New Eyes For the Needy is non-profit organization which distributes glasses not only to the less fortunate in the United States, but also to the millions of impoverished adults and children on the global scale. The organization has the vision of not only giving glasses to individuals and their families and friends, but also providing them with a higher standard of living. A new pair of recycled, prescription glasses from New Eyes For the Needy, can change one’s life.
Founded in 1932, New Eyes For the Needy has given over eight million people in the United States and countless more in 80 different countries around the world, the gift of sight. It is striking how much good New Eyes for the Needy does not only locally, but internationally. It is amazing how a simple pair of glasses can make such a difference in a person’s life. Glasses give confidence to a struggling student, allow senior citizens to read their medication bottles properly or even help a worker excel at his job. In the current political climate, so many people are unsure if they will even have healthcare coverage, let alone be able to afford glasses. To say my volunteer experience was rewarding, is certainly an understatement. After volunteering, my eyes have opened. I have never really thought about how important a simple pair of glasses can be.
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Glasses are priced as luxury, as an average pair costs $196.00. However, the reality is that glasses are a necessity. One needs them to work, study, drive and simply survive.My volunteer experience with New Eyes For the Needy began last summer and continues currently.
Along with other local high school students, I have the opportunity to sort and pack glasses. My primary job is to work with the lensometers. Lensometers are optical machines which determine the prescription of lenses. With a quick demonstration on how to use the machines, my fellow volunteers and I are able to sort thousands of eyeglasses.
I learned about the different types of prescriptions and lenses. The other job I have is to pack recycled and already sorted glasses. We fill boxes with glasses and ship them either throughout the country or internationally.
After my three weeks at New Eyes For the Needy this summer, I had a greater perspective for those who are less fortunate. Because of my experiences, I was sure I wanted to continue volunteering. When this project was assigned, New Eyes For the Needy was the first organization that came to mind. When I went back, I had a similar job. I mostly worked on the lensometers, identifying prescriptions. However, the volunteer director had another job for me. New Eyes for the Needy has an online shop where vintage glasses are sold. I am helping to develop a list of groups that will purchase the glasses.
These groups included theater groups–for props–along with vintage shops and other organizations. I help email and advertise the site. In addition, post glasses on the website and advertise on other sites.
New Eyes For the Needy is also sponsored by Costco, which sells glasses of their own. When a Costco shipment comes in, the glasses need sorting. I identify them as readers, progressives, or lined. Some glasses have the same prescription on each lens, but others have to be sorted differently because the prescriptions do not match. Furthermore, sunglasses have to be sorted. Donations also have to be sorted. Certain glasses are designer, so they were put in a separate pile.
These glasses are also sold online. It is a great pleasure to be able to help even in the smallest way for an organization that has done so much good for the past 85 years. Going back to New Eyes For the Needy was a true privilege. Volunteering at New Eyes For the Needy made me realize how lucky I am. My father and brother have very poor vision. Unfortunately, they both recently lost their glasses.
Even with optical insurance these two pairs of glasses costs nearly 1,200 dollars. This was a stretch for my family to afford. Good optical insurance is very difficult to come by and I am lucky enough to have the benefit of it. However, to imagine an individual on a minimum wage salary without insurance being able to afford a pair of good glasses is difficult. My grandparents have told me how they were forced to choose glasses based on what their insurance covers, not the glasses they liked.
New Eyes for the Needy has joined the effort to help give those in poverty the materials they need to see properly. Although many see poverty as a number or as a scientific conclusion the word has a deeper meaning that many fail to comprehend. Those in poverty are deprived of the basic needs of human beings. Food, water, shelter and clothing are necessities that can be hard to come by for the less fortunate.
Education is another factor, as it can affect one’s ability to hold a job or deal with finances. Poverty can also be described as a terror–not knowing what tomorrow holds. Poverty in this country is a growing issue, and it is so much more than a financial struggle. It can cause a deep mental and emotional toll on many. In many ways the world is a much smaller place. Social media and the internet constantly display images of wealth and luxury goods.
Young people, especially, are constantly reminded of the products they should want. When a person lives in poverty, the necessities of food, shelter and transportation take precedence. However, the constant bombardment of sneakers, clothes, glasses, cars, etc.
, that one cannot afford can cause emotional trauma. Teenagers in particular, can feel left out or inferior to their peers. We have all heard of incidences of bullying on social media based on one’s clothes or lack of the newest devices. The rise of YouTube personalities contributes to this problem. Kids follow celebrities and have a hard time deciphering reality from truth.
Their lives are seemingly perfect because of their designer clothes, lucrative endorsements, and exotic vacations. These celebrities are often teenagers themselves whose parents seem non-existent, with priorities that are materialistic. Very rarely do any of these celebrities talk about those less fortunate or convey that hard work and being a good person is relevant to success. Their success looks simple–be good looking, wear expensive sneakers and engage in risky behavior.
The fact is poverty is complex and nuanced. No one deserves to be poor, but sometimes actions contribute to poverty. However, many times a person is hard working has the best intentions, but poverty is an inescapable reality. I actually know of an athlete at West Orange High School, who had to quit his sports team because he had to work after school to help support his family. This is a choice no child should have to make.
My volunteer project at New Eyes for the Needy helped me realize that some necessities are out of reach for the poor. I also learned there are different levels of poverty. Someone who is poor, is not necessarily impoverished. Most of the glasses that New Eyes for the Needy provides in the US go to member of the working poor. These are people who hold full time jobs, pay taxes and are supporting their families. However, their paychecks do not stretch to cover some necessities. In conclusion, volunteering has been fulfilling to me personally, but most of all I understand the importance of having safety nets, such as New Eyes for the Needy to help those who need it the most