November 10, 2012
I am a physician who has volunteered several hours a week at the Star of Hope for almost 12 years. I have practiced ophthalmology for over 32 years. Back in 2001, I decided to set up a free eye clinic to serve the homeless population in downtown Houston. Having good vision is essential to starting on the path to a stable and productive life. I approached the Star of Hope Men's Development Center, which had just finished new construction. I brought my own equipment, and obtained an inventory of used glasses to distribute. Over the years, I have examined over 4300 people and given over 3300 pairs of glasses.
When I walk into the Star of Hope clinic at 8:30 AM each Wednesday morning, there is usually a group of ladies waiting, having been transported from the Women and Family Shelter and the Transitional Living Center. They have filled out their paperwork already, and are ready to be seen. The staff then calls for the residents of the Men's Development Center, who have signed up for the eye clinic in advance, and takes their individual medical histories. Work proceeds quickly, with the help of a volunteer optician. At the end of each complete eye exam, each patient has used glasses to help them immediately, a prescription to obtain free new glasses, and referral to the appropriate county medical facility if necessary. Over a three hour period, between 8 and 12 patients are generally seen. This past year, the eye clinic was renovated and received state-of-the-art equipment as a result of a grant obtained by the Star of Hope. Each homeless patient gets the type of care that private patients receive.
Over the years, I have diagnosed numerous cases of glaucoma, diabetic retinopathy, inflammatory eye diseases, and eye movement disorders. Cases of life-threatening brain tumor and retinal detachment have also been detected, with referral for urgent surgery.
I have found the work to be very gratifying. Even the most depressed patients become elated when they can see. But this type of outreach could never have been accomplished without the excellent facilities and dedicated and compassionate staff of the Star of Hope.
Would you volunteer for this group again?
For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?
Did the organization use your time wisely?
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