Volunteerism: Why do we do it?

 In News & Events

Guiding Eyes for the Blind has more than 1,400 active volunteers.  These incredible people support our mission in a multitude of ways, and we would simply be unable to provide our services without their hard work.

Studies show that people volunteer for a number of reasons.  These include:

  • Values: an opportunity to express altruism and engage in helpful actions towards otVolunteer puppy raiser Eugene Martin with Guiding Eyes pup Teddyhers
  • Understanding: to be exposed to new learning experiences and use the knowledge and abilities acquired to experience a sense of personal growth
  • Social: to have opportunities to be with others
  • Career: a means to prepare for a career or maintain career-relevant skills
  • Protective: to feel better about oneself
  • Enhancement: to experience positive feelings and self-esteem

Many factors determine whether volunteers will sustain their interest in an organization over time.

  • There continues to be a match between the volunteer experience and the individual’s personal goals for volunteering.
  • The person is satisfied with the organization.
  • The person has acquired a role identity as a volunteer and this becomes a valued part of the person’s self-concept.

We recently spoke with four volunteer puppy raisers and learned about their motivation for volunteering and the reasons they’ve stayed involved over time.

Volunteer puppy raiser Julia Lancian with future guide dog puppy Oleta

The Raisers

The Martin family: Raising their third puppy, Avis, in the Virginia Beach region

Julia Lancian: Starting her tenth puppy, Guava, in New York City

Linda and Jim McCauley: Raising their third pup, Gibson, in Catoctin

Christine Bohmer: Raising her fifth pup, Licorice, in Baltimore

 

Question 1: How or why did you get involved with Guiding Eyes? 

Julia Lancian: Guiding Eyes’ puppy raising program combines two things that are very dear to me – my love for animals, particularly dogs, and my admiration for individuals with disabilities,particularly the visually impaired.Volunteer puppy raiser Christine Bohmer with Guiding Eyes dogs Gunther and Amity

Linda McCauley: We love dogs and thought puppy raising would be a great service project.

Christine Bohmer: I have three cousins who are legally blind and wanted to do something to help the blind community.  After my youngest started college, I felt it was the right time to help a pup grow into his harness and become a guide.

Kristin Martin: We found Guiding Eyes following the death of our beloved Labrador, Jackie.  This was a perfect opportunity for our family to give back to the community and help teach our two sons about responsibility while enjoying the love and joy of having another dog in the house.

Question 2: What is your favorite part about Guiding Eyes or the Puppy Raising Program?

Linda and Jim McCauley with Guiding Eyes graduates Liz Bottner and DaltonJulia Lancian: I love dogs and the joy I get from working with them.  I also really enjoy getting to know all the other puppy raisers and Guiding Eyes staff. What I love most of all, though, is seeing the little puppy I helped raise become a dog that changes someone’s life profoundly. Witnessing the amazing bond each dog shares with its vision impaired partner makes it all so worthwhile.

Linda McCauley: Jim and I have met many wonderful people through our work with Guiding Eyes. It’s so rewarding to see the dogs with their handlers and know that you helped make it happen.

Christine Bohmer: Graduations with [first two pups] Gunther and Liane were incredible experiences.  Liane was very appreciative of everything we had done and it was so rewarding to witness the profound impact Gunther has on her life.

Kristin Martin: The more we learn about Guiding Eyes, the more we want to help this incredible organization.  They help change lives and make what seemed impossible, possible for those who are visually impaired. We saw the impact this organization makes from the first puppy we raised when he graduated as a guide dog – he changed our lives.

Guiding Eyes sincerely thanks all of our volunteers for the extraordinary contributions made every single day.   “Volunteerism is an act of heroism on a grand scale. And it matters profoundly.   It does more than help people beat the odds; it changes the odds.”  THANK YOU. 

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