Free glasses gifted to Vancouverites who couldn't afford them
Two organizations teamed up Saturday to give free prescription glasses to those who need them in the Downtown Eastside.
The Union Gospel Mission and Clearly worked together to bring clearer vision to those who otherwise couldn't pay for glasses themselves.
John Fleck has been living with broken lenses since last week. Fleck is on a disability pension that gives him a little over $500 a week for support. Buying new glasses would have cost him $800—making them a purchase that was out of the question.
"I couldn't tell the colour of your eyes from here, that's how blind I am," he told CTV News. "So without these I couldn't get around."
Jeremy Hunka, an advocate for homeless people with UGM, explained that not being able to afford glasses can be an incredibly tough barrier for people with vision issues.
"In the Downtown Eastside there are a lot of people who don't have the opportunity to see. They can't afford glasses," he said. "That affects every area of your life."
John Lucas concurred, saying the free glasses were a "god send."
"I knew my vision was getting bad, so I came down to get them because I couldn't afford to buy them," he said.
Even parents feeling the financial strain of caring for a child through a medical condition were grateful for the gifted glasses.
Two-and-a-half year old Scarlett had eye surgery last month, and needs to wear glasses in order to correct her vision.
"We've gone through three pairs of glasses in the last month. She lost a pair and broke a pair and this is her third pair," her mother Jodarna Meade said. "It adds up when I'm currently on maternity leave so the money isn't flowing at the moment."
The family probably could've covered the cost, but it would have been tough to afford.
This is the fourth year that UGM has hosted its annual Summer Connect event to help bring services to DTES residents. Organizers were armed with 2,000 pairs of prescription glasses and sunglasses to distribute so that no one would be left out.
With a report from CTV Vancouver's Michell Brunoro.