Quinte SailAbility Breaking Down Barriers

I first met Sandy when she came to our office to interview for a volunteer/placement position in the spring of 2015 through Loyalist College Social Service Worker Program.
Sandy jumped in with both feet working on our bylaws and policy and procedures, she continues to support the agency as our reception volunteer. Sandy not only is a volunteer but also participates in a program offered through Quinte SailAbility. When you think of volunteering this is the impact you can have on an individual’s life. I asked Sandy to describe what her involvement in the organization meant to her. This was her response:

Would you rather go for a drive or go for a sail? I would choose to go for a sail. My name is Sandy, and I would like to tell you a little bit about an organization important to me, Quinte SailAbility.
Quinte SailAbility is a sailing school for persons who have physical and developmental disabilities. QS has been in operation since 2001 and is located at CFB Trenton Yacht Club at Baker’s Island. I have Cerebral Palsy and use of a power chair as my mode of mobility in my daily living.
When I tell people in conversations, when they ask what I like to do as a hobby, and I tell them I love to sail, I get a lot of surprised looks and usually the question that follows is ‘Do you sail by yourself?’ My answer is, ‘Yes! I do.’ Usually immediately after I answer the question people ask ‘How do you sail the boat by yourself?’ Then, with a smile on my face, I say, ‘I am able to sail the boat with a joystick similar to the one that I have on my power chair.’ The joystick is electronically connected to the sails and the rudder of the boat. By using the joystick I can pull in and let out my sails and control the direction of the boat completely and 100 per cent independently. Which is an awesome feeling in itself.
I forgot to mention my power chair stays on the dock, while I am on the water. Having complete control over the sailboat gives me an amazing sense of freedom I don’t get to experience otherwise as most days I am confined in my chair. It’s mentally therapeutic because for two hours I live completely in the moment.
Despite the physical challenges I face on a day-to-day basis, all disappear the moment I set sail onto the Bay of Quinte. Where, for about two hours, two days a week, limitations do not exist. Being able to sail is a sport not many people get a chance to do.
Recently, I and another member of Quinte SailAbility got the opportunity to sail from the yacht club at CFB Trenton to the Bay of Quinte yacht club in Belleville, each of us had a Martin 16 to sail. This was an awesome experience and I felt very accomplished as this was something I had never felt before.
Sailing seasons at Quinte SailAbility last 10 weeks, which is never long enough. I have always done a countdown on the last day of the sailing season to the beginning of the next one. My summers would be very boring if I wasn’t on the water sailing at Quinte SailAbility. Without the help and support of more than 50 volunteers who put in more than 1,600 hours, the 35 seasonal students who come to Quinte SailAbility daily and 110 students who are a part of Quinte SailAbility’s Outreach programs would not be able to experience the wonderful freedom of sailing on the open water on the Bay of Quinte.
Quinte SailAbility is looking for a volunteer one day a week to help make fiberglass and help with other sailboat repairs as identified by the instructors. Commitment is from Aug. 11 to Aug. 30, 2016. It is their hope that a volunteer will be able to join them as a maintenance officer for the remaining sailing season. Quinte SailAbility is located at CFB Trenton Yacht Club on Baker’s Island.
Volunteer opportunities to choose from this week include:
• Habitat For Humanity ReStore requires customer service clerk cashier volunteers who will greet customers, assist with inquiries, provide accurate sales transactions, answer phones and take messages. Shifts are available all throughout the week but they are really in need of volunteers to fill Saturday shifts.
• Prince Edward Learning Centre requires Monday morning kitchen volunteers who will work with a small group to prepare food like; cookies, muffins, pots of soup, etc. They are also seeking literacy tutor who can work with adult learners who have a variety of educational goals.
• VON Meals on Wheels requires volunteer drivers and passengers who will deliver meals to clients. Volunteer a minimum of once a week for an hour on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday or Friday between the hours of 11 and noon.

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