By Susan DeRemer
Despite the intermittent drizzle, the Santa Monica Lions 65th Annual Pancake breakfast was a success. Children and adults made their own origami creations, delighted in the performances of the Folklorico Dancers, selected from a wide array of raffle prizes, and of course, ate pancakes, eggs and sausage. For those that were early birds, there was even fruit, donated by a special guest.
A highlight of the morning was a volunteer that shared her story of appreciation to the Santa Monica Lions. Kimberly Finn spent most of the morning, helping us serve eggs to our attendees to give back to the SM Lions that helped her pursue her dream.
Kimberly Finn is extremely nearsighted. Without glasses, she holds printed material less than six inches from her face and she is unable to decipher any of the letters on the eye chart. So, when she decided to return to college in 2017, she had an eye exam and was told her prescription had changed dramatically. She also discovered that while her eye exam was covered by medical insurance, the eyeglasses she needed were not.
She immediately started looking for help her get the $350 glasses that she needed but couldn’t afford. After months of disappointment, she found hope where she least expected it. The Virginia Avenue Farmer’s Market.
The third Saturday of March is Lions Eye Across California, a day when Lions Clubs across California hold vision events. The Santa Monica Lions provide free vision and diabetes screenings, offer free reading glasses and distribute free children’s books. Kimberly saw our booth, and decided she had nothing to lose, told her story to Lion Gail Litvack, who immediately offered hope.
She provided Kimberly with the necessary forms and guided her through the process, getting her a new comprehensive eye exam and new eyeglasses through the Lions Low Vision Services (LOVE) Program – all free of charge. All Kimberly needed to do were fill out the forms, provide proof of Santa Monica residency, demonstrate financial need and get herself to the appointments in downtown LA, which she did using the Expo Line and a short walk or bus ride. She found the staff at the eye clinic to be friendly, helpful and very efficient. The first visit was a comprehensive eye exam and looking at a large selection of eyeglasses to choose her frames. Two weeks later she was back to pick-up her new glasses!
When asked how she would sum-up her experience, she said, “You are the only organization that stepped-up to help me, and I called all around. You also treated me with respect and not like I was a charity case. I don’t know how I could have gone back to school without you.”
Kimberly is now applying to four-year colleges for a spring 2020 acceptance as she finishes her course work at SMC, on her way to a degree in elementary education.