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UCLA VOLUNTEER CENTER: Mongelli Award,...
“Save my life. Save my vision.” These two phrases are the most common uttered by ailing patients...

Mongelli Award, Fall ‘16 – Bruins in Focus

Posted on December 8th, 2016

“Save my life. Save my vision.” These two phrases are the most common uttered by ailing patients within the healthcare system, said Bruins in Focus President Nina Fukuma, and her organization is doing everything it can to help the latter request.

Founded in 2008, Bruins in Focus is the first and only student community service project at UCLA that focuses on the importance of maintaining eye health. It achieves that by providing free vision screenings and participating in various health fairs throughout the year to help underserved individuals receive overall eye care and become knowledgeable of available resources.

The vision screenings are of particular importance, helping identify patients whose visual acuity indicate they have a potential eye disease. Bruins in Focus can then refer them to eye doctors for diagnosis and treatment.

Uninsured patients are often neglected when it comes to receiving ocular care, which can affect an individual’s quality of life in regards to their employment and educational performance. To help those who are uninsured overcome these obstacles, Bruins in Focus refers eligible patients to government-funded programs and low-cost ocular health clinics.

Recently, the organization started a collaboration with VSP Mobile Eyes, an initiative from VSP Global that provides a mobile eye care clinics across the country. This collaboration provides free vision vouchers to clients, allowing uninsured individuals 200% below the poverty line to receive glasses and contact lenses.

Bruins in Focus also partners with other UCLA health-orientated groups likes the Latino Student Health Project and Mobile Clinic Project.  Tabling at health fairs hosted by other like minded groups helps promote overall wellness to the local community.  “It’s a great opportunity to outreach and provide vision screenings to people who otherwise would not receive it,” Nina said.

One of the most rewarding moments for Nina occurred during an elementary school site visit, when hundreds of students received vision screenings. She recalled a particular young girl within the group who received a free pair of glasses. Upon receiving her new specs, the girl said she was thrilled to be able to comfortably read her textbooks and complete her school assignments. The impact Bruins in Focus had on this child’s academic performance is an example of the positive changes created by the student organization, Nina added, and is a reward for those involved in the student group.

For the impact Bruins in Focus has made in Los Angeles community, the UCLA Volunteer Center Fellows are proud to award Bruins in Focus with the Fall 2016 Mongelli Award for Excellence and Civic Engagement. For more information and updates from Bruins in Focus, follow them on Facebook or email them at bruinsinfocus@gmail.com.

About the author

Elizabeth Lizaardo is a fourth-year Anthropology Major who serves as the Community Programs Office representative for the Volunteer Center Fellows. She is currently the External Chairperson of the Community Programs Office Student Association, which oversees 28 community service projects specializing in education, social justice, and health. In addition, she is the Chairperson for the Student Risk Education Committee, which focuses on risk management and safety for student groups at UCLA. She is a member of the Community Activities Committee, which is the main funding source for many community service projects that target social, educational, and health inequities. Lizzy is a research assistant at the David Geffen School of Medicine’s Neurology Department where she studies Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. In the past, she was the Risk and Research Director for the Latino Student Health Project, which provides free primary care access to underserved communities in Los Angeles and Tecate, Mexico. Lizzy is currently working hard in hopes of becoming an emergency medicine doctor in the future!

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