Thursday, 4 August 2016

It Takes a Village of Support and Volunteers

Once the promise and commitment was made, the work began. My first request was to my professional associations- the Opticians Association of Canada and the Ontario Opticians Association. My pitch-I wanted to do it under their name as a partner with New St James Presbyterian and I would appreciate funding, t-shirts and their enthusiastic support. Robert Dalton and Lorne Kashin didn't hesitate with a firm YES to my request.

Then it was time to build a team and gather supplies. I am grateful that Bryan Todd, a Licensed Optician from Sudbury, ON agreed to join us. 
I'm sure he did it only because he's never spent an extended amount of time with me. And even after I listed all the periles of being part of a small team, of people he didn't know, in a developing country and having to recruit people and support, he stayed the course and on board. I'm glad he did.
It would be a year that we had to pull things together. Although that sounds like a good amount of time, I knew there was a lot to get done. We would need some expensive equipment. We would be seeing lots of people and there was no way to make glasses on site so I wanted to take 2000 pairs of new glasses. We needed tools. We needed money. We needed help. We needed so much.

So we started with glasses and money. I am always grateful to have so many generous and giving people in my life. The associations started us off with $1100. We put that to use purchasing 1000 frames from Ronar. The sales rep heard what we were doing and offered to come and let us pick out an assortment of frames an basically the cost of shipping them to us. It also gave Cathy and Karen, to lovely ladies from New St James, who were leading the crew, an opportunity to see what goes into making glasses and what Opticians do.

Hoya was clearing out 600 pairs single vision lenses so Maurice at Vision Tech Labs in London, ON secured those as a donation for us.
I then spent hours matching those lenses with frames and preparing labels so that we could catelogue them when they were complete.
They were then given to Opticians around Ontario, including Bryan Todd, FYI Doctors in St Thomas, Monkey See Optical in Byron, ON and Eyes On Richmond in London, ON and they were edged and put together as new glasses.
We still needed more and so Lorne Kashin connected me with Paul Fabish, owner of Plastics Plus, the largest independent lab in Canada. 

When Paul heard what I was doing and talked to me about my goals, he immediately said "Give me whatever frames you can get and I will make up the rest with lenses" I was overwhelmed by his generosity and offered to fund-raise for at lease some of his cost. He declined "No, I've had a good year and if you can't give back when things go well, what's the point?" 

His kindness and generosity didn't end there. When the Ontario Opticians Association took up a collection to fund an auto-refractor for our team, he insisted on filling the gap when we came up short. 
When we are done using it, it will be held in trust with OOA so that other Opticians who are doing this type of work will be able to use it.
Paul also connected me with Moe Benaim, head of the optical division at Loblaws. Moe and his team were clearing out ready readers and shipped us a huge box of stock that they didn't need any longer.

It took 1 phone call to Frank Suen, owner of the Frame Barn, in Toronto to get 2 complete sets of adjustment and repair tools.

Bryan got over 200 more frames from Centennial and 120 from Plan-B. All donated.

It has been amazing to get so much support and sponsor ship for such a small team with lofty goals. In some ways, I am always surprised but in others ways, I have known the goodness and generosity over and over again in my life. I don't take it for granted. I am truly grateful that each and everytime so many people step forawrd to help in whatever way they can. Even those who aren't able to give, are gracious enough to listen, or direct me to resources and I accept the decline with grace, understanding that there are so many requests for help and you can't do it all.
And this was just the start.........

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