A Neighborhood Hero
Jessica, a senior at California State University Fullerton, started her Health Sciences internship with Children’s Health Initiative of Orange County this September in hopes of learning more about working in a Public Health setting as she prepares for nursing school applications. Just as Jessica was starting, CHI OC was also beginning the planning stages of an event they would be joint hosting. Kids Vision for Life would be pairing up with CHI OC and Santa Ana Unified School District to host a free eye clinic that would provide students with free glasses at two elementary schools whose students have a high level of need. Two screenings were held at the end of September to screen Walker and Roosevelt Elementary School students for vision failure. Volunteers from UCIrvine, CSU Fullerton, and Western Nursing School came to assist doctors screen 1,500 students in two days. Jessica was one of these volunteers, but unlike any of the other volunteers Jessica had a special connection with this neighborhood.
“I live in the neighborhood where this event took place, so I was really happy to see the children in my community getting the help they needed and I was so happy that I had the opportunity to help out. I was very saddened by students because of how bad their vision was. Some students told me they couldn’t see the chalk board during class. Those children showed me that these students really did need these resources and we were really helping them,” siad Jessica. Following the Screenings, which identified 275 students who failed their vision test, Jessica took the lead on calling all the families of these students to invite them to the clinic and to assist families who did not have health insurance. “We wanted to make sure that we made contact with the hundreds of parents to personally tell them about the event and make sure that they attended. Although this task was tedious it was worthwhile because the parents were very appreciative that we were taking the time to inform them about the event”.
On the day of the event, fifty volunteers joined Jessica in running the clinic. Volunteers greeted families and registered them for the event, took care of their charts and files, and made sure that every child saw a doctor and picked out their new pair of glasses. After months of preparation everything finally came together. “Parents would tell us over and over again how grateful they were. Many parents would tell me stories about how they lost their jobs, didn’t have health insurance to get glasses for their children, or how they had a tragedy in their life. Some parents even recognized my voice or remembered my name from the calls I had made to them.” By the end of the day, 176 students received free glasses.
As the planning team looked at the boxes full of glasses waiting to be shipped for lenses, Sam Hahn of Kids Vision for Life said, “These families were here today because CHI OC took the time to make those calls!” CHI OC can proudly say that through the power of volunteers this clinic was made possible; and Jessica, a member of the Walker and Roosevelt community, made the biggest contribution of all.