Why you should volunteer
Volunteer-operated charitable organizations like Keratoconus Australia are different. Not only do they operate for the sole benefit of those they serve, they do so without the goal of earning a profit on their activities. Not only do those working for such organizations do so out of commitment to an ideal, they do so without expectation of financial reward. That is what makes these organizations so special. That is also what makes these organizations so difficult to sustain.
Keratoconus Australia has been operating since 2000 - a remarkable achievement for a tiny organization born in a Camberwell cafe in the hope of improving the existence of people with keratoconus.
Many of us back then had struggled all our lives with poor vision, never meeting another person with keratoconus and with very little information about the disease and the treatments being offered to us. We trusted our eye-carers although they took little time to explain what they were doing. We soldiered on in our daily lives, at school, at university, in the workplace and while socializing with friends and family - mostly without complaint but not without difficulty. Invariably we were asked why we could not wear glasses when we had problems with our contact lenses.
Today so much has changed thanks to the volunteers who assist Keratoconus Australia. Patients and their families now have access to clear and detailed information about keratoconus and its treatments via many media, they can obtain support by internet, phone and in person, they can attend regular public information seminars presented by specialist practitioners and researchers and they know that the Association is promoting research into the origins of keratoconus and the safety and effectiveness of new treatments being offered to them like corneal collagen crosslinking.
Yet the problem with a volunteer-based organization is that it cannot demand or even expect things from those offering to assist. It is vulnerable to the vagaries of its volunteers' availability and commitment and these can vary widely according to their personal and professional circumstances. That is perfectly normal.
Specialist skills required
In the past, we have sought more assistance from volunteers and some of you have kindly offered to help. But the lack of a volunteers' coordinator and the non specific nature of assistance offered has made it difficult to for us to respond effectively. While we would like members to organize their own social functions for others with keratoconus to chat, what the Association requires today are motivated people with specialist skills in certain areas who are able to initiate and implement projects independently.
Ideally, we would like to find someone with the time and experience to act as a coordinator to manage these volunteers.
You do not need to have keratoconus to participate in the Association. Anyone with an interest in assisting people with keratoconus can join us. Harnessing the skills of the wider keratoconus community i.e. family and friends will be vital in the Association's survival and progressing its aims in the future.
Despite the challenges all of us face in our daily lives, we continue to achieve much. We could do so much more with a larger, committed group of volunteers.
Please consider taking on a role in supporting people with keratoconus. There is nothing more satisfying that using your knowledge and experience to help others.
Contact us now