Edmonds optician Ron Swengel was new to the Kiwanis Club of Lynnwood in 2000 when he got the club started on the Pacific Northwest District of Kiwanis’s Save Old Spectacles (SOS) project. Lynnwood Kiwanis needed a February project, and Swengel cares deeply about eyesight.
“It’s important for me that everybody have the best possible vision,” he said Monday, March 18 as 13 volunteers from Lynnwood Kiwanis, the Mountlake Terrace Key Club and their friends cleaned and packaged 848 pairs of glasses at College Place Optical in Edmonds. The glasses will be sent to the EyeCare WeCare Foundation, which provides free eyecare and eyeglasses in the Philippines.
“Vision helps with their life, their learning capabilities, and their work productivity,” Swengel continued. “Not all countries have the benefits of healthcare that our country has, and vision is one thing we can help with.”
He and his wife Billie Swengel dream of someday taking part in a volunteer trip overseas to help others with free eyecare, and they are inspired by stories from colleagues who have done so.
“People walk for a day to get to a certain village because they’ve heard health care is there,” Swengel said, recalling a story from Central America where a woman started crying after being fitted for glasses. After a translator came over, she raised her hand and pointed across the room and said, “I can see my daughter.”
“She’d gone 40 years not being able to see more than 3 feet in front of her,” Swengel said.
According to the Pacific Northwest District of Kiwanis International’s website, it has sent more than 540,000 pairs of glasses to the developing world since 1995, when the program was started.
Swengel invites the public to drop off used eyeglasses with no missing or broken lenses at his office at 8325 212th St. S.W. in Edmonds during business hours of 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Friday or 9 a.m. to noon Saturday.
The Kiwanis Club of Lynnwood is a service club that also helps the community by working with Casino Road Ministries in Everett, providing scholarships for Edmonds School District students, running canned food drives and supporting the Relay For Life Cancer Walk and Clothes For Kids. The club meets at the Lynnwood Fire Station at 7 a.m. Thursdays, and welcomes new members. For more information, go to www.lynnwoodkiwanis.portalbuzz.com.
Story by Laurel Eddy on behalf of Lynnwood Kiwanis