LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Some members of Lubbock's homeless community are entering a new year with clear vision thanks to a group of optometrists and volunteers who took time to host a free eye exam clinic and offer free glasses at Paul's Project-Grace Campus.
The homeless shelter and housing facility was approached by Dr. Garrett Wentz and Dr. Karley Woodrich of The VisionCenter of West Texas with the opportunity for its clients.
"When Dr. Wentz came into the practice, one of the first days he was in the office he was telling me about this vision he had to give back and it aligned with what I wanted to do, so I was really excited," Woodrich said. "Paul's Project is the first project we've been able to do but we hope to do more in the future."
"Since getting out of optometry school, I knew I wanted to use my schooling to help out people who don't have glasses or aren't fortunate enough to have eye exams," Wentz said. "I was talking with my brother, Tucker, and he said we can get glasses cheap and we can give them to people in need."
With the opportunity, the group set up a GoFundMe page that collected nearly $3,000 within a day. Wentz said among the three goals for the endeavor is to connect those people who donated with the outcome through a video of the exam process. The other two goals are to encourage others to use their gifts to help others and, of course, provide the vision to those in need.
"People at Grace Campus are people that are really working to get back up on their feet," Wentz said. "It's hard to get back up on your feet when you can't really see to do your job, when you can't see the paper you are writing on. There are a lot of things vision plays into, getting a job and just being self-sufficient. If you can't see, it's hard to do a lot of these things."
One of the many people helped who now have a better chance at achieving some of those goals is Robert Campbell.
"I did not realize I couldn't see the way I was supposed to see," Campbell said. "I could tell the difference the moment I put them on. I thank those people so much."
Campbell said he has never had an eye exam and now wears bifocals.
"What a blessing," Campbell said. "I couldn't have never paid for them. I would have just had to do without them."
The group is working to raise money to buy new equipment to make the exam process faster, as they hope to host more clinics throughout the Lubbock community and eventually abroad.
"I take a lot of things for granted, my vision being one of them," Woodrich said. "These people didn't have that access before. To watch them look around the room for the first time, it was an amazing experience. Some people broke down into tears and you just realize that the little things we do every day, we just can't take those things for granted."
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