In Spotlight

April is Volunteer Appreciation Month and we’d like to introduce you to a few of our superstar volunteers. Get to know them through a brief Q & A session.

The Murray Family: left to right Tessa, Melina & Taryn

Meet the Murray family. Tessa (left, 14), Melina (mom), and Taryn (right, 16) live in North Seattle and have been volunteering with Northwest Association for Blind Athletes (NWABA) since February 2022. They are also actively recruiting dad, Tom, to volunteer with the rest of the family at next year’s winter camp.

How did you first become involved with NWABA?

Melina: I am an O&M (Orientation & Mobility) Specialist and had met Kirsten French at different events and conferences and she asked if I would be interested in helping out at camp and mentoring PSU O&M univ students for the weekend.

Taryn: I wanted to volunteer and help out somewhere for my high school community service hours and my mom mentioned NWABA. I thought it sounded fun and rewarding!

Tessa: I initially went because my mom and sister did.

Why did you choose to volunteer with NWABA over other local organizations?

Taryn: I wanted to work with kids near my own age doing something that I hadn’t done before but also being helpful.

Melina: I thought it would be a good way to help out and give a little back to the field professionally by mentoring a few PSU O&M students and being a resource for the NWABA team & students.

What motivates you or makes you happy to volunteer with NWABA?

Melina: The camp is well organized, the kids and staff are amazing, and it’s fun! It feels meaningful and  makes us want to help and keep coming back to this community.

Taryn: I love that the campers can shine and help each other. It’s promoting independence and friendship. The campers are all viewed as capable and every activity is accessible.

Tessa: It’s fun!

Please share a favorite story about volunteering with NWABA.

Taryn: Snowshoeing to a snowy pasture and then playing with all the campers. The joy of the moment was incredible with each individual having fun. There was singing (“Under the Surface” from the movie Encanto with Kennedy) while building a snow fort, snowball building (the biggest one ever by Inara and then rest of group also joined in rolling it to about 4-5 feet in diameter).

Melina Murray standing in the snow with a group of athletes and volunteers in the snow.

Melina Murray (in blue coat) at an NWABA snowshoe event.

Melina: I saw multiple times when campers helped each other, listened to each other, offered advice to each other in heartfelt, respectful, and heart-warming ways. I sat with a group of campers during free-time playing a card game. The kids were laughing and enjoying each others’ company and one camper was laughing so hard, her whole face was covered with a grin, with tears running down her cheeks. Even in a couple of days, these kids bonded together, enjoyed the activities, and loved sharing and caring for-and-with each other. It filled me with hope.