Local Coroner Connects Families to Gift of Sight in Moments of Darkness

Local Coroner Connects Families to Gift of Sight in Moments of Darkness

Coroners and medical examiners work in difficult and often emotionally taxing situations. From doing investigative work at death scenes, conducting autopsies, and notifying the next-of-kin about a death, the job is often demanding and not fully understood by the communities these individuals serve.

Taney County Coroner, Tony Mullen

Taney County Coroner, Tony Mullen, believes that donation is one way he can bring hope to others during a time of grief.

In southwest Missouri, one county coroner has found a way to serve his community in a way that brings hope of restored sight and life to others in the darkest times of loss. Taney County Coroner, Tony Mullen, works with local eye tissue bank, Saving Sight, to offer the opportunity of eye donation. For many families, honoring their loved one’s wish to give the gift of sight through donation brings a sense of peace and hope during the hardest time of their lives.

“When you can physically see the results of donation, it’s huge,” said Mullen. “As a family member, I would feel honored if my loved one could be a donor.”

As the county coroner, Mullen is in the unique position to work with agencies like Saving Sight when a death occurs to offer donation as an option in many cases. Mullen is also committed to educating others in his local community about donation and providing resources to help others understand the process. He believes it’s crucial for an individual to make their wishes about donation known to their family.

“For many people, the only exposure they have to donation is at the DMV when they sign up,” said Mullen. “In the position that I’m in, I have the opportunity to educate others.”

Each day, Saving Sight provides the gift of sight to nine individuals through the gift of cornea donation and transplantation. Additionally, 110,000 individuals in the U.S. are waiting for a life-saving organ transplant. You can make a difference in the lives of others by joining the eye, organ, and tissue donor registry at registerme.org and sharing your decision with your family.

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.

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.

 

Give a Gift to Save Sight

 

Step 1 of 3

  • Your gift changes lives by saving sight. Please fill out the following for your donation. If you'd like to make your gift a monthly or yearly recurring donation instead of a one-time gift, you'll have that option on the next page.
  • $25.00


 

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

Our Response to COVID-19

As COVID-19 continues to be top of mind for many in the U.S. and worldwide, we’d like to share the measures that Saving Sight is taking to ensure the health and well-being of our patients, families, partners, and staff.

Even in these uncertain times, our commitment to the mission of changing lives by saving sight is first and foremost. Saving Sight will continue to serve others by connecting them to the gifts of donation and transplantation. We are taking the necessary precautions to ensure the safety of our staff and patients who will receive the gift of sight from donors. This includes screening all donors for potential and diagnosed COVID-19 cases.

While our clinical operations continue, Saving Sight and its partners have canceled or postponed all community events, including those associated with National Donate Life Month in April. Although difficult, this decision was made to limit the exposure of our donor families, recipients, our team, and the community-at-large to the risk of coronavirus.

Finally, we’ve taken additional measures to protect our Saving Sight team, including suspending non-essential travel and arranging for our staff to work from home, wherever possible. The safety of our team is a top priority, and we will continue to evaluate our response and make decisions in the best interest of all as the situation evolves.

Event Updates

Candlelight Memorial Ceremony, Springfield, MO – March 28, 2020
This event has been postponed, please stay tuned for more information at a later date.

Board of Directors Meeting – March 28, 2020
Meeting will occur via conference call instead of in-person. Please contact our team at 800-753-2265 if you will be in attendance and need dial-in information.

Mosaic Celebration of Life – April 1, 2020
This event has been postponed, please stay tuned for more information at a later date.

University Hospital Celebration of Heroes – April 1, 2020
This event has been canceled.

Celebration of Life and Rose Dedication Ceremony, Freeman Hospital West – April 14, 2020
This event has been postponed, please stay tuned for more information at a later date.

Missouri Donor Day at the Capitol – April 14, 2020
This event has been canceled.

National Blue and Green Day – April 17, 2020
This virtual event is still on! Please visit Donate Life America’s web site for additional information on participating.

KU Rose Ceremony – April 18, 2020
This event has been canceled.

ARVO Annual Meeting – May 1-7, 2020
This event has been canceled.

ASCRS Annual Meeting – May 15-20, 2020
This event has been canceled.

Saving Sight Impact Report

Saving Sight Impact Report

Our Impact in 2019

Thanks to the many partners who help us facilitate the gift of eye donation, and to the thousands of individuals who said “yes” to giving that gift, we were able to impact the lives of more than 7 individuals a day last year.

Together, We Change Lives

2019 was a record-breaking year, in which Saving Sight provided the gift of sight to even more individuals through the help of our many partners in donation. We’re proud to share our successes with you and humbled to say thank you for your support. We hope that you enjoy hearing the stories of those we’ve served this past year, and that you’ll take the opportunity to share their stories with others, as well. 

Give a Gift to Save Sight

 

Step 1 of 3

  • Your gift changes lives by saving sight. Please fill out the following for your donation. If you'd like to make your gift a monthly or yearly recurring donation instead of a one-time gift, you'll have that option on the next page.
  • $25.00