Woman works to establish free eye clinic in Compton

By Olu Alemoru
Staff Writer

Compton — A local charity which is establishing a permanent base in the city is literally opening up the future for young and old.

Angels for Sight, a nonprofit agency that provides free vision screening and glasses for local residents, hopes to have its first eye clinic operational by next February.

The charity founded by community worker Shea Hamilton, will be renovating a house at 920 N. Alameda St., donated by the Compton City Council. Volunteers and members of the community will kick off the “Your Change for Sight” fundraising campaign Nov. 27 by going door to door and placing brightly decorated collection jars in all of the city’s businesses.

A former director of community outreach for Los Angeles Eye Institute, Hamilton gained firsthand knowledge of a little known problem that was prevalent in the inner cities. Namely many children were being labeled as being illiterate when in fact they were suffering from poor vision, which hindered their ability to see and learn.

With an average income of under $25,000 for many residents of Compton and neighboring communities of Watts and Willowbrook, families sometimes find it hard to pay for things like eye exams and glasses, Hamilton said.

Understanding the over whelming need, Hamilton contacted the LensCrafters Foundation that coordinates the “Gift of Sight” program which provides free yee exams and glasses to uninsured children between the ages of 5 to 21. Looking for an inroad into Southern California, the foundation and Hamilton established a partnership in March 2000.

Among the companies and agencies on board for the renovation are Southern California Edison, the Walt Disney Company, SBC, and the county Fire and Sheriff’s departments.

The charity hopes to expand its reach to the point of the where it will be able to screen 5,000 patients a year and provide up to 2,500 pairs of glasses.

“This is truly a labor of love,” Hamilton said. “God wrote a play and cast me as a leading lady.”