Lion’s Club Gives Vision as their Mission

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Kathryn Caswell age 9 is fitted for glasses for the first time.
Kathryn Caswell, age 9, is fitted for glasses for the first time.

IMPERIAL – For one weekend out of the year, the Lions Vision Mission volunteers provide eye vision care for all in need. A few requirements are asked, that they show up, register, and sit through a 2-hour process at the Veterans Hall in Imperial. Those willing, walk away with an eye exam, prescription eyeglasses if needed, and a new pair of sunglasses. All thanks to a handful of volunteers and one generous doctor donating his time.

Larry Hudson, President of the Imperial Lions Club, organized the event for the past eight years and has worked with the Lions Vision Mission for the past two.

The first six years Hudson could only help school-aged children, 12 years old and under. It wasn’t until Hudson partnered with the Lions Vision Mission that he was able to offer these services to everyone.

Last year, 947 people walked away with prescription glasses over a two-day period, 2,000 were turned away.

The Lions Vision Mission is a international Non-Profit Organization that hosts events every two weeks for eye care. Due to the high need in many communities here and across the border, events must be scheduled one year in advance.

Of the 947 people that were helped at last year’s event, only 20 did not receive glasses that fit their prescription from the 15-17 thousand donated glasses on hand. Anytime a prescription can not be found, frames are picked out from their selection, sent out to a lab, and mailed back in two weeks, all for free.

It takes roughly $5,000 to bring the event together. Local businesses, such as Johnny’s and Subway, helped with donations and discounts. Hudson, who expressed nothing but extreme gratitude for the volunteers, housed the visiting Lions Club volunteers at the local hotel, then provided a banquet dinner Saturday night to say thank you.

Volunteers from Lion’s Vision Mission group, AmeriCorps, Southwest High School, and the Imperial Lions Club started working at 7 a.m. The Veterans Hall donated their facilities for the event.

Dr. Brian Van Dusen, an out-of-town optometrist, has been volunteering for the past 32 years. He processed 45 people within two hours.

This free event helped all that came, from Sista Morris, aged 91, a long-time eyeglass wearer to Kathryn Caswell, aged 9, who received glasses for the first time.

Caswell finally received an opportunity to see clearly. Complaining for the past year of problems reading the whiteboard at school, Caswell’s grandmother, Stella Johnson, said, “I am so proud of the volunteers. The people here are beautiful people. I especially admire the doctor who donates time to help the community.”

Hudson expressed his desire to do more, as well as a need for more eye doctors. He expressed a desire to see more local doctors volunteer their time as well.

The weekend was a success with over 750 people provided with eye exams and glasses. Next year’s event is already scheduled for November 14th from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. and November 15th 7 a.m. – 12 p.m.

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