by Darian Smith
From the Editor: At last summer’s convention a group gathered with the intention to form a division of those interested in doing community service in their hometowns. Darian Smith was the organizer and driving force of the group. Here is his report of what happened and his announcement of future plans:
“Community service” is a term used to describe a wide range of activities performed by a person or group, often conducted voluntarily, addressing a deficiency in a community and benefitting the people who live in that community. Typically these coordinated efforts are taken on by groups of sighted people. The blind are not usually asked or expected to take part in such fulfilling, educational, and rewarding efforts. On July 3, 2011, thirty-five Federationists gathered to consider how they could spread the word about the satisfaction to be found in community service and the value it can have in strengthening the Federation.
At that meeting group organizers reported on what steps they had already taken, and a proposed mission statement was read and agreed upon. NFB First Vice President Fred Schroeder addressed the group and pointed out that it is important that, if blind people are to deserve first-class status, they must be expected to and expect themselves to contribute their time, talent, and energy as volunteers in their communities.
The group decided to meet monthly by telephone during the coming year. They established goals for the year and decided to work toward a group community service project around the time of the 2012 convention. Plans were made for a seminar and business meeting at the Dallas convention. Participants were urged to make presentations about the Community Service Interest Group at state conventions this year and to organize gatherings like the national one at those conventions. Reports of all such efforts will be given at the group’s meeting during the 2012 convention.
The group has met by phone several times since the convention. Its listserv is <firstname.lastname@example.org>, and those interested are urged to join the list. A number of initiatives are under discussion including the following: joint service projects with the NFB’s three adult training centers; a challenge activity like those that occur in Meet the Blind Month, but this one would have a definite service orientation; doing outreach within the NFB and service organizations outside the Federation; and a fundraiser at national convention.
Those who have stepped forward in leadership of this interest group believe in community service and in the importance of encouraging blind people to take part in such efforts. Small groups of dedicated volunteers can change the world. We urge everyone in the NFB to get involved in community service. Doing so will improve your community and strengthen your chapter, your affiliate, and our national organization.