VISION USA celebrates volunteers’ community work, dedication
VISION USA is as much about community stewardship as it is about providing no-cost eye examinations—it's about extending a helping hand, and giving disadvantaged Americans the chance to get back on track.
This philanthropic calling sets apart the nearly 3,000 VISION USA providers who have aided more than 430,000 low-income, uninsured people with comprehensive eye examinations since the program's inception in 1991. But even among those are volunteers who go above and beyond to help fill a void so individuals can access vision care they may otherwise go without.
Called the VISION USA Service Award, this distinct honor from Optometry Cares ®—The AOA Foundation annually recognizes three AOA members who provide exemplary volunteerism and community service through VISION USA. This year's awardees—Coy Brown, O.D., Sheridon Gove, O.D., and Carey Patrick, O.D., share their thoughts on what motivates them to provide this impactful community service.
Coy Brown, O.D., of North Carolina.
"I have been practicing in my community for 36 years. This community has been tremendously supportive of me and my family, so I started doing VISION USA exams as a way to give back to my community. I feel that we have been able to provide a service that is needed and have a positive impact on several people in need. I appreciate what VISION USA does to help those people in need, and I am grateful to be able to be a part of such a wonderful program."
Sheridon Gove, O.D., of Maine
"I am a VISION USA provider because I am following the lead of my father, who is a recently retired optometrist and was a VISION USA provider. Throughout his career he used his talents and abilities to serve those who needed his help the most, and I am only trying to follow in his footsteps. Those in our community who are uninsured are most in need of medical attention, and I feel it is my duty, obligation and privilege to help them experience and interact with the world to the best of their ability."
Carey Patrick, O.D., of Texas
"I've been a VISION USA provider since I first graduated from optometry school. At first, it was a way to connect with my community and to give back via my talent (for eye care) as giving of my treasure was difficult to do in those early years. But what I discovered along the way was that my gift made a significant impact in the independence, employability and quality of life for those folks I encountered. As it turns out, I was the one who got the best gift. Many of my former VISION USA patients have become loyal patients of my private practice and are some of my best referral sources. Starting with a gift is the best 'word of mouth' messaging my practice could ever hope for."
In a virtual kick-off, the AOA launches Leadership Institute with 130 doctors of optometry from across the country. A project of the AOA Leadership Development Committee, the Institute is a yearlong program designed to grow and support the next generation of leaders in the profession.
At the 2021 Leaders Summit, AOA-member volunteers set priorities for the year and launched new initiatives to lead the profession forward.