Our Time at the Mattahunt Elementary School

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For the past few months, we have had the privilege to work with the young students of the Mattahunt Elementary School in Mattapan. This school is one of the most unique public schools in the city as it focuses only on students in grades Pre-K through first. They have specialized programs for trauma sensitive, autistic, and Haitian-Creole speaking students. The school is beautiful and vibrant with a colorful exterior that any kid would be happy to enter everyday. Everyone we have encountered at this school from the teachers, the aides, and students have been nothing but wonderful. Every student has been polite, well mannered, and excited to come to their exam.

During our time at the Mattahunt School we have given vision screenings to eighty seven students. Of those students, twenty two have received prescription eyeglasses and none of them had previously worn any glasses. This number is not as high as the middle school aged children we saw in the Spring of 2017, but the prescriptions are higher and will make a big difference in the child's life. 

During our time at the school we also hosted a holiday concert where members of the Boston Pops performed. Parents, students, and staff were invited to the event and we were happy to have had over three hundred guests in attendance. 

Our care for the children does not end after we deliver the glasses. We have been following up with the parents one week later to ask about the progress of their child with their new eyeglasses. It is always an amazing feeling when a parent is appreciative and gives us examples of how the glasses have benefited them. We hear things like "he isn't tripping as much" or "she's taking an interest in things around her". Any fitting and adjustment issues are taken care of by our optician, Christina, when visits the school every other Tuesday. During that time, if any of the parents have called with concerns about their child and his/her new glasses, the student is reevaluated.

It has been a pleasure to continue to provide clear vision to these students and we hope that it will play a role in the success of their education. 


MEET VISIONARY, WENDELL K. CHESTNUT

 Visionary Portrait by Kerry Brett

Visionary Portrait by Kerry Brett

SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT, BANK OF AMERICA

WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR COMMUNITY?

Although it is an overused phrase, I do appreciate the “diversity” and liberal thought that resides within the community. At times, it does not feel as diverse and as integrated as it could be and should be; however, it does exist! It exists, because the community insists on its presence and there are incredible community and civic leaders who work diligently to make inclusion of thought a reality and inclusion of dialogue a must!

This energy is what inspires me and makes me want to be a part of this change. I also want young people to know that opportunity and hope can be achieved and there are many willing to ensure that future.

HOW DO YOU HOPE TO EFFECT POSITIVE CHANGE IN OUR COMMUNITY?

Simply stated: Me being involved and having a voice for those that may not feel they have one yet!

WHAT INSPIRES YOU?

I enjoy learning about what I do not know from others and then sharing all knowledge with as many people as possible. There was a time where I felt that hoarding that knowledge was the way to success and happiness. I have since learned that the more I share: knowledge, experiences and engage others in the same process, I am my happiest!

WHAT GIVES YOU HOPE?

That true leaders are willing to speak up, step out and go against the grain in order to do what is right and to champion for those who have yet to find their own voice!


MEET VISIONARY, RACHEL COSSAR

 Visionary Portrait by Kerry Brett

Visionary Portrait by Kerry Brett

Ballerina, Food Writer, Founder of Choreography in the Kitchen

WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR COMMUNITY?
I have been living and working in Boston for eleven years now. This entire city is my community and I love the dedication and loyalty that people come to feel toward Boston. The genuine application of effort, intelligence and a massive sense of unrealized, but very realizable, potential is pervasive.  

HOW DO YOU HOPE TO EFFECT POSITIVE CHANGE IN OUR COMMUNITY?
I think everyone has the best chance at effecting positive change when they focus on their areas of passion and strength. For me, that is not only within the arts and food communities, but in connecting and collaborating beyond these in ways which have not yet been done. My new business focuses on just this - creating programs that get people in all kinds of working environments moving and dancing!

 Ballerina Project, Photo by Dane Shitag   

Ballerina Project, Photo by Dane Shitag

 

WHAT INSPIRES YOU?
People. Everyday. 
And really amazing art. And food:) 

 Enjoying gelato. Photo by Luba Semirog.

