Sandy Industry Relief Efforts Continue as Recovery Slowly Progresses

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VSP is sending two state-of-the-art,
40-foot mobile eyecare clinics to
impacted areas in New York and New Jersey.
NEW YORK—Optical industry companies, ECPs and other organizations continue to work to stream supplies and relief services to those residents and colleagues in the hard-stricken areas of New York City, Long Island, New Jersey and parts of Connecticut more than two weeks after the wrath of Hurricane Sandy.

A VSP Global spokesperson said that it's mobile, equipped vans were on the way to the region. "We have employees on the ground right now in New Jersey and New York meeting with providers and community partners."

VSP Vision Care has committed relief efforts valued up to $1 million to ensure those affected have access to quality eyecare and eyewear, as reported earlier by VMail.

This week, VSP is sending two state-of-the-art, 40-foot mobile eyecare clinics to impacted areas in New York and New Jersey. Each clinic is outfitted with an exam room, eyewear frame dispensary and finishing lab allowing glasses to be made on-site. Examinations will be provided by local VSP optometrists. The areas where upcoming outreach will initially take place include Brooklyn, N.Y., Toms River, N.J. and Seaside Heights, N.J.

In addition to the mobile clinics, VSP has also provided the American Red Cross with 2,100 gift certificates, valued at more than $800,000, to distribute to those in need across all of the areas affected by the storm. The gift certificates are redeemable at local VSP doctors’ offices and include a comprehensive eye exam and eyewear. VSP has also committed to providing more gift certificates as requests come in.

“Our primary concern during these challenging times is to help ensure that an important and immediate need such as restoring sight is filled,” said Jim McGrann, president of VSP Vision Care. “Whether individuals are seen on the mobile clinics or they receive a VSP gift certificate from a local Red Cross chapter, we are committed to providing access to critical care during this time of need.”

Other VSP relief efforts to support those affected by Superstorm Sandy include: Matching VSP employee contributions dollar for dollar to the American Red Cross; providing aid to VSP eye doctors who were impacted by the storm so that they can continue to provide patient care.

Other industry colleagues continue to step up as well. People from around the country have continued to support the efforts of Jared Buchansky, eyewear distributor and founder of The Eye Shoppe in Freehold, N.J. and New Hope, Pa.. Buchansky, who is originally from Staten Island, N.Y. has organized his own relief effort by reaching out for supplies through his social network and industry connections (as reported in VMail on Monday). Throughout the week, additional industry members have joined his efforts by sending supplies to be distributed to affected areas of Staten Island and New Jersey.

“The response has been great; people have been really genuine,” Buchansky told VMail. “We couldn’t get support from a lot of government people, so we just we just took it on ourselves.”

Contributions have continued to arrive from industry members around the country, including Nancy Hutchinson of VisionOne Optical in Columbus, Ohio; Nikki DiBacco of Wink Optical Boutique in Panama City, Fla.; Vicki Houghton of American Eye Institute in Los Angeles, Calif.; Robert Sarasohn of Grove Opticians in Boca Raton, Fla.; Kelly Chasnov of Eyetopian Optical in Bonita Spring, Fla.; and Frances Sholz of Southside Eyecare & Optical Anchorage, Alaska. According to Buchansky, more help is arriving or on its way. “We had trucks from Binghamton [N.Y.] come in with supplies, and have another convoy coming up from South Carolina,” he said.

Buchansky attributes the widespread response to one driving force: Social media. “It’s the most powerful force on the planet right now,” he said, having made many of his connections on the Luxury Eyewear Forum on Facebook. “People want to downplay it, or say they don’t need Facebook or Twitter, [but] guess what—this is how it’s all been possible.” More information is available from Buchanaky via email at jared@buchansky.com.

In addition, Tina Catherine Eyewear & Opticians in Manhattan is donating 5 percent of all eyewear purchases to the American Red Cross for the month of November.

An Optical Galleria in Centreville, Md. has been acting as a drop off for supplies being driven to affected areas of New Jersey via the Grasonville Fire Department and BOE Marine store. And Ultra Vision Optical in Levittown, Long Island is offering 20 percent off all optical merchandise due to Hurricane Sandy.

Finally, at Opsales, a Long Island based eyewear company which lost all power due to the superstorm, David Byck, president, reported,"Our power was restored last night and we are back to work. We are currently in clean up mode and hope to be shipping within 24-48 hours. We were luckier than most in this area as we sustained minimal structural or interior damage. Phones are ringing, fax machine is humming and just waiting for our server to capture lost e-mails."