Have you ever considered what happens to most pairs of old glasses once they are no longer needed by their owners? Well, in the vast majority of cases they lie around for years gathering dust until they are eventually tossed into the trash. Seems like a shame doesn’t it? Well it doesn’t have to be this way says Ex-Aussie, Chana Simon, the Director of visionary Israeli Amuta “Re-specs”. Chana, originally from Melbourne, made aliyah in 1987. She describes herslef as having been "born and bred on the social values of community involvement, giving, recycling and making one's impact on society". After many years' experience in managing home-based charities, Chana beleives she has found an unexplored niche and that "RE-SPECS has the power to impact on the health of our society and to effect positive change on our environment and the future of our planet".
Members of the Re-Specs committee try on some of the frames, including Telfed CEO, Dorron Kline (first left)
In recent years, we in Israel, have become increasingly familiar with, and grateful for, the many organizations that collect and redistribute commonly discarded commodities such as food, clothing and children’s toys. “There is no reason not to do the same with old glasses” says Chana “every year thousands of used glasses are discarded by their owners, left to gather dust in a drawer or worse, thrown into the garbage. According to estimates, about 4 million pairs are thrown into the garbage in North America alone. The majority of these are perfect recycling fodder for people in need”.
A Bat Mitzva girl with a shipment of frames collected in the US
RE-SPECS' aims are to tap into this worldwide resource and collect pre-loved glasses and overstocks, redistributing them to people who most need them, society's underprivileged.
Volunteers at a sustainability fair sponsored by Raanana municipality
Contrary to the popular perception of "recycling" whereby the product is re-formed out of its raw material, recycling eyewear means that they can often be reused in their original form for a second person, particularly, a person in need.
Raanana Mayor visits Re-Specs
Dorron Kline, CEO of Telfed and Chariman of the Amuta explains the “the organisation started three years ago, working out of the Telfed Moadon in Raanana and today has six branches across the country which provide recycled frames and lenses to the needy for 20-90 Shekels per pair of glasses”.
Ex-Aussie olah Noa Barda doing her social Bagrut certificate with Re-specs
As the sole collector of recyclable frames for Israelis, RE-SPECS Frames for the Needy steps in to address the problem of lack of access by Israel's underprivileged population to correct eye-wear. Re-specs both collects and uses surplus glasses frames from Israel and abroad for distribution to needy people in Israel.
Eye-testing at our centre
Re-specs employs the services of optometrists who volunteer their time and surplus stock to the cause. Cooperating directly with members of the industry, Res-specs are not a threat to the livelihood of people working as optometrists or eye-wear suppliers. A time commitment of 3 hours per month can make a huge difference in people’s lives. If you are an optometrist or supplier who would like to volunteer time or have excess stock to offload, please contact Chana at firstname.lastname@example.org.
An eldery Holocaust survivor from Be’er Yaakov arrived at our center in Raanana accompanied by a carer. Although, she had been plagued by poor eyesight for most of her life she had never sought out treatment for her ailment fearing the costs involved and had simply managed as best as she could with the poor vision she had. After being checked out by one of our volunteer optometrists, she was presented with a suitable pair of glasses for a nominal fee. Words cannot express her delight at finally being able to see clearly after being denied that privilege for so many years.
It is incredible to see how such as simple thing that most of us take for granted can literally bring so much joy.