Optimum Vision For Life Through Research And Education

Monday, November 06, 2006

Foundation Thrives On Generosity & Fundraising

A lot has changed in the optometry industry over the past 20 years - colored contacts, cutting edge lens technology and frame styles, just to name a few. But the mission to improve the quality of life through sight remains in full focus, as the Pearle Vision Foundation (PVF) proudly celebrates its 20th Anniversary and looks back on the accomplishments throughout its history. It all started in 1986 when Pearle, Inc. formed the Pearle Vision Foundation to strengthen the company's commitment to good vision through vision research. The spirit of giving back was instilled by Pearle Vision Founder Dr. Stanley C. Pearle, who sits on the Board of the Foundation. Within a few years, the Foundation expanded its focus to fulfill a void in vision care by providing eyecare assistance to people in need. Dr. Jeff Smith, the most recent past chairman for 11 years, remembers the Foundation's desire to reach out and make a visible difference within the community. According to Dr. Smith, the Foundation was dedicated to the belief that if sight could be restored or improved, the treatment should be available for everyone. The Foundation had a strong desire to make a difference, touch lives and restore the gift of sight. Over the years, the Foundation encountered inspiring people and countless organizations who shared a passion for vision preservation. Tom McGreevy, Pearle Vision franchisee in Minneapolis, MN, introduced Sharing and Caring Hands founder Mary Jo Copeland to the PVF. Tom was so impressed with Mary Jo's heartfelt desire to partner with medical professionals and donate services to needy families that he began offering vision care services through one of his franchises. The partnership between Sharing and Caring Hands, Tom's Pearle Vision store and the PVF helped to provide numerous eye exams and eyeglasses to many deserving people. Individuals from all age groups and economic brackets have benefited from the Foundation's support -- from handicapped seniors to small infants, like Caroline Beard. Caroline was diagnosed with retinoblastoma, a fast-growing cancer of the retina, at 19 months old and received treatments at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, TN. Miraculously, the tumor in Caroline's eye decreased by 80 percent after her first round of chemotherapy. This year, Caroline will celebrate her 5th anniversary of being cancer free. Since 2001, the Foundation has supported St. Jude with research grants to test new treatments and chemotherapy drugs against retinoblastoma. "When we realized there was such a great need, the Foundation was formed as a way to place more focus on eyecare and to contribute to the public's needs in a very specific, meaningful way." - Joe Neville, original PVF Board member who after 20 years has rejoined the PVF Board Celebrating Twenty Years Of Making A Visible Difference Twenty years ago, Dr. Pearle's vision and philanthropy took on the form of the Pearle Vision Foundation. Sharing and Caring Hands gives children in Minneapolis, Minn., the gift of sight with the help of the PVF. Life-changing success stories like these from the past two decades validate the original conception of this organization. They are and will continue to be the Foundation's driving force to do more. The heart of the Pearle Vision Foundation began with vision research grants and beginning this year, the Foundation will once again shift its focus towards research and education ventures. In turn, the See the Cure program will be an important focus for the Foundation. The program was developed by the Board in 2000 to support research and treatment for diabetic eye diseases, including diabetic retinopathy, the number one cause of blindness among working adults. Fifty percent of the 21 million Americans living with diabetes either have diabetic retinopathy or will eventually be diagnosed with the disorder. The PVF is anxious to embrace its new mission: to improve and preserve vision through vision research and optometry education by supporting medical studies that contribute to breakthrough treatments and ultimately, cures. Over the past 20 years, nearly $6 million in grants have been awarded by the Pearle Vision Foundation. Whether you were here on day one or just recently joined the efforts, the sense of accomplishment and pride is great. Not because of the overall dollar amount, but because for 20 years, a passionate organization with an appreciation for goodwill touched countless lives and made a visible difference. Celebrating Twenty Years (con't) It truly is a pleasure to be sitting here writing for the newsletter as the new Chairman of the Pearle Vision Foundation (PVF) Board. For decades, I have been an admirer of Dr. Pearle, his great work in the optical industry and the heart he has for giving back to the community. Now I have the gift of working with him and the Foundation that carries his name. It is truly an honor! Many people have asked me about the future of the PVF and how it works as compared to the Give the Gift of Sight Foundation (GOS). For me it is simple: the two foundations compliment one another. PVF will continue to support charities through monetary donations focusing much more on vision research grants and education. The GOS charter, on the other hand, delivers outreach services, vision screenings, exams and eyewear