Leadership Through the Years – Board of Directors

Leadership Through the Years – Board of Directors

The Missouri Lions have given their volunteer, financial, and board support to our programs since 1960. Because of their support, Saving Sight is able to change more lives by saving sight each and every day. The Saving Sight Board of Directors is comprised of several key Lion members. Their leadership and expertise has helped the eye bank grow and evolve throughout the last 60 years and continues to move us forward into the future.   

Read why Pat Martchink, Board President, and Larry Boettcher, Board Vice-President, find serving on Saving Sight’s Board to be impactful.  

How long have you served on the Saving Sight Board and in what roles? I am in my fifth year on the Board. One year as a member, one year as Secretary, and now in my third year as President.

Why is it impactful for you to serve on the Saving Sight Board? I have worked professionally in nonprofits for more than 35 years and I believe it is a noble cause. My father was blind for a part of his life so I understand the importance of Saving Sight’s mission. I believe in the idea of “service” and being a part of Saving Sight helps me to fulfill that idea.

How does the Board function to support Saving Sight’s mission to change lives by saving sight? The Board helps to provide the “big picture” for the agency and then supports management to move the agency in that direction.

How have things evolved since you first became connected with Saving Sight? I believe the Board has grown stronger in its support of the Saving Sight leadership. The Board wants Saving Sight to be progressive due to the competition of other eye banks and the for-profit entities businesses that have similar interests.

Is there anything else about your experience as a board member or about Saving Sight you’d like to mention? I am thoroughly impressed by the work ethics of the entire Saving Sight Staff. They work hard and are truly dedicated to the mission of the organization.

Pat Martchink, Board President

Lions District 26 M-2

How long have you served on the Saving Sight Board and in what roles? This is the beginning of my third year of my first term as a Board member elected to serve Saving Sight from my Lions District 26-M4. Prior to this term I was appointed by the Council of Governors for Missouri Multiple District 26 to serve as a Board member in my Lions capacity as the Vice-Council Chair for one year, and as Council Chair for the second year. I have served as the Board Vice-President for the past two years and I was elected by the board for the current year starting July 1, 2020. This is the beginning of my fourth year on the Executive Committee which meets once a month. Last year, and again this year, I have been appointed to serve on the Finance Committee which meets quarterly or as needed ahead of the Board Meetings. 

Why is it impactful for you to serve on the Saving Sight Board? I believe my prior leadership positions that I have held in the Lions Organization along with my formal education, management training and seminars through Lions International, and my 21 year career in management, I bring all of that knowledge and skill set to this Board. One of the things I am known for on the Board is knowing our By-Laws and making sure our decisions follow those set guidelines. I always have my copy of our Board Handbook ready for review at any time, whether it is during a committee meeting or during the Board meetings.

How does the Board function to support Saving Sight’s mission to change lives by saving sight? First, the Board as a Governance Policy that has the guidelines for the Board and for the CEO for the overall operation of the organization. This allows the day to day operation of the organization to go on without constant Board involvement. Second, the Board is responsible for actively participating in long-range planning for the organization along with determining the programs and services provided. As a Board we have to be progressive and always looking to the future for the overall success of the organization. An example is Vital Tears, in 2016 the Board approved the initial investment into creating that joint venture. They did this because they recognized with the Leadership at Saving Sight that there is a growing need for a solution for patients with chronic dry eye that can’t get relief from what was currently available. That part of our business is thriving and growing at an increasing pace. We have to continue to look for the next possibility, do our due diligence with our collaboration with Saving Sight leadership to continue the growth and sustainability of our organization.

How have things evolved since you first became connected with Saving Sight? We have tried to recruit Lions and community members that bring a different perspective to the organization, and a true willingness to serve. We have brought the Board and Saving Sight leadership closer together in our working relationship by taking the effort to fellowship with one another after our meetings and spend time getting to truly know each other. We have focused on Board training including a new On-Boarding program that I developed for our newest board members each year. We have found that by covering all of the information ahead of their first Board meeting we have been able to use our time together in the Board meeting to focus on what needs to be done, rather than answering questions over and over each year.

Historically, how have the Missouri Lions supported Saving Sight? Individual Lions and Individual Lions Clubs have donated money over the years to support the mission. When Saving Sight handled recycled eye-glasses the Lions of Missouri collected the glasses in their locations and brought them to Saving Sight for distribution in third world countries. When Saving Sight controlled the KidSight program the Lions of Missouri volunteered their time and money to support that program. The proceeds from the Missouri Lions All-Star Football game each year was donated to Saving Sight. Over the years the Districts in Missouri and the Multiple District raised money for matching grants through Lions Clubs International Foundation to purchase equipment for the labs. 

