Article Date: 4/1/2011

Scoring With Volunteering
reflections THE HUMAN SIDE OF OPTOMETRY

Scoring With Volunteering

A mission trip recently taught me how much we have and can give.

Donna A. Suter
Chattanooga, Tenn.

Although the elderly gentleman's name now eludes me, I can still see his eyes, dark and puffy, caused by a sleepless night, but yet dancing with glee. Those eyes darted back and forth to a tape measure I was using to measure him for a suit.

He was one of more than 100 who traveled hundreds of miles through rugged terrain by bus to an open-air pavilion at the Rawlings Complex just outside Boca Chica, Dominican Republic (DR), for a SCORE International conference to help indigenous pastors from Haiti.

SCORE International

SCORE International is a Christian non-profit headquartered in Chattanooga, Tenn., with an international presence. In the DR, they have a dental/medical clinic in Juan Dolio to provide care to the poor. Entire villages wait to see physicians. Once treated, these people are very open to the Gospel.

SCORE also operates an orphanage in San Pedro and partners with two others. Youth teams from the United States visit orphanages, operate sports camps and go into sugarcane villages to distribute food and clothing.

Volunteering

In June, I served at a SCORE Timothy Barnabas Conference in Santo Domingo whose goal was to encourage, love and honor 115 Haitian pastors from Port-au-Prince, Haiti. I got involved at the urging of the former executive director, who's a friend. Also, I liked the idea of helping an organization that has a long-term strategy to offer assistance to those devastated by the January 2010 Haiti earthquake. Further, SCORE International spoke to me on a professional level. As a practice management consultant, my goal is to equip dedicated professionals to excel in their practice so that, in turn, they can help their patients enjoy clear vision and healthy eyes. In a sense, SCORE International and its work is an analogy: SCORE encourages volunteers to make a difference in the lives of people who live in conditions we cannot imagine. Perhaps the most touching moment of this experience was when hundreds of years of cultural tensions were surpassed as DR pastors carefully washed the Haitians' feet while blessing them.

Ms. Suter was among several volunteers who measured Haitian pastors for new suits.

I spent seven days at the Rawlings Complex as support staff of the aforementioned conference. After measuring the Haitian pastors for new suits, I helped serve them lunch. Several shared post-earthquake photos of their ravaged homes and suffering families. Many had one or more family members who lost limbs when a building fell. All had family members who perished during the earthquake. I was so taken by this overall experience that I chose to “adopt” a pastor: donating the money for his conference attendance, buying the suit and paying his salary for a year. I had volunteered to help with logistics, but when I saw what $800 could accomplish, I had to help.

SCORE International needs O.D.s' help as well. The SCORE clinic added its first optometrist in February, 2011. Perhaps you can make the eyes of those who have vision problems dance with glee. If interested, please contact SCORE International at (423) 894-7111, or send an e-mail to info@scoreinternational.org. OM


DO YOU HAVE A MEMORABLE EXPERIENCE YOU'D LIKE TO SHARE? DISCUSS YOUR STORY WITH JENNIFER KIRBY, SENIOR EDITOR OF OPTOMETRIC MANAGEMENT, AT (215) 628-6595, OR JEN.KIRBY@WOLTERSKLUWER.COM. OM OFFERS AN HONORARIUM FOR PUBLISHED SUBMISSIONS.

Optometric Management, Issue: April 2011