MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation recently provided the West Virginia University Eye Institute a $115,000 grant to assist the Appalachian Vision Outreach Program (AVOP), the goal of which to improve local vision care to the most underserved and socio-economically isolated populations of West Virginia.  

This is Benedum Foundation’s second year of providing support to AVOP, which was established in 2011. With the Benedum Foundation’s support and additional support from private donors, the Eye Institute will partner with the WVU Lions Sight Conservation Foundation, local Lions Clubs throughout the state, members of the West Virginia Association of Free Clinics and community clinics, such as the Larry Joe Harless Community Center in Mingo County, to bring vision healthcare services to West Virginians.

Vision screening, general clinics, sub-specialty clinical services, and education on the importance of vision health will be made available for those who don’t have access to regular eye care and are not able to travel to the Eye Institute because of lack of transportation or other barriers.

“Benedum’s support of the AVOP is critical to helping us meet the vision healthcare needs of West Virginians,” Lee Wiley, M.D., interim chair of the Eye Institute, said. “Thanks to their investment, we are able to partner with other organizations to provide services to restore vision and prevent blindness, giving many West Virginians opportunities for independence and employability.”

The Benedum Foundation’s mission is to encourage human development in West Virginia and southwestern Pennsylvania through strategically placed charitable resources. It encourages collaboration among the public, private and nonprofit sectors in order to leverage the resources that each can bring to common concerns.

“It is sad to think that people have to see eye care as a luxury because of all of their other financial needs when it is such an important component of healthy living,” Kim Barber Tieman, Benedum Foundation program officer, said. “Benedum is pleased to collaborate with the AVOP and its partners to make accessible vision care available to West Virginians.”

The contribution was made in conjunction with A State of Minds: The Campaign for West Virginia’s University. The $750 million comprehensive campaign being conducted by the WVU Foundation on behalf of the University runs through December 2015.

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st/bn: 07-09-12