Saturday, July 30, 2011

Perspective from a Volunteer

I would like to give you my perspective as a volunteer for the Foundation For Sight and Sound on my being able to participate in the Hearing Mission at Montefiore Medical Center, Bronx, N.Y. on Saturday, July 23, 2011. It was one of the most heart warming experiences I have ever had. I feel blessed to be part of the Foundation For Sight and Sound and what it stands for. I would like to share a few stories with you that still bring tears to my eyes. One is from college student who told me he was teased most of his life because of his hearing limitations. The other is from a gentleman who told me, he struggled to come into this country and raise his two children. He is a religious person who prays to G-d every day and for years he has been asking G-d to send him a messenger to give him back his hearing. He said to me, you see that man over there, pointing to you, he is the messanger from G-d I have been waiting for. Then Amanda, a little girl who was born with an 80 percent hearing loss who received a hearing aid for one ear last year from the FSS and received a hearing aid for other ear on Saturday. I have developed a bond with these individuals and they will stay in my heart forever.
Leslie Smouha

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Sights & Sounds

Volunteering is a form of community service and can be best described as “Paying it forward” with your time, services or financially. It is an essential part of our daily lives.

In the earlier centuries, women were the crux of the volunteer forces. In the past a women’s role was to take care of the household. With many there was a lot of downtime. There was an urgency for volunteers. There were the World Wars, disasters and simply the sick and poor who had nothing or anyone to help them. At that same time period it was the man’s role to support the household financially. When the wars broke out, men volunteered for the armed forces to help fight for freedom.

There are many ways a person can get involved. Think about our volunteer fire departments, not only do the men and women help put out fires they answer calls for many other emergencies especially their ambulance services. The role they play in the community is vital and saves lives while they put their lives in danger many times. Why does someone become a volunteer for their local fire department? It gives a person an s sense of community spirit, pride to be a part of a group of other caring individuals and gratification to know they have helped someone.

Our Armed forces depend on volunteers to help keep our country safe and to provide safety and freedom the world over. Of course being a volunteer can provide a myriad of benefits. When you become part of the Armed forces a person gains skills and training as well as getting a strong education and travel.

There are so many civic organizations around the country and the world. Groups such as Rotary, Lions, Kiwanis, elks & Moose Lodges, VFW Halls SERTOMA and many others. Civic organizations were built upon the premise of helping humankind. Like any organization there is the commonality of camaraderie and gratification of doing service in the community.

Not for Profit organizations are the core where most people volunteer their time and resources. Charitable organizations provide financial assistance, research, or services of enormous magnitude. Once again, people get involved for a variety of reasons sometimes simply to fill a void in their own lives as they feel there is enough time on their hands and they can help others less fortunate. Sometimes it’s a person who has been a recipient of help from an organization or individual and that person also chooses to “pay it forward” to someone else.

Volunteers come in all shapes and sizes. They get involved in a special event, collecting food or money. They participate in an event to help facilitate the many chores which helps the event run smoothly.. A volunteer has many skills and utilize their abilities to make a difference to the organization they become involved in.

Paying it forward simply means when it’s given you give it to someone else rather then give something back to the source it came from. There is nothing wrong with paying it back; it’s rather nice to just pass along the goodness to another needy person.

It doesn’t’ matter if a person is differently abled or not. It’s a sense of accomplishment especially when you are involved in a cause that you are passionate about. Perhaps it may be an organization which provides a service you benefitted from or does research to find a cure for a disease you or someone you know is afflicted by. Whatever the case, just do it for the reason that is most meaningful to you. It’s not about what you receive, but rather what everyone gains as a whole. Volunteering is about giving, if you give of yourself with no expectations the returns will come on their own.

Get involved today, Make a difference to someone else. do something. It’s a great way to meet people and build relationships with others who care!

Respectfully submitted

Mitchel Shapiro

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Let Freedom Ring!

Sights & Sounds

Let Freedom Ring

Everyone has their own interpretation of what freedom means. It's probably a fair assumption that most people think of freedom as the ability to live independently with minimal restrictions on their lifestyle. Everything within reason of course.

When it comes to someone with a disability, especially, but not limited to, a person who is vision and hearing challenged, it becomes life altering. Freedom of movement becomes one of the most challenging for someone who is visually challenged or blind. I have met several individuals who harbor anger within. This anger is expressed through body language, tone of voice and their overall demeanor. Freedom of expression is a great tool, but in my opinion, a positive outlook renders a more positive outcome in life.

Freedom is earned, it is not an entitlement. Our forefathers were forced to fight to earn the freedom we all enjoy today. However, we sometimes need to be advocates for ourselves first before we can be advocates for others, the goal being the betterment of humanity. The Americans with Disabilities Act came about as the result of the hard work and ‘fighting spirit’ to provide accessibility & equality for the “Differently Abled” community. The ADA has provided a means of accessibility which allows for a better mode of freedom with less restrictions. This friends is what Freedom is all about. Working hard for the positive outcome which allows each and every person the same rights.

