The Visually Impaired Persons of Southwest Florida honored its volunteers last week during Volunteer Appreciation Week.
The VIP Center hosts a Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon each year where the many volunteers are personally thanked for their dedication and support throughout the year. Visually Impaired Persons of Southwest Florida is a nonprofit rehabilitation center dedicated to providing the tools, support and opportunities necessary for individuals with blindness and visual impairment to successfully achieve their desired level of independence.
"We honored all of our volunteers, but three specifically - Freda Van Pelt, Ray Steele and Bill Crysler. They have, combined, put in nearly 2,000 volunteer hours," said Susan Hoffman, volunteer coordinator. "We could not run our art program without Freda. She teaches you to 'use your mind's eye when doing art,' - that's her own quote. Ray does anything and everything we ask him to do. He's always looking out for our staff and clients. Bill runs our store, where he gets to be Mr. Meet and Greet with our customers and clients."
She added that the organization appreciates all of its volunteers, even if they only put in a an hour or two.
"Volunteers for the VIP Center assist with over 50 projects and programs, including the VIP Store, art program, recycling card program, music program, weekly recreation and leisure programs. They include our board of directors."
Many volunteers are visually impaired themselves.
"That continues to help our center grow and thrive. Without the dedication and love from our volunteers our center would not be where it is today."
Each year the number of hours and projects continue to grow.
"In 2011 our volunteers put in over 5,000 hours."
They specifically aid with CRPs or Community Rehabilitation Programs, said Margaret Lincoln, director of operations. "We would not be able to provide comprehensive programs if not for our volunteers. The volunteers help to assist us with non-direct service projects so our trained professionals have the time they need to provide direct services to our clients.
If you are interested in volunteering and would like more information, visit the website at vipcenter.org or call Hoffman at 997-7797.