As part of the ongoing Volunteer Spotlight series, we checked in with volunteer Shelby Rayburn on why she chooses to donate her time and energy to Alphapointe.
Q&A with Shelby
Tell us about you…
I’m a KU psychology graduate working with the burn unit at KU Medical Center in hydrotherapy! I live downtown with my cat and love spending time in KC with my friends as well as traveling. I am a big Chiefs and Jayhawks fan and am always ready to watch my teams win!
Why do you volunteer at Alphapointe?
I volunteer at Alphapointe because its mission of empowering those with vision loss to realize their dreams means everything to me. My mom has been legally blind my whole life so to me it’s about helping people gain back their independence just like my mom was able to do after I left for college. Alphapointe is doing amazing things for people who have found themselves in a very difficult situation that can be quite dark. Alphapointe is dedicated to removing that fear and replacing it with hope and I’m proud to be able to be a part of the mission.
What does volunteering at Alphapointe do for you?
Volunteering at Alphapointe gives me a very real perspective of the resources that are needed among populations who need assistance. It also shows me the ways we can be compassionate and inclusive for some who have given up hope. I love helping people and helping Alphapointe is so dear to my heart and my own life that I feel like I am making a huge difference.
What do you take away when you leave Alphapointe?
When I leave Alphapointe I feel accomplished and find that what I spend my time on is special and important. I feel really blessed as well, because I get to serve both the Kansas City and the blind and visually impaired communities. I know how my mom has felt since her rehabilitation training at Alphapointe and I want everyone going through vision loss to be as successful and confident as her despite being blind.
What do you want to share with others about Alphapointe?
I want everyone to know how Alphapointe truly changes lives in big and small ways. From something as simple as a word of encouragement when adjusting is tough, to providing laptops with accessible technology for kids and clients who have learned how to live in the digital age with little or no vision. Our large fundraisers like the C&C Group Alphapointe Pro-Am and Boots & Pearls: Wine & Whiskey are not only fun and helpful financially, but they show the strength Alphapointe has in our community.
What do you want others to know about Alphapointe?
I want others to know about the amazing people who work at Alphapointe for the clients and communities they serve. The employees, volunteers and everyone in between are truly selfless and work incredibly hard for what they do for our youth, adults and seniors.
Why should others get engaged with Alphapointe?
The Kansas City community has so much to offer, but there’s always more work to be done. There isn’t always a cure or medication for the condition our clients have, so giving them the tools and skills they need to not only survive, but thrive, only makes our community stronger together by impacting individual lives.
What’s the most important thing Alphapointe does from your perspective?
The most important thing Alphapointe does is advocate. They advocate for clients individually and on a large scale such as Capitol Hill in Washington D.C.: whether a student needs an individualized learning plan or assistive technology at school for accessibility purposes, an adult needs training to remain independent personally or professionally or a new policy needs to be brought up in front of lawmakers to help the blind and visually impaired work and be a part of something bigger. Alphapointe is a role model for advocacy in everything they do.
If there’s one public policy change you could make to help people with low vision, what would it be?
If there was one policy change I could make, it would be to advance for infrastructure in cities and metropolitan areas to better accommodating those with vision loss. Something as simple as talking crosswalk signals and tactile crosswalks can make a huge difference in the life of a blind individual. Public transportation and accessible cities are vital in ensuring those with vision loss can truly be independent and live with the same quality of life as a sighted person.