Lions of Michigan Vision Mission Team Partnering with the Issa Trust Foundation

 
2013 was the first year our Lions of Michigan Vision Mission Team partnered with the Issa Trust Foundation to bring much needed vision care to the school children of Jamaica. Lions Clubs International is the largest service organization in the world with 1.4 million members in 209 countries, with a worldwide mission of “We Serve”.

Our Lions Vision Mission team was started in 1992 by Dr. Dennis Cobler, initially making a yearly mission to Central America. Eyeglasses are collected by Lion’s members throughout the State of Michigan and brought to our recycling center. Here, every pair of glasses is inspected for damage or scratches and the “keepers” are washed, dried and then measured for their prescription. The unusable glasses are sent to a recycling center where the plastic and metal are completely recycled. Nothing is wasted. The clean/measured glasses are placed in a plastic bag with the prescription inscribed on a label. These prescriptions are then entered in our computer database and then each bag is given a number before it is packed in a box in numerical order. These glasses are then shipped to the mission site.

On the mission site, the patients have their eyes screened by an auto-refractor that measures their prescription and eye alignment objectively. The patient then sees the eye doctor, using this electronic screening as a starting point and then further examining the patient’s eyes for more precise prescription needs and complete eye health.

If glasses are needed, the prescription is entered into the computer program and the closest used glasses we have to that prescription are given to the patient. The glasses are adjusted on each patient’s head along with education on when to wear them and how to care for the glasses. If we do not have glasses close to the proper prescription, we have the patient select a new frame and we have the glasses made in the US. The finished, brand new glasses are then sent back to the patient through the Issa Trust Foundation.

During non-COVID times, we collect 500,000 of used glasses a year. Lions’ volunteers collect the glasses and perform all the recycling duties in a weekly session at the recycling center.

Our mission team to Jamaica usually consist of 4-6 Lions Optometrists and up to 10 more Lions volunteers that do the preliminary testing, computer operations and dispensing the glasses to the patients.

In Jamaica, we examine school age children from 1st grade through high school. We try to examine 200-300 students a day for 4 days. In the 9 missions we have made with the Issa Trust foundation, we have examined almost 7,200 patients and provided 1,750 pairs of glasses.

Issa Trust Foundation, headed by Diane Pollard, is the invaluable teammate that makes this all possible. Diane coordinates all the mission sites where we work, whether it is right in the school or at a local church. Diane obtains permission from all the student’s parents for us to examine them and coordinates with the teachers and administrators to schedule the students into our makeshift clinic. Diane also facilitates all the paperwork required by the Jamaican government for us to operate with our professional licenses in the country and the volunteer permits required. The Issa Trust Foundation transports our used glasses into Jamaica and secures them and our equipment before our arrival. Finally, our safe travel to and from the airport, the mission sites and our accommodations in country all are provided by the Issa Trust Foundation.
From the very nearsighted student that could only see three inches from his face clearly, to the very farsighted student that could not count their fingers in front of their face, we provide much needed eyecare for the students of Jamaica. We use vision for 80% of what we learn. The future is positively different for Jamaican students because of the partnership between the Issa Trust Foundation and the Lions of Michigan Vision Mission Team.

If you would like to help the vision mission initiative, used eyeglasses can be sent in boxes of any size to:

Lions of Michigan Eyeglass Recycling
4060 29th Str. SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49512

In Service and Friendship,
Lion Dr. Gary Anderson

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