to needy people across the globe. During our first Board meeting as a new team, we awarded over $126,000 in grant support and expect to offer at least that much funding during our meeting in the second half of 2006. A wonderful addition to PVF is a $500,000 endowment fund that will offer from its earned income scholarships to optometry students who meet specific criteria developed by the Board. The PVF Board looks different then it has in the past. During the selection process we wanted to create a diverse team with a strong understanding of the Pearle heritage that could help us build synergies between PVF and GOS. Dr. Pearle's guidance through the process of shaping the new Board and mission was priceless. The team is very excited to be working together and helping PVF to continue its great work. While Luxottica Retail will be donating $250,000 a year to the grant fund and paying for overhead expenses, we encourage you to continue to support the Foundation as many of you have generously done in the past. Five-year-old Caroline Beard, who suffered from retinoblastoma, celebrates five years of being cancer-free, thanks to the PVF and St. Jude. Chairman's Corner by Joe DeZenzo Meet the New Board Joe DeZenzo, Chairman: Executive Director of Gift of Sight Dr. Mark Jacquot, VP: VP of Optometric Services for Pearle Stanley Pearle, Executive Director: Founder of Pearle Vision Trina Parasiliti, Secretary: Foundation Administrator Kevin Boyle, Treasurer: Pearle Senior Franchise Merchandising Manager Eric Anderson, Director: Pearle VP of Marketing Joe Neville, Director: AVP, Professional Relations John DiIanni, Director: Territory VP, Corporate Stores Dr. Tami Hannaman, Director: A Dallas franchisee Dr. Mike Mendoza, Director: A Houston franchisee Breakthrough Research and Technology Combat Vision Impairment Contact lenses first became a popular replacement for eyeglasses around 50 years ago. Since then, contacts have evolved and become safer, thanks to pioneers with a vision. In the 1960s, the contact lens became more comfortable to wear, which led to consumers wearing them regularly. The FDA announced in the 1980s that contact lenses were safe to wear while sleeping. However, people were getting eye infections in alarming numbers. In the early 1990s, disposable contact lenses became the rage, but the new format didn't solve the infections. Since 1994, the Pearle Vision Foundation (PVF) has provided more than $206,000 in grants to enable the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center (UTSMC) in Dallas, TX, to conduct groundbreaking research on contact lens safety. Dr. Dwight Cavanagh and UTSMC researchers believed that the contact lens infections were caused by an insufficient amount of oxygen passing through the contact lens to the wearer's cornea, especially while sleeping. Dr. Cavanagh turned to the Pearle Vision Foundation for the funding to support the research that marked the beginning of the revolutionary change from conventional contact lenses to a new generation of lenses that allow better oxygen flow to the eye, reducing eye infections and blocking bacteria from entering the cornea. According to Dr. Cavanagh, the PVF's generosity shows what a foundation can do to make a tremendous impact. The Foundation also supports the cuttingedge technology at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) in Newark, where researchers are combining technology and healthcare to help eradicate vision threatening disorders. The Applied Vision Research Laboratory (AVRL) at the university's Institute of Ophthalmology and Visual Science is dedicated to preventing blindness and improving the quality of life for people with eye diseases. Through the Telehealth Technology Vision Research Project, researchers study the ways in which telecommunication devices can be used for the early detection of vision threatening disorders. The AVRL, using a recent $25,000 grant from the PVF, purchased four Frontline Communication Telecom Units. The units allow doctors to take images of a patient's eyes and immediately send them to another physician at a remote location, preventing patients from having to obtain referrals and allowing faster access to the appropriate specialists. According to Dr. Bernard Szirth, Director of the AVRL, 14 percent of patients screened at university health screenings are unaware they have a vision threatening disorder. Because of advanced technology, he and his research staff can funnel these patients to appropriate care immediately and prevent them from losing or further impairing their sight. Dr. Dwight Cavanagh Dr. Shahid at UMDNJ uses new technology to discuss her findings with a patient. Did you know? Thirty five million people wear contacts in the U.S., and 100 million wear them worldwide. Coming soon, a book that shares personal information and stories about a man we have all come to respect and adore. A portion of the proceeds from all book sales will benefit the PVF. It has been 20 years since the Pearle Vision Foundation began and we can all be so proud of the wonderful help that it has provided for vision preservation in so many areas, for so many people. It has been Pearle's way of "giving something back" and has made me very happy. Our wonderful new parent company, Luxottica, has encouraged us to continue our efforts as we work beside the great "Give the Gift of Sight" program. The PVF will concentrate in a different direction primarily dedicated