Keeping with the theme of Valentine’s Day – we wanted to make sure we shared a little love for all of our volunteers, while sharing the story of the extraordinary dedication of Dr. Cynthia Ruggeiro.
You might say that Dr. Ruggeiro helps people experiencing homelessness and poverty find a better vision for their future. For about 18 years, she’s helped staff MCC’s Vision Clinic, which provides free eye exams and glasses to those in need.
The clinic is run entirely by volunteer optometrists, opticians and students who want to help people get back on their feet, and is generously sponsored by Walman Optical, who also provides free reading glasses and other essentials for the clinic.
“Dr. Ruggeiro is a long-standing member of our MCC community, constantly advocating for support of our vision clinic and always working incredibly hard to make sure we can serve as many people as possible,” said Pamela Elessa, MCC’s Director of Supportive Employment Services.
She not only donates her own time and professional optometry services, Dr. Ruggeiro is currently the co-director of the clinic and assists with scheduling other professional and student volunteers. Dr. Ruggeiro says that her passion for this work stems from realizing how important healthy vision is to living a productive life, and how just having a pair of glasses can open doors to opportunities.
“Without decent eyesight, you cannot get a driver’s license, pass a written test, fill out an application or complete many mundane tasks that we can otherwise take for granted,” Dr. Ruggeiro said. She also says that through volunteering, she has developed more compassion for the obstacles faced by people struggling with homelessness and poverty.
The Vision Clinic is one of the many support services integrated into MCC’s employment program. Without glasses, many people are unable to read or complete a job application, or do the work required by most jobs. This service helps people who have little or no resources remove a significant barrier to steady employment.
“Everyone in our city, no matter their situation, has their own unique story,” Dr. Ruggeiro said. Thanks to her, the many other volunteers who contribute their time, and clinic sponsor Walman Optical, we can –literally and metaphorically—help people see a pathway out of homelessness and poverty.