California Teachers Association Past President Dean Vogel was presented the “Community Award” by California State Treasurer John Chiang, for his leadership in introducing Vision To Learn’s program to educators throughout California and nationally. “When it gets right down to it, every single kid that needs to have glasses to be able to see, should have them,” said Mr. Vogel, who served on Vision To Learn’s Advisory Board from 2012 to 2015.
Tim Noonan, President and CEO of Lockton Insurance, received the “Corporate Philanthropy Award” for helping Vision To Learn identify and access Medi-Cal reimbursements – a critical source of sustainable public funding – and for his service as an Advisory Board member of Vision To Learn. Mr. Noonan said, “It’s transformative to see what happens when these kids get glasses.” The award was presented by Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who said, “Tim shared his corporate network and they have all benefited Vision To Learn, for which we are greatly appreciative. His wise counsel and his generosity have made significant contributions to improving Vision To Learn’s service delivery and data collection, to expand the number of students served.”
The event showcased Vision To Learn’s mission and impact through personal testimonials by students, parents and teachers. Nasir Lucas, a 3rd grader from Centinela Elementary in Inglewood, said, “When Vision To Learn arrived, I was happy. Everyone told me how smart I looked in my glasses. Since I got my glasses, I’ve had no trouble looking at the board, and my grades have improved even more.”
Aracelia Romero, whose son Noah received glasses from Vision To Learn at a visit to his preschool, said “Since March 2015, [Noah] has not taken his glasses off. The first thing he does every night before he goes to bed is put them right next to his bed stand, picks them up the next morning and is ready to take on the world.”
Dr. Annette Beasley, Principal at Highland Elementary School in Inglewood, spoke movingly of how a visit from Vision To Learn impacted her school: “Our students’ excitement to get their eyes checked and receive glasses brought joy to my heart, because the stigma of wearing glasses no longer existed.” Vision To Learn has provided glasses to every student in need in the City of Inglewood through the generosity of the L.A. Clippers Foundation.
Kathleen McGinley, a teacher at Park Elementary in Alhambra, said that when her students received glasses, it benefited not only them, but the whole classroom environment. “Because they can see the teacher, and the board, and print, students are less distracted. There are fewer folks who are unfocused, and there is less time off task,” she said.
Vision To Learn’s Founder and Chair Austin Beutner also recognized the service of longtime staff optician Sherry Pastor with the organization’s first-ever “Founder’s Award.” Ms. Pastor said, “To see each and every one of those children smile once they get their glasses is so heartwarming that it’s not a chore to have to get up to go to work every morning. You know you’re helping somebody.”
Mr. Beutner said, “Today is a celebration of what is good in our community and the work done by so many to support the work of Vision To Learn.”