Seguin's Volunteer Program

July 3, 2008 6:43:45 PM PDT
Giving back to your community goes a long way. That's why consumers with disabilities are part of Cicero's volunteer program. People without disabilities volunteer their time to organizations serving people with disabilities. Now the role has reversed: disabled people are volunteering their time while getting to know their community.

At Cicero Town Hall, members of Seguin Services, a not-for-profit organization are handing out information. Lori Opiela, vice president of Seguin, says they have a monthly pool of 70 people volunteering.

"We wanted to have people with disabilities have other experiences other than going to a day program or employment," said Opiela. "This was a way for them to give back to develop job skills, to learn how to work as a team, to learn how to interact with the public, it was a way for them to build their self-esteem to give back to the community and learn some new skills."

Several people have gotten jobs from volunteering.

"Several people volunteered at a hospital doing hospice work and were hired by the hospital. We have other people that have even moved into other types of employment in the community," said Opiela.

Kathy Ordman is the executive director of Cicero's Office for People with Disabilities. She helped set up the program at Cicero's town hall.

"Last year I decided to do a side-by-side program, and that's how it started, and we just continued on working with it and the people just love it here. The employees and the residents, they love seeing the consumers come here, and talk to them, and say hi to them," said Ordman.

Cicero's Anti-Hunger Foundation has several volunteers from Seguin. Diane Eddy, program coordinator, says they pack enough food to feed 200 families a week.

Seguin's volunteers are among the best.

"They're always eager and a smiley face, unlike some of us dragging in here," said Eddy. "They're great volunteers. I love them sometimes better than the coaches. They come here and they teach the coaches what needs to be done. They've been coming here for years and years and years. They help us with a lot of repacks."

"We have 180 some people that would love to be out volunteering," Opiela said.

"It's really touched a lot of people's lives, even working side-by-side with them for someone who has a disability with someone who doesn't," said Ordman.

Prior to becoming a volunteer, all Seguin's consumers are giving some training.

For more information on Seguin Services volunteer program, go to www.seguin.org.


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