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Fargo Lions Club Heads to Mexico for Vision Trip

March 7th, 2012 by The Chamber

Guest Blog by Fargo Lion Pat Brown

More than 500 residents of Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico, showed up at their appointed times on February 13, 14, and 15 to have their vision checked by members of the Fargo Lions Club. Many arrived early, excited to get a proper pair of eyeglasses that would enable them to read newspapers, street signs, bus destinations, and other things most of us take for granted.

For two weeks prior to our arrival, the Puerto Vallarta Lions Club had advertised the screenings and invited people to come to their club house in downtown to make appointments. It was the first of many indications to us that these Lions knew their business.

Due to shipping regulations, we were forced to pack into large suitcases about 3,000 pairs of glasses, which the Fargo Lions Club had collected, cleaned, read the prescriptions, and tagged. These suitcases flew with us as checked baggage, and, thanks to arrangements made by the Puerto Vallarta Lions, we brought them into Mexico duty-free.

Our fellow Lions also arranged transportation for our team, provided translators, and brought us lunch during the screenings. They welcomed patients and registered them. The guests then had their far vision tested by Fargo Lions Blake Strehlow, Dick Schaffer, and Patrick Brown, with the invaluable assistance of several Puerto Vallarta Lions and some Lions from nearby villages.

After the initial screening, each person was sent to see Lions Dr. Mark Tufte and Neil Jordheim, who worked together for all three days to determine each person’s prescription using the portable auto refractor our club purchased with the help of a $10,000 grant from the Lions Club International Foundation.

With prescriptions and, in many cases, eye drops in hand, they went to the fulfillment area where Lion Deb Tufte, and Lion spouses Nancy Jordheim, Kathie Strehlow, and Mary Schaffer searched through our inventory to find the exact prescription, or one acceptably close to it, or non-prescription readers. If their new glasses needed fitting and adjustment, they then paid a visit to Lion Samantha Petersen, an optician, for adjustments. As they left they were given a gift of candy, a pen, or soap.

In all, we fitted with eyeglasses 549 people, young and old, during the three days. Dr. Tufte also recommended 70 people for free cataract surgery provided by our fellow Lions in Puerto Vallarta. Dr. Tufte & Neil also made one house call to a house-bound elderly woman, whose sight, unfortunately, was beyond care.

This first vision mission was a resounding success.

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