Posted on October 16th, 2013
“If you build it they will come.” Cliche, perhaps overused (and yes, a line taken from an American classic film), but so fitting for the start of this blog entry.
Actually, pause. I should introduce myself first since this is my inaugural blog post.
My name is Kari Ryan-Rodriguez and I am the Co-Director of The Eyeglass Project. I feel humbled and honored to have been chosen to continue working towards building a solid foundation for this amazing service initiative. I’m excited for what the future holds for this endeavor, and almost equally excited to improve my accuracy when solving the question portion of any eyeball related Jeopardy answer.
With introductions behind us, here is a summary on THE EYEGLASS PROJECT from conception until now:
In the fall of 2011 Hunter Vision embarked on a pursuit to turn a call to serve into a reality. No road map. No template or blueprint. Just a prayer, determination, and incredible partners to kick start a movement which enables others to see their world—and their significance in it—as a part of God’s big picture. The pursuit: to bring access to better vision to those in need while creating an avenue for service within our community.
With incredible partners, and a lot of prayer, the plan to run vision-testing clinics and provide eyeglasses to those in need in the Dominican Republic, became reality. Hunter Vision, in partnership with Northland Church and TIME Ministries, traveled to Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, for their first mission endeavor, in May of 2012.
Two years after its inaugural trip, THE EYEGLASS PROJECT is experiencing growth at a rapid rate. The 2013 mission trip served as confirmation of this very fact. The number of patients served nearly doubled (from 400 to 750), as did the size of our team.
In 2012, a group of 10 volunteers traveled to the Dominican Republic, taking with them 1,500 pairs of donated eyeglass (thanks to the generous Central Florida community). Our 2013 team totaled 17 persons, including three doctors and three elementary-age children. This time, 3,000 pairs of eyeglasses were transported.
These figures represent people. People, like the little one pictured above. In a country where the literacy rate consistently fluctuates between 85% and 90% for those over 15 years of age, and available vision coverage is a luxury not readily available to the majority of the nation’s populace, what we are able to offer matters.
In 2014 we have the honor of partnering with TIME and Northland again, likely taking two trips. We are also in the planning stages for a third trip alongside our newest partner organization, The Diocese of Orlando (whose sister diocese-San Juan de la Maguana- is located in the Dominican Republic). There we will serve school children in a rural mountain village called Las Lomas.
In a blog post earlier this year, my counterpart Elizabeth Hunter wrote: “Our hope is that this becomes our community’s project, not just our own.” THE EYEGLASS PROJECT has become just that – our community’s response to the call to serve. What a beautiful thing to watch unfold.
Hunter Vision’s THE EYEGLASS PROJECT is generously supported by the hands, hearts, skills and resources of our community partners:
Dr. Kerry Giedd-Eola Eyes
Dr. Chris Pearson–Sable Eye Care
Miguel Lugo, MD
Dr. Amanda Stebbins-The Spectacle Shoppe
Lake Orienta Elementary School
St. James Cathedral School
Project Right to Sight
District 35 O Lion’s Club, Winter Garden
Thousands of Central Floridian Citizens
Thank each of you for your contributions to serving the people of La República Dominicana. It all matters.