OLSHF Hits Amazing Milestone!


Certain milestones in life can mean different things, such as longevity of a relationship (An anniversary) or risk management (300 days without an accident!) to name a few.

And then there are milestones of accomplishment, such as 700 Home Runs in baseball or 100 years living on this earth (Wow!).

Last fall, the Oregon Lions Sight & Hearing Foundation hit a milestone of accomplishment that we’re proud of and pleased to share you. On October 17th at Kalmiopsis Elementary School in Brookings, OLSHF Staff member Tim Young and the Brookings Harbor Lions screened 713 students for vision health issues. When they screened Kindergartener Liam Christensen, OLSHF and Oregon Lions hit 1,000,000 students screened for vision health issues since our program began in the 1990’s.

Hitting 1 million children screened for vision health issues wasn’t the only highlight of the OLSHF 2017-18 program year. Making nearly 2,500 pair of new eyeglasses, providing over 200 people in need with hearing exams and hearing aids, collecting over 200,000 pair of used eyeglasses, and celebrating one year of our new retail optical shop, Eye Promise, are some of the other highlights that took place in the past 12 months.

You can relive these accomplishments – or learn about them for the first time – by checking out the OLSHF 2017-18 Annual Report!

Our Cover Story will introduce you to all of our school vision screening Coordinators around the State of Oregon, together they visited 617 schools and screened 182,094 students, referring 18,209 of them for comprehensive eye exams. These are children that likely should be seeing better and with new eyeglasses will have a better chance and seeing, reading, and learning to their full potential.

Now that’s something to celebrate!

You’ll also find info on OLSHF revenue and expenses, we list our amazing sight and hearing partners and our donors that we appreciate so much, and we also feature members of the OLSHF Hall of Fame – an amazing group of Lions that have helped make the Oregon Lions Sight & Hearing Foundation the incredible organization that it is.

I hope you’ll take a few minutes to open this beautiful document, flip through the pages, and share our pride in the accomplishments of our amazing organization.


Cataract Surgery: The Gift That Keeps on Giving

Since it’s still June, there’s still time to wish everyone a Happy National Cataracts Awareness Month!

I know, I know, seems like it keep coming earlier every year, doesn’t it?

Did you know that all of us – if we’re lucky to live long enough – will eventually develop cataracts? A natural part of aging, cataracts occur when the lens in your eye becomes cloudy from natural proteins that build up over time. As the condition progresses, the clouded lens allow less light to pass through your eye and your vision becomes blurred. Think about a dirty windshield that you can never clean and you’ll get the idea.

At first, the blurriness can be addressed with changes in eyeglass prescription, but if it interferes with daily activities, doctors will recommend surgery – a generally safe procedure that can take as little as 15 minutes. Almost always, the patient is able to go home within an hour or so of surgery, with someone else driving, of course. Sounds easy, but what about people lacking insurance and unable to pay the out-of-pocket expense?

Enter Mission Cataract.

The Foundation’s Mission Cataract program helps Oregonians in need that are uninsured or under insured and connects them to surgeons that partner with us to help at no cost. Our partners include Legacy Devers Eye Institute, EyeHealth NW, Cascade Eye Center in Grants Pass, Dr. Matthew Neale in Eugene, Klamath Eye Center, Dr. Martin Balish, and Pacific Cataract and Laser Institute (PCLI).

One of our most recent Mission Cataract patients, Dennis of Terrebonne, was helped by PCLI and Dr. Bryan Edgington: “We’re happy to work with the Lions to resore vision for people in need.”

Even happier is Dennis himself: “I’m so grateful to have my vision restored. Now I can go back to work, drive and enjoy my family. I didn’t realize how poor my vision was and that I had adapted to not seeing well for years. This is such a gift!”

So, to all of our Mission Cataract Partners that help us help people like Dennis, I say: Happy National Cataracts Awareness Month!

Proposals or People – What Do Nonprofits Need Most?

I wrote my first grant proposal in 1997 to fund a summer entrepreneurship project for adjudicated youth in Paterson NJ with AmeriCorps VISTA. The funder awarded us the full amount – $50,000. Beginner’s luck I thought, that was too easy!

21 years year later and the lure of grant writing still calls me. Securing grant funds from foundations, corporations and government sources for the important work of nonprofits like OLSHF is a lesson in perseverance. You get used to denials, learn how to juggle many deadlines, follow grant compliance, and wade through varied reporting requirements as well as struggle with the limitations of continual funds.

We assume grants – whether for operations or capital (bricks and mortar) projects – are a large, robust percentage of a nonprofit’s budget, right?

Well, not really.

Certainly grants are a key element of any nonprofit’s development plan.

But the real treasure is building a strong, ever-increasing donor program. In other terms, individual giving from people like you.

Historically, donations from individuals account for over two-thirds of all donations. If you add in gifts from bequests, then the category accounts for nearly 80% of all giving. (Data from https://givingusa.org/)

OLSHF has a healthy mix of income streams, including an individual donor program. But we’ve worked diligently to scale up our potential to reach more supporters and improve our donor communications plan.

In 2018-19 we anticipate almost 10% of our income for our operating budget to comprise of individual donors.

How can we do this?

Our PRIDE donor program is a perfect way to build infrastructure and increase our individual base of supporters.

Our Keep the Promise events and other “friend-raisers” (held in different regions of Oregon) provide an opportunity to meet new people and share our community impact, adding potential donors and volunteers.

The thrill of planning, writing and winning a grant award will always make my heart race a bit, but grants may come and they definitely go.

What stays and becomes a legacy are the people who believe in our mission and the varied network of people who continually support our sight and hearing programs for Oregonians in need.