Volunteer newsletter

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April 2016

Welcome to Spring!

"A gush of bird song, a patter of dew

A cloud and a rainbow's warning;

Suddenly sunshine and perfect blue

An April day in the morning!"

- Harriet Prescott Spofford, 1887

Introducing Jen Roehl

Please join us in welcoming Jen Roehl (pronounced “Rail”) to the role of Community Center & Volunteer Specialist!  Jen’s responsibilities will include planning and facilitating activities in the Community Center as well as leading the Volunteer Program. We are thrilled to have her at VLR. Please introduce yourself and welcome Jen to our community!

Jen has been a longtime volunteer with Special Olympics, serving in a variety of roles including Area Sports Coordinator, Head Coach, and Certified Instructor. She has also been a Wish Granter for Make-A-Wish MN and an Elementary Classroom Instructor for Junior Achievement. In addition to teaching and volunteering, Jen spent her professional career in marketing roles with Schwan’s, Thompson Reuters, and Patterson Companies. 

Jen’s VLR contact information:

Phone: 612-843-3421

Email: jen@vlrw.org

New Policy for Meal Reimbursement

In an effort to create a more sustainable Community Center and Volunteer Program, we are instigating a new policy for Meal Reimbursements. Volunteers will be responsible for paying for their own meal at an activity (i.e. at Lunch Bunch, Supper Club, etc.). Please save your receipt and send it in when you report your hours. VLR will reimburse you $10 towards your meal!

Did you know?

Our goal is 1,000 volunteer hours per month. We know this is possible! We are eager to catch any unreported hours “lurking” anywhere, as they do make a difference when we ask for grants and funding. Remember to include your transportation time to and from volunteering!

This goes for...

  • Shoppers

  • Readers

  • Community Center Activity Helpers

  • Support Group Callers

  • Phone Pals

  • Peer Counselors

  • Administrative/Phone Call Helpers

  • Anyone who has given their time to VLR!

Send a quick email to volunteer@vlrw.org, call, or print off and mail a timesheet (available online at www.visionlossresources.org/programs/volunteer/volunteer-hours-reporting )


We have a full calendar of outings and activities. Can you help? Please call or email volunteer@vlrw.org. Many activities fill up rapidly!

4/1 Macy’s Flower Show 12:30-3:00 811 Lasalle Ave, MPLS 8 volunteers

Be someone’s guide and eyes as you describe the beautiful floral arrangements.

4/4 Game Day 10:00-12:00 VLR in Minneapolis 2 volunteers

Lively fun with board and trivia games. Laughter, conversation, and snacks included!

4/6 Supper Club 5:00-7:00 7th Street Social, Saint Paul 3 volunteers

Read the menu aloud to participants, help with seating, and enjoy some tasty food.

4/11 Walking Group 9:00-11:30 Door 13, Southdale Mall, Edina 6 volunteers

Partners walk the mall for an hour, stop for coffee and conversation, and then walk for another hour. Please note: the second monthly Walking Group has been put on hold at this time.

4/13 BINGO! 5:00-7:00 VLR in Minneapolis 2 volunteers

Everybody loves BINGO! Help by guiding participants, handing out cards, and distributing prizes!

4/19 Twins Game 11:00-4:00 Gate 29, Target Field 7 volunteers

Join us for a fun day as the Twins take on the Milwaukee Brewers!

4/22 Pottery 10:00-12:00 VLR in Saint Paul 2 volunteers

Help participants create hand-built pottery items. No experience is necessary.

= Highlight Event - volunteers especially needed!
Severe Weather Days

Please call the VLR Weather Hotline at 612-284-8107 to see if VLR offices and activities are open for that day. The hotline will be updated by 5:30 AM if VLR is closing for severe weather.


We have opportunities to work with clients in many parts of the Twin Cities. Volunteers assist clients with reading and with shopping or errands. This is a personal way to make a big impact on someone’s independence. Volunteers set their own schedule and work on an on-going basis with the same person. This is an important way to make a connection with your community. Opportunities are available across the Twin Cities. Can you help?

SHOP with someone to help they live more independently. Flexible scheduling, flexible time commitment, BIG impact. Mileage reimbursement available for qualified drivers.

READ to help someone stay on top of bills and household paperwork. Every week, every other week, once a month, or on-call.

TEACH a class: your favorite craft, your favorite recipe, new technology, or ???

MAKE SOME CALLS: check in on someone who is isolated or call to talk sports or the weather.


