Volunteer Spotlights

Cleveland Sight Center is transformed through the energy and passion of volunteers. Here, we turn a spotlight on the many ways volunteers impact our mission and highlight how their work makes a difference for our community.

 

FRED AND DIANNE DISCENZO
Time to leave your fears at the door and have fun with some music! Fred and Dianne Discenzo are two of CSC’s most devoted, talented, and fun volunteers. Together, they teach a bi-weekly series of ballroom dance lessons to CSC’s clients. No experience? Not to worry—both Dianne and Fred are skilled, silver level dancers with 15 years of dancing and 10 years of teaching under their belts. They have experience teaching a variety of populations, and are currently leading classes for those with visual impairments, Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s and at the Center for Aging. The object of each series, they say, is to keep people engaged, socializing, and—most importantly—having fun. Both Dianne and Fred express the sense of accomplishment and feeling of reward they feel when teaching, fondly expressing, “we get a paycheck in laughs and hugs!” 

But why ballroom dance specifically, you may ask? Both agree that there’s value in nice music and good exercise. As a retired engineer, the science-loving side of Fred also points out the health benefits that can result from dancing, and his interest has led him to further pursue research regarding how best to share these benefits with those hesitant or unable to give dance a try. Therefore, Fred has dedicated his time to researching and designing a system in which real-time synchronized motion can be achieved for movement training in dance, an approach Fred hopes can make dance more accessible. In pursuit of this project, Fred completes collaborative research in Avon with Case Western Reserve University and Kent State University. The project focuses on designing a system of wireless sensors and actuators, designed to be worn by the user to help record and guide coordinated and therapeutic movement, all at a low cost to produce. This system could potentially allow a visually-impaired individual to safely complete guided movements in order to perform directed exercises, dances, or other therapeutic motions through feedback provided by sensors. This technology could allow new possibilities for those interested in learning dance safely, collaboratively, or remotely.

Between Fred and Dianne, both express the joy they gather from helping others to have fun and achieve success through dance. On the impact of volunteering, Diannne and Fred describe: “It’s surprising how you affect people in ways you never imagined; it affects their self-value in ways that we never anticipated.” We’re proud and thankful to have both Dianne and Fred as part of our volunteer family here at CSC! 

MIKE MUSGRAVE
To Mike Musgrave, Cleveland Sight Center (CSC) represents community and a lifelong adventure of learning. A teacher in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District for 35 years, Mike first brought his passion for education and community to CSC in 2011. Drawn in by a desire to build relationships with clients and staff, Mike has served in over thirteen volunteer roles during his time with the agency. From recording newspapers and articles for CSC’s private radio network to GED® tutoring, reading books aloud in preschool, or helping with administrative tasks and events, Mike’s positive energy has become a staple part of CSC’s community.

For Marjorie Pyles-Hearst, an Adult Education teacher, life without Mike seems unimaginable. “I couldn’t do it without him,” Marjorie expressed, noting how essential Mike has been in understanding strengths and challenges students have and in providing the support they need to earn their GEDs®. For Marjorie, she can see that Mike “has the students in his heart,” a trait he exudes by getting to know them for who they are. In reflecting on his time as a volunteer, Mike says it is relationships like these that make a difference for him. “I have taught clients,” Mike reminisced, “but I’ve also learned from each individual what I can do to improve to support them.” Through his passion, Mike has made and continues to make a lasting impact at CSC, not only through the relationships he forms, but also through his willingness to help with any task that needs completing. CSC is lucky to have his energy and intuition, and for all the time he has and continues to share to nurture our community. Thank you, Mike, for the impact you share!

EDITH CONZETT
Former CSC volunteer Edith Conzett joined the Peace Corps at age 66. After completing her service placement in Nepal where she worked in a residential school for those with blindness and low vision, she came to CSC where she spent over 20 years as a braille volunteer.

CSC’s Braille department promotes Braille literacy and availability, specializing in the conversion of print materials into Braille and large print for individuals, schools, restaurants, churches, and more. Always up for a new challenge in her work, Edith took on an array of projects during her time with CSC including creating material for Advanced Placement Calculus and Physics for a high school student and transcribing literature and poetry. She supported work within the Braille Department, completing numerous projects a year on behalf of the agency. Through her work, she has learned French, German, Latin, Ukrainian, and Nepali. Along with CSC’s team of Braille volunteers, Edith’s worked behind the scenes to provide essential materials for people who are blind or visually impaired has made a lasting impact. We are forever grateful for her passion and commitment.