Volunteering Your Voice

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Imagine losing your sight and living in a world of darkness.

For some it's not the big picture they miss the most, but the little everyday things—things like reading the paper and keeping up with the local news.

But, in Barron County, a special program helps make sure everyone can hear what's happening in their town. Three local newspapers aren't just available in print, but also come on tape. Now, organizers tell us more voices are vital for the program to survive.

They all have their reasons for reading...

"I have a mother who's visually impaired," says Barron County Library Services Director
Lori Bock.

"It enhances my own reading experience and knowledge of the area," says Bob Rogers, a volunteer reader.

"Loving to read, I just hate the idea that people can't just pick up anything they want and read it," says Kim Collins, who also volunteers.

And their words mean the world to 97-year-old John Best.

“Since 1983 when I lost my vision, I have depended almost entirely on talking books to keep up,” Best says. “Books on tape have been a salvation for me."

But, talking books can't help him keep in touch with his hometown.

"I noticed both the Barron News-Shield and the Chetek Alert were available, but I didn't know many people in Barron, so naturally I was more interested in the Chetek edition," Best says.

John is one of about 30 people that get a weekly recording.

"We get some really heartwarming notes from the people who get the papers," says Bock.

But, finding volunteers to record them can be a bit of a hassle.

"We kind of scramble to find volunteers for the Barron paper every week," Bock says.

That's when she turns to her co-workers in the courthouse.

"It's just a small, tiny thing to do something for the community," says Collins.

But, to Bob, there's nothing small about it.

"I think it's a wonderful service, yes, I enjoy it very much and it does keep me in touch with Chetek, a town where I started my teaching career in 1932,” Best says. “So, the town means a lot to me.”

Volunteers spend an hour a week reading and recording the local stories.
If you're interested in becoming a volunteer, you can call (715) 637-6870.
Bock says she’ll provide the tape player and the tape.