Saturday, September 13, 2008

Volunteers are crucial in assisting the visually impaired

Paul Slone wants to provide the Huntington area with a greater awareness and understanding of just what the Cabell-Wayne Association of the Blind (CWAB) is and does for the community.
As executive director of CWAB, Slone said that too many are unaware of the services it provides and the support that it needs.

"We are the only agency in this area providing transportation, computer training, rehabilitation services, mobility education, voice enhanced videos, social activities and more for the blind and visually impaired of Cabell and Wayne Counties. We do this without federal, state or local funding," said Slone, who mentioned that transportation costs alone amounted to over $20,000 last year.

It's easy to understand how fundraising is a vital part of keeping the lights turned on at CWAB. One of its major funding endeavors is renting its new building for wedding receptions, family reunions, dances and parties. The building is 3,500 square feet with ample paved parking, a well equipped kitchen and private patio area. For additional information about this building, call 604-522-6991.

CWAB is committed to promoting and supporting the economic, educational and social concerns of the blind and visually impaired so they are able to maintain a lifestyle comparable people with normal vision. On a monthly basis, CWAB will address the needs of more than 600 visually impaired individuals, prepare over 700 newsletters for bulk mailings, organize and conduct support groups for numerous categories of visually impaired clients, and provide free prescription glasses as needed. The agency also supports annual events such as the Halloween party, Christmas dinner and summer picnic. All require funding to make them happen.

CWAB believes that even if someone has limited vision, that person should still be able to have an active lifestyle. Their clients are exposed to training in cooking skills, riding local buses, housekeeping, appearance, money management, and an assortment of daily routines which provide the ability to operate in mainstream society. They even get to know the joy of being able to go bowling.

A large part of CWAB services are promoted through the efforts of Jerry Crabtree. For 10 years he has been the media marketing manager.

"We all wear more than one hat around this organization to get the job done," said Crabtree, who is always looking for more volunteers.

Crabtree needs people who love to read. One of his responsibilities is producing a rather lengthy, detailed and informative monthly in-house publication. Readers are needed each month to vocalize this publication onto audio tapes for distribution to visually impaired clients. Some past readers have included former Gov. Bob Wise, Sandra Cole from Channel 13 News, and area sports personalities.

Another hat Crabtree wears is maintaining a Web site, which can be viewed at Information on this site relates to staff information with pictures, history and organization, bylaws, fundraising, monthly events, future plans and area activities.

The annual 5K run/walk sponsored by CWAB is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 20. Runners wishing to sign up early for this event can print their application form directly from the Web page.

"This is another fundraiser for us," said Slone. He also stressed the need for volunteer support during this event. Those wishing to help are given free T-shirts. Call (304) 522-6991 to volunteer.
"We can use volunteers for as little as one hour a week, or all week. Whatever amount of time someone feels comfortable sharing, we will take it," Slone said.

Volunteers help clients on field trips, the annual 5K run, helping with support groups, office work, and the annual spring flower beautification "Potting Party" project.

Clyde Beal is a freelance writer living in Huntington. This is part of a series of articles bringing attention to those who volunteer their time supporting organizations in our community who would perish without their support. If you wish to become a part of this series, contact Night Local Editor Ben Fields at 304-526-2773 or by e-mail at


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