People who wear glasses or contacts know what it’s like to not see things clearly. Thankfully, those people only have a few minutes in the morning when their vision might not be 20/20. Others, who have never seen a pair of glasses or who have never had the opportunity to visit an eye doctor, are not so lucky. Their vision is always fuzzy.
Thankfully, members of Lions Club International have a way to provide people with eyeglasses. They have a program called Lions Recycle for Sight in which eyeglasses are cleaned, sorted by prescription strength and packaged. Most of the recycled glasses are distributed to people in need in developing countries.
Members of the three Lions Clubs in this community – the McMinnville Lions Club, Warren County Lions Club and Rock Island Lions Club – take donations all year long for thousands of eyeglasses to be distributed.
“The last time my husband, Bob, took some to our state office building, he took around 1,000 pair. We take prescription glasses and reading glasses of all kinds,” said Warren County Lions Club member Susie Davenport. “The glasses go to the state office building and eye doctors and eye professionals sort and grade them. There are also people incarcerated in various state prisons who are trained to grade, sort and package the glasses. When someone goes on a mission trip, they take the glasses with them. People who go on mission trips might not always have an optometrist or opthamologist with them. It may be a medical doctor or someone else who just tries glasses on the person until they find a pair that works.”
Tina Walker is one of those people who is not an eye doctor, but has been on missions helping to distribute glasses.
Walker is a medical assistant at the Health Group of McMinnville.
She has been on more than one mission trip. Her most recent trip was to Haiti with Mountain Face Missions, a Christian-based mission that has been in Haiti for over 50 years.
In 2010, she traveled to Haiti six weeks after an earthquake. Local nurse practitioner Greta Minton also took part in that same mission.
“We provided medical clinics. One of the big issues there is starvation. When a person is so malnourished and is starving, one of the first things to go is eyesight. They cannot see. My father-in-law, Sammy Walker, is a member of McMinnville Lions Club and they were able to collect eyeglasses for us to take with us. We probably had 800 pair,” said Walker.
Walker said they had to have an interpreter because the Haitian people speak Creole French.
“We could not understand each other’s language but we could still communicate. When we first put glasses on the Haitian people, they were in shock. They had a look of amazement on their faces because they could see. We could tell when they got the right pair just by the looks on their faces,” said Walker.
She said the medical clinic lasted eight days and it was not unusual for them to see and treat around 200 people per day.
“The trips are very exhausting. The heat is super hot. It is usually in the high 90s and very humid. Also, we do not get very much to eat when we are there.” said Walker. “I want to go again, though. It has always been a dream of mine to go on missions. I always wanted to go on a medical mission. I love to help people. I help people every day at my work in the doctor’s office but, I wanted to take that to another level and help those who don’t have the resources that we have here in America.”
Eyeglasses may be donated at any area eye doctor’s office, the Warren County Election Commission inside the Administrative Building at 201 Locust Street, Dr. Leland Northcutt’s Chiropractic office at 1014 South Chancery Street, or they make be given to any Lions Club member.