Right now we’re sitting on the plane heading towards Japan (we have a quick layover in Tokyo before heading to Taipei). Shu-Chu and I are both incredibly excited about this trip because we will be hosting our first ever 141 Eyewear Clinic.
When we initially discussed the whole notion of starting an eyewear line with a one for one business model where we would give a pair of glasses away for every pair we sold, it was the thought of organizing our very own clinic that was the most motivating factor to get this company going.
In November 2009, we had the opportunity to join the Lion’s Club on one of their eyewear donation trips where they brought 7000 pairs of recycled glasses to Manzanillo, Mexico. We ended up giving away 1700 pairs. The clinic was spread over 5 days and Shu-Chu and I learned a lot. We learned a lot about ourselves, 141, what is it like for folks to live without clear vision, and most notably, we learned that we are doing the right thing. We worked 14 hour days and each day we truly felt like it was all worth it. There is no way you could put me in a cubicle for 14 hours working on spreadsheets. I’d go nuts. But at this clinic, we were able to see (first hand) the impact a pair of glasses can have on a person’s life. It was amazing. For me, it was all about the “thank you” and the smile. I remember helping one gentleman; giving him his glasses and receiving a genuine you’ve-changed-my-life thank you. It wasn’t anything crazy or over the top. He just looked me in the eye, shook my hand, and said “muchas gracias” with a giant smile across his face. I knew the impact that pair of glasses would have. That gentleman had been walking around with a -4.00 prescription in each eye before receiving that pair. I have a -4.50. Without my glasses, I can’t see much at all. For example: without my glasses, my face needs to be about 5 inches from the computer screen for the letters to be clear. Anyways, our experience in Mexico with the Lion’s Club was great. We learned a lot about what to expect for our own clinic, and like I mentioned earlier, the experience made us even more excited about getting 141 up and going.
While in Mexico, I mentioned to Shu-Chu that if we had not joined the Lion’s on that trip, those people would have still received glasses. While we felt good about what we did and how hard we worked, I knew that this trip to Taiwan (which we have been planning since August) would have an even greater impact on our lives because this is OUR clinic. This is 141 helping people…this trip is about setting the groundwork and foundation for our company by giving. That’s what makes 141 so unique. We aren’t simply cutting a check. We aren’t only telling folks about the fact that over 153 million people in the world cannot see because they do not have access to vision care. We are doing something about it. We will be giving away 600 pairs of new glasses during this trip, and at this point in time, we haven’t even sold a single pair. Again, this is what 141 is about…doing the right thing.
Getting things going has been a challenge, but we are incredibly fired up about what will take place over the next 10 days. We can’t wait to see the smiles. We can’t wait to once again witness the impact a pair of glasses can have on a person’s life. We can’t wait to get 141 going.
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