How Free Glasses Empower Students and Families in San Bernardino, Calif.

In the United States today, the average pair of glasses with eye exam can cost anywhere from roughly $200 to $550, according to CostHelper Health.  For an entire family wearing them- particularly with young children whose prescriptions change with age- normal vision comes at a high price.  Nayeshia Fleming from San Bernardino, California, knows this well.

Having gotten herself and her three kids out of a homeless shelter where they spent five months in one room, Nayeshia is careful with her family’s expenses.  Each of her boys experienced poor eyesight, yet none of them had ever worn glasses before.

We met Nayeshia and her family last year… She was coming out of homelessness and trying to get back on her feet, so all the kids had never had glasses.

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That’s why, after Nayeshia met Tzu Chi volunteers like Dr. Lina Lin at a Project Homeless Connect event last year, she knew having Tzu Chi’s help in getting her kids’ vision corrected would be crucial.

In fact, all three of Nayeshia’s kids got outfitted with brand new pairs of specs thanks to the Tzu Chi Mobile Vision Clinic- for free.

Her eldest son, Tyrone, expressed how much it helped the high schooler feel better about heading to college.

It helps me study in class even more because, in college, they have these big classrooms and there’s one little teacher in front of the whole classroom.

Davion, his younger brother, uses the confidence boost from his glasses to help him further his presentation skills at school.  “He likes to speak in the auditorium when they have plays, assemblies,” Nayeshia beams. With his glasses, there’s a whole new world out there for him.

I feel better because my left eye is not blurry. And I can see that I’m gaining…to see how far I can see. So I can see a little bit farther now.

Even the youngest of the pack, Jayden, has already seen significant improvement.  His mom shared that he’s blossoming into a bookworm.

My youngest son, he’s more open with volunteering for reading more because he can see better.

Yet, Nayeshia, in many ways, is lucky to see such quick results.

In fact, there are many reasons a child may neglect to wear glasses.  Some include a lack of habituation, discomfort of frames, or- worse- bullying.  Any combination of these gives any parent the additional work of monitoring their child’s glasses-wearing habits.  But, Nayeshia knows she doesn’t have to worry about that with her lot.

They know that they’re improving so I don’t have to say, ‘Put on your glasses.’ They already put them on.

Still, there’s something more to the glasses than the promise of vision.  Because the prescription pairs and eye exams came free of charge, Nayeshia revealed the gesture was one that inspired kindness and charity in her kids.

“It’s good for my kids because they also see how someone helped them so they see how to also give back and help because my kids also like to help others. It shows them kindness,” Nayeshia explains.

She emphasized that her experience with Tzu Chi volunteers, too, was respectful, despite the service being geared toward families who struggle.  That’s a signature of Tzu Chi’s work; to honor the dignity of those in need while providing meaningful help.

They’re kind-hearted people and you can tell they’re doing it with love. They don’t make you feel bad for needing help.

We’re excited to see each of Nayeshia’s boys knock the ball out of the park this school year- and all in plain sight.  Learn more about our mobile vision programs and help us give families and kids in need an empowered perspective on life.