Longtime Uniontown resident, Paul Ruley, has been deeply involved with the Uniontown Lions club’s efforts to collect used eyeglasses, evaluate their prescriptions and match them up with those in need of glasses in third world countries.
Each Monday morning and Thursday evening you’ll find Paul and members of the Uniontown and neighboring Lions Clubs gathered together in the Uniontown Community Park building in an effort to bring clear vision to thousands of needy folks in Latin America.
“There are people in villages and towns in third world countries who cannot accomplish menial tasks without eyeglasses,” informed Steve Sinsabaugh, the club’s media representative. “Many can’t support themselves financially without our help,” he said.
The eyeglass recycling project began with Uniontown Lions in 2001 when Doctor Braden Kail visited the club to talk about his trip to Honduras to provide eyeglasses to the needy. Kail explained what his biggest challenge was the preparation and evaluation of the glasses for the trips. Ruley chaired the sight committee for the Lions in 2001 and led the club’s efforts to collect used glasses at several locations, including Goodwill stores. Instead of turning over unprocessed glasses, Paul began processing them so that they would be ready to be used by impaired citizens upon arrival.
The process involves sorting the glasses into plastic or metal frames, regular prescriptions or bifocals, sunglasses or safety glasses.
At this point the glasses are washed, prescriptions are evaluated and necessary repairs are made. With the help of analog and digital lensometers, Ruley’s technical expertise has impacted citizens from Peru, Mexico, Bolivia, El Salvador and Honduras. The prescription is recorded before shipment for an optician in the Third World country to match as closely as possible with each patient.
“Because of Paul’s leadership and with the help of members Bob Jones, Al Spigelmire, Dave Rhodes and Dom Trifero we took on this process here in Uniontown and it continues to grow,” said Sinsabaugh.
Processing the glasses has become easier since a digital lensometer was approved for purchase by District 13-D of the Lions Club. The analog versions are still in use by experts such as Paul Ruley, but the digital is easier for a novice to read. Glasses are beginning to come in from other districts for evaluation. Due to the foresight of Paul and the Uniontown Lions Club, between 200 and 400 pairs of glasses are collected each month for recycling, with over 26,000 pairs shipped thus far.