Enjoying gelato. Photo by Luba Semirog.

WHAT GIVES YOU HOPE?
People's ability to inspire change both in themselves and in others. 
Boston is a small city and it can often feel like you know everything, you become comfortable with things and then all of a sudden, you are reminded that you actually know very little - that we can always learn and grow together, is what gives me hope. 

 

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MEET VISIONARY, ELISHA DANIELS

Fashion Designer, Stylist, Author, Breast Cancer Survivor and Advocate

 Visionary Portrait by Kerry Brett

Visionary Portrait by Kerry Brett

elishadaniels

WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR COMMUNITY?

I love this community for being a big city but feeling very much like a small town.  A single person can execute change in others’ lives & help people.  People want to help each other & make a difference in the world.  One person with the help of a few friends can tackle a problem & administer change in the community.

HOW DO YOU HOPE TO EFFECT POSITIVE CHANGE IN OUR COMMUNITY?

I have been privileged to effect positive change in the community through various charitable ventures I've participated in. The project closest to my heart is my work with the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. I am an 11-year breast cancer survivor & I credit my survival to the amazing research being provided by BCRF to medical researchers all over the world, but most importantly for me here in the Boston area.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU?

As a fashion designer & stylist I am inspired by beautifully dressed, creative people, but mostly I'm inspired by courageous people who see a need in the community & are not afraid to try to make a difference.  Dr. Tricia Rose is the best example of that in this community.  It is very easy to talk about making a difference but to actually put a plan into place & execute it for change is inspiring.

 

Washington Irving Middle School students are enjoying their new eyewear!

We have now had several weeks at this school in Roslindale and it's been delightful to work with these students!  The first thing I want to share is how well behaved, patient, and appreciative the children are before and during the clinics.  Throughout the testing process they are compliant and focus well on the tasks at hand.  When it comes time to select eyewear, if needed, their personalities really shine.  Some are shy and prefer one of my team members to lead the process. Others enjoy trying on various frames and are very quick to mention a favorite color or style.  The delivery of new eyewear also occurs throughout the clinics and that is a very anticipated and special time for all of us.  The students light up when they realize that they can see the clock on the far wall.  One student told me, "I can see beautifully!"  It's very exciting for me and my team to be able to send the students off with new clarity and vision.  I will be tracking the students and following up with them periodically to assess their progress, and to make any necessary adjustments to ensure long-term success.

It's been very humbling to realize the need for vision screenings and corrective eyewear in this student population.  I wasn't sure what to expect exactly, but have found that approximately 80% need new glasses.  Roughly half of these students have worn glasses before and their current pair is either lost, broken, or out of date.  The remaining half have never worn and will hopefully experience significant benefits from wearing the new glasses!   We are testing their focusing ability and oculomotor skills at near also.  Some of the students are receiving bifocal lenses that should greatly assist in alleviating eyestrain from struggling to focus at near and allow for better comprehension and possibly less avoidance and fatigue.

We enjoy decorating the clinic with photographs throughout the room.  We have laminated images of athletes, singers, and other celebrities wearing glasses placed on a feature wall.  We also have portraits of visionaries from our campaign and sometimes we decorate the room with them as well.  We play music and try to make the clinic a fun experience!  The kids comment on the images and enjoy coming down to visit us.  

Lastly, I'd also like to comment on the faculty at the Irving School.  Principal Davis and Nurse Umeh have been been directly involved in all aspects of these clinics.  I feel there is a very strong sense of community at the Washington Irving school.  It feels more like a family.  Nurse Umeh hugs the kids all day long and treats them as if they were her own.  There is a lot of warmth and connection at this school and we are enjoying our time here!

ENVISION BOSTON GIVING

Welcome to our story, our mission, and our exciting journey as we begin a new chapter with our new philanthropic campaign, Envision Boston Giving.

