Harris poll results from June of 2000 report that 48 percent of people with disabilities who have access to the Internet believe that it has significantly improved their quality of life, compared 27 percent of the adults without disabilities. Therefore, people with disabilities already see the true value of online communications, and are in a prime position to provide volunteering via the Internet.
Online Volunteer in Iowa
I live in a very rural area. Any significant area to seek volunteer opportunities is approx. 45 miles, one-way. Also, I became ill, and wanted something to do at my pace from home. I gave up my job and went on disability due to Fibromyalgia. My ability to predict my health status and schedule activities lessened dramatically. Volunteering on the web gives me scheduling flexibility, assists me in maintaining contacts and cognitive functioning. I love the ease of getting to the "work site", the flexibility of hours, and being able to serve at my leisure 24/7. Now, my skills and background have become better utilized. I was awarded Volunteer of the Month. I was given more responsibility. My input is more readily sought. I was given more prominence on the organizational web site. I hope, as I move into more responsibility, I will be able to assist the agency with more stability through helping to establish a more formal structure and my instituting some funding initiatives.
Online Volunteer in Maryland
"I am a disabled person. And my work record would make it hard for me to find a paying job. I receive a little check from the government. And I would be so glad to be able to give something in return! For a long while I could see no prospects. I prayed and prayed to the Lord and wonderously, in His own time, He brought me in contact with you people. I was a little apprehensive about what I could do, or if I could do anything at all. Your patience with me and guidance helped me to success. The doctor who I see now was overjoyed when he saw my progress and he is so proud of me! Then there is my brother who is a Computer Analyst who taught me how to use E-Mail. And he brought me into contact with the excellent search engine Web Ferret. He was so glad to help me and give me pointers on my projects. He set me up with the latest version of Netscape Navigator and E-Mail. He and my Mom are proud of me too! My whole life has been enriched since I've been in contact with you! I can't tell you how excited I have been to work on your projects. And I have learned a lot. My prayers have been answered so bountifully: The Lord made a way for me where there was no other way. I don't have the words to tell you how much I appreciate and how great an honor it is working for you."
Online Volunteer in North Carolina
"We live in a very rural area that makes the disabled feel cut off from the world. Due to my disability, driving is out of the question. I also have children at home so that limits travel drastically. (Now) I can volunteer from home. I feel that I have learned as much from those I've helped as they have learned from me. I'm helping others as well as taking care of my children. Internet technology allows people to leave their disabilities behind. We are all the same on the Internet. No disabilities, race, or religion. We are united as one person. I recently found out that the fellow I worked with (online) had no light perception. He is a wonderful caring person. His vision loss in no way affected his terrific personality. It has been a wonderful experience."
Online Volunteer in Danbury, Connecticut
"I am a person living with a disability who was home-bound for about three years. I understand the deep impact that internet access has on people who are in similar situations as I was in, and I would like to pass-on this tool to others who are moving towards independance. I would love to conduct information searches, provide basic tecnical support, and any other service that the Virtual Volunteering Project can teach me to teach others. I enjoy helping people; having an impact on individual lives, and viewing the cumulative results of my efforts. I think that you are providing a wonderful service, and I sincerely hope you will concider allowing me to join you in your efforts. I will give one-hundred percent of my time and energy to whatever projects you send me."
Online Volunteer in Arizona
"I have extensive technical resources at home. I also have several health problems that preclude driving long distances and working set hours. (By volunteering virtually), I can stretch my skills, work on my own schedule and still "meet" very interesting people. My health sometimes affects my memory and with computer work, I can organize and document work to allow me to deal with many more complex details and more projects than I could handle manually. I can take breaks when needed and not be affecting anyone else."
Online Volunteer in Indiana
"We help new disabled users navigate in msn (Microsoft Network), and the Internet to find information helpful to them in any disability if possible. I joined msn initially, and visited the disabilities area regularly... I am disabled with severe arthritis. Offline I have visited with several fellow disabled members I met online, helped them fill out Social Security disability forms, etc. My compelling reason (to volunteer) is I have been frustrated due to my disability... so I help others who are more disabled get benefits or information."
Online Volunteer in Arizona
"I have had the disease (Multiple Sclerosis) for 16 years. I have no use of my legs and virtually no use of my hands or arms. I have a wheelchair which I drive with my head. Besides all that I live on the computer! I use the original DragonDictate to operate my computer completely hands free. Besides working I am involved in a number of different organizations. I write an assistive technology column which goes to all of Arizona and southern Nevada. I am president of the Board of directors for a non-profit organization which tries to expand options for people of all ages with different types of disabilities."
Online Volunteer in Colorado
"It started out as something to spend my time while awaiting disability for an injury. It continues because I like it. I have trouble working in an office environment due to my disability. My work schedule must be done in 20-60 minute increments with long rest periods between. The Net gives me the opportunity to work the hours I can. Working from my home, I am able to work for 20 or 30 minutes and then lay down to rest or lounge in a chair with my neck and shoulders supported. Since the injury involves degenerative joint disease in my neck this is very important. "
Online Volunteer in Massachusetts
"I've set up a website for a place that offers disabled individuals services to help them live more independently. Traveling can be difficult for me-at times, because I can't drive-due to vision impairment. (Virtual Volunteering) is fun, and I'm learning .html as I go along... Also, I like to help others, and it's a way of giving back for all the blessings/good things in my life. It gives me a good feeling of accomplishment, and pleasure to help others. "
Online Volunteer in New York
This volunteer became an online volunteer with groups she had supported onsite before becoming disabled. She also has become a volunteer with some of the organizations that provided services for her when she was in the hospital and afterward.
"I volunteer to improve the lives of people in my community and because it provides a purpose for my time. Also because I enjoy typesetting and design and I am happy to be able to do this as a volunteer. It is also a way to repay the help I receive. I enjoy surfing and have excellent computer skills. (Volunteering virtuall is) physically easier for me. I sometimes have anxiety attacks, which makes it hard to go to unfamiliar places or places which do not feel safe. The County Office Building, which has the Health Dept. offices, is overcrowded. Access to a computer and a desk would be difficult so working from home is easier. Also, Internet access is very slow from the office and much better at my house."
Online Volunteer in Wisconsin
"I was involved in the development of the eighth Independent Living Center in Southwestern Wisconsin. This is a office or facility which assists individuals with disabilities in advocacy, peer counseling (of which I am), independent living arrangements and assistive technology equipment for use within their daily lives. I also speak at schools concerning "drinking & driving" of which I'm a victim of. I've also worked with legislators within Wisconsin in the development of better laws & regulations concerning individuals with disabilities to assist in better living and accessibility issue. I've also chaired several groups and committees dealing with disability advocacy and other issues. I believe with my knowledge and experience over the years in dealing with different situations and issues I would be able to assist others who are unsure or indifferent about life or other issues. I volunteer online primarily because presently I'm unable to get around much. I have considerable time to use more efficiently or effectively."
We would like to expand the resources on this page, by including others' first hand narratives. If you have helped or are helping organizations as a volunteer via your home or work computer, please complete our online survey for volunteers and tell us about your experiences.