Music filled the Versailles Room at the Hilton on City Avenue this past Saturday evening as attendees dined on passed hors d’oeuvres and bid on silent auction items. By all accounts, Salus University’s 12th annual “Looking Out for Kids” (LOFK) charity fundraiser
was a roaring success and with a great cause at its core. The annual event helps support some of the region’s most vulnerable and disadvantaged children through the rendering of comprehensive vision care services and eyeglasses.
The cocktail hour was not only a time for guests to peruse items in the silent auction, but it was the perfect time to buy tickets for raffle items for a Microsoft Surface Pro and a handmade quilt. Some of the sought-after items included a Mike Tyson signed boxing glove and a hand-carved wooden bench. The live auction, held after the sit-down dinner, included travel packages to Virginia, Long Beach Island, N.J., and New York City.
Returning for the fourth time to co-host the evening was by Emmy-winning NBC10 anchor and reporter Rosemary Connors. Connors interviewed Eric Melton - a sixth grader from Franklin S. Edmonds Elementary School in Mt. Airy and a recipient of a comprehensive eye exam and two pairs of the glasses - and his school nurse Margo Owen. Melton told his story of not being able to see prior to receiving the examination, and the process of receiving his glasses. With the audience’s full attention, he received a boisterous applaud when he said he is now a straight-A student since having his glasses.
“This event represents some of what we do best - care for those around us,” said Dr. Michael Mittelman, president. “I want to take this opportunity to thank our very generous sponsors as well as our talented staff for organizing the event. Of course, none of this would have been possible if our faculty and students weren’t going out into the schools to screen and ultimately care for the children LOFK supports - a very special thanks to them!”
Reade Fahs, CEO of National Vision, LOFK’s Title Sponsor, addressed the audience and talked about how important it is to National Vision that Salus has a great philanthropic spirit. “National Vision’s optometric leadership have all come out of this school, we think it is because of that philanthropic heart that we as a company are dedicated to make eye exams and eyeglasses accessible to all, no matter the income. That is at the heart what Salus is about.”
Leading up to the presentation of the “Looking Out for Kids” Lighthouse Award to the 2018 recipient, Donna Frisby-Greenwood, were both Tanya Ruley-Mayo, CEO of Independence Charter School and former colleague of Frisby-Greenwood; as well as State Senator Vincent Hughes. Both sung Frisby-Greenwood’s praises about the work she has done and the success she has achieved - reiterating that she very much deserved the award.
The Lighthouse Award was established in 2016 to honor those who are beacons of light and sources of strength in the community in which they live, work and serve, above and beyond their own occupations. Frisby-Greenwood is the president and CEO of The Fund for the School District of Philadelphia and has devoted her life to advocating for youth in need. Prior to being president and CEO, she served as director of college and career awareness for the School District of Philadelphia, a Special Assistant to HUD’s Assistant Secretary for Policy and Research as a National Urban Fellow, and executive director of Rock the Vote, a nonpartisan nonprofit dedicated to building the political power of young people.
Through this initiative, during the 2017-2018 academic year, more than 5,000 children received care which included vision screenings, comprehensive exams and more than 1,100 pairs of glasses were distributed. And, for the first time since its inception in 2007, the LOFK fundraiser has expanded its reach to not include support for vision care services, but for children’s audiology services as well. The Pennsylvania Ear Institute, the on-campus clinical training facility of the University’s Osborne College of Audiology, provides hearing and balance services for adults and children. The funds this year will continue to provide the necessary vision screenings, exams and glasses, but some funds will also be put toward a hearing aid bank for children as hearing aids can be very costly and are often not covered by health insurance.
The event was considered a great success by those who worked it, as well as those who attended. “I thought the LOFK event on Saturday was our best ever - It was great to see students, faculty, Salus board members and many others enjoying the event,” said Dr. Michael Mittelman, president.
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