Story by Ann Laurence
More than 100 students in Beltsville-area schools in Maryland can now clearly see what’s written on chalkboards, in PowerPoint presentations and books, thanks to a joint project between Beltsville Adventist Community Center (BACC), area school principals and the Daniel Migael Foundation, Inc.—a group of volunteers dedicated to making vision care accessible to those who may not have readily available resources.
Conducted at the Beltsville Adventist School (Md.), BACC, a community service center located in the Potomac Conference, sponsored free eye exams for 146 students from High Point High School, Martin Luther King Jr. Middle School and the Calverton and Vansville Elementary schools. A team of volunteer optometrists—some local and others from the Daniel Migael Foundation—conducted the exams. The foundation provided the necessary equipment, as well as free prescription lenses and frames.
BACC staff members and young adults from Beltsville church’s Pathfinder Teen Leadership Team helped distribute more than 100 eyeglasses to those in need of vision correction. “Students had dozens of choices of frames,” says Sifa Potauaine, associate pastor of Beltsville and pastoral leader of BACC. “The Daniel Migael Foundation knows that students need to get glasses they like, or they won't wear them. The point of the project was to help underachieving students with vision problems. If they don't wear the glasses, they aren't being helped.”
This project started last fall, after conversations between Potauaine and principals from area schools. “The principals said they thought many students from low-income families were struggling in school because of vision problems,” explains Potauaine. “Principals also noted that there were some families who probably couldn’t afford vision exams or glasses. I was aware of the Daniel Migael Foundation and began working with them to see if it would be possible for them to come to the Beltsville area.” The school principals then identified students for vision testing and encouraged them to take the free eye exams. More than two dozen volunteers helped coordinate the project to ensure smooth registration and a stress-free exam.
BACC opened in the fall of 2012 and is located directly behind the Beltsville church at 4220 Ammendale Rd. The center serves the community by providing food and rental assistance on a case-by-case basis. Free computer usage for employment search is available, as well as assistance with updating or reviewing resumes, grievance and prayer support, job counseling and other needed emergency assistance. In addition, the center has a county social services agent on site each day to help people with resources, such as food stamps, medical assistance for families, housing needs and special needs for senior citizens and those who are blind or disabled.