Posted on September 13, 2017
NightShift’s free vision testing
From getting up in the morning until bedtime, each one of us must steer through our day, charting our course, meeting challenges and making decisions every moment. But imagine navigating your day if your vision was impaired. What would you do if you could not read road signs, a community newsletter or your favourite book? What if, at night, you couldn’t make your way across the street? Or what if, because you couldn’t see, finding a job became impossible? Or, imagine you lived with a constant headache because you didn’t have the proper corrective lenses.
These are only “what-ifs” for most folks, but for many people living on the street or struggling in poverty, these difficult scenarios are a very real. Many people in the NightShift neighbourhood of Whalley have lived with impaired and deteriorating vision for years. And this is one more barrier to finding security and stability as they deal with serious life issues.
NightShift Street Ministries was deeply touched and humbled to partner last month with optometrist, Dr. Mona Sandhu of Clayton Heights Optometry, in providing free vision testing to marginalized people in the Whalley neighbourhood. Together with Dr. Sandhu and her team, NightShift was able to bring a little bit of “clarity” to people in difficult life situations. The event was organized by NightShift’s Volunteer Services Coordinator, Marty Jones. “It was an honour to work with Dr. Sandhu and host this opportunity,” shared Marty. “It was quite the day and I find myself even now quite emotional when describing the event.”
Lined up outside the building to see the eye doctor, some people graciously shared a bit of their stories, and how important the vision testing is to their day-to-day lives. Homeless for about five months due to lack of affordable, low barrier housing, “Zoe” has glaucoma. Adding to the fear and stress of living in a tent, her eye condition means she cannot see in the dark, or make out shadows and shapes.
One man, “Peter” had struggled working at a job for months with blurry vision. Now that he is again looking for work, he desperately needs corrective lenses to increase the number of jobs he can apply for, and his chances of getting hired.
As someone who wears corrective lenses, NightShift’s Marty empathized with the many people in need of eye care. “Can you imagine trying to survive without glasses?” he said. “I’ve met so many people wearing the wrong prescription, wearing glasses with only one arm, or having no glasses at all.”
About 50 neighbourhood folks lined up on that Sunday afternoon in August to have their eyes checked and get fitted for free eye glasses, if necessary. Giving each patient undivided attention and unconditional care and concern for their eye health, Dr. Sandhu and her dedicated team were able to examine about 25 people in a single afternoon, with the help of a team of NightShift volunteers. Because of the overwhelming response to basic eye-care, Dr. Sandhu and her team will return to NightShift on Sunday, 1st October.
“I am blown away by the services that NightShift provides and the impact it makes on the lives of street friends on a daily basis,” said Dr. Sandhu. “This is truly a special place. We are excited to come back again!”
The team will be at NightShift from 1-5 pm on Sunday, 1st October. The session is now fully booked. If you have any questions or want to be added to the waiting list for a future session, please email Marty.