The core tenet of a community nonprofit is service to those in need, and when nonprofit organizations partner for a common cause, there is no better example of goodwill.
In the Arlington Eye Clinic, operated and funded by the Arlington Lions Club, Vision Is Priceless has found a tremendous partner dedicated to delivering quality vision care to underserved communities. Opened in August 2015, the clinic has steadily increased its services to uninsured people with the help of vision care professionals who volunteer their time.
Clinic Director Tommy Dover, a Lion for the past 22 years, got the idea to open the clinic after seeing one in another city and started the effort to build it in 2002. In aligning his passion with the Lions Club International’s major missions of helping people with vision problems for the past 100 years, the clinic soon became his personal project and has served a great community need.
“We raise and distribute a lot of money to [numerous organizations], but with [the clinic] we get to see who we’re helping,” Dover said. “There is no greater feeling than when I get to hand someone a new pair of glasses.”
When Dover got the idea for the clinic, he got the support of Lions Club Past President Peter Sarmie and former Treasurer Charlie Largen, who calls Dover his mentor. Largen also has two brothers and his brother-in-law who volunteer with the club.
“It is a great feeling when you help people who clearly need it,” Largen said. “It is wonderful when we can help younger people because 80 percent of learning is visual, and [if they can’t see properly] they have a tendency to lag behind. When that happens, they become indifferent to learning, so it is important to head that off before it happens.”
“There’s only one word to describe [our partnership with Vision Is Priceless] ”“ fantastic,” Charlie said. “It is very beneficial for both of us because we each have what the other needs.”
Dover took it one step further with his enthusiasm.
“[It has been] fantastic, fantastic, fantastic,” he said. “VIP has helped us in so many different ways.”