Incight’s Incredible Volunteers We at Levé are continually amazed by the work done by our 2014 nonprofit partner, Incight. Incight’s work to combat social stigmas around disability, and to “unlock the potential of people with disabilities,” as its mission declares, has been transformational not only for thousands of Oregonians with disabilities, but also for the thousands of Oregonians without disabilities who have learned to think differently as a result of their experiences with Incight. Incight’s double mandate—to incite change in attitudes and experience, and to provide insight into others’ lives—means their work takes many forms: job training seminars, internships, scholarships, high school visits and counseling, college tours, networking events, corporate inclusion seminars, assistance with independent living, sports and recreation programs ... the list goes on.
As the folks at Incight regularly prove, they punch well above their weight in programming and impact: with a lean budget and a small staff, they get a miraculous amount done. Executive Director Dan Friess attributes their successes largely to their huge, devoted volunteer corps. So in honor of those volunteers, and in the hopes of encouraging you all to contribute your time and energies to Incight, Levé will be profiling a tiny handful of the many volunteers who help Incight transform lives. Our first profile is below; watch this space for more!
Volunteer Profile: Mair Blatt
Mitch Blatt just finished his freshman year at Linfield College, which shouldn’t be remarkable ... but is. The odds are against it: far too often kids with disabilities don't make it to college, much less make it through their first year triumphantly. Mitch was born with cerebral palsy and is legally blind. “This is his stepping stone to independence,” his mother Mair declares proudly.
Mair Blatt has helped and advocated for her son every step of the way, and was delighted when Mitch took a summer internship a few years ago. At that point, she’d never heard of Incight, the organization at which he was interning. “So I Googled it, I checked them out, and I liked what I read,” she says. “When you have a child with a disability, you become very info-hungry, especially as they approach transitional ages and phases. I wanted to know more about Incight, because I thought that was the next phase for Mitch: going to college, working, finding independence.”
She decided that Incight deserved her support, and for the first couple of years, gave as a donor. But, she explains, as soon as her nest emptied and both of her kids were at college, she became an active Incight volunteer. “Last year, I helped plan their gala event: it’s fun, and you get to grease your creative wheels—Incight likes to be creative,” she says. Event planning isn’t new to Mair. “I think it helps to know what you’re good at when volunteering,” Mair explains. She has event-planned professionally, and she has volunteered for so many charity events and causes that it seems amazing she could find more time for Incight on top of it all. But Incight is special, Mair asserts. “Volunteering can often be thankless, which is just fine, but I’d leave every Incight meeting so inspired, and feeling so appreciated. You feel it when you’re around them: they truly care, and they’re so passionate.”
And their work is essential, Mair adds. “Dan [Friess, Incight’s executive director] reminded us that, should we join the disability community tomorrow, he hopes it occurs in a more tolerant society, where you can bring your personality and skills to the party instead of your disability. I look around and see so many people who are not awake, and I wish that the whole world was awake to people with disabilities. Having tolerance, and realizing the potential of this population helps the community, it helps the government, it helps our economies. ... Every community needs an Incight.”
Mair’s volunteering has helped Incight enact its mission, and Incight’s staff laud her devotion and enthusiasm. That she has managed to volunteer for so many causes so consistently while raising a family, including a child with disabilities, is all the more remarkable. But Mair firmly denies being exceptional. “We live in a great community. I’m not unique [in how much I volunteer]. The Northwest feels very giving. I’m constantly shocked by how much people give here, and how much they’ll roll up their sleeves and get the work done.”