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History

Florida's Vision Quest, (FVQ) began in 1994, an all volunteer organization led by Nancy Jeppesen to address the lack of follow-up vision care for low-income, uninsured students. In those days, if the child couldn't see the chalkboard and the family was poor, there were little or no resources for follow-up services. The program was inspired by the fact that Nancy's own daughter failed 5th grade due to undiagnosed poor vision.

In an attempt to understand the extent of the need, Nancy offered free vision exams and eyeglasses for low-income, uninsured children in 11 Title One schools in Orange County, Florida. As word spread, hundreds of families began finding their way to weekend clinics where volunteers provided vision exams and manufactured glasses on the spot. By 1998, the need had become clear and the statewide expansion began.

From 1997 to 1999, the Orange County "model" was replicated in 66 Florida counties. Hundreds of vision screening teams, social workers and teachers were recruited to identify, qualify and refer students to the program; and over 350 eye care professionals throughout the state were recruited to provide pro-bono vision exams within their respective offices. Beautiful, new eyeglasses were manufactured as needed and sent back to the doctor for dispensing.

In extremely rural areas, the nearest doctor is often over an hour away and many parents do not have transportation. In some areas, the demand simply overwhelms the doctor network. In response, with a grant from The Chatlos Foundation in 2000, FVQ was able to develop a Mobile Clinic staffed by eye care professionals. This 37 ft. Mobile Unit has become critical to service delivery and travels to schools across the state, providing vision exams and manufacturing eyeglasses for students who cannot be served in any other way.

During our most recently completed fiscal year, over 350 eye care professionals provided a total value of $649,800 to the agency, and over 500 vision screening team volunteers provided more than 1,355 hours of volunteer service for 16,259 students. As of this writing, FVQ has provided clear vision to over 140,000 children in Florida.