The 100 Mile House and District Blind and Visually Impaired White Cane Club celebrates its founding this week.
First formed on Feb. 1, 1991, during White Cane Week, the club has served the blind and visually impaired members of the South Cariboo community for 33 years. From Feb. 4 to Feb. 10 this year the club is looking to raise awareness about their activities and recruit new members.
“We want to make sure everyone in the community and surrounding areas is aware White Cane Week exists. It’s been happening for 78 years and we do our best to get that information out there,” Lori Fry, the club’s director of public relations and fund development, said. “We try to give out materials at the Cariboo Regional District Library that are produced by our national office in Ottawa. We want to emphasize we are here for those who need us.”
Made up of a mix of sighted and unsighted members, the White Cane Club offers several services to the community. They provide information and support to those suddenly suffering a loss of vision, will drive those unable to drive due to their eyesight to appointments and provide bursaries to local students with visual impairment.
Since its founding Fry said the club has always been able to rely on its members to volunteer their time. In recent years, however, many of their members have grown older and no longer have quite as much time to volunteer as they used to.
“We’ve never had to reach outside the club with a specific request for volunteers. COVID-19 changed the world as we know and our membership has their own limitations,” Fry said. “Whether it’s the level of vision loss, health or aging. A good number of our members are in the elderhood category and we know vision deteriorates as we age. It’s circumstances, it’s nobody’s fault.”
Now that’s not to say the club is in desperate need of new members, Fry said. If there’s one thing slowly losing her vision over the last three decades has taught her, it’s the importance of planning ahead. If she can bring on some new members and volunteers now, she’ll be able to mentor and prepare them to take over the club as their current membership begins aging out.
“I’ve put in 33 years, since day one, which has been great but it’s starting to pile on me. With my own vision loss, I need to keep up with technology to do the work I do and it’s slipping away from me,” Fry remarked. “I don’t want us to ever be in the position where we don’t have the leadership to keep going. I’d like to recruit new members who can be guided into a leadership position at some point.”
Fry noted they’ve been able to recruit some youth members to the club recently which is quite exciting for them. As far as volunteer positions that need to be filled she said they want some new drivers, administrators and general volunteers who can help out with their programs.
Those looking to join the club can call or text 778-444-8761 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or reach out to Fry directly at 250-395-2452.
“Our main focus is making sure everyone in the community knows the white cane club exists and that we are here to help anybody with concerns or needs related to vision loss. It might be themselves, a neighbour or a family member,” Fry said, adding she encourages the entire community to schedule regular vision check-ups.