A student who has low vision using a laptop with magnification software.

Share your wisdom and shine has a youth mentor

I realized that since LightHouse Youth events are all held over Zoom these days, I actually have time to be a volunteer mentor. As a staff member at LightHouse who has low vision, I have often felt the desire to share some of my educational and professional experiences with the younger generation. I was offered some amazing opportunities during my youth, but also remember being discouraged and left out of several interesting programs and events. If an adult has been willing to share their story when I was a teenager struggling to fit in and discover my dreams, I would have appreciated that tremendously. So, I contacted Ann Wai-Yee Kwong and Jamey Gump to see if they could use a mentor volunteer for any of their upcoming programs.

Next thing I knew, I was on the agenda for the next week’s “Not So Bored Game Night” and “Youth PLUG-In”, both held over Zoom. It turned out that the participants had been wanting to talk to a writer who is blind, and the topic for that week’s PLUG-In was “The Art of Writing”. It felt like this was just up my alley as a Communications major in college, a grad school recipient of a Masters, and currently working at the LightHouse in the Communications Department. I write for fun, for work and for processing my inner-most thoughts. It was a joy to share how these forms of writing overlap and differ, and what writing tools I have used over the decades as I have experienced various levels of sight.

Not only was it exhilarating to discuss their professional growth and perhaps spark an interest in writing for pleasure, but I also got to let my inner teen shine at the Not So Bored Game Night. An exciting highlight was being able to judge a house scavenger hunt. Jamey and I judged each of five rounds where students had to gather items. It was a challenge of the heart not to pick the person that seemed to need a little extra love and, instead, go for the person who really deserved it, like the teen who brought their tiger stuffed animal to fulfill the item “something fuzzy”. I’m still crushing on that tiger!

If you find you have some flexibility in your schedule and are comfortable with Zoom, there are plenty of opportunities coming up for you to support our youth by volunteering to be a mentor for their upcoming programs. The Not So Bored Game Night continues on Tuesdays from 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., and there is a Sensing the Seasons Workshop June 12 through 14. The Youth Employment Services or YES Academy will be online July 6 through August 7 on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. We are even hiring a mentor for the YES Academy, so visit our career opportunities page for details. Check out our website calendar for many other programs and events, or else email youth@lighthouse-sf.org for more information and other opportunities.

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