Happy New Year to all IEOS members !!
We at California Lions Friends in Sight have big plans for 2017, including a schedule that already includes 35 vision screening. We are hopeful for your support in the coming year and look forward to seeing you at least a few screenings. Your participation will help fulfill the IEOS goal of supporting local eye related charities.
Most interested observers know about the work that takes place at the screenings, but we thought you might like to know more about what goes on behind the scenes to make them possible. To that end, we have prepared the following “story” for you and others.
Prior to the 2016 California Lions Friends in Sight (CLFIS) vision screening in Barstow, 87 year old Chyde Pope had never seen an eye doctor or worn prescription eyeglasses. Accompanied by her daughter, she was among the thousands of people we serve each year whose stories move us. Her story ends when volunteer Kathy Ogaz fits and cleans her new prescription eyeglasses and asks her to look at her daughter. With a wide-eyed gaze Chyde declares, “She’s beautiful!”
So where does Chyde’s story begin? It all starts with Lions Clubs placing eyeglass collection boxes at doctor’s offices and businesses in communities throughout Southern California.
From there, literally hundreds of caring and committed volunteers go to work on the before and after responsibilities needed to provide a free vision screening with free recycled eyeglasses. On a regular schedule, Lions go out to the collection box locations to gather up hundreds of the donated eyeglasses. Others then sort through the collected eyeglasses to pull out those that are in good condition. Eyeglass cases, sunglasses, and unusable damaged eyeglasses are separated out. These materials are then delivered to one of four Lions Clubs where more volunteers go to work inspecting, cleaning, and measuring the useable eyeglasses. The prescription numbers are hand written on the lenses before transporting them with sunglasses and cases to the CLFIS processing center in Beaumont. There they are placed in holding bins within the specified range of prescriptions. Broken and damaged materials are sent off to a recycling center where the proceeds are used to help offset CLFIS operating expenses.
Early in the process, trained volunteers categorize men’s, women’s, kids, single vision & multifocals and identify the range of prescriptions that will best meet the people’s needs. They are then bar coded, labeled, and entered into the CLFIS computer system. From there, 12 rolling racks are stocked with 17,000 of these selected recycled eyeglasses to cover the next vision screening. Between each screening, volunteers pull specific eyeglasses from the bins, label, and place them in the appropriate rolling rack slots left open from the previous screening. Chyde Pope’s eyeglasses are in there somewhere.
So, how are the over 30 CLFIS weekend vision screenings that are conducted each year organized in the first place? Months ahead of time, Lions Clubs and other service organizations begin applying for a spot on the schedule. Most are annual events, some are new. Once a date is confirmed by a CLFIS organizer, the sponsoring organization’s members go to work on securing a suitable venue, get the word out with effective promotion, recruit local doctors and opticians, and step up with their own volunteers to work the screening. Local volunteers help with unloading and setup of equipment, rolling racks, and supplies. Others work to register patients, arrange seating at each of 5 screening stations, and provide morning and lunchtime food and drinks for volunteers. Once underway, local volunteers direct patient traffic flow and assist trained CLFIS staff at work stations. It is here where local volunteers can themselves be trained and are encouraged to become “regulars” at other screenings conducted throughout the year.
Several days before the screening, CLFIS volunteers get to work on an array of necessary preparation responsibilities. To ensure a full team, the data base manager prepares and disseminates email communications announcing the upcoming screening to regular team members and past volunteers within the geographic proximity to determine their plans on attending. Gaps, if any, are filled with telephone outreach.
Lions from the pool of CLFIS drivers are identified for the vans and trailers that will be used to transport volunteers, equipment, rolling racks, and supplies to the screening. The drivers wash, check condition, and gas up the vehicles. The evening before and morning of the screening the drivers pick up the vans at staging areas and, together with other volunteers, load eye examination equipment from each of Dr. Brian Van Dusen’s two Inland Empire offices.
Early on the morning of the screening, some volunteers drive to the staging areas to ride in the vans while others car pool from all over Southern California to converge on the screening location by 7:00 am. Upon arrival, they are greeted by the sponsoring Lions Club or organization and unloading and setup begins for an 8:00 am start time.
For some volunteers, the vision screening is only the beginning. At its conclusion, patient sign-in sheets, eye examination forms, referral/consultation forms, volunteer sign-ins, and the records for the patients whose eyeglass needs could not be met are all collected for follow-up action. With the trailers loaded, the vans return to the staging area for unloading and reinstallation of equipment at Dr. Van Dusen’s offices. During the week that follows, drivers take care of vehicle/trailer and equipment/instrument repairs that cropped up over the screening weekend.
The next day brings a CLFIS record keeping and communications undertaking. The work includes a tally of the screening results covering the number of patients seen, computing of the eyeglasses provided, identification of patients with eyeglasses to be fabricated, number and type of pathologies matched to the screening’s referral/consultation form, volunteer sign in sheet, and rolling rack replenishment requirements. Reports are then generated and forwarded to volunteers for the official tabulation, webmaster posting on the CLFIS website, and volunteer data base updating. Patients diagnosed with pathology have their name, phone number, condition and insurance status recorded. That information is forwarded to the Lions Sight and Hearing Foundation for assistance.
For patients whose prescription could not be closely matched from the recycled eyeglasses inventory at the screening, CLFIS goes the extra mile to order or make new glasses in our optical lab using new prescription lenses generously donated to CLFIS by the Essilor Vision Foundation. Once made, the new eyeglasses are mailed to the sponsoring Lions Club for delivery to the patients.
This Behind the Scenes Story would not be complete or even possible without the Beaumont facility where the processing and inventory management for many thousands of donated eyeglasses is performed. An area is also provided for a fully-equipped optical finishing lab and vehicle storage in the yard. The space is on the property of Ranney Custom Builders and made available to CLFIS at no cost by Lion Don Ranney.
California Lions Friends in Sight is the embodiment of the Lions Club motto, “We Serve”. Our all-volunteer group is a Lions Club International affiliated organization. We share the goal of improving more people’s lives, just like Chyde Pope’s, through the continued expansion of our humanitarian service.
NOTE: CLFIS hopes to purchase a building with expanded space for work stations, inventory shelving, optical lab, training area, connected garage for vehicle parking, maintenance and repair, equipment/instruments storage and a screening staging area. This purchase can be possible with earmarked donations from generous supporters.