Mary Healy Teaches the Ways of Public Transportation | The Center for Victims of Torture

Mary Healy Teaches the Ways of Public Transportation

CVT Volunteer Mary Healy
Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Mary Healy’s involvement with CVT began with her appreciation of the beautiful yards highlighted in CVT fundraising Healing Garden tours in the 1990s. “I’m a fantasy gardener,” she explains. On one visit, she picked up a brochure about CVT and was intrigued to learn about its work in the Twin Cities. She volunteered to be a host at the next garden tour, and quickly became active in other roles. Beginning with New Tactics in Human Rights and continuing as a befriender, volunteer coordinator, and other roles, she has contributed to CVT for over 15 years.

Currently Mary volunteers her time as a bus tutor, helping torture survivor clients learn their way around the Twin Cities. She begins by identifying a client’s destination, and then creates a plan for the first trip. She meets the client at her home and accompanies her on a practice ride. While the client learns the steps in boarding, paying, and leaving the bus or train, Mary also observes to learn how she can better assist each person. For example, if a client has trouble walking to the bus stop, she can contact the CVT professional team so they can help the client get shoes or a cane. If a client is not literate, Mary creates a story-board plan with photos so the client has reminders of landmarks on the trip.

Although it may simply sound like teaching clients to use public transportation, it’s more than that. Each practice trip is an opportunity to identify other destinations that improve a client’s life. When a client can locate a favorite grocery store or a library, and get there without depending on someone else for a ride, the client gains independence and self-confidence. “Selfishly, it’s really rewarding because it’s fun to see people excited about something new,” Mary says. “Clients are very quick to show appreciation for my help, and I encourage them to be proud of their new skills.”

This is more than just a volunteer opportunity. It’s a commitment that Mary makes to clients because she understands the importance of expanding the possibilities in clients’ lives.

“I picked up a brochure at a garden tour and thought ‘Wow, this is an interesting organization.’ Now in the big picture I know how amazing the entire organization is. To be able to further its work a little bit is a good thing. I believe in it.”


Photo by Tom Baker/Manitou Photos


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