We are a nation of Givers! As a whole, Americans have a long history of volunteering. In fact, as a part of our constitution, the ability to form voluntary associations has been a treasured aspect of American life since our nation’s founding. Even in our own back yard, roughly 25% of Californians volunteer their time and services to charitable causes! And we, as Optometrists, have a duty to engage in our community as a force for good. With our advanced specialized skills, we have the ability to make such a profound impact in the lives of people who need it the most. Today, I want to focus on two amazing volunteer opportunities we have available for society members.
First, I want to highlight our local charity of choice, the Lions Optometric Vision Clinic. The purpose of the Lions Optometric Vision Clinic (LOVC) is to provide quality eye care for individuals throughout San Diego County who are otherwise unable to obtain assistance through private insurance or other social service agencies. This includes low-income families, or those undergoing rehabilitation programs. The LOVC provides many vision and eye health services for the public, including comprehensive eye examinations, low-cost glasses, dilated retinal evaluations for diabetic patients, Optos retinal photography, vision therapy, and glaucoma screenings.
SDCOS has created an incentive program to those doctors who are able and willing to volunteer for a shift at the LOVC:
- Members who volunteer will receive a free 5-hour CE registration
- Non-members who volunteer will receive a $70 discount off registration for any CE event
- SDCOS will extend this discount up to twice per year per doctor
Additionally, the LOVC is willing to work around any scheduling needs that you may require.
- Patients are typically seen in the mornings from 9am-1pm, but LOVC would be happy to accommodate you in the afternoons if needed
- Patients can also be scheduled in your own offices if you cannot make it to the clinic
- LOVC can arrange for Saturday volunteering if you work Monday through Friday
- You can set your own schedule of how many patients you would be comfortable seeing during your time in the clinic, and you can request a certain age group (e.g. children)
The LOVC and SDCOS have had a very long and successful relationship together and SDCOS is committed to continuing to support the LOVC in any and every way possible. The eye examinations at LOVC are free of cost to those who qualify, but this is largely possible because of the doctors who are so gracious to volunteer their time to provide services to the patients in need. Currently, there is an extensive wait-time for those in need of an eye exam and optical services. SDCOS asks that you please consider donating any time that you may have to help this organization continue to serve a very needing and deserving group of people.
If you prefer to focus your attention internationally, SDCOS has also partnered with Optometry Giving Sight!
In 2003, the World Council of Optometry, the Brien Holden Vision Institute, and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness created Optometry Giving Sight, a charity to mobilize resources from the global Optometric community in order to eliminate refractive error blindness and low vision. Their mission is threefold: dedicating their resources to train local eye care professionals, establish vision centers for sustainability, and deliver eye care and glasses. Their vision is a world where avoidable blindness and vision loss due to a simple lack of eyeglasses is eliminated by utilizing access to quality vision and eye care services for those in need.
As a partnering doctor, you will have opportunities to hear from Optometry Giving Sight and how you and your practice can support their global initiative by making donations and/or raising funds. Their “I Care & Share” program is a great way to support their project and also market your practice to patients who value a company which gives back to those in need. Through this program, you can base your donation on a product or service, such as eyeglass sales. For example, you could donate $2 for every pair of glasses you sell. Through this ‘buy one – give one principle’ you are letting your patients know that you care and share!
These fundraising efforts support a range of high-impact, long-lasting programs in underserved communities around the world. With your help, Optometry Giving Sight supports 35 projects in 27 countries. They provide vital support to community education and advocacy activities to raise awareness of the importance of eye health and the role of the Optometrist as primary eye care providers. To learn more about Optometry Giving Sight, please go to www.givingsight.org. For information on how you can help, please contact Eric Anderson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please let any of our board members know if you have any questions. The possibility for Optometrists to make a huge impact in our communities and beyond is limitless. I encourage all of you take advantage of these opportunities to help not just others, but ourselves as well!