My job at Easter Seals Headquarters just started a program called Outside In that gives employees up to one week of on-the-clock (paid!) time to volunteer for another non-profit organization. The idea is to learn what’s going on “outside” of Easter Seals and bring ideas from the experience back “in.”
One of my co-workers used the Outside In hours to work with a non-profit organization called The Five Project to help train people with autism in Shaanxi, China. Another volunteered in El Salvador with an organization called ENLACE to build a road that will help farmers transport crops and allow kids to walk to school safely.
Whitney and I are sticking closer to home. Next weekend the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) and the Wounded Heroes Foundation are sponsoring a sports camp in Chicago specially designed for injured military personnel with physical disabilities. From the RIC Life Center web site:
Elite level coaches will teach wounded veterans a variety of sports, including sitting volleyball, archery, sled hockey, power lifting, wheelchair basketball, judo, kayaking, tennis, rowing, cycling, field, and swimming.
The camp sounded interesting to me for a variety of reasons, so I wrote Alex Spencer, the Wirtz Sports Intern at RIC, to let him know that I was interested in volunteering. I explained that I am blind and use a Seeing Eye dog, and warned that he might not want to enlist me to help at the archery range. Alex wrote back with all sorts of ideas, finally settling on having us help with Food/Hydration/General Assistance. I’m looking forward to camp, especially after reading this little tidbit on the volunteer orientation information they sent out last week:
-HAVE FUN! Sure, we all have a job to do, but who says we can’t have fun while doing it?! This camp is a great opportunity to show how much we appreciate those who serve our country. Feel free to mingle with the athletes and get to know them a bit.
And gee, as much as I hate to miss our weekly hourlong meeting at work, I think somehow we’ll manage to have fun at camp. Let’s just hope I can stop Whitney from fetching the tennis balls and jumping into Lake Michigan to chase the kayaks while we’re there.