So, back to mobility. As a visually challenged person, the freedom to move about independently can be a difficult subject. A blind person is simply someone who cannot see and has a physical restriction to moving about freely without the possibility of injuring oneself. A person with limited vision, unless trained to use a ‘white cane’ or guide dog, has difficulty walking the sidewalks or country roads without fear of the many obstacles along the way.

I cannot tell a person what to do, but I do have a few simple suggestions. If you are reading this and have mobility issues, and if you really want to get out there, find the tools which work best for you. Make friends or reach out to family for support. Get over your fear of asking for help, it is not a sign of weakness but rather showing the desire and determination to lead a full life like anyone else. Reach out to one of the many assistance programs that can help teach you to be more independent. Give yourself permission to have the freedom to do what you’d like to do in life. Don’t hold back! Like Nike’s commercial said…. “Just Do it!”

Let Freedom Ring!

Respectfully submitted

Mitchel Shapiro

*** The articles on this blog do not always represent the the the mission or purpose of hte Fsoundation for Sight & Sound but rather a viewpoint of hte founder Mitch Shapiro.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

What a Month!

Sights & Sounds……..

It’s been a whirlwind of a month, I must say. Starting the first week of June with a week in Colorado. Here's what happened:

The Foundation For Sight & Sound held it’s first Brewmaster Golf Classic on June 6th with 30 happy golfers. The event was full of fun, along with, of course …, lunch, and a nice BBQ dinner. A heartfelt thank you to Ken Kelly who helped put this event together. Also, a very special thank you to the many volunteers who helped make the day a great one!

Tuesday was the Taste of Elegance Beer & Food Pairing Competition. 100% of the auction proceeds went directly to benefit the foundation. It was a well attended event and of course we were delighted to to have the foundation be a part of it. You can see the pictures by going to our photo gallery.

The Day of Giving Hearing Aid Mission is a beautiful illustration of how the foundations funds are utilized. I’m sure if you are reading the blog, you read the last post about this!

Finally, the trip ended with a 20 minute presentation to the Arapaho SERTOMA group where an accounting of the weeks activities were discussed. Donnalee told an emotional story about Shirley Hicks who was a reciepient of 2 hearing aids. I must admit I had some tears in my eyes, as did at least 6 other grown men. Donnalee was proud to participate in our first Pueblo mission and was responsible for the photography.

At the end of our trip, we took the Red Eye home with very little sleep, almost not getting on the plane as it was a full flight. Thanks to Jet Blue, they worked their magic and got us on as scheduled and got us home safely. A special thank you to Michael Arthurs who was able to save the foundation money by donating the two round trip tickets. I was back to work by 10am but fell asleep at the computer.

Saturday morning it was up early to Rappell down a 12 story building to raise money for the Foundation For Sight & Sound. I was one of the first people to go Over the Edge. But as luck would have it, I got hung up around the 4th floor (just felt like hanging out) as my brake locked. I had trouble loosening it but after 10 minutes I was finally able to lower myself. Aww, what the heck, it was no big deal, nothing to panic about.

Well, the following week was yet another big challenge as I rode my tandem bike 100 miles. Donnalee was at the helm navigating and steering the bike to it’s final destination… beautiful Montauk! I must tell you though, that when we got to the 50 mile checkpoint, Donna was tired and said that she wasn't sure she would make it the next 50 miles. So being the nice guy that I am, I gave her a choice to continue or turn back….chuckle. It took us 11 ½ hours total with 10 hours actual riding. Riding a tandem bike is a bit slower due to more weight and drag. I was so jealous of the folks who did it in half the time, but honestly, another new accomplishment. So what should I do next? Skydiving?

This past week I flew back to Colorado to give an inspiring motivational presentation to the Colorado Hearing Society. I guess they did actually enjoy it since they laughed at my corny jokes and payed attention to my messages. Interestingly enough, the interactive audience participation with blindfolds and earplugs are always a big hit and never fails at driveing a good many points home. The presentation was almost 2 hours and was probably one of my better presentations.

I’m now back to work on the Foundation For Sight & Sound’s many exciting projects including our upcoming Day of Giving at Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx on July 23, our 2nd annual Golf Classic at Sandspoint and too finish off the summer, it's The Family & Friends Summer End Bash at the Crest Hollow CC. I do hope I'll see you at one of these events.

The Help America Hear Program continues to fit more people and there are more inquires for applications. Since January 2009 we have fit over 180 men, women &children with hearing aids. During this time period, there have been over 1400 requests for applications.

The Foundation depends on corporate and private donations. If you know someone who has the capacity to make a donation, please send them our way. It is appreciated more then words can express.. Please consider putting us in your year end giving plan or in your will.

More to come soon……

Respectfully submitted…….

Mitchel Shapiro