A Vision to Give | Long Island Eye Doctor
Who would have thought that one mission trip could supercharge a giving attitude? My parents are very charitable people. There isn’t a charity to which my parents don’t donate, even if it’s just $10. My grandparents were very charitable as well, but they could only give of themselves, as they had no money to give. My wife and I have always donated to charities, and my office, Optix Family Eyecare Center has always donated professional time and eyeglasses to those in need when called upon.
I recently got the opportunity to be part of a mission trip, providing vision care and eyeglasses to some of the poorest people in the Dominican Republic. Along with nine of my colleagues, ten assistants, and numerous translators, we provided vision care to over 2,500 needy people in one week. Wow! It made me realize that there are so many people in the world that need medical care. We all see pictures of poverty on TV and read about it in books and other media, but do we really understand the magnitude of the problem? I can honestly say that I did not until I became immersed in the culture for one week.
My eyes were opened wide, as were those of many of my colleagues who had never gone on a medical mission trip before. There were some who had gone many times but for most of us, it was our first. I returned a changed man and it is so hard to describe to family and friends what has changed. They all know I did a good deed by volunteering my time to help others. They have all heard my story. They have all seen the photographs I brought back. But I perceive that they still do not understand what I now understand. But that’s ok. I feel good and I want to do more.
Fortunately I am healthy. Life and optometry have been good to me and my family. Along with my wife Judy and my son Evan, I own an eye care practice where, even though it’s for profit, we help people to see well and maintain their vision every day. We have always given back to our community in some way but now we will be doing more, much more. Starting in May 2015, Optix Family Eyecare Center will donate a pair of eyeglasses to a needy person for every pair of eyeglasses or prescription sunglasses privately purchased. It’s our way of saying thank you for 30+ years serving our community and for our community helping me provide for my family.
We are also in talks with a local charitable foundation to help them organize a team of optometrists, frame and lens manufacturers, and labs to provide care and eyeglasses to needy individuals, right here on Long Island. I want to be like my parents and grandparents. And when my children and grandchildren look back, I want them to know that their grandparents were charitable people. I want them to know that it is important to give if you can, in any way you can.
Can this feeling rub off on you? That’s my vision.
Dr. Joel Kestenbaum