By Patricia Abbate
It was my pleasure to recently meet and work with professionals and volunteers from a non-profit organization that continues to make a difference to thousands who are visually impaired and otherwise disabled since its inception nearly 40 years ago. The organization, Talking Information Center (TIC), has had its studios in the building that also houses WATD FM, 95.9 since its formation in 1978.
Today, TIC reaches an audience of 40-50 thousand listeners throughout Massachusetts along with a substantial audience of web listeners around the world.
According to TIC Executive Director Jim Bunnell, the station is “almost 100 percent volunteer driven, with only four fulltime employees and more than 600 volunteers that read and support the organization.” Bunnell stresses an interesting fact that “90 percent of the volunteers are seniors and over 80 percent of our listeners are seniors (over the age of 62), so we are one of those unique organizations where seniors are volunteering for seniors.”
The Executive Office of Elder Affairs and the Massachusetts Commission for the Blind oversee TIC. One of the top initiatives of Elder Affairs is to keep retired seniors engaged through volunteering. “Not only do we keep volunteers active, we also share other volunteer opportunities with seniors,” states Bunnell.
With a strong cadre of committed and dedicated volunteers, Bunnell marvels at the energy of Lea Cotton who “is in her 90s, drives herself to the studio every Friday and reads the Christian Science Monitor…it makes your heart melt.” She has been reading for more than 20 years.
Bunnell welcomes all those interested to stop by for a tour of the studios. You’ll find small rooms staffed with volunteers reading books, newspapers, supermarket circulars, and other print works into studio microphones with headsets firmly in place, in their best radio voice. It’s a beehive of activity as these singular, friendly, personal voices reach the eager ears of thousands of listeners all day, every day, bringing the written word to life and the voice of a friend into homes.
TIC relies on grants and donations to keep their reading services going. To that end, their 24th annual Wine Dinner Fundraiser will be held on November 3 at the Barker Tavern, Scituate. Bunnell notes that the “people who attend totally understand our mission. Our strategic plan is focused on widening our listening audience, and we have some very dedicated, long-time supporters from the business community who partner with us to move our mission forward.”
For more information about TIC’s Wine Dinner or general information, please call 781-834-4400 or visit www.ticnetwork.com.