The promise of a free eye exam and a pair of prescription glasses made for a full parking lot Saturday at Valley View Baptist Church, 4300 SW 29.
Omar Osborne, 41, asked his boss for the day off and decided to give the free eye clinic a try.
He left with a pair of reading glasses, a pair of driving glasses, a Bible a volunteer had asked him to read from to test for nearsightedness and a note for his boss from Feed The Children volunteer and retired pediatrician Larry Biehler.
“I read about it in the paper and thought about it. I thought, it's on a Saturday, I should just go down there and see what they're doing. When I got here, I didn't have to wait that long. It was very convenient, and the people were very polite,” Osborne said.
Volunteers from Feed The Children conducted the eye exams and helped the clients find glasses from among a selection donated by the Lions Club.
“Thirty years of trial and error is to thank for our system,” said Tom Park, Feed The Children medical mission director.
Saturday's clinic was one of many that Feed The Children has conducted since its formation in 1979, Park said.
Volunteers have made their way across the United States and through 15 countries, working with churches such as Valley View to host the eye clinics.
“This is above and beyond what I expected,” Valley View pastor William Fuentes said. He said 187 people were helped during Saturday's clinic.
Osborne said his new glasses will help him be a safer driver.
“I'll be able to see signs better when I'm driving now,” Osborne said. He said he was grateful for the Bible that volunteer Laverne Shaw gave him.
“I went to the dollar store and got one of those Bibles with the big font,” Osborne said with a laugh. “Now I can read this one just fine.”
Biehler, 75, examined the eyes of patients with complicated vision problems.
He said he and his wife, Arlene, who also volunteered, identify with people who struggle to afford medical services.
“Arlene and I were raised poor. We had a roof over our head and food on the table, but basically that was it. There are a lot of people who can afford rent and food but not a $300 pair of glasses,” Biehler said.
Beihler said he has survived cancer, four bypass surgeries and a stroke that left him with little feeling in his right arm and leg, but will continue volunteering until he is no longer physically able.
“I'm blessed, with all those things going on, to still be doing what we're doing. I'll do it until the Lord calls me home,” Beihler said.
He said volunteering with free eye clinics overseas allowed him to see the benefits of the American health system.
“We are blessed here in the United States. We've seen people in foreign countries who are really poor, and they are grateful for anything you do for them,” Beihler said.
How to help
Fuentes said he is working on starting a free clinic at Valley View Baptist Church. With nurses and volunteers ready to assist, church leaders are looking for doctors and pharmacists who want to help, he said. For volunteer opportunities, call the church at 250-3847.