#EyeSiteStrong: Virginia Practice Hosts Grand Opening After Tragic Fire

By

Drs. Julie Brown (l) and Shannon
Zollinger are photobombed
by Mama Crockett.
COLLINSVILLE, Va.—On Nov. 3, ODs Julie Brown and Shannon Zollinger of The Eye Site held a ribbon-cutting event celebrating the opening of their new modular office. Back in September, the practice, caught fire on what Dr. Brown described to VMail Weekend as a “normal Sunday afternoon.” While the cause of the fire was yet to be determined, the practice was up and running merely days after, operating in a temporary location. Today, however, they have found a more permanent solution in the form of the modular unit, located on 4244 Virginia Ave., the same lot as their old practice.

When The Eye Site first caught fire, Thomas Unterbrink, OD—who now practices part-time—offered his practice to Dr. Brown and her colleagues to use on the days he was not there and while they were fully operational, they still wanted that sense of familiarity for their patients. “We really wanted to stay at our home-base location because the practice has been in this location for 30 years and people love this location, so we just really wanted to get back home,” Dr. Brown told VMail Weekend.

The solution came when Dr. Zollinger’s husband suggested they get a modular unit. This would allow them to be in their old space, take care of patients and monitor any progress regarding the reconstruction of the building. “After doing some research, we realized that the modular unit would be the best solution for us and was a way to keep us at our home address,” Dr. Brown explained. “It was really important to us that our patients know where we are.”


Some of the team at The Eye Site inside their new home.
Right after the incident happened in September, both the local community as well as the optical community assisted The Eye Site in different ways and when it came to setting up the modular office, it was no different. After the doctors purchased the modular unit from Acton Mobile in North Carolina, Firth Construction—based in Ridgewood, Va.—helped in constructing the outside of the unit, a local electric company got them up and running, while another colleague from Ohio allowed them to purchase some frames from him. Another friend and fellow optometrist who had just remodeled his office allowed them to buy some frames boards—which they chalk painted themselves.

 The ribbon-cutting event, which took place from 8 am to 2 pm on Nov. 3, was held to commemorate The Eye Site’s new home, and was also the practice’s way of thanking a community that stood by them during a tragic event. The Eye Site solicited the help of Mama Crockett’s Cider Donuts, a Lynchburg-based donut food truck that has gained popularity within Collinsville and offered donuts for the duration of the event. “They had traveled into our community in the past and got such an incredible response. So we knew that our patients and our community would enjoy a visit from them,” stated Dr. Brown.

  
Locals line up for some donuts.  Mama Crockett’s Cider Donuts served
as the perfect “Thank you” treat. 

Not only was Mama Crockett’s selling donuts during the event, but attendees were also treated to different raffle prizes that also supported local businesses. “We are very adamant about shopping local, staying local, and building your own community. So we put out a Facebook post to see if anybody local would be interested in providing anything of service that we could raffle,” Dr. Brown explained. With the help of local businesses, The Eye Site raffled off a $25 gift card to Serendipity Coffee House and Bistro, an oil change from Nelson Toyota, a mat from Wreath Loft & Café, a free pair of sunglasses and more.

 
The Eye Site held raffles throughout the day.The Eye Site was able to raise $1,000 for
the community’s volunteer firefighters. 


The Drs. pose in front
of their new unit.
In addition to giving back to local residents, The Eye Site also made a point to do something for the firefighters who responded to the fire on Sept. 17. “Because we are such a small community, all the firefighters who responded are volunteers. They have careers and families outside of fighting fires so we really wanted to give back,” Dr. Brown said.

The Eye Site pledged to give $1 for every 12 donuts sold. Once Mama Crockett’s learned about the donation, they decided to match The Eye Site’s and between the two of them as well as two patients who also donated, they were able to raise $1,000.

As The Eye Site settles into their new home, they are now looking for solutions for their old building. Though the fire—which they believe was caused by a short in an exhaust fan in the attic of the building—was tragic, the incident has shown Dr. Brown and the team at The Eye Site the best sides of their community.

Dr. Brown told VMail Weekend, “It’s something you don’t see every day. We are fortunate enough to live in a community that’s all about taking care of other. That’s been the underlying message throughout this whole thing.”