Donor Support Helps Create Partnership between SUNY Optometry and Bowery Mission


NEW YORK—The Optometric Center of New York (OCNY), the philanthropic arm of the SUNY College of Optometry, has received a series of recent grants that have helped to establish a unique partnership between the College and the Bowery Mission in New York City that provides high-quality vision care for a segment of the city’s underserved population.

The Lydia Collins deForest Charitable Trust, The Chatlos Foundation, the Ethel Kennedy Foundation, the Hyde and Watson Foundation and the Tides Foundation, along with donations from private donors, have contributed valuable funding in recent months— totaling over $30,000 in support—to help build on an existing, volunteer collaboration between faculty and students at the College and the Bowery Mission, an organization that has served thousands of transient and homeless New Yorkers since 1879.

Over the past several years student volunteers from the College, coordinated through the Fellowship of Christian Optometrists and supported by the organization Hope for New York, have made semi-regular trips to the Bowery Mission in lower Manhattan to provide eye exams and other services, including dispensing eyeglasses free of charge, to people served by the Mission.

The OCNY has been actively seeking funding in recent months to help the existing volunteer project grow into a formalized program and these efforts have paid off. The College has now been able to institute regular, twice-a-month rotations at the Mission and provide equipment and other assistance thanks to the foundation support as well as gifts from individual donors. The rotations are supervised by SUNY graduate, Jack Chen, OD.

“We’re very grateful for the recent support that we’ve received to help develop what we expect will become an important program for the College,” said Richard Soden, OD, SUNY’s vice president for clinical affairs. “Part of our mission as an institution is to help care for our community and to instill a spirit of community involvement in our students and this program will help us do both of those things.”