LightHouse Student Profile: Kelly McCarthy Finds Fulfillment in Volunteering

Kelly McCarthy (left) with AnneWhen Kelly McCarthy, who has low vision, started attending Enchanted Hills Camp for the Blind as a youngster, she had no idea where life would take her. It was when she worked at Enchanted Hills as a Counselor-in-Training for the Adults with Special Needs camp session that she realized she had a knack for supporting others.

Kelly, an East Bay resident who has worked off and on with the LightHouse, maintains an incredibly busy volunteering schedule. To start with, she’s found the perfect volunteer job at Meals on Wheels, and they think so much of Kelly that they profiled her in their newsletter. Each week Kelly meets with Anne, a 75-year-old woman with low vision who was looking for a reader through Meals on Wheels’ “Friendly Visitor” program. When after three years she was finally matched with Kelly, it meant a lot to Anne, who told Meals on Wheels, “I’ve been grateful for many things in my life, and Kelly is at the top of that list.” Kelly, for her part, enjoys seeing Anne so much that the one-hour assignment often turns into a three-hour visit: they chat, Kelly helps Anne with tasks, reads to her and is even teaching Anne how to better use an iPad. “I really enjoy it,” she beams.

In addition, throughout the week, Kelly also finds herself at the East Bay Center for the Blind, where she makes ceramics to give to family, friends and the elderly whom she visits. And then there’s her volunteer work with Senior Centers Without Walls, a telephone conference service in the East Bay providing remote support and companionship to seniors with low vision who are unable to leave the house. And that’s still not all.

A soprano and longtime fan of the musical Phantom of the Opera, Kelly has been into vocal music since high school, where she sang in a choir, and college where she sang in a jazz group. Through volunteering she has reinvigorated her passion for singing by working with the Singing Messengers, a volunteer group that specializes in Broadway tunes and old standards. With 25 members, Kelly and the group sing predominately in senior centers and homes all over Contra Costa County.

We know that volunteering boosts self-confidence, self-esteem, and life satisfaction. Kudos to Kelly for setting a worthy example of volunteerism while reaping the rewards of her efforts. If you’d like to volunteer, the LightHouse has a multitude of opportunites. Start by visiting our volunteer page at http://lighthouse-sf.org/donate/volunteer/.

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