In July 2021, eight Lions In Sight (LIS) volunteers met at the Avenal State Prison, located south of Coalinga, California, to meet the inmates who neutralize and process the used eyeglasses donated to Lions In Sight. The LIS volunteers included Bill Iannaccone, Pam x, Linda Griffin, Jerry and Tamara Sternod, and Kevin and Falguni Patel. Ben Cruz, Avenal representative of the Lions In Sight eyeglass and braille programs, gave an update on the programs and escorted the group into the prison.
The group brought pizza and soda to the inmates who process the glasses, which was a welcomed surprise. The visitors observed the five inmates working with glasses and the four inmates working on the braille program. The group also watched a drafted training video that the inmates are making. When finalized the video will serve as a training tool for other inmates.
Lions In Sight plans to sponsor an inmate planning to take his American Board of Opticianry exam. When the inmate passes the exam he will receive a certificate showing he is a licensed optician. That achievement will expand his opportunities of employment after his release into the private sector.
Lions In Sight is very fortunate to have the dedicated Avenal inmates who work with the eyeglasses. On average, the Avenal inmates process over 5,000 glasses a month. Those glasses are distributed by Lions In Sight to thousands of low income clients who then benefit from improved vision.