Is there anything else about your experience as a board member or about Saving Sight you’d like to mention? I can honestly say that I enjoy serving on this board. This isn’t a mundane meeting that you just dread going to, because what we do does make a difference and has a profound impact on our communities. Not only for our employees, but for all of those patients that have restored eye sight or relief from their dry eye. I believe in what we do so much I personally support the organization through monthly giving.

Larry Boettcher, Board Vice-President

Lions District 26 M-4

Enjoy Independence Day and Eye Safety

Enjoy Independence Day and Eye Safety

With fewer public gatherings for firework displays this Fourth of July holiday due to COVID-19, many health experts expect that more individuals will purchase and light fireworks for their own personal use this weekend. While fireworks are a beautiful and time-honored tradition associated with the holiday, it’s important that you take precautions to keep yourself and your loved ones safe.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports that there are 9,000 fireworks-related injuries each year in the U.S. Thirty percent of those are eye injuries, and one-fourth of those eye injuries result in blindness. What’s more, children account for the majority of fireworks-injury victims, and for children under 5, sparklers — which burn at 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit and can cause third-degree burns — account for one-third of fireworks-related injuries.

For these reasons, the American Academy of Ophthalmology encourages you to follow these recommendations:

  • Never let children play with fireworks of any type.
  • View fireworks from a safe distance: at least 500 feet away, or up to a quarter of a mile for best viewing.
  • Leave the lighting of fireworks to trained professionals.
  • Follow directives given by event ushers and public safety personnel.
  • Respect safety barriers set up to allow pyrotechnicians to do their jobs safely.
  • If you find unexploded fireworks remains, do not touch them. Immediately contact your local fire or police department.
  • If you get an eye injury from fireworks, seek medical help immediately.

If you do decide to shoot off fireworks yourself, be sure to follow all safety precautions, protect your eyes, and keep children a safe distance away. The staff at Saving Sight wishes you a safe and fun-filled Independence Day weekend.

Sources: EyeSmart and the American Academy of Ophthalmology.

Thomas’ Legacy Lives on Through the Gift of Sight and Research

Thomas’ Legacy Lives on Through the Gift of Sight and Research

“To know Tommy, he preferred Thomas, was to know someone who was helpful, respectful, loyal, and enjoyed spending time with his family, friends, and his dog. Thomas was happiest working with his hands and going hiking, camping, and riding his motorcycle,” says his mother Charlotte.

Thomas had made the decision to join the organ, eye and tissue donor registry. “I didn’t know until after the accident that he was an organ donor, but I wasn’t surprised,” says Charlotte. “Through his cornea donations, his legacy in helping others continues so that he could keep on giving to others.  He didn’t know a stranger; he was that kind. Because Tommy’s corneas were separately donated, he was able to be doubly generous.”

 

Thomas & his mother Charlotte

Thomas & his brother Colt in Colorado

Thomas 2018

“To know Tommy, he preferred Thomas, was to know someone who was helpful, respectful, loyal, and enjoyed spending time with his family, friends, and his dog. Thomas was happiest working with his hands and going hiking, camping, and riding his motorcycle,” says his mother Charlotte.

Thomas had made the decision to join the organ, eye and tissue donor registry. “I didn’t know until after the accident that he was an organ donor, but I wasn’t surprised,” says Charlotte. “Through his cornea donations, his legacy in helping others continues so that he could keep on giving to others.  He didn’t know a stranger; he was that kind. Because Tommy’s corneas were separately donated, he was able to be doubly generous.”

His left cornea helped restore the eyesight of a cornea transplant recipient and his right cornea went to a research facility in order to help discover the cause, and hopefully a cure, for a genetic eye disease called PPCD (Polymorphous Corneal Dystrophy).

Charlotte took part in Saving Sight’s correspondence program to say thank you to his recipients and to share about Tommy.

“I reached out to Tommy’s left cornea recipient to build a connection. I wanted to know who had been blessed with the gift of sight because of my oldest son’s generosity. The recipient happily replied. And we began to learn – I learned about the recipient as a person and the recipient was learning about Thomas as a person. It has been very rewarding for me.”

She also chose to reach out to the researcher who received Thomas’ right cornea tissue. “Because one of Tommy’s corneas went to a research facility, I wanted to make sure the scientists were making the most of their precious and life-giving donation. Eye research is important to me because it impacts the future.  If PPCD (Polymorphous Corneal Dystrophy) can come even one step closer to being cured, then it’s worth the effort. If one person doesn’t have to worry about possibly going blind, then eye, tissue, and organ donation are worth giving.”

