Exclusive Provider for the Community Vision Program
Funded by the St. David’s Foundation, the Community Vision Program began in 2011 to provide eye exams and glasses to adults who would otherwise not be able to receive such services. CommUnityCare is responsible for coordinating the partner health clinics and eye care providers. Last month, after postponing the program for several months, CommUnityCare approached half Helen to help get the program restarted. While CommUnityCare works to confirm partnerships and implement new systems, half Helen will serve as the sole provider of eye exams and glasses for the uninsured adults who benefit from the program. This is an exciting opportunity for half Helen because it opens up a revenue stream, in addition to philanthropic donations, to support and sustain our organization.
Beginning August 9, optical Prime will be at one of five health centers on the same day each week through the end of September. In October, optical Prime will transition to serving children at our school partner locations Monday through Thursday and adults at partner health center locations on Fridays. Eligibility is limited to patients of CommUnityCare, El Buen Samaritano, People’s Community Clinic, Project Access, Lone Star Circle of Care, Health Alliance for Austin Musicians (HAAM), Volunteer Health Clinic, Vivent Health (formerly AIDS Services of Austin), and Samaritan Health Ministries. Patients can schedule appointments at halfhelen.org/exam.
Back to School: Screening Begins
On August 23, half Helen will return to schools to begin screening children in grades PreK-4, K, 1, 3, 5, and 7 for vision impairments. Vision screening is required by the State of Texas and often falls on school receptionists and administrative assistants to complete. We partner with schools so they don’t have to divert school personnel from their primary function. Our six-person team can screen about 250 children per day. Our exam team will return on optical Prime a few weeks later to examine children who failed their screening, diagnose their vision impairment and provide glasses as needed. Follow us on Facebook and Instagram to stay updated about where we will be.
*New* Del Valle ISD Partnership
half Helen is pleased to welcome Del Valle ISD as our newest school district partner. During the 2021-22 school year, optical Prime will visit all nine of Del Valle’s elementary and middle schools to provide eye exams and glasses. Thanks to your generous donations and support constructing optical Prime, half Helen is able to double the number of children we help see the world clearly. Del Valle is only the first new partnership. Stay tuned for more news.
St. David’s Foundation Capacity Building Grant
The St. David’s Foundation has been a trusted partner and supporter of half Helen for many years. They have supported our development of swift Screen into a licensable app and our growth and expansion. The $300,000 Capacity Building Grant enables us to hire additional staff members to operate optical Prime, expand to Del Valle, and kick-start our entry into the Community Vision Program.
Meet the new faces at half Helen
Regina Budet joined half Helen’s board of directors in June. Regina works as a low vision occupational therapist at Northwest Hills Eye Care. She enjoys collaborating with her patients to develop a customized approach to engage in meaningful activities that help promote functional independence and life satisfaction. Through Northwest Hills Eye Care, Regina also facilitates a low vision support group and other events with the low vision community. She received her Masters and Doctorate in Occupational Therapy from Texas Woman’s University and completed the Low Vision Rehabilitation Certificate program from University of Alabama at Birmingham. In 2020, she was awarded the Speciality Certification in Low Vision (SCLV) through the American Occupational Therapy Association. Having had family members with visual impairments, Regina is passionate about advocating for the needs of those affected by vision loss so they have access to the tools and resources they need to be successful. An Austin native, Regina enjoys exploring new leisure activities and spending time with family.
Jennifer Foster also joined half Helen’s board of directors in June. She is the Head of North America Small Business eCommerce for Dell Technologies, and is responsible for online sales at www.dell.com. Prior to joining Dell, she worked in investment banking and commercial banking in various financial institutions in Salt Lake City, Utah. Jennifer holds a Bachelor of Science from Westminster College, an MBA from the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah. In addition to half Helen, Jennifer is part of the Angel Society for Any Baby Can and supports many other local charities. On her off time, she enjoys skiing, reading, binge watching documentaries, scuba diving and listening to audible books.
Dr. Tanya Kohli joins the half Helen team on August 16 as our full-time Optometrist every Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. She picked out her first pair of round, shiny purple frames at age 6. She has enjoyed her annual visit to the eye doctor ever since. After completing optometry school in Chicago, IL, Dr. Kohli pursued a residency in vision therapy to better understand the link between vision and learning. Through her work, she aspires to help children and adults see their own power through the use of both glasses and insight. She keeps her inner child alive and encourages the natural curiosity of each kid she meets sitting in the exam chair. In her free time, she likes to be outdoors reading an interesting book or running a scenic route. She is grateful to have the opportunity to join half Helen and is eager to serve the bright eyes of Austin.
Olivia Schneider has joined the half Helen team as our Social Media intern for the fall semester. A rising junior, she is studying communication at St. Edward’s University. Most recently she managed the TikTok account for Tiff’s Trolls. She also mentors high school speech and debate students as they prepare for tournaments. In her free time she enjoys traveling, watching sitcoms and hanging out with her friends and family (and her dogs).