Our mission is to provide complimentary vision screenings and eye wear to children in need. Please read Dr. Tricia Rose’s blog below to learn more details about this program.

We are also deeply grateful and excited to introduce our Visionary Campaign! Our Visionaries have graciously agreed to serve as ambassadors to our philanthropic mission. They will be introduced throughout this year and we feel their inspirational stories will inspire a wave of kindness and compassion in this beautiful city we all so proudly call home. We know that our future lies in the hands of our youth and we are committed to helping them see their world more clearly.

 Portraits by Kerry Brett

Portraits by Kerry Brett

WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR COMMUNITY?

I love so many things about Boston. I love the rich history and cultural diversity of our city, but I would say the thing I love most is the deep sense of pride and loyalty felt in this community.

HOW DO YOU HOPE TO EFFECT POSITIVE CHANGE IN OUR COMMUNITY?

I am hoping to effect positive change in our community through my new campaign, Envision Boston Giving. The mission of this philanthropy program is to provide free vision screenings and eye wear to our city’s children with the greatest need. All services and materials will be gifted through the campaign. My team is partnering with Boston Public Schools and Mayor Walsh’s Education Cabinet to ensure the success of the program.

We will be using a very specific testing protocol that will assess the students’ acuities, eye movement, tracking, and the ability of their eyes to work together and sustain focus. We are very excited to be able to provide a fun and varied selection of frames, and all of the children will be able to pick out what glasses are best for them. The children will receive their new glasses at school just one week after undergoing our examinations.

I hope that the children and families whom we’ll be benefitting feel our support.  As an optometrist, this is a way in which I hope I can make a genuine impact.  I hope the school communities feel supported as well and appreciate the feeling that we’re all in this together. My immediate hope is that the kids themselves feel special and cared for and that it will be easier for them to focus on learning in and out of the classroom.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU?

I am inspired by the inherent goodness of people. I am inspired by the all of teachers whom I’ve had and continue to have who are teaching me to reach higher and do better. I’m also inspired by music, art, many authors, and by the Envision Boston Giving Visionaries. We will be introducing them throughout the year, and I think they can serve as inspirational role models for all of us in the Boston community. I am truly humbled by their passion to contribute their time to this important endeavor on behalf of Boston’s children.

WHAT GIVES YOU HOPE?

It gives me hope to know that the sun rises every morning, and the flowers bloom every spring, and that there is an ever-present loving force all around us. Also, it’s amazing that a glimmer of hope for an idea can so quickly lead to a magically orchestrated series of events to bring that idea to fruition. I feel that there is so much to be hopeful for and can’t wait to see what lies ahead.

ENVISION BOSTON GIVING: JAMIE BISSONETTE

WHAT DO YOU LOVE ABOUT YOUR COMMUNITY?

I love Boston because it’s both a small town and a big city; you don’t lose the sense of neighborhood.Here people know their postmen and know the people who work in their shops and restaurants.

HOW DO YOU HOPE TO EFFECT POSITIVE CHANGE IN OUR COMMUNITY?

I add positivity through P-M-A — Positive Mental Attitude. You reap what you sow. It’s about creating a sense of family and community. My staff gets together regularly to donate for a soup kitchen, but it’s also what happens daily and nightly in the actual restaurants. We create a sense of family in how we run our restaurants and that’s very important to me.

WHAT INSPIRES YOU?

I’m inspired by diversity and travel. That’s why I was excited to open this restaurant in Central Square. It’s such a mismatch of cultures. There are so many different styles of restaurants around here and each one is populated by people from think tanks, Harvard, MIT, and a vast array of cultures. Here, when you walk in, you can’t tell what kinds of people come here—who they are, where they come from and what they do. It’s truly all walks of life. That multi-cultural aspect really inspires me.

WHAT GIVES YOU HOPE?

Civilization and people have always been evolving. It’s human nature to learn from our mistakes and even when we think we’re going backward, we’re not. It’s not possible.