From client to volunteer – Veronika Kanya's Story​​

Kanya_Veronika-Winnie.jpgVeronika Kanya has found peace and purpose through her volunteer experience with CNIB.

“What I have gained from volunteering, as a client, is that it validated all the struggles and difficulties I went through as I was grieving the loss of my eyesight. It helped me make sense and find a purpose for my pain by knowing I was able to help others going through the same experience,” said the 41-year-old Winnipeg resident.

In 1997, Veronika’s retina became detached in her right eye due to diabetic retinopathy. After two unsuccessful surgeries, she lost all light perception in that eye. Six months later, the retina detached in her left eye. By 1999, what little sight that remained was lost and she now has zero sight.

Over the years, Veronika has participated in all that CNIB has to offer including recreation programs, career services, orientation and mobility, independent living skills and technology training. But she found her time with the orientation and mobility staff at CNIB to be a really intimate experience because of the level of trust it involves between the client and staff.

Because of her great relationship with the mobility instructors, and her positive attitude, in 2008, she was asked to help with a support group for people who recently lost their sight. 

“I remember how lost I felt when the same happened to me, I wanted to help them.”

Enjoying her volunteer endeavours, she sought more opportunities to give back by becoming a provincial board member, peer group facilitator, and a CNIB media spokesperson in-training.

“I feel great about my volunteer work for CNIB, it is the one thing in my life that make sense. Myself being a client and having benefited from the services, I feel as if I really understand the purpose of the organization very clearly and it is a really wonderful cause.”

Veronika will continue to look for opportunities to help CNIB and she encourages others to volunteer as it is so rewarding.

“Do it because it feels good and because you want to help someone. Not because you are looking for a title or recognition, or because you want it to appear on your resume. It is worth it and the help you give is not only appreciated, it goes a very long way.”