AOA-member volunteers dedicated to serving others

AOA-member volunteers dedicated to serving others

Joseph C. Mallinger, O.D., board member for Optometry Cares—The AOA Foundation® with Gary Klein, O.D., owner of San Diego practice Urban Optiks, which held a trunk show and raised more than $7,000 to benefit the foundation.

More than 62 million people volunteered through or for an organization from September 2013 to September 2014, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. And thousands of those volunteers are AOA members who make a difference through service benefitting the optometric profession and AOA itself, as well as make an impact on their communities through Optometry Cares®—The AOA Foundation.

April is National Volunteer Month.

The foundation's mission is to expand eye care awareness, education and research, as well as access to eye health and vision care, to everyone in the United States in order to enhance human performance and quality of life.

Optometry Cares—The AOA Foundation supports programs that give direct service, including InfantSEE® and VISION USA. Since the program's inception in 2005, InfantSEE has provided no-cost, comprehensive eye and vision assessments to more than 114,000 babies within their first year of life. As of the end of 2014, 7,226 AOA-member optometrists were InfantSEE providers.

The VISION USA program, which is available in 39 states and the District of Columbia, provides no-cost eye exams for low-income individuals. The providers—of which there are currently 2,829—are AOA members who volunteer their time and services.

Individuals looking to receive an eye exam through VISION USA must work with a community-based organization in order to apply. In 2014, a total of 3,864 applications were processed through 2,123 community-based organizations.

Healthy Eyes Healthy People® (HEHP) grants, funded by a generous grant from Luxottica, are awarded to optometrists, is a program designed to make sure vision services are provided through community health programs and to ensure that optometrists are recognized as integral and essential members of the health care system.

HEHP grants are awarded to optometrists who plan to address challenges and opportunities in community health related to vision care and improve overall community health status. In 2014, there were 369 project activities (events, lectures, clinics, workshops, etc.) that served a total of 11,714 attendees. As a result of grant activities, 8,154 patients were examined.

On top of the year-round dedication of donors and member volunteers, nearly 500 runners participated in the 2014 5k Run/Walk at Optometry's Meeting in Philadelphia, raising more than $25,000 for the Foundation. Register for the 2015 5k Run/Walk, which will be held June 27 in Seattle.

Member ODs also can organize independent events. In February, Urban Optiks, a practice in San Diego, held a mini trunk show and fundraiser, "Raise Your Glasses," to benefit the foundation, raising more than $7,000. The practice plans to top that amount next year.

For information on getting involved with any of the programs of Optometry Cares, contact Development Officer Rebecca Hildebrand at

March 30, 2015

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