Written by Qihua Luo
Edited by Qihua Luo & Adriana DiBenedetto
On February 26, 2023, Tzu Chi New York hosted a Vision Mobile Clinic service event at the NYPD Community Center in Brooklyn, New York, offering free eye exams, care, and same-day prescription eyeglasses for 15 youths in the community. Eric Adams, Mayor of New York City, also arrived on the scene to experience Tzu Chi’s services firsthand.
Tzu Chi’s Vision Services Come to Brooklyn
Tzu Chi’s collaboration with Mayor Adams was established in 2016 by Winnie Greco, Special Advisor to the Mayor and Director of Asian Affairs. And in 2019, when two new Vision Mobile Clinics joined Tzu Chi’s fleet of mobile units in New York, Mayor Adams also attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
Before Christmas in 2022, the Tzu Chi Vision Mobile Clinic, which provides vision care regardless of insurance status in Chelsea, came upon New York police officers delivering gifts to low-income households in the community. After learning about Tzu Chi’s missions, they invited the Vision Mobile Clinic to the Community Center, expanding the reach of the volunteer team’s care.
The Future in Focus
Ten-year-old Carlisle Ward was the first to get his new glasses that day. A month ago, his glasses broke, and he could not yet get them replaced. Focusing on his classwork became a challenge, and it began to impact his enjoyment in school. Searching for a way to help her son, Carlisle’s mother, Darra Ward, discovered posts about Tzu Chi’s Vision Mobile Clinic on Facebook, and immediately signed up for her son.
“I waited 50 minutes to get my glasses. I didn’t know I was going to get new glasses; I thought they were just going to check my eyes. And now that I have glasses, I can see better, and see things clearer,” Carlisle Ward said, happily showing his new prescription eyeglasses to Tzu Chi volunteers. Sharing in his joy, everyone present couldn’t help but cheer for him. “I feel very appreciative that he received the glasses,” Darra Ward said excitedly. “I’m very happy for the program. Thank you very much.”
Collaboration for Community Vision Care
A few months prior, the New York City Police Department renovated the center to provide activities for the community, offering a variety of services that seek to support young people aged 12–19. Tzu Chi and the New York City government have signed a memorandum of understanding to provide services for children in need in New York City, and aim to collaborate in providing crucial medical services to recently arrived asylum seekers in New York City.