A Wild Volunteer Opportunity: Meet Tian

When Tian Chiu of Los Gatos began looking for online volunteer opportunities, she never expected to be reading about the Wild West to people with vision loss. But now the Los Gatos High School junior records herself reading Wild West Magazine for Society for the Blind’s Access News program, and she loves it.

Photo of Tian Chiu

Photo of Tian Chiu

Tian has been volunteering for more than a year with Access News, our telephone reader service that gives people with vision loss the chance to hear audio recordings of newspapers, magazines, grocery store sales ads and other print media 24 hours a day.

“I stumbled across Access News and immediately fell in love with the work,” Tian said. “Reading is something we might take for granted at times, and we really shouldn’t. I feel really fulfilled by the chance to give that privilege of being able to see and read text to someone else out there. I know that my recordings are going to help someone, even if it’s just catching up on the news or budgeting for groceries.”

Tian not only reads for Access News, but now provides administrative volunteer support for the program as well. She often manages the main Access News email account, records volunteer reader hours and compiles an Access News volunteer report each month. She recently implemented a new system to give volunteers more flexibility in choosing what they read.

When an older volunteer was no longer able to record articles from Wild West Magazine, she picked up the publication and began reading. When asked if she had a specific interest in the Wild West, she said she had never thought about it before, but she was happy to take over when there was a need.

“I’m passionate about community service, and I’ve learned that our subscribers really enjoy listening to old newspaper stories, so it’s nice to know there’s a demand for what I read,” Tian said.

Tian’s dedication to Access News earned her a Presidential Volunteer Service Award, but her community service goes even farther. She is a member of the California Scholarship Federation. She volunteers as a cashier at her school cafeteria, as a math tutor for middle school students of color and as an AP European History tutor at her school. She also serves as president of a student club she founded that creates handmade cards for groups in need of encouragement. Last Christmas, the club made 200 cards and delivered them to three local nursing homes. She now has a box of cards ready to be mailed to a group in Rhode Island.

Tian plans to stay in California for college and attend a UC school because she wants to stay close to her family – and she plans to continue volunteering with Access News for a long time.