Thursday, January 1, 2009

Give Time, Not Money

It's New Year's Day and we're all making resolutions. We're all worried about money too, right? In fact, the only people I know not noticeably more concerned over their income now are those who were worried in flush times. They're just always worried.

So here's my plug for a way to give without going hungry. Give time.

My favorite way to do that is by reading books for Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic. That link is to the Los Angeles studio; their national headquarters is in NJ. RFB&D records books for students who are in grammar school, high school, and college--even those doing post-graduate work.

Volunteers in L.A.'s Hollywood studio stand (well, sit) in good company. Stan Lee recorded there, brought in by the first winner of his Sci-Fi channel show Who Wants to be a Superhero? --Feedback. Another well-known TV star is Quark from Deep Space 9, Armin Shimerman (Principal Snyder for the non-Trekkies). Huell Howser even did a show on RFB&D's Hollywood location!

Local newscasters and celebrities always show up in April, during RFB&D's big annual fundraiser, the week long Record-a-Thon. So if you volunteer now you'll be a regular by then.

Anne MacDonald started Recording for the Blind in 1948, mainly to help World War II veterans who wanted to take advantage of the GI Bill and get an education, but who had been blinded in the war. The Los Angeles Unit started in 1951, through the sponsorship of the Junior League Braille Committee. It was located in the First Congregational Church on Commonwealth and 6th, and moved to Hollywood in 1963.

Other branches in Los Angeles opened: South Bay in 1988. That studio specializes more in technical books: math, engineering, and science--largely because it's located near all the big aerospace companies. In fact, TRW and the National Science Foundation funded the South Bay Studio. There's now a San Fernando facility, and an Inland Empire Studio (not quite LA County any longer, but the Inland Empire Studio's original location was Claremont.)

The technology's changed (books are recorded onto cds now) and the newish name (Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic) acknowledges the fact that 70% of the borrowers are NOT blind, just visually impaired. But the studios still run on volunteer power to record textbooks for students of all ages who otherwise could not read those books.

Commit to one two-hour session a week (weekends and evenings are available) and you can do good without spending a brass farthing, whatever that is.

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