, that this was one of the most interesting and fulfilling volunteer opportunities I have had.

I can't say enough on how important volunteering is, especially in the "blindness" community, because it helps to develop skills, meet people, and develop the connections needed when looking for paid positions.

Volunteering also shows a true sense of community. It helps you feel like you "belong" and gives you that sense of accomplishment. Anything involving a "team" is beneficial for everyone, as teams help with growth in all areas.

Enjoy your experiences and take control of your life through all the means available. Remember, you have the abilities!

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