MVPs of NBP: Spotlight on our Volunteers

 

Eagle Investments volunteers collating Frozen

Eagle Investments volunteers collating Frozen

The end of the year is a great time to celebrate and honor the communities to which we belong. Whether by giving gifts to loved ones, donating canned goods, or baking cookies for a social gathering, now is a perfect moment to think about how you can give back.

National Braille Press is fortunate to have a group of people– 325 to be exact–who give back all year round: our volunteers.

The gifts of volunteers’ time, enthusiasm, and hard work keep National Braille Press’s mission alive and well.

Volunteers put together each month’s Children’s Braille Book Club selection.

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One Boston Day volunteers with Froggy Gets Dressed

They assist at events like the A Million Laughs for Literacy Gala, ushering guests and collecting auction bids.

Volunteers man the front desk, serving as the first point of contact to callers and visitors to NBP.

Volunteers stuff envelopes for mailings, recruit Literacy Champions, paint the side of our building, and so much more!

A few hours of time dedicated to NBP add up and help us continue our mission. Our volunteers have put together over one million pages of print/braille books and contributed over 2,500 hours of service!

Volunteers also raised tens of thousands of dollars for NBP through running the Boston Marathon and the Blindfold Challenge.

Their dedication is vital to keeping braille materials affordable for blind children and adults.

Volunteering at NBP is a lot of fun as well! It’s a great way to bond with colleagues outside the office. You can make new friends with folks who also value accessibility during projects. And some volunteers have even turned collating braille books into an unconventional date!

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Tufts Health Plan volunteers with Interrupting Chicken

Nonprofits around Boston rely on volunteers for tasks ranging from mentoring to serving meals. NBP is no different—and our volunteers get the chance to say that they personally helped put together 300 or 400 books for blind children. Volunteering with us could be a great conversation starter at your next social gathering, and an opportunity to share the importance of braille with someone else.

Consider joining our volunteer team of over 325 strong by emailing volunteer@nbp.org.

And to our current volunteers, thank you for being a part of the NBP community. Thank you for your investment in braille literacy and commitment to the projects. Your time and contribution makes a big difference.

We look forward to seeing you again in 2017!

Who’s Leading Who? Guide Dogs, Stereotypes, and Joy

When I started working at National Braille Press almost ten years ago, I had very little knowledge about braille or the blindness community. I was drawn to NBP because I love to read and was shocked that there was so little material available in braille. NBP’s mission was a social justice issue for me.

But I worried a bit about how best to convey that message.  I wanted to get the tone right and not pander to stereotypes that may raise money but do NOT raise awareness.

Liooking Out for SarahThen I read a speech that Diane Croft had given at the Guide Dog Users of Massachusetts Award Dinner on a print/braille book NBP produced called Looking Out for Sarah. The speech was addressed to Glenna Lang, the author, and her guide dog.  It resonated with me and changed my thinking forever.

Here is an excerpt of what Diane wrote:

I have lived through three movements: civil rights, women’s rights, and disability rights.  In all three cases much has changed and much remains the same.

And so, when a children’s book on blindness crosses my desk, I brace myself. Even after 20* years in the field, I am astonished to see the same age-old stereotypes that permeate our society reflected, either subtly or profoundly, within the images and text of a book. To be honest, when I saw the title Looking Out for Sarah, I wondered if this would be another book where someone “looks after” a blind adult.

But then I read the opening sentence: “In the early morning light…”

I assume you know with those five words you broke through one of the oldest and most deeply entrenched stereotypes–namely, that blind people live in the dark.

The book continues:

“Perry felt Sarah stirring about him…he waited eagerly for her feet to touch the floor.”

The reader feels an immediate sense of anticipation and even joy at the start of a new day. For the most part, sighted people do no equate blindness with joy.

Throughout the book, the question of who is looking after whom fluctuates between Sarah and Perry. How wonderful you didn’t err in either direction. Perry looks out for overhanging branches, but it’s Sarah who initiates their adventuresome cross-country journey.

Your important book addresses core relationship issues of dependency and independence, of submission and initiation. Sarah and Perry both initiate and give up control to each other depending on the situation.

Your beautiful book shows that in all healthy, joyful relationships, there is a constant sharing and shifting–back and forth–between who needs whom, who takes care of whom, and how we love one another.

*Diane Croft, Publisher at NBP, has worked at National Braille Press for over 30 years.