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Robert Bell

10 Ways Vision Charity Work Will Change Your Life

After all “Those who can, do. Those who can do more, volunteer!”

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Something strange has been happening and I’m very concerned. Truthfully, I could use your help. Hell, I need your help! And, if you help me, I can pretty much guarantee it’ll change your life in ways you cannot begin to imagine.

I’ve been involved with vision charity work for years, with Project Homeless Connect and, for the last few years, with California CareForce. One of the things I love doing is recruiting volunteers (ODs, opticians, optometry students, reps and executives) for vision clinics and events. For me, there’s nothing better than watching these volunteers truly light up someone’s life who needs an eye exam or a free pair of glasses. These are dynamic and heartwarming scenarios for all involved. There’s nothing like it.

So, why my concern?

Because it seems I can’t recruit volunteers like I’ve done in the past!

At first, I thought “perhaps you’ve lost your touch.”  The page I helped set up years ago on Facebook: “The Vision Volunteers” … has grown silent. The responses to any requests for volunteers falling on deaf ears. I only hear crickets nowadays.

Losing my touch is debatable but I realized there’s something else at play here. There’s a powerful force influencing all of us: the lasting effects of the pandemic.

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Every one of us was affected by COVID in many ways and the lingering effects have changed us. One of the changes: It’s made us all a bit selfish and self-centered. Hey, me included!

When I realized this, I needed a wakeup call. So I went back to volunteering and it broke the chains of my self-centeredness in a dramatic way. I mean, I just can’t stop smiling now. But, hey, that’s me.

Why should YOU volunteer? Some reasons that may resonate:

  1. Being part of a team with a passion to help others is as satisfying as a big, warm hug from someone you love.
  2. Hearing someone you’ve helped say something like “Now I can fill out a job application” or “OMG, I can REALLY see now. It’s like my depression is melting away” or “I’m so grateful to you. I don’t even know how to say thank you” is like wrapping yourself in a warm blanket, right out of the dryer, on a cold night.
  3. When volunteering with other ECP’s an amazing and very bonding camaraderie occurs. I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve had volunteers exclaim: “I didn’t realize I’d learn techniques from others that will make me a better ECP.” It just occurs naturally.
  4. Lifelong friendships between ECPs start at these charity events. I’ve never seen it not happen.
  5. The optical industry has the resources … surplus frames, lenses, optometric equipment, etc., that they happily donate. But all these resources are worthless if there aren’t optical volunteers using them to provide these much-needed services. In other words, we need YOU!
  6. Your political or religious beliefs do not matter here. It’s your heart that matters! Your ethnicity, gender, age? Doesn’t matter either. It’s your experience as an ECP and willingness to help that does.
  7. If you agree that poor vision shouldn’t be an impediment to those striving for a better life then what are you waiting for? If you’re thinking, “Robert, you have a point. Someone should do something.” Well, I have news for you: YOU’RE SOMEONE!
  8. How does putting a child who needs glasses change their chances as a student, change their attitudes, change their LIVES? You already know the answer.
  9. How does providing an adult with an eye exam and corrective, stylish eyewear help them? You know that as well.
  10. Simply put: Volunteering will change your life in ways too innumerable to mention, not to mention the countless lives you’ll change.

So, what’s next? If you’ve volunteered before, I urge you to volunteer again. If you’ve never volunteered your eyecare talents but you’d like to please join The Vision Volunteers Facebook page and we’ll help you help others in your community.

Let me leave you with this thought:

Those who can, do.
Those who can do more, volunteer!

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Amongst the other things Robert Bell does in the eye care industry, he helps to oversee the Vision Services Program for California CareForce and inspires others to volunteer in their own communities throughout the United States. You may contact him at [email protected] or send him a message on The Vision Volunteers page on Facebook.

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