Mobile eyeglass unit in works for needy

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TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) - As part of the United Way's community school strategy, a new mobile eyeglass unit is in the works to provide inexpensive glasses to children in need.

"I'm contributing the supplies and equipment that we've accumulated here to the effort ," said Arne Walker, executive director of the Wellness Tree Community Clinic in Twin Falls.

He saw the need to provide eyeglasses to their patients and started to collect items to make it happen. When he noticed the United Way of South Central Idaho working to do the same for students, he teamed up with them.

"This mobile eye glass unit will allow for volunteers to make the glasses — two pairs — one for school one for home," said Sonya Haines, resource development director of the United Way. "And be able to have the children seeing and flourishing without any costs to the parents or the schools."

This will eventually benefit those in the community, as well.

"Once the mobile eyeglass unit is not being used by the schools we have set up a program that allows it to serve employers," Haines continued. "And this will be able to come on site, make safety glasses, give them an inexpensive opportunity to purchase glasses for their family."

Walker donated an older manual machine.

"The first set we'd use in a stationary location to train technicians and possibly high school students how to carve lenses and how to manufacture the eyeglasses," he said.

Doctor Omen with the Burley Eyecare Center donated $60,000 worth of equipment.

"We're looking at using the second set — which is newer — in the mobile unit," he continued.

Volunteers travel to schools to check students and give them a referral that goes to an optometrist for a prescription.

"Even if they have vision insurance, it is not always insured that that one pair that they get for the year doesn't break," explained Haines.

Currently in need of a mobile unit to house the equipment, they hope to get some funds by spring and have it up and running next fall.

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