This Saturday, I was lucky enough to attend a truly inspiring event, V-LINC’s Volunteer Appreciation Brunch. Both this year and last, V-LINC has been a great partner through our Volunteer Maryland Coordinator program. V-LINC creates technological solutions to improve the independence and quality of life for individuals of all ages with disabilities in Maryland. They do this by engaging volunteers – professional engineers, students, occupational therapists, and more. And the work they do is nothing short of life-saving.
A couple of months ago, our VM Coordinator, Brett Wolf, told us about Christine, a client that contacted V-LINC all the way from Canada. Christine suffered from a condition that made a portion of her face extremely sensitive to temperature changes, air movement, smells, and touch. Christine had such severe gastrointestinal problems that she could no longer eat. She was confined to her home and her condition was only worsening.
V-LINC volunteers pulled out all the stops. They designed a helmet that would control the climate around Christine so she could leave the house. Then they contacted Johns Hopkins Medical Institution here in Baltimore and arranged for treatment. And then they traveled to Canada in an RV, picked up Christine, and brought her to Baltimore for treatment.
On Saturday, I saw the helmet. I even touched it. You know why? Because Christine no longer needs it. Christine is home and healing because of these volunteers. How do you thank someone for that kind of service?
During the Volunteer Appreciation Brunch, I listened as the President of the Board, Hugh Evans, and the Executive Director, Theo Pinette, shared stories of the clients and volunteers. Throughout their stories, there was one running theme: V-LINC is a family. Now, I’ve heard all kinds of organizations make this kind of statement before, but never have I witnessed it so clearly. How could you not be a family when you know the work you’re doing is making it possible for others to have a full life?
The volunteers I met on Saturday were amazing, and amazingly humble. Some have been volunteering with V-LINC for 15, 20 years or more. One volunteer spent nearly 600 hours serving in 2010. Yet, they say they’re doing it because it’s fun. They say they’re doing it because they have the skills and V-LINC provides a different way to put those skills to use. They say they are not heroes.
Well, they are my heroes.
I often say that volunteering is necessary. That volunteering is serious work. I have never doubted that and, on Saturday, I never believed it more.
Check out another V-LINC story from last year’s VM Coordinator, Breanne Reynolds, here.