A different look at volunteering

Katherine Schneider is a retired clinical psychologist and disability advocate with a new book coming out this fall called “Occupying Aging: Delights, Disabilities and Daily Life.” The two of us have never met face to face, but we’ve come to know each other virtually through blogging. Dr. Schneider’s blog is called Kathie Comments, and I’m pleased to introduce her as a guest blogger on the Easter Seals blog today.

Web of service

by Katherine Schneider, Ph.D.

Woman and her service dog walking through a wooded park

Dr. Katherine Schneider with her Seeing Eye dog, Luna

My volunteer work on National Day of Service this year in honor of the victims of 9/11 gave me time to reflect on the combinations of serving and being served in my life. I am blind and love to cook — and eat! A volunteer drives me to the grocery store every month, and in exchange, the driver gets a free parking spot in my driveway, half a block from campus here at University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire. On the National Day of Service I gave blood at a National Red Cross blood drive, and I was accompanied by my Seeing Eye dog Luna, who serves every day, nobly and selflessly.

I’ve had wonderful opportunities for service, ranging from mentoring blind students to serving on city, county, and state boards. Too often people with disabilities stop themselves from volunteering for several reasons:

  • Nobody asks them,
  • They don’t know where to start,
  • They don’t think they have anything to give.

I think those of us with disabilities are in a unique spot to give help: we know about particular needs and have figured out tricks of the trade to deal with them. I get great joy out of meeting a real human need, and National Day of Service gave me an opportunity to reflect once again on what Rabindranath Tagore says: “I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy.”


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