Thank you to Tracy Kinoshita, Volunteer Extraordinaire
Tracy Kinoshita is everywhere – coaching at Folsom High School, fostering for an animal shelter, consulting with organizations across Northern California and working for the United States Association of Blind Athletes. We considered ourselves fortunate to have her join our Board of Directors in 2016, especially since she was the only member of our Board who had a child with vision loss.
In January, Tracy took on a new role – President of our Board of Directors. Despite this new position, she continues to serve on most of our Board committees.
“I love the excitement and energy of the team,” Tracy said. “I don’t want to miss a thing. It’s so exciting to work with a group that’s so passionate. And I can’t say enough good things about the staff. Together, we’ve done so much over the last few years, from the buildout to offering remote services and now our expansion.”
Tracy noted how much CareersPLUS has expanded over the last few years. The program was near to her heart as she had worked hard to help her son, Michael, succeed in school and career with vision loss.
“When I joined the board, CareersPLUS was this little thing we didn’t know how to put our arms around and now we’re helping teens and young adults across the state learn how to advocate for themselves,” Tracy said.
She also credits Society for the Blind staff with the quick turnaround to remote services when the pandemic hit.
“Within a week, Shari and her staff made almost all of their programs available remotely, and our programs began to expand,” Tracy said. “We’ve created new ways to reach more people even after the pandemic ends, and we are a better organization because of it. Transportation used to be a barrier for people to come through our doors, but now they can access us from their homes. Now we can help people anywhere.”
Tracy, a coach at heart, has been thrilled to see how the USABA National Fitness Challenge has inspired Society for the Blind’s participants to reach goals they never knew they could achieve.
“It was so incredible to be working at the national level with USABA and see its effects on individuals at Society for the Blind,” Tracy said. “For some, walking across the street used to be scary and now they’re doing yoga, tandem biking and judo. I’m so proud to be a part of it.”
The job came naturally to Tracy who has coached at Folsom High School with her husband since her children were students there. Though her son and daughter are now 26 and 28, she and her husband continue to coach, saying, “Our kids graduated, but we never did!”
Coaching became even more meaningful for Tracy when the pandemic hit.
“As coaches, we were helping kids through the ups and downs of the past year,” Tracy said. “For some kids, practice was the only time their parents let them leave the house. For those who weren’t allowed to come to practice, we could still stay in touch with them and be a support system for them. We had no idea how much we got out of this until we couldn’t coach during the shutdown.”
Tracy comes from a long line of educators and coaches, so it was no surprise to her that her son, Michael, who interned at Society for the Blind for the National Fitness Challenge, has decided to get his teaching credential. He also is helping to coach at Folsom High School alongside his parents.
“He really discovered his passion for helping people reach their potential when he interned at Society for the Blind for the National Fitness Challenge,” Tracy said. “I’m grateful to Society for helping him learn more about himself and how much he loves working with people to hit their potential and being there as a shoulder to cry on.”
Tracy says she has received much more from Society for the Blind than we have received from her – we disagree. We could not be more grateful to have Tracy as our Board President during this time of expansion at Society for the Blind. Having dedicated volunteer leadership has been pivotal to our success, and we know this will continue with Tracy at the helm.