Helping Others See

California doctors restore eyesight of agricultural workers, needy patients

Helping_Others_See

To many, Sonoma County, California, summons images of fine wines, lush scenery and elegant dinners. But Daniel Rabkin, program manager of Sonoma County Operation Access, and his colleagues are well aware that many in the community live in poverty with limited access to medical treatment.

On Make A Difference Day, Rabkin banded together with a group of ophthalmologists and their staffs to save the eyesight of 24 area agricultural workers and day laborers and another six needy cataract patients.

“By the end of Make A Difference Day, 30 people with limited means who never expected to get the help that they needed — and at no cost — were seeing a bright future ahead,” says Rabkin.

Ophthalmologists Robert Anderson, Gary Barth and Daniel Rich of the Eye Care Institute, Santa Rosa, Calif., fueled the project. They performed surgery on agricultural workers with pterygia, a blinding growth often caused by excessive exposure to sunlight.

On the same day, Dr. Naveen Chandra and his surgical team at Kaiser Permanente in Martinez, Calif., restored the sight of six needy cataract patients.

Those in need learned of the program through news media and word-of-mouth campaigns organized by Rabkin and others.

“These patients are enormously and rightly grateful to the doctors who donated their time and skill for surgery that the patients definitely needed but could not afford,” says Sally Giovinco, office manager of the Eye Care Institute “They lined up all the way out the door to check in an office most had never been to before and some didn’t speak any English. … From beginning to end, the patients and all of us were privileged to be part of something so completely positive.”

This article was written by Nancy Dunham, and first appeared in USA TODAY WEEKEND

 

credits: Martin E. Klimek, Nancy Dunham, USA Today

Make A Difference Day

For more than 20 years, USA WEEKEND Magazine and Points of Light have joined together to sponsor Make A Difference Day, the largest national day of community service. Make A Difference Day is a celebration of neighbors helping neighbors. Millions of volunteers from around the world will unite in a common mission to improve the lives of others on Make A Difference Day, Saturday, October 26, 2013.

Make-A-Difference-Day_2013bThousands of projects are planned each year involving corporations, communities, nonprofit organizations, entire states and individuals. Many of the 250 HandsOn Network affiliates lead projects across the nation.

The stories told around Make A Difference Day show that anyone – regardless of age, location or resources – can accomplish amazing things when they take on the problems they see in their community. Recognizing the power of Make A Difference Day, other organizations join with USA WEEKEND and Points of Light each year to inspire and recognize the valuable work of volunteers. Newman’s Own supports the day by awarding $10,000 to the charities of each of 10 National Honorees and three City Awardees. USA WEEKEND Magazine will feature the All-Star honoree, 10 National and three City Award honorees in a special April 2014 issue coinciding with National Volunteer Week, led by Points of Light.

We invite you to join us in service on Make A Difference Day 2013.

Read our Get Started or read our FAQ to learn more.

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ALSO: If you aren’t going to be a part of a programmed group project, grab some family or friends and create your own small project on the fly. Or how about a meet-up project. And of course, little ole’ you can just make your own little difference, because don’t forget, to the recipient, your little difference might just be a really big difference.

All people of the world are invited to participate. It makes no difference where you are from or where you live. Making a difference for someone else is part of the international process called LOVE.

Enjoy …and Good luck!   🙂