Through its annual funds distribution as determined by community volunteers, this year Lycoming County United Way is providing funding for two programs at North Central Sight Services - $16,000 for the social services program and $10,000 for the prevention of blindness program.
So how is thay money being used? Here are two stories:
Barbara is a 93-year old woman whose life was drastically changed by vision loss.
Barbara was diagnosed with macular degeneration and cataracts almost twenty years ago.
She lives in a local apartment complex and would like to stay there as long as she can. Over the last few years daily living tasks like grocery shopping and getting to doctors appointments have been becoming increasingly difficult for her.
"I handle as many of my own chores as I can but I had been paying someone to take me to my appointments and to run all of my errands," Barbara explained.
Barbara lives on a fixed income and often struggles to make ends meet with this extra cost.
As her vision has decreased and her need for assistance has grown she has been experiencing some depression.
Through North Central Sight Services, Barbara has gained the skills and products to help her remain independent, according to Heather Engle, the agency's programs/services director.
"She recently joined our support groups which has helped her to learn how to accept her vision loss," Engel said. "The vision rehabilitation therapist has provided Barbara with life skills and education lessons in her home, which taught her a number of techniques that have enhanced her life. We have recently started taking Barbara to her appointments and assisting her with errands such as grocery shopping."
"Since I am now utilizing this service instead of paying someone else, I am better able to manage my money and bills," Barbara said. "Thanks to North Central Sight Services I am able to stay independent in my home, and I am so grateful for that."
In November of 2010 a 3-year old boy named Grey went through one of the agency's free vision screenings at the local preschool that he attends.
His parents had not reported any noticeable concerns or symptoms of vision loss on the consent form.
His teachers had not noticed any behaviors or actions that concerned them.
"Evaluating the vision of a very young child is no easy task, but using our Suresight machine, we were able to provide a screening that took only one to two minutes," said Engle. "The results suggested that Grey could have a possible astigmatism and myopia. Paperwork was sent home to the family suggesting that he have a complete eye exam by an eye care professional and his parents got him in with an eye doctor the following week."
As a result, Grey was diagnosed and treated with glasses.
"Grey's family is very appreciative of our services and is very thankful that we helped to detect his vision problem early. It is not unusual for a vision problem to go unrecognized at this age. We believe Grey has been spared the number of problems that undetected vision loss cause for children," Engle added.
"We are pleased to be able to fund these programs at North Central Sight Services because they make a real difference in the lives of their clients and their families," said Scott N. Lowery, executive director for LCUW. "Preventing just one case of blindness or helping an individual to overcome obstacles from a disease such as macular degeneration is using United Way money raised for its intended purpose."
For more information on NCSS, call 570.323.9401 or visit ncsight.org.
For more information on Lycoming County United Way or to support the annual campaign that funds programs like these, visit lcuw.org or call 570.323.9448.