New Jersey Lions Eyeglass Recycling Center

According to The World Health Organization, 153 Million people have uncorrected refractive errors, commonly referred to as near-sightedness, far-sightedness or astigmatism. Often, these types of vision impairments can be quickly diagnosed and easily treated with corrective lenses, with improved vision creating the opportunity for a better life.  For children, clear vision translates to better education, healthier development and a better life. For adults it means the ability to see sufficiently well to work and provide for their families.  Still, millions of people in developing nations are still pushed in poverty simply because they cannot see clearly, learn properly or read. It is for these reasons that Lions’ Clubs all around the world collect, clean, sort and neutralize prescription eyeglass for distribution. 

The New Jersey Lions Eyeglass Recycling Center is proud to continue to be one of busiest Lions Eyeglass Recycling Centers (LERCs) in North America.  Between April 1, 2016 and March 31, 2017, the New Jersey Lions Eyeglass Recycling Center collected approximately 1,015,572 pairs of eyeglasses and distributed 73,928 pairs of eyeglasses to 50 mission groups who traveled to 22 different countries to fit an estimated 61,120 visually-impaired people with our eyeglasses. 

Our work involves a complex coordination of volunteers across our state that includes maintaining operations within two (2) New Jersey State Correctional Facilities; Edna Mahon Correctional Facility (EMCF) and Adult Diagnostic Training Center (ADTC., Lions also oversee and work with Brick High School Leos as well as the Lakehurst-Manchester Club to process eyeglasses. 

Once again this year, Governor Christie has issued a proclamation naming May 2017 as New Jersey Eyeglass Recycling Month and NJLERC has embarked on a statewide initiative to collect used eyeglasses across New Jersey during the Month of May. We continue to encourage Lions Clubs to participate in the eyeglass collection effort and believe it is through individual club participation that we have continued our ability to furnish recycled eyeglasses world-wide.

Lions Club International Foundation (LCIF) continues to work with Lions Eyeglass Recycling Centers (LERC’s) to develop vision programs with the goal being to provide new eyeglasses to needy individuals in partnership with local Lions Clubs. Many companies also remain willing to donate unsold eyeglass frames, Optometrists and Ophthalmologists are still willing to donate eye exams to poor, sight impaired people. The New Jersey Lions Eyeglass Recycling Center has responded to Lions Club International Foundation’s challenge and is pleased to announce, after yet another successful year, the MD 16 NJ Lions Vision Program or NJCURE program is being continued. 

Simply put, a financially needy individual contacts a local Lions Club who then coordinates with our NJCURE Coordinator to identify the closest volunteer optometrist willing to give a free exam, an appointment is scheduled, a prescription is written by the licensed eye-care provider, and it is sent directly to NJLERC’s designated Essilor Lab in Warren NJ where a person’s “preselected frame” can be pulled from inventory.  The finished eyeglasses are then returned to the eye-care professional to be fitted and dispensed. Between April 2013 and December 2016, over 279 men, women, and children and have received a free eye exam and pair of custom eyeglasses at no cost through NJCURE. As we move into yet another year of service, we have assisted over 325 individuals in New Jersey and Pennsylvania with the “Gift of Sight.”

Special thanks to the Council of Governors, District Charitable Foundations and to the numerous Lions Clubs for both their “hands on” work and their financial support this past year. Thanks also to our Executive Director, PCC Mary Devon O’Brien, Treasurer Gil Halliez, VP Ralph Sims and the entire Board of Trustees who worked hard throughout this past year supporting our efforts. I would like to acknowledge the hard work of Lions Bob Losco, Bert Sanford and Lou Peoples for helping supervising volunteer groups and for donating their time keeping the Center open and operational. as well as the service of the Lakehurst-Manchester Lions Club, Brick High School Leos, and PDG Richard Chittum. It is also important to give special recognition to the Allentown Lions Club who donated boxes and assisted in reorganizing our inventory and storage system this past year.

Finally, we look forward to continuing our volunteer work with Lions as we strive to meet the growing demand for recycled eyeglasses throughout the world. In my opinion, there is no service activity more fundamental to Lions and to our collective goal then the “eradication of preventable blindness” and the restoration of sight. The NJCURE Vision Program and Eyeglass Recycling Program will continue to make a difference as we live by our motto, ‘We Serve.”

Annual Collection and Distribution Statistics
(April 1, 2016 through March 31, 2017)

        Time Period                                          Collected          Distributed         # People Served     # People Fitted
April 2016 – June 2016                                 415,850               25,803                          23,890              22,080
July 2016 – September 2016                         208,625               16,138                          12,295              11,375
October 2016 – December 2016                   188,300               18,775                          17,525               16,225
January 2017 – March 2017                          202,797               13,212                          12,370              11,440
Total                                                            1,015,572              73,928                          66,080              61,120

Since January 2011, NJLERC Recycled Eyeglasses have been distributed in the following (33) geographical areas or Countries:
Africa, Antigua, Bangladesh, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Burma, Cambodia, Chile, Columbia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Hungary, India, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Kenya, Malawi, Mexico,  Nicaragua, Paraguae, Peru, Philippines, South America and the United States.

Special Note(s):
Between April 1, 2016 and March 31, 2017, NJLERC distributed 73,928 eyeglasses to medical missions and filled 50 Orders which went to those less fortunate in 22 Countries.

Lions Clubs International has a primary goal to eradicate preventable blindness and provide assistance to the visually impaired throughout the world. The New Jersey Lions Eyeglass Recycling Center (NJLERC) was established in 1997-1998 to meet this goal and the tremendous need for recycled eyeglasses to assist the visually impaired throughout the world. The Center is physically located at the Katzenbach School for the Deaf in West Trenton, New Jersey, where we are fortunate to have space made available for the recycling purposes. 

Each year, individuals donate an average of 6.5 million pairs of eyeglasses to eighteen (18) approved Lions Eyeglass Recycling Centers (LERC’s) representing seven different countries:
Austria, Canada, France, Italy, South Africa, Spain and the United States. Within North America, thirteen Lions Eyeglass Recycling Centers have operations in Alaska, Arizona (two), Indiana, Minnesota, New Jersey, Nevada, Oregon, Texas, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin.

President of NJLERC, Alan P. Brewer