The impact of volunteers at Perkins

Where do you find volunteers at Perkins? Everywhere. Volunteers bring energy, enthusiasm, and expertise to classrooms, programs, and projects throughout Perkins.

Six MIT student volunteer stand together in front of the Grousbeck Center.

Where do you find volunteers at Perkins? Everywhere. Volunteers bring energy, enthusiasm, and expertise to classrooms, programs, and projects throughout Perkins. Since volunteers were allowed back on campus late this fall, over 200 individual volunteers have offered the invaluable gift of time and service to Perkins — almost half serve on a monthly basis and some come to campus weekly! We are celebrating Volunteer Month in April with a spotlight on the impact of a few recent volunteer engagements.

In Sue Sullivan’s Secondary School math class, students from the Boston College Jenks Leadership Program are guiding students through a Computer Science enrichment activity using a  hands-on tool called Cubelets. “The Boston College students bring novelty and fun into our computer science class,” explained Sue. “They took the time to speak with another Teacher of the Visually Impaired to learn how to best introduce Cubelets to my students. They planned activities that were fun and engaging.”

Sue stands at a table talking to 4 volunteer students from BC.

Perkins Access recently simulated a mock election in the Grousbeck Center as part of the Voter Accessibility Project. Volunteers served as greeters to sign “voters” in while others served as poll workers to escort voters to the digital kiosks being tested. Gary Aussant, Director of Digital Accessibility, explained, “We had some ‘voters’ who spoke very little English…Luckily we had two volunteers from MIT’s Priscilla King Gray Public Service Center who were able to translate for us. We also had a volunteer who knew American Sign Language and was able to help one of our voters who was deaf…[the volunteers] really helped to make the voting process more inclusive. I know our client appreciated having so many people from different backgrounds.”

Five MIT student volunteers in front of Grousbeck Center with Lisa Mosca.
Five MIT student volunteers in front of Grousbeck Center.

The Braille and Talking Book Library (BTBL) hosts monthly Saturday Workdays. All winter, volunteers, mainly students from the Boston University Student Volunteers for Students with Special Needs (SVSN) group, Ursuline Academy, St Joseph Prep, and Wayland High School, have been moving Braille books to a new climate controlled location to help make space for new titles of Braille books. Many of these students have also helped with Cane Day, Perkins Pond Cleanup, painting, and more!

Two volunteer students stand in BTBL stacks holding Dr. Seuss Braille books.

The CVI Center is working with MBA Students at MIT Sloan as part of their “Leading with Impact” course. Jessie Cronan, Senior Director of the CVI Center, shared, “These students are working closely with our team to help us refine and scale our custom training program. They bring a wealth of expertise related to management and business development and are able to apply key learnings from one of the nation’s top business schools to help further our mission.”

The Perkins Volunteer Services Office is always seeking a diversity of volunteers for campus, in terms of age, experiences, background and skills. Please feel free to share suggestions for places to recruit volunteers anytime.  If you are interested in hosting volunteers, please reach out to Lisa Mosca Manager of Volunteer Services at [email protected]. Volunteer engagements can be on campus or remote — the first step is to create a job description the can be used to recruit volunteers for your role.

Group photo of Perkins volunteers standing outside underneath a canopy.

Kayla Serra takes on volunteer sustainability at Perkins

Between the two of them, Jack and Jill Fox have narrated more than 2,000 talking books for the American Printing House for the Blind. Photo Credit: Anna Miller.

The voice of experience

Mila, a young female student, dances in front of a crowd of Perkins staff in the atrium of the Prudential Center Mall that is adorned by huge golden ornaments with the blue lights of the Prudential Center tower glowing through the windowed ceiling

The changemakers of Perkins