RIDBC thanks volunteers on International Volunteer Day

RIDBC volunteer, Heeral Thakkhar, at RIDBC Alice Betteridge School

The Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children (RIDBC) would like to thank its more than 260 registered volunteers during International Volunteer Day, December 5.

The volunteering program at RIDBC plays a vital role in ensuring that RIDBC staff can continue to deliver services to children with hearing or vision loss both locally, and around Australia. Volunteers contribute 22,000 hours to RIDBC each year, valued at $550,000.

“Volunteering is crucial to RIDBC – it is central to our culture and to our ability to provide services. RIDBC’s volunteers generously give their time to RIDBC and their contribution is invaluable. We thank them for their ongoing support,” said RIDBC Chief Executive, Chris Rehn.

Seventeen year old Oatlands resident, Heeral Thakkhar, volunteers at RIDBC Alice Betteridge School which caters for school-age students from Kindergarten to Year 12 with a significant hearing or vision loss as well as a level of intellectual impairment.  

“When I was in Year 10 I came to RIDBC on work experience and that’s when I really gained an appreciation of how the organisation supports children with hearing or vision loss,” said Heeral. “Now that I’ve finished my HSC I’ve come back to RIDBC as a volunteer – I’m even in the same classroom!”

Heeral helps in the classroom with arts and crafts, cooking classes and by accompanying the students to work experience.

“Just last week I took a student to work experience and as we were leaving she signed three words to me. She said ‘book me in’ – she wanted to make sure her work experience placement was booked in for the following week as she had enjoyed it so much. The teacher said that was the first time the student had signed three words together!” said Heeral.

“Being there for firsts like that, and seeing the positive changes you can make in a child’s life, is what brings me back to RIDBC. Seeing how your small actions can improve the quality of life for another person is pretty special. You realise that you’re making a difference.”

Heeral encourages other young people to volunteer.

“Young people should definitely volunteer! At RIDBC there is something new happening every day. Every day one of the students achieves something new and as a volunteer you get to be part of that,” said Heeral.

RIDBC volunteers assisting with a variety of tasks including; classroom tasks, formatting material for vision impaired children, gardening, administration, fundraising and transport.

RIDBC provides a wide range of quality, innovative services and educational programs for children with hearing and/or vision loss, from the first weeks of a child’s life, right through their teenage years.

RIDBC relies heavily on fundraising and community support to be able to continue to make a difference in the lives of children with hearing or vision loss.  In order to maintain its intensive educational and research programs, the organisation needs to raise approximately $2.5 million every month.