In 2018, Lighthouse Guild volunteer José Cruz received a Volunteer of the Year Award from New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio—recognition that is richly deserved. For more than two decades José has been working with clients in Lighthouse Guild Behavioral Health and GuildCare programs, and he currently devotes five days a week to helping people who are visually impaired loss lead healthier, more active lives.
Sports and wellness feature prominently in José’s volunteering. Clients love getting exercise outdoors, and José works with Lighthouse Guild and Achilles International to lead walking groups. He also provides health tips and does research to answer questions on a wide variety of health topics. On a typical day, he might address exercise programs, vitamins for specific conditions, and the importance of hydration in discussion groups. By encouraging clients to get regular exercise and focus on wellness, José is helping them to make real and lasting changes in their lives.
An ardent sports fan, José leads sports discussion groups and reports that clients’ favorite topics are the Yankees and Mets. He also leads news discussion groups, where clients talk about current events. In addition, he helps serve lunch and escorts clients to vans when they are ready to leave Lighthouse Guild facilities.
José says that his volunteer activities are as beneficial to him as they are to clients. He notes that every day he gets to discuss topics of interest to himself and to clients. More important, he has developed empathy and a deep appreciation for the challenges that people are able to overcome.