OAA Forms ‘Vision of Hope’ Nonprofit Charity

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LAKELAND, Tenn.—The Opticians Association of America (OAA) has formed a nonprofit charity called Vision of Hope Foundation “to promote opticianry education; develop future opticianry leaders; and perform international and community-based vision-related mission work,” according to the organization.

Initiatives already established for the Vision of Hope Foundation include the Russell Fritz Memorial Scholarship Fund for second-year opticianry students, the Eric Muth Library and Museum of antique eyewear to be displayed on a rotating basis at educational institutions belonging to the National Federation of Opticianry Schools (NFOS), the Student Leadership Program designed to provide travel grants for second-year students to attend the annual OAA conference, and the Mission Program developed to create a database to assist opticians in providing vision care to those less fortunate.

Through the Mission Program, the foundation will partner with frame and lens manufacturers in order to provide eyewear to those who are unable to afford vision care services, and it will also provide grants to opticians who are interested in participating in mission endeavors but otherwise could not afford to bring their expertise to those who need it most.

“There are currently about 75 to 80 organizations that sponsor eyeglass missions nationally and internationally, but there’s no place for opticians to call when they have a couple of weeks available to help out,” said Diane Charles, LDO, HFOAA, president emeritus of the OAA and chair of the Vision of Hope Foundation. She envisions the Mission Program as providing that service.

The programs of the Vision of Hope Foundation are funded through voluntary contributions from individuals and corporations within the vision care industry, and the organization is currently in discussions with frame and lens companies to obtain donations of product as well.

“The foundation can be anything we want because it’s brand new,” Charles told VMail. “It’s an exciting time with lots happening.”