Furlong Vision Correction's Gift of Sight Program Helps Local Veterans Regain Their Vision
Furlong Vision Correction is a Jefferson Award winner for the
Gift of Sight Program. Click to watch the CBS segment about the award and program.
It was not Veterans Day quite yet, but several local veterans had reason to celebrate on Thursday, September 17, when they received free vision correction as part of Furlong Vision Correction's Gift of Sight Program. This was the 14th year of the program, which was launched by Dr. Michael Furlong to offer free vision correction to underprivileged and deserving individuals. This year, the Gift of Sight program partnered with Team Red, White & Blue and The Cost of Courage Foundation, two nonprofits dedicated to enriching and supporting the lives of those who have served our country. Here are two radio clips with photos about our 2015 Gift of Sight program filed by KCBS reporter, Matt Bigler. Check out clip #1, clip #2.
Three other, very low-income individuals also participated in the program, as part of Dr. Furlong's ongoing partnership with Bay Area-based optometrists.
"We are honored to have the opportunity to give something back to those who have served our country," said Dr. Furlong. "Listening to the stories of these individuals and the challenges they face when returning to civilian life is truly humbling. My staff and I are very excited to have the opportunity to help make their daily activities a little easier and assist them with their careers and educational goals by improving their vision."
"To have the gift of good eye sight taken away and then given back, is truly a miracle," said Robert Villescas, a U.S. Navy and National Guard veteran who now lives in the Homeless Veterans Emergency Housing Facility (HVEHF) after living three years on the streets. Villescas comes from a strong family lineage of men serving in almost every branch of the armed forces. After serving in the Navy, he became a Sergeant in the National Guard and when he retired, he alternated living and working in various jobs in Arizona and the Bay Area. Post-military life posed strong challenges for Villescas, who suffered from a severe heart condition, diabetes and lost one of his six children. Disabled and unable to work, he returned to California to be closer to his family, but was not financially prepared to afford living in the Bay Area. After being homeless, he is now ready to get back on his feet. Following vision correction (he was legally blind), he plans to pursue information technology (IT) courses and is excited to rejoin the workforce and return to a financially stable life.
Villescas joins other veterans, including Diana Rhodes, who suffers from bipolar disorder and is also looking forward to re-entering the workforce as a bus driver following vision correction; former Marines Enando Gonzales, who will face fewer challenges when working on spreadsheets at Cintas; Emilio Gallegos, who is studying to become an author; Rick Sanchez, a disabled air force mechanic; and Taurean Collins, who was formerly in the Navy and is currently enrolled in Cosmetology school.
Dr. Furlong started the Gift of Sight program in 2002. The current program provides Custom Bladeless Wavefront LASIK, PRK and Keratoconus procedures to deserving individuals in strong need of vision correction. Since launching the program Dr. Furlong has provided services to 130 individuals, donating more than $840,000 in procedures. HOPE Services, The American Cancer Society, Diabetes Society of Santa Clara County, Valle Monte League, Junior League of San Jose and Make-A-Wish Foundation have been past recipients of the program.
There were a lot of smiles from patients, families, friends and staff at our Gift of Sight surgery day!
Read the inspiring stories of our 2015 Gift of Sight recipients.
Click here to view a short video featuring former HOPE recipient Toby Ames.
Gift of Sight Recipients
Please click on the following links to read more about our Gift of Sight patients: 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007.