The most effective churches take care of a community’s physical needs as well as spiritual needs, and they use Jesus as an example. Before He started the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus used five loaves and two fishes to feed 5,000 men — not even counting women and children. Even before He began His ministry, He took care of the wedding guests first.
Tabernacle Seventh-day Adventist Church in Miami, Florida, United States, took those care principles of Jesus to heart with the official opening of the Albert C. Pierre/Rhonda Eyes Alliance Vision Care Center in March 2022.
A group of city officials, well-wishers, and church members witnessed the opening of the only vision care center in Miami’s Little Haiti and El Portal neighborhoods.
The purpose is to provide affordable vision care to those who need it most. The vision care will be spearheaded by Lenny McCalla, a doctor of osteopathic medicine and head of health ministries at Tabernacle church, and Rhonda LeBlanc, president of Rhonda Eyes Alliance. Both McCalla and LeBlanc have given their time and talents to underserved communities throughout the Caribbean and decided to turn their attention to south Florida.
“Our work started by a visit to Haiti, and that’s when we realized there was so much need,” LeBlanc said. “We started out with recycled glasses … but we have a clinic with the locals running it. I have concluded that God took us through those 14 years [in Haiti] to continue the work [in south Florida].”
Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick, Florida congresswoman, sent a representative who presented a certificate of special congressional recognition.
“This is the first inner-city vision care center designed to assist the underserved,” the congresswoman wrote. “Underserved communities are at greater risk for undiagnosed and uncorrected eye vision disorders and diseases. This vision care center that will now be serving the community, and can help children with learning, adults with job performance, and everyone with home safety. The gift of sight is priceless.”
To further support the initiative, Cherfilus-McCormick sponsored vision care services for the first 10 children to be examined. The center is housed on the first floor of Tabernacle church with two fully equipped examination rooms.
The vision care center opened March 25, 2022, to patients for the first time, and they came away impressed.
Senior citizen Lillian Boswell-Hall was examined. She has cataracts and needs surgery. Her daughter, Cyrena Hall, said, “We’re so glad we came. We learned so much more about her condition, and now she will get the help she needs.”
Boswell-Hall’s cousin, Martha Rampersad, took time off to come with them for the visit. “Her visit was long overdue,” she said. “Now we will bring her back to do follow-ups here at the clinic because we were given more information about her condition and necessary treatment.”