On Sept. 20, 251 registered walkers and runners took to the streets at the Run and Walk For Sight. The event’s sponsor, the Lions Club, raised more than $10,000 for the patient care fund at Pacific University eye clinics for patients who are unable to afford glasses and eye exams. The money also went toward the graduate optometry club, Amigos.
The Amigos club, the largest optometry club, is an organization of students in the graduate optometry program at Pacific. Their mission is to provide eye care for people in need, locally and globally, at no cost.
Due to the considerably high demand for eye care around the world, Amigos tries to reach out to as many places as they can, changing up a majority of their destinations each year.
Established in 1975, Amigos usually aims to go on five international trips a year. Previously, several members went to places like Thailand and Romania. President of Amigos Sara George attended the trip to Costa Rica last year, and plans to return later this year.
“We saw over 800 patients in one week and provided hundreds of glasses to those who needed it,” George said. “Going on an Amigos trip is a unique opportunity to both practice the skills that we learn and put service before self.”
Last year, 125 members were a part of the extensive eye care providing organization. The club continues on with its numbers, reaching 123 people this year.
“There’s a lot of different reasons people join this club,” said Public Relations Representative Kristia Mardones. “Some join because they want to travel and this is an opportunity to see a different place while still maintaining our curriculum, and a lot of people join the club and don’t actually go on any trips; they just want to be a part of something that’s bigger than all of us.”
As a club, Amigos meet two or three times a week. They discuss fundraising tactics for the trips, event ideas and glasses donations.
Although not everyone travels, the people who do travel have to earn it. On average, 10 students attend each trip on one of the school’s breaks.
“[The members] have to work toward it,” George said. “There are different things they can do like cleaning and verifying old glasses, checking prescriptions of donated glasses and volunteering [at events].”
This year, the Amigos plan to go to Cambodia and Tanzania over the winter break; Costa Rica and Nicaragua over spring break; and Guatemala in the summer.
As for the future of the club, Mardones wants to provide more community awareness of what the club does. She wants people to know that optometry students aren’t buried in books all day, but they are proactive in providing community service.
“I hope that Amigos gets to be more sustainable,” George adds. “If we could work toward setting up a more sustainable clinic, we could educate the population abroad on the importance of vision care. I think moving toward that is what I really want to see for the future of Amigos.”