Q: I have a friend, family member, or colleague who may be interested in volunteering. How do I get them started?

A: Ask them to contact us! Email volunteer@vlrw.org or call 612-871-2222. We’ll get them started with the application process and get them matched with a participant or activity!
Q: What is Volunteer Reimbursement for Mileage & Transportation Expenses all about?

Who is eligible?

A: Vision Loss Resources Volunteers who have completed a motor vehicle records check and have submitted proof of auto insurance are eligible to request mileage reimbursement. Auto insurance must meet limits established by VLR’s liability insurance carrier. Volunteers who use Metro Mobility or other mass transit to travel to and from their volunteer assignment are also eligible to request reimbursement.

What is eligible?

A: Your mileage reimbursement request must be part of an active volunteer assignment. When you report your volunteer hours, indicate your round-trip miles or mass transit costs to and from your volunteer assignment. Other expenses may be eligible for reimbursement. For example, if you join your client for an occasional coffee or snack, you can request reimbursement. Please ask if you are unsure. You will be requested to submit receipts.

When will I receive reimbursement?

A: Reimbursement checks are requested each month, the second week of the month. (Volunteer hours are requested by the end of the first week of each month.) Checks are usually prepared and mailed the 3rd week of each month. Please note: VLR’s Business Office prepares checks in rotation with payroll and other expenses. This schedule is subject to change. Additionally, reimbursement requests for less than $10.00 will be held until either the total request is greater than $10.00 or until the following month. This policy reduces administrative costs.

Please contact 612-871-2222 or volunteer@vlrw.org with questions.

Q. If I’m coming to VLR, where do I park?

A: Minneapolis office: we have two parking lots available. The larger “lower lot” nearest to Lyndale is the closest to our front door. Due to the nature of the intersection on Franklin & Lyndale, if you are coming from south on Lyndale, take a left on Franklin (westbound) and take the first right on Aldrich Ave S. Follow to the end of the street and continue to the right down the hill to our lower lot.

Saint Paul office: For those parking, being dropped off, or needing an accessible ramp at our Saint Paul office, please use the back entrance (215 Starkey Ave).

Q. I know someone who may need services provided by Vision Loss Resources. How do I help get them started?

A: Wonderful! Please have them call our main line (612-871-2222), where they will be directed to schedule an In-Home Assessment. One of our Community Service Specialist will get in touch with them to schedule this free appointment, which takes about an hour and can be scheduled at the participant’s home or in one of our offices. From there, they can have any questions answered, learn about available resources, receive useful items and get connected with VLR services that may be helpful to them – Volunteers, Community Center activities, Counseling, Support Groups, Living with Vision Loss Training, and more!


The following section includes events or activities that may be of interest to our volunteers. They are not affiliated with Vision Loss Resources.

My Body Works” Dance Show –

April 14-16, 7pm.

Michael Cohn, a dancer, choreographer and producer from St. Louis Park with a disability, will present “My Body Works,” new works with a company of eight dancers. ASL interpreting provided during the reception. Audio-description available at the performance on the 15th. Wheelchair accessible. Tickets ($10, $5 for kids 12 and under) available at the door.
Location: TEK Box at Cowles Center for Dance - 516 Hennepin Avenue, Minneapolis. Take the elevator to the second floor.
For more information or to request accommodations, go to http://www.jsballet.org/jsb-tek-box.

Subjects with Low Vision Needed

The Minnesota Laboratory for Low-Vision Research at the U of M is conducting an online survey to understand reading technology used by people with low vision. It will take about one hour to complete. Subjects will be compensated with $20 gift cards, such as iTunes, Target, Amazon or Starbucks gift cards. They are looking for adults with low vision (acuity less than 20/60 with best prescribed glasses or contacts, or a visual field less than 20 degrees in extent), if your vision has not gone through any major changes in the past year, and if you read visually for some purposes.

To access the survey or ask questions, please email Christina Granquist at: lowvis@umn.edu and she will send you a personalized link to the reading survey. Phone: 612-625-4516

VSA Minnesota has a list of audio-described, ASL-interpreted, and sensory-friendly plays, concerts, exhibits, tours, and special events in the Twin Cities. Contact them at 612-332-3888 or email access@vsamn.org for more information. The calendar is online at http://vsamn.org/community/calendar.

1936 Lyndale Avenue South

Minneapolis, MN 55403

(612) 871-2222
216 South Wabasha Street

St. Paul, MN 55107

(651) 224-7662

email: volunteer@vlrw.org


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