Sharon Dye and Karen Mellor are both longtime sighted members of the White Cane Club. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)

Sharon Dye and Karen Mellor are both longtime sighted members of the White Cane Club. (Patrick Davies photo - 100 Mile Free Press)

Longtime colleagues volunteer together

Sharon Dye and Karen Mellor always find each other in volunteer roles

Sharon Dye and Karen Mellor seem destined to be together.

The two women spent 12 years together as home support workers in Coquitlam, working closely with seniors. When retirement came around, they found themselves once again in sharing the same space – this time as volunteers for the Canadian Council of the Blind’s 100 Mile House & District Chapter White Cane Club.

The two found out about the club through their mutual friend Lori Fry 16 years ago. Dye said she initially joined to support her mother, who had macular degeneration. The resources and information the club provided were second to none, she said.

Mellor became the club secretary for a brief stint, while Dye has stayed on as the treasurer, helping the club apply for grants and ensuring all the money they get goes to the right projects.

“I enjoy making sure everything balances, that people are the paid the money when needed and that the money goes out,” Dye said. “I think it’s an important role because otherwise, you won’t know what money is available.”

Mellor has since moved on to become the club’s cheerleader of sorts. She had held the post as a primary sighted assistant for the club’s curling team, following them from game to game in 100 Mile House, Kamloops, Prince George and Vancouver. Although the curling team has disbanded, she has realized she wants to devote more time to the club.

“We’re friends. It’s not just showing up once a month. If you need me, give me a call,” Mellor said. “Whatever they need, if I can do it, I do it.”

As sighted members, Dye and Mellor run errands for members who are blind or visually impaired. They agree that their past career as home care workers prepared them for their volunteerism. Many of their past clients were also appreciative of their help.

“It was really fulfilling knowing you could help people to live their lives at home,” Mellor said. “We used to help them with shopping and take them to doctor’s appointments.”

However, much like their work with those seniors, they realize their job is to support people as they continue to live their lives. Mellor said the blind and legally blind tend to be very independent and sometimes she doubts they even need her. She provides small reminders: someone is about to pass them on the sidewalk, they’re nearing a curb or about to go downhill.

Although Dye and Mellor joke that they only talk on the phone every day because they “have to,” their closeness is obvious. Both say they intend to carry on volunteering together for as long as they’re able.

“My son said to me one day to me ‘mom this is your hobby’ and I got to thinking about it and it is kind of my hobby,” Dye said. “I like it and I’ve been doing it for a long time, so I should be good at it by now.”

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