Making things easier

5 Questions with... Timaru and Mackenzie district's community committee of the Blind Foundation chairwoman Imelda Hitchcock.

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Imelda Hitchcock has been with the foundation for 31 years. She has also added a Top Star Volunteer Recognition Award to her many achievements.

How did you get involved with the Blind Foundation Foundation?
At the age of 12, I lost my 25-year-old, chair-ridden, crippled eldest sister, and having helped care for her gave me a great understanding of ‘disability’. I always said that when my sons became independent of me, I would do some voluntary work in gratitude of them being born healthy. Thinking of an organisation of disabled people, I had expected it would be with the Crippled Children’s Society, but when I was invited to join the Blind Foundation, I couldn’t think of anywhere better, having three sons with sight impairment and a diabetic husband, maybe needing the foundation’s help in the future.

What are the main functions of the group?
To help keep our members independent. Take them out of the confinement of sitting within their four walls all day. Bring the members to the Blind Centre, provide activities for them such as yoga, craft, bowls, socials etc, and give them some pleasure in life.

What do you enjoy about your involvement with the group?
Getting to know the members well and being able to help them when they phone me with their little problems or queries. Taking the members on bus trips to other districts and meeting up with members from those places. It gives me a very rewarding feeling when I see the members enjoying themselves.

What are some of the highlights you’ve had with the group over the years?
Improving the facilities in the centre. Keeping it up to a certain standard. Going to conferences and workshops throughout New Zealand and meeting up with delegates from other districts.

Where is your most favourite part of the world and why?
Naturally Timaru. [Residents are] friendly people [and] always ready to help other people. A lovely, mostly peaceful place to bring up a family and being able to drink unfluoridated water.