to sight preservation through vision research and education with a focus on our See the Cure program, referenced in the cover story. The PVF Board will continue with several new Board members. I would like to take this opportunity to say how grateful I am for the wonderful people who have served on the Board throughout the years with such great devotion and dedication. I would especially like to acknowledge and thank the recent outgoing members for their dedicated service - Jeff Smith, O.D., Barbara McAninch, Dan Griffin, Koula Callas, James Benning, O.D. and - while their time was limited - Scott Stoelting and Beth Serraino. We are so pleased to be a part of Luxottica, a company so devoted to helping others. Please continue to help support the Pearle Vision Foundation as we continue to do good work that will make us all proud. Gratefully, Stanley C. Pearle, O.D. Reflecting On The Past. A Message From Dr. Stanley Pearle Students Receive Vision Education In and Out of the Classroom Once a week at 6 p.m., indigent residents line up outside the First Presbyterian Church in Berkeley, CA, hoping for a warm bagel, a haircut and an eye exam from The Suitcase Clinic. The volunteer-based medical and social services clinic was created in 1989 by students at the University of California at Berkeley (UCB) to serve the homeless population in the community. The Suitcase Clinic offers a variety of vital services, including free eye screenings by graduate students of the UCB School of Optometry. It is the only facility in the area that provides free vision care. The 16-year relationship between the UCB School of Optometry and The Suitcase Clinic has provided optometry students with a priceless "hands-on" vision education and "service learning" experiences outside the classroom. Approximately nine eye exams are performed each week at The Suitcase Clinic. With a $15,000 grant from the Pearle Vision Foundation, The Suitcase Clinic will have the ability to accommodate 24 eye exam appointments per week. With expanded optometric services at The Suitcase Clinic, students will be exposed to "real world" clinical work and patient interaction on a consistent basis. According to Senior volunteer student Mira Lalchandani, the student-operated clinic is preparing her and the 30 graduate students that volunteer regularly for the future, while helping them meet the needs of the less fortunate. "The interaction I have with different types of people and situations is going to help me serve my community better when I leave school and get a real job." On the east coast, college campuses are prepping future optometrists with lunch - and important eye cancer education. PVF granted The EyeCare Foundation in New York City $10,000 to support a new educational lecture program targeting optometry students and local, practicing optometrists. The EyeCare Foundation was established in 1998 as an educational and patient support resource for eye cancer and macular degeneration. Their Lunchtime Lecture Program was instituted to increase eye cancer awareness among future medical professionals. The program is also designed to educate optometrists on their role in the early detection of eye tumors. To accommodate busy schedules, lectures are presented during the lunch hour and include a complimentary lunch and educational take-home materials. Each lecture focuses on specific topics relating to eye tumors, cancer and diagnostic techniques. The free program includes a total of three, one-hour lectures presented at the State College of New York College of Optometry, the New England College of Optometry and the Pennsylvania College of Optometry. PVF shares The EyeCare Foundation's belief that awareness through education will lead to early detection and ultimately vision preservation. The Suitcase Clinic is a student-run facility providing free optometric services by graduate students of the UCB School of Optometry. For more PVF information contact Trina Parasiliti at (972) 277-6191 or [email protected] For the past two decades, the Foundation has successfully provided vision-related assistance thanks to the continuous support and generous donations of Pearle Vision associates. Dr. Francine Camporeale's Pearle Vision store in Coral Springs, FL, is a testament to this support. For the second consecutive year, her store donated $1,000 to the Pearle Vision Foundation after participating in the Festival of the Arts -- a hometown event that includes live music, original art and activity centers staffed by storeowners. During the two-day event, the store raised donations through "spectacle" face painting, raffles, snow cones and donations. "I'm glad we were able to support the Foundation financially and at the same time educate the public about the Foundation's mission," says David Camporeale, Pearle Vision Store Manager in Coral Springs. "All of the employees and volunteers had a great time and we look forward to raising even more money next year!" "It is stores like Coral Springs that are instrumental in helping the Foundation to continue its mission to preserve vision," comments Trina Parasiliti, PVF administrator. "Every effort - big or small - made to preserve the gift of sight is valued and greatly appreciated!" Pearle Vision staff in Coral Springs, FL raised $1,000 for the Pearle Vision Foundation. How Can You Support PVF? - Payroll Deduction - Cash Donation - Store Fundraiser

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