BayCare Clinic optician completes 29th mission trip
Wed, Mar 14, 2018
OCONTO FALLS – Sue Laskowski, a dispensing optician with BayCare Clinic Eye Specialists, returned recently from her 29th optical mission trip.
She traveled to Juan Santiago, a small farming community in the Dominican Republic, from January 26 to February 3.
Sue and her team provided eye exams and prescription glasses to people of all ages in Juan Santiago. For most recipients, this likely will be the only eye exam or glasses they have access to in this under-served community.
Sue traveled with seven volunteers from VOSH, the Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity group from Wisconsin. VOSH provides vision and quality eye health to people in areas lacking sufficient eye care worldwide.
Each volunteer brought about 400 pairs of used eyeglasses to Juan Santiago, which is near the Haitian border. The volunteers provided eye exams to 910 people between the ages of eight months and 105 years. They fit each person with a pair of prescription glasses. Sunglasses were distributed to each person wanting a pair. By the end of the mission trip, the volunteers had dispensed more than 1,000 pairs of glasses.
Sue saw immediate changes in the people who received glasses.
“One young girl was so excited she could now see the board at school. Before we gave him his glasses, a man in his 40s could only see 12 inches in front of him or closer,” she says. “We also gave a 1-year-old boy his first pair of glasses, and he was clearly not happy about it at first. But as soon as he started looking around at everyone, he realized he could see for the first time.”
Sue enjoyed seeing the effect the glasses had on people in Juan Santiago.
“It was great to see all the children playing, especially those who had high prescriptions and couldn’t see well before,” Sue said. “This region was very appreciative of the care they received.”
Sue’s first mission trip was in 1990 to Etzatlan, a town of about 17,000 in west-central Mexico. Her inspiration to travel came in 1989, after a presentation by a doctor who discussed his optical mission trip. She has since completed 29 trips between Mexico and the Dominican Republic.
After all those optical mission trips, Sue holds the same sense of excitement, pride and joy for the trips, communities and people she’s seen. She feels blessed to have helped thousands of people and to have helped bring them the gift of sight.
“You can see by their face lighting up or by seeing them smile that they can see for the first time,” Sue says. “This makes the trips so rewarding.”
She’s already planning her next vision mission trip. Next year, she plans to travel to Pedro Santana, a city in the Dominican Republic.
“It’s incredible to know that I can help better someone’s quality of life. I get to be a part of something so special,” she says.
About BayCare Clinic
BayCare Clinic, www.baycare.net, is the largest physician-owned specialty-care clinic in Northeast Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. With its 100-plus physicians, BayCare Clinic offers expertise in more than 20 specialties, serving clinical locations in 13 regional communities. Based in Green Bay, Wis., BayCare Clinic is a joint partner in Aurora BayCare