Giving Children the Gift of Sight
a special feature from Kay & Leslie, founders Granparentslink.com
We are thrilled to present this exclusive interview with Joseph Carbone, CEO/Founder of the non-profit Eye Care 4 Kids. Here at Grandparentslink, we believe it’s important to learn how we can help others and continue our commitment to making this world a better place for our children. Giving the gift of sight can open up an entire world of living. See how YOU can make a difference and change a child’s life.
GPL: Mr. Carbone, we read about you and Eye Care 4 Kids in People Magazine. Can you give our grandparent community a little synopsis of your organization?
JC: Every childhood dream begins with a vision. At Eye Care 4 Kids www.eyecare4kids.org, we make sure vision can happen. A 501-c (3) non-profit organization, Eye Care 4 Kids has provided humanitarian aid to more than 40,000 children and adults since 2001. Our program helps visually impaired kids from low-income families receive the treatment they so desperately need.
While our headquarters are in the state of Utah, we treat children across the state, reaching rural areas and Native American reservations. We see up to nearly 600 patients each month. And, we are expanding nationally to many other cities.
GPL- Wow, amazing work being done in such a short amount of time! Is there a personal connection as to why you started this organization?
JC: Growing up in an Italian immigrant family in Queens, I myself struggled with my eyesight, but didn’t see a doctor until I was 17. In order to pay for my glasses, my parents had to give up many of their own needs…but it was so wonderful for me to finally have clear vision.
GPL: When did you realize you wanted to start this non-profit?
JC: I earned my optician’s license and set up a shop and my practice in Utah, where I moved my family. I recall fitting a teen boy with his first pair of glasses, paid for by a benefactor. The boy said he’d never seen leaves on trees before. Hearing him say that literally changed my life.
GPL: That story is so moving. How have you grown as an organization since 2001?
JC: Starting with just donating services, I built Eye Care 4 Kids (eyecare4kids.org) into a full-time non-profit in 2006, after shutting down my practice and taking out a second mortgage. Today, with a clinic in Midvale and two school-based units in Las Vegas funded by casino magnate Steve Wynn and donations from American Express, my 11-person staff and myself have now provided free exams and frames for 75,000 kids! This past Christmas, Mr. Wynn donated a 17-foot mobile eye care clinic, the first eye doctor on wheels in Southern Nevada.
GPL: What would you like for our readers on Grandparentslink.com to know about your organization? How can they help?
JC: Right now we have a nationwide campaign called 20/20, hoping to help 220,000 kids get 20/20 vision in the year 2014. $20.00 can give a child in need an eye exam, as well as a pair of glasses. We are opening facilities all over the country, in places such as Chicago, Harlem, Philadelphia and more on the East Coast. The more donations/investors we obtain, the more clinics we will be able to open.
GPL: Sounds amazing! Where can we send our readers to make contributions and to learn more?
JC: Donations can be made online at our website https://eyecare4kids.org/, or at https://www.crowdrise.com/EyeCare4Kids2020Campaign/fundraiser/EyeCare4Kids
GPL: Thank you, Mr. Carbone, for taking the time to speak with us. We are excited to help spread the word, and hope you have continued success.
JC: Thank you! Our goal is to increase awareness of our organization around the country and help as many underprivileged children as possible. For more information about EyeCare4Kids, please check us out on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/eyecare4kids?fref=ts, and “Like” our page.
*Photos reprinted from: EyeCare4kids.org