The list of things worth waiting 30 years for may not be long, but I’d put this on it: Giving a child the ability to see his mother clearly for the first time.
Fortunately, fewer people are on that awaiting list each week.
That’s because every year, the nonprofit organization OneSight sends hundreds of volunteers around the globe to operate free vision clinics where residents in need can get vision care and custom made eyeglasses. Now in its 30th year, OneSight has provided clear vision to more than 9 million people in 46 countries, but millions more still need help.(1) This is why for each of its 30 years, EyeMed has joined OneSight in its many efforts and journeys to help people get the clear vision everyone deserves, everywhere.
In fact, 2018 marks twin anniversaries for both OneSight and EyeMed, as well as our collaborative efforts. Since OneSight was founded in 1988, EyeMed employees have volunteered to travel alongside and immerse in communities worldwide to help people see life to the fullest. To celebrate and honor our joint anniversaries, we’re capturing OneSight experiences that have, or are taking place, around the world in 2018--our 30+30 Year of Giving. I've had the good fortune of being part of these experiences and want to share some highlights of EyeMed employee “acts of service” so far this year along with some photos and videos.
Around the world in eye-opening ways: acts of EyeMed service to OneSight in the first half of 2018:
Antigua Vision Clinic
Despite its captivating beauty and bustling Caribbean tourism, Antigua, in the West Indies, suffers from a high poverty rate, — 22% — due to the seasonality of this industry.(2) Further, nearly all inhabitants lost their homes as a result of Hurricane Irma in September 2017, and many are still recovering. To help in the best way it could, OneSight chose this region for its 1st free clinic of 2018, and we kicked off our 30+30 OneSight service experiences there. EyeMed President, Lukas Ruecker, joined the global volunteer team, and together over a 3-day period they provided comprehensive eye exams and corrective eye glasses to more than 1,000 underserved people of the area.
Fund raising fun
OneSight clinics require financial support to become a reality, so a couple of our service efforts in January and February focused our sights on fun and funds! In January EyeMed employees raised more than $2,000 for OneSight in a silent auction of vision-related comic book covers with stories imagined by our own employees and brought life by a professional comic book artist. And in February a sunglass sale at our sales conference raised $14,000 for OneSight. Together that’s enough to fund a significant portion of a vision clinic.
Sales Conference Pack Shack
Pack Shack is a non-profit dedicated to providing food and provisions to neighbors in need. At EyeMed’s annual sales and account management conference in January, our attendees packed 20,000 meals — 5,000 sacks — for students in Cincinnati Public Schools, in just an hour. The packs were then distributed to students visiting the health center and OneSight Vision Center at the Oyler School in Cincinnati. We needed to pack a lot — 80% of these students are economically disadvantaged and part of government-sponsored reduced-price or free-lunch programs. The packs ensure they eat healthy meals at home. Yay!
The Amazon Ambassador Challenge & Amazon rivers vision clinic
OneSight made history in June with its first floating clinic, sailing rivers of the Amazon in Brazil. One EyeMed employee got the chance to be a second mate on this unique vision voyage. In March, 11 EyeMed employees competed for the single spot on this clinic team, raising a minimum of $500 each just to be in the running. Our employees were more than up for the challenge--all in, they raised $20,000! That’s enough to provide more than 1,400 pairs of custom-made eyeglasses or eye exams to 563 families. And the winner was (drumroll): EyeMed inside sales representative Judy Stoll!
In June, Judy joined a team of 28 Luxottica employees and eye doctors from around the globe. Traveling by riverboat, the volunteers were able to sail where very few health clinics can go, visiting 4 remote communities and providing more than 2,500 indigenous people along the rivers of Brazil much-needed access to eye care and eyewear. Check out these pictures from her week long riverboat adventure helping provide vision care in the Amazon region.
Oaxaca, Mexico: seeing patients at 2 vision clinics in May
Located at the southern border of Mexico, Oaxaca is recognized as the country’s most biodiverse state. Yet it ranks as the country’s second-poorest.(3) As a result, the majority of its people, nearly 75%, lack access to health care. Because the need for vision care is so great in Oaxaca, OneSight is holding multiple clinics there in 2018.
In May, I was fortunate to be part of a team of 40 OneSight volunteers for the first of 2 week long free vision clinics in Oaxaca. We helped more than 3,000 patients access needed eye exams and eyewear across 8 regions. I also enjoyed the special role of clinic storytelling captain and I recorded this short video greeting from Oaxaca.
For the 2nd Oaxaca 2018 clinic, EyeMed senior managers of operations, George Martinez, serving as clinic coordinator, and Maggie Wurth, as IT captain, joined a global team of about 40 volunteers and eye doctors. The team provided eye exams and eyeglasses to an additional underserved 3,000 people in Mexico. As a result, more children are able to see their mothers and learn in school, and more adults are better able to work, making it much more possible to live a full life.
Vision clinic at the Blackfeet Nation Indian Reservation, Montana
Also in May, a volunteer team including EyeMed employees traveled to the Blackfeet Nation Indian Reservation, located in a beautiful, remote area of Montana. Because it is far from urban areas, many of its residents lack easy access to affordable eye care, and therefore clear vision. In their week volunteering at the clinic, the team helped more than 1,500 patients with eye exams and new eye wear. Check out this video greeting from EyeMed employee volunteers Amy Geltz and Jarbas Pinheiro in Montana .
And more giving to come to celebrate 30 years
We look forward to sharing many more upcoming EyeMed service experiences, including clinics all around the globe and the U.S., community vision screenings, World Sight Day activities and more.
If you’d like to see more of our 30th year celebration experiences so far with OneSight, check out this photo collage.
And if you’d like to support OneSight's mission to bring clear vision to millions in the U.S. and around the globe, visit OneSight.org’s Act Now page.
1: https://onesight.org/about-us/; accessed 6/27/2018.
2: The Borden Project, https://borgenproject.org/causes-of-poverty-in-antigua-and-barbuda/.
3: The Oaxaca Fund Initiative http://oaxaca.icf-xchange.org/aboutoaxaca.