For the past nearly 15 years Americans Helping Americans® has been helping people throughout Appalachia see, eat and smile better through our eyeglasses and dental programs, as well as providing them with emergency medical assistance for necessary prescriptions in times of extreme need.
For example, in 2006 we provided funding for a denture assistance program serving the residents of Martin County, Kentucky and Mingo County, West Virginia, for which we received dozens of letters with stories and thanks from those who experienced dramatic improvements in their self-confidence and quality of life.
Our emergency medical assistance program acted as a safety net for people of Appalachia who were working hard just to get by and had nothing left over after paying their bills and putting food on the table to cover the costs related to an emergency illness.
For example, one man in West Virginia told us in 2008 that he had gone without teeth for 30 years before Americans Helping Americans® provided him with a set of dentures.
“I couldn’t ever get enough ahead to get a set of false teeth,” he said.
A woman who received a set of dentures, exclaimed “Praise the Lord! I haven’t had a salad for 15 years.”
But not all of the recipients were elderly.
“I had my teeth taken out when I was 19,” one young man who had had gum disease told us.
“I hadn’t smiled since.”
Throughout the years our emergency medical assistance program provided help to those at among the lowest points in their lives – when they didn’t know how they would pay for the medicines they needed to ease their suffering and make them well.
More recently our focus has been on preventing dental disease in children through our Mighty Molars program helping to ensure they will have their own teeth throughout their lifetimes and never need dentures.
This year alone, we plan on providing 4,000 children in Georgia, Kentucky, Tennessee and West Virginia with Mighty Molar dental kits which includes six toothbrushes, two tubes of toothpaste and 60 dental floss picks.
In many of the cases, the kits will be distributed by elementary schools which will have dental hygienists give a presentation on the importance of good oral hygiene and instruct them on how to properly brush and floss their teeth.
“Many of our students have told us they do not own a toothbrush,” reported our partner in Beattyville, Kentucky, the Lee County Family Resource Center, located in the town’s elementary school.
Our focus has also shifted to providing adults and seniors with eyeglasses as we have found while states such as Tennessee will provide low-income children with eye exams and prescription glasses, such is not the case for adults.
In Tennessee, working with our partner there, Of One Accord, we found out that while Medicaid covers the cost of an eye exam, it does not cover the cost of a pair of prescription eyeglasses.
We have heard instances where men and women were in jeopardy of losing their jobs because they could not pass the eye exam at the Department of Motor Vehicles without the pair of glasses they could not afford.
Thanks to the supporters of Americans Helping Americans® over the years we were able to help thousands of our fellow Americans return to health, see clearly and eat the foods they love and no longer be shy about having a big, broad smile for everyone they meet.
Throughout Appalachia there are tens of thousands of children who have just returned to school who can’t see the blackboard clearly because of a lack of eyeglasses.
There are also millions of aging adults whose eyesight is gradually worsening affecting their ability to drive and even their livelihoods.
These boys and girls and men and women aren’t suffering from some serious eye condition more so than simple nearsightedness or farsightedness – either of which could be easily corrected with pair of prescription glasses.
What they are suffering from is poverty, and the lack of $65.
While government assistance such as Medicare or Medicaid will cover the cost of an eye exam, what it won’t pay for is the pair of glasses themselves.
This fall, Americans Helping Americans® will be assisting 155 needy children and working poor to obtain those all-important pair of glasses.
While $65 may not sound like much to most middle-class Americans, for those struggling to keep food on the table, pay their rent, keep the utilities on and keep current on their medications, a pair of glasses is way down on the list.
But a pair of glasses could make all the difference for an adult who could lose their job if they lose their driver’s license.
And as for the children, who may not even be aware of their own diminished vision, a pair of prescription glasses will open up a whole new world for them.
Imagine going to school and not being able to read what the teacher is writing on the blackboard – even while sitting on the front row – because you know you need glasses, but your parents can’t afford to buy a pair.
Or perhaps being a senior or veteran who could otherwise drive themselves to run errands, but for the lack of a pair of glasses.
In Rogersville, Tennessee, thanks to a grant from Americans Helping Americans® to our partner there, Of One Accord, soon 80 children and senior citizens won’t have to strain their eyes to try to see clearly.
Through its eye care program, Of One Accord partners with a local optometrist for discounted prices for exams and regular glasses for children and even bifocals for senior citizens who need them.
It’s a sight we here at Americans Helping Americans® just love to see.
Americans Helping Americans® in partnerships with two local eye care providers in Northeast Tennessee has provided eye glasses to 82 patients since July 2011. Patients are referred to the program through Of One Accord’s food pantries and free clinic.
Shelia is a 57 year-old African-American women who moved from Florida to Tennessee two years ago when her roommate and friend retired and decided to move back home to Mt. Carmel in the Appalachian Mountains of Northeast Tennessee. She decided to move to Tennessee with her friend since they had been friends for quite a while.
However, after relocating to Tennessee, she was unable to find a job due to layoffs that were occurring all across the nation at that time. Many of the jobs she applied for required transportation. She has a car, however, she could not obtain a Tennessee driver’s license because she failed the vision portion of the test. Clinic staff eventually learned of her dilemma and scheduled an eye exam for her. During the exam, it was discovered that her prescription had drastically changed, and she had severe night vision problems. Thanks to your support she was able to get a new pair of glasses through the AHA-funded eye glass program. We are very pleased that she not only passed her driver’s license test but has secured a job at a local Waffle House.
PLEASE HELP SUPPORT IMPORTANT PROGRAMS LIKE THESE HELPING OUR NATION’S LESS FORTUNATE
In partnerships with two local eye care providers and Of One Accord Ministry in Northeast Tennessee, we’ve provided eye glasses to 78 patients since July 2011. Patients are referred to the program through Of One Accord’s food pantries and free clinic.
One recent recipient couldn’t get a drivers license because she failed the eye exam and was unable to pay for an exam and glasses. As a result, she was unable to work.
Thanks to your support she was able to get a new pair of glasses through the Americans Helping Americans® funded eye glass program. We are very pleased that she not only passed her driver’s license test but has secured a job!