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March 29, 2013

Grants Will Help SUNY Provide Care to New York City’s Homeless Through Unique Partnership

The SUNY College of Optometry is looking to establish a unique partnership with the Bowery Mission in New York City to provide regular vision care for members of the city’s homeless population and two new grants will assist in helping to get the project off the ground.

The Lydia Collins deForest Charitable Trust and The Chatlos Foundation have both provided valuable funding recently to the Optometric Center of New York (OCNY)--the philanthropic arm of the College--which is hoping to gain more support to help build on an existing, volunteer collaboration between faculty and students at the College and the Bowery Mission. Currently student volunteers from the College, coordinated through the Fellowship of Christian Optometrists and supported by an organization called Hope for New York, make regular trips to the Bowery Mission in lower Manhattan on a volunteer basis to provide eye exams and other services, including dispensing eyeglasses free of charge to people who are served by the Mission. These vital services often help many people fulfill their personal goals, often enabling them—thanks to improved eyesight—to peruse job training or computer classes that will put them onto a path toward recovery and steady, gainful employment.  In addition, some patients at the Mission are found to suffer from a variety of sight-threatening conditions such as glaucoma or macular degeneration. Once the team detects these diseases, the patient is usually able to obtain appropriate treatment for their condition.

The OCNY has been actively seeking support to help the volunteer project grow into a regular, College-sanctioned program, as well as to provide equipment and other assistance.

The Lydia Collins deForest Charitable Trust was established in 2002 and generally supports projects in New Jersey although, because of the merits of the Bowery Mission project, they made an exception and decided to offer their support.

The Chatlos Foundation was established by builder and philanthropist William F. Chatlos  and since its founding in 1953, has awarded over $100 million in grants to nearly 7,000 non-profit organizations around the world.

Since its founding in 1956, the OCNY has had an ongoing commitment to the New York community and to the community-at-large. The foundation has stood as a shining example of what cooperation among visionary community leaders in education, business and philanthropy can accomplish. The OCNY’s enduring mission is to sponsor and support professional scholarships and fellowships, vision science research and vision care for those who cannot afford it.