The Auxiliary's View... 

by Sandy Krasnodemski

We (the Blinded Veterans Association Auxiliary) are spouses, family, caregivers, and friends of blinded veterans. We come together as BVAA individuals and regional groups working together as a TEAM to support and develop more interest in BVA and in our blinded veterans.

We hope to do the aforementioned by GIVING SERVICE to others, not by waiting for someone else to notice us or by becoming involved to get an "entitlement" of some kind. We serve in order to help others who are, at least for the moment, struggling to find their way in a sighted world that is often not kind to the blind.

All of us are volunteers in many ways: First, we serve BVA and BVAA. Secondly, we serve other veterans and other Veterans Service Organizations. Thirdly, we serve our communities. We are often able to do all three at the same time as we become involved in different activities and projects that can benefit our BVA regional groups, individual veterans, the VA Blind Rehabilitation Centers, VIST Coordinators, BROS, and individual blind Americans who may not necessarily be veterans.

Although we often serve anonymously and without any desire to be recognized, BVAA wishes to recognize the volunteer service of its members. To do so, we instituted the BVAA Volunteer Challenge Effort last August. Please let us know as soon as possible how many hours you have volunteered from September to December 2012, in each of the three areas listed. Then, every couple of months, keep us posted with your monthly hours.

We are planning plan a simple recognition ceremony at our meeting during the upcoming national convention in Spokane. Since volunteers are giving of themselves for the benefit of others, we trust you to report volunteer service time whenever appropriate. Volunteer times and activities may be sent to the Volunteer Challenge Effort Chair, Patti Hail, using waya@pacifier.com.

We hope that others will do something similar. The Oregon Columbia Regional Group of BVAA also challenged the corresponding blinded veteran regional group to increase their volunteer efforts and then report them. The vets responded positively and the Auxiliary is now sponsoring and recognizing their volunteer efforts in their North Star Volunteer program.

Some of our more specific volunteer opportunities that have been more widely reported than others include White Cane Day activities, presentation of Braille American Flags, fishing trips, cook-offs, holiday parties, and fundraising for scholarships.

Another excellent opportunity for service lies in the recruiting of new BVA members, which often brings in new BVAA members at the same time! Doing so can often bring the hope and resources to blinded veterans and their families that they have previously not had at their disposal.

When others in our communities see us in a positive light, we (BVA and BVAA) become recognizable as viable resources in many ways. Please share your successes–as individuals and as regional groups!

If you need to update your membership in the Auxiliary, please secure an application and learn more about BVAA at www.bvaaux.org. Let's not forget our children and our spouses of blinded veterans who are seeking higher education endeavors. The application for the BVAA Renee Feldman Scholarship may also be found on the website. The time to apply is NOW.

Be an example others are proud to follow. Let's show everyone our support for BVA, for all veterans, and for each other. Rise to the opportunity and challenge, and let others know about the meaningful things we endeavor to do.