As a donor family, Charlotte has found comfort in supporting donation and in Thomas’ legacy living on. “As a donor family, donation is a way to give back, the ultimate in paying it forward. Finding out that my oldest son wanted to give of his self after he was gone, made me even more proud to be Thomas’ mom.  Because I honored my son’s wish, he lives on – twice. I am comforted that Thomas’ donation benefited a recipient to see clearly again and research is actively exploring a cure for PPCD.”

“Thomas made a conscious decision to give of his self beyond his last breath. And I could not be more proud of him for his ever continuing gift of sight. Thomas, my oldest son, had the most deep blue eyes that continue to see even though Thomas cannot.”

Joining the Organ Donor Registry

You can join the national organ, eye and tissue donor registry at registerme.org.  “I have been considering becoming an organ donor.  Even though I wear glasses, I have been advised that I could still give the gift of sight to someone else,” says Charlotte.

Mark Meyers – Champion of Donation

Mark Meyers – Champion of Donation

As the Decedent Affairs Coordinator for The University of Kansas Health System, Mark Myers manages the day-to-day operation of their office as well as autopsy service for the health system. Mark’s support of organ, eye and tissue donation is instrumental in helping Saving Sight facilitate the gift of sight in the hospital.

“We take our work very seriously. Our goal is to never release a potential donor to the funeral home until we talk with Saving Sight as well as Midwest Transplant Network,” he says.

His team of two works 7 days a week with doctors, nurses, families, clergy, Midwest Transplant Network, Saving Sight, funeral homes and coroners to serve the families of deceased patients.

“Our entire health system is pro-donation and it trickles down to us. Every day the need for the gift of sight grows and we all realize just how valuable the gift of sight is,” says Mark.

Mark and his team work to ensure everything flows smoothly for Saving Sight and Midwest Transplant Network. “I’m very proud to partner with Saving Sight because of the work they do to help so many people – it’s a great cause that changes many lives.”

Not only does Mark support donation through his work, but he takes part in the donor advisory council at the health system. He finds it impactful hearing other’s stories of donation and learning how to be a great advocate. “Sometimes it takes a little extra time to facilitate donation, but if you think about the outcome and how many lives are changed, that time is invaluable. Once you get involved, like with donor advisory council, and you hear about the lives changed and saved out of tragedy it makes all the work we do totally worth it,” he says.

If you work at a health system and have a donor advisory council, Mark says it’s worthwhile to attend. “If you have the meetings, I encourage you to go. You not only learn so much but it can also touch your heart.”

He adds that signing up to join the donor registry is an easy process at registerme.org or at your local DMV. If you join the registry, it’s important to let your family members know your choice so there aren’t any surprises when the time comes.

“My personal preference to be a donor is important to our family and it’s the most unselfish gift you can give,” he says. “My wife and sons know how important it is to me personally. And someday it could be me or my family that needs a transplant.”

Giving Tuesday Now

Giving Tuesday Now

Together We Help. Together We Heal. Together We Stand.

 

Saving Sight has joined #GivingTuesdayNow, a global day of giving that harnesses the collective power of individuals, communities and organizations to encourage philanthropy and to celebrate generosity worldwide.

#GivingTuesdayNow is a new global day of giving and unity that will take place on May 5, 2020 – in addition to the regularly scheduled December 1, 2020 #GivingTuesday – as an emergency response to the unprecedented need caused by COVID-19. Saving Sight is joining our nonprofit partners in coming together to created a wave of generosity, citizen engagement, action, and support for our communities and nonprofits around the world. 


Help us change lives by saving sight with a gift on Tuesday, May 5, 2020 and share your giving story on social media with #GivingTuesdayNow.

 

Join Us in Supporting Our Heroes!

As part of its mission to change lives by Saving Sight, we work closely with hospitals and healthcare workers to make eye donation a reality for those in need of restored sight. Today, our clinical and hospital partners need our support more than ever as they answer the call to provide care to our communities impacted by COVID-19.

Please consider joining Saving Sight in supporting healthcare workers near and far by purchasing a t-shirt from our Bonfire.com campaign. A portion of the proceeds of your purchase will go to Saving Sight to fund our work in educating hospitals about donation and supporting their donor programs.

 

Available in more color and style options on Bonfire.com

Available in more color and style options on Bonfire.com