EC4K AZ’s Mobile Vision Clinic pulled out of Cave Creek, Arizona on the afternoon of March 2, 2023 and headed south for the over four-hour road trip to Yuma. Early the next morning, Senior Executive Director Cecil Swyers and volunteer Beth Lyons, from Southwest Airlines, drove the Mobile Vision Clinic an additional 40 minutes south to the San Luis Middle School in San Luis. The visit, arranged by former Arizona State Senator, Amanda Aguirre, President and CEO, of the Regional Center for Border Health, San Luis Walk-in Clinic, Inc., was chaired by Cynthia Rodrigues, migrant clerk and recruiter for Gadsden School District #32.
The clinic was supported by local volunteer optometrist, Dr. Tom Determan, his optician, Olga Covarrubias, and a technician, Itzel Romero and the EyeCare4Kids staff.
Students were pre-screened, and some were identified as patients who had missed previous eye care appointments made by the Migrant Education Program. For parents, a drive to Yuma or taking a day off from work is challenging. A number of students from the junior high school had waited since the beginning of this school year to receive glasses. Teachers would approach Migrant Advocates to let them know students were in dire need of glasses and struggled in class.
Guadalupe Galindo, one of eight Migrant Advocates who works under the supervision of Migrant Education Program coordinator Maria Loera Chavez, had the opportunity to help with students at the event.
She said, “This event was absolutely wonderful as it provided students with something as essential as eye vision checks and the opportunity to get a pair of glasses. These students come from migratory families who work very long hours in the daytime, making it a bit challenging to get eye appointments for their children.”
Twenty-one children, grades K-8th, were screened, had their vision tested and self-selected the frames for their new glasses.
This was an extremely positive experience for the students, and their families were elated to be chosen to go to the eye clinic and were so grateful.
Galindo continued, “As we waited for students to be seen that day, I saw students with big smiles on their faces. We were told one female student needed glasses desperately, and this would be the first time she would receive her own pair. Another student kept giving hugs to the Migrant Program staff, as he expressed how thankful he felt for the glasses. We had a few mothers that came to check on their students, and they mentioned how excited they were to have the clinic come to the school. One mom mentioned she wished we had this every year.”
“I am thankful for the opportunity to bring one of my students because his glasses are thick and scratched, and he currently sits at the front of the class so he can see better,” Galindo added. “Thank you for providing him with this great experience to see the best eye doctors and to help him get a new set of glasses. He is a shy, quiet boy, but he came back with a big smile on his face. I am confident you are making a big difference in the students’ lives and their education.”
The EyeCare4Kids AZ team departed San Luis to a standing ovation from Cynthia and her team.
“That part was epic,” said Cecil. “Having done hundreds of these events. I can tell you without a doubt these were the kindest, most appreciative, and most respectful kids I have ever worked with.”