Volunteer Your Time

Alexa - Vision Mate in Windsor, ON

Meet Alexa!

I’m a recent graduate of the University of Windsor’s Biological Sciences and Psychology program. Upon graduating, I found myself with additional time to give back to my community.

I’ve had several loved ones affected by vision loss, providing me with insight into the unique hardships individuals with vision loss face. This motivated me to support these individuals by becoming a CNIB Vision Mate.

The staff at CNIB matched me with a client based on my interests, what services I am comfortable providing, and how often I am able to provide them. This commitment is very flexible, permitting me to schedule meetings with my client to fit both of our dynamic schedules. Additionally, CNIB encourages open communication to ensure that both the Vision Mate and client are happy and comfortable with their arrangement.

It has been seven months since I was matched with my client, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my experience and the relationship we’ve developed. I offer my client assistance with sighted tasks, such as reading the mail, and the opportunity to practice independent living skills, such as walking with a white cane. Although there are many technological advances that facilitate functional living with visual impairments, I’ve realized that nothing can replace the social interactions that are often damaged with vision loss. Therefore, I feel as though the most important thing that I offer my client is companionship, and I recommend becoming a Vision Mate to anyone who’s looking for a fulfilling and flexible volunteer experience.

Vision Mates provide one-on-one sighted assistance to people in their communities who are blind or partially sighted. To find out more, watch this short clip.

Our Philosophy of Volunteerism:

“Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much.” Helen Keller

No matter how skilled and dedicated our paid employees are, CNIB recognizes that the people we serve require and deserve a wide variety of service options, resources and approaches that cannot be offered by the staff alone. We see volunteers as a huge community talent pool – with diverse backgrounds and limitless potential to contribute varied talents to expand opportunities for people who are blind and partially sighted. Volunteers are time donors (and often financial donors, too) who serve side-by-side with paid staff, and who can connect with people in a unique way. In many cases, it is the fact that they are not paid that resonates so profoundly with community members.

Our aim is to treat every volunteer as a valued partner. Because volunteers choose to partner with us, we are able to serve larger numbers of people. But more than that, the generous natures of volunteers and their gifts are deeply appreciated by the people we serve, as well as by our staff and other partners. We know that volunteers bring their unique points of view that have resulted from their personal experiences, relationships and values. Many of our time volunteers have been recipients of our services. Others have been money donors and want to find an additional way to give. They bring scope, depth, knowledge, connections and more. In other words, they enrich and expand our thinking, not just our reach. 

Every volunteer is an ambassador, whether formal or not. We hope our volunteers will share their impressions with the people in their lives. Who knows? Maybe someone they talk to about their experience will decide to partner with us as well, as a volunteer, or a donor, or a client or a member of our staff. And our work will continue.

Browse through our site to find out why and how to become a volunteer. Or, if you can't wait to get started - fill out an online application form today!​

Many of the CNIB’s Foundation programs are only able to be delivered with community partners, volunteers.   These Foundation programs complement and enhance CNIB’s rehab services by addressing the social and emotional needs of people with sight loss, and building their confidence and self-advocacy skills to ensure they receive the accommodations they need to succeed. 

Four of the foundation volunteer opportunities that are available coast to coast are:
  • CNIB Ambassador Program
    • Training speech/presentation development and public speaking skills, in order to raise community awareness of CNIB's services and blindness
  • ​Culture, Recreational and Sport Programs
    • ​Offering a range of CNIB-run and community-run programs including games of all sorts, yoga, dragon boat racing, Mud Hero races, running events, arts and crafts activities, etc.
  • ​Home-Based Support (Vision Mate Program)
    • ​Pairing people who have sight loss with sighted people to provide one-on-one assistance and companionship
  • ​Peer Support
    • ​Adjustment to sight loss groups and one-on-one peer support
    • Monthly groups - drop-in, phone and online support

In 2016, we conducted a national volunteer satisfaction survey. Overall, 90% of survey respondents were satisfied with their volunteer experience. For more results, read the summary report and recommendations​​.
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​Experience the incredible rewards of being part of a team and making a direct difference in the lives of others.​

CNIB client Nadia smiling


​Meet some of our outstanding volunteers and find out why they’re so passionate about working with CNIB. ​

Senior CNIB client with a volunteer in a garden


​Find out what you need to do to become a CNIB volunteer – we’ve got a position for everyone. ​

CNIB client Sheila Matthews sitting with her Vision Mate


​Browse some of the diverse volunteering roles we offer from coast to coast.​

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Get in touch

​Contact us to learn more and join the CNIB volunteer team today.​

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Volunteering FAQs

​Got questions about volunteering with CNIB? We’ve got answers.​