Story last updated at 5/13/2009 - 11:29 am
JUNEAU - Juneau Optometrist Dr. Jill Geering Matheson has been named Philanthropist of the Year by Optometry Giving Sight, an organization established to address the needs of the 300 million men, women and children around the world who are blind or vision impaired simply because they don't have access to an eye exam and a pair of glasses.
Optometry Giving Sight is a global fundraising initiative reaching out to the more than 200,000 optometrists around the world, and their nearly 325 million patients, to fund programs that establish the infrastructure needed and train the local human resources required for sustainable, quality vision care in countries with little or no access to it.
In 2006, Dr. Geering Matheson implemented a Practice Giving program at her Alaska Vision Center where she asks each patient to make a small donation to Optometry Giving Sight. Dr. Geering Matheson generously matches these donations dollar for dollar.
"Dr. Jill Geering Matheson continues to demonstrate a tremendous passion and commitment to Optometry Giving Sight and its mission of giving sight to those in countries with little or no access to quality vision care," said Dr. Victor J. Connors, Chairman and CEO of Optometry Giving Sight USA. "She has worked tirelessly as an ambassador for the organization's efforts in her Juneau Vision Source optometry practice. We are very pleased to be able to recognize Jill, her staff and her patients for their outstanding efforts in transforming lives through the gift of vision."
Said Geering Matheson: "I have a great practice and wonderful patients who are very giving. I totally believe that giving back to the community, whether it is locally or internationally, is not only a part of doing business, but is also a part of being human. Giving patients the opportunity to express their appreciation for their own ability to see by making a small donation is profoundly rewarding to them. This award really belongs to the people of Juneau as much as it does to me."
A donation of just $5 can be enough to provide training, an eye exam and glasses for one person a developing country.
"The neat thing about Optometry Giving Sight is that it not only makes it easy for me to express stewardship, but it also gives my patients an opportunity to do so," Geering Matheson said. "It truly is effortless to collect a few dollars from almost every patient, and a few dollars can make a significant impact."
Geering Matheson is a 1992 graduate of the Illinois College of Optometry in Chicago and received her undergraduate degree from the University of Northern Iowa in Cedar Falls. She came to Juneau in 1992 as an associate of James Matson, OD, at the Alaska Vision Center. Upon Matson's retirement in 2004, Geering Matheson took over the practice as owner and the sole optometrist.
Geering Matheson is currently Chair of the State of Alaska Board of Examiners in Optometry. She is a member of the Alaska Optometric Association and has served on its governing board as secretary.