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New Lenox Doctor Volunteers For A Lifetime At Donation Funded Eye Clinic

New Lenox Doctor Volunteers For A Lifetime At Donation Funded Eye Clinic

(Photos courtesy of NewLenoxPatch)  

Escaping the doldrums of a summer job mixing soil for a local nursery, New Lenox resident Bob Martin sought adventure and goodwill in South America.

He was 15 at the time, canoeing down rivers with a bunch of teenagers, taking in unique food and culture and meeting the faces of political strife. The experience was enough to draw him back, but the linchpin was, and still is, the thousands of people who are helped every year.

“It was such a great feeling that I kept doing it,” said Martin, now 52. “We had a lot of excitement. Once it got into my blood I couldn’t stop.”

In high school, Martin read about Amigos de las Americas, a non-profit organization that gives high school and college students an opportunity for community service in Latin America. Martin only had the intention of going for one year, but he ended up staying through college.

Every summer, he went to Latin American countries to help in a number of ways, such as administering vaccinations. After he was too old for the Amigos program, Martin and others he worked with still wanted to help out in Latin America. So they started their own non-profit organization, Vision Health International.

The organization is funded entirely through donations and it’s operated by health care professionals and other volunteers who give their time for several programs throughout the year. According to the Vision Health website, the organization has provided 15,000 eye exams, 13,000 pairs of eyeglasses and 3,000 sight-restoring surgeries since its founding in 1985.

“One of the best parts is when I take their patch off and they can see. I say, ‘Am I handsome?’  and they say, ‘Yes!’” Martin said. “Their medical system is so backlogged that they have to go to a private opthalmologist and they just can’t do that. For them to buy a pair of glasses for $60 just isn’t going to happen. (more)

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Article by Michael Sewall, | Read full article here

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