By Cheryl G. Murphy, OD
The end of the fiscal year is near. 'Tis the season to calculate yearly profits, remind patients to use their flex spending accounts and perhaps plan a holiday office party. But why not focus on what we can give, not what we can get? December is the right time to think about giving back. Even in tough financial times, it is important to help others and support the communities in which we live.
There are a number of ways you can do this.
Make a charitable donation, personally or through your business. This can be a monetary gift or a gift of your effort and time. Here is a short list of eye health and vision related charities to consider donating to below. Please note this is not a complete list of all of the charities out there but it could act as a spring board for you to get to know and research one in which you might be interested. Donate to them or contact the organizers to find out how you can volunteer your time or efforts toward the cause in other ways.
Vision/Eye Care Related Charities:
Show your support for a cause or a person who has been affected by an eye disease or illness. I recently came across a remarkable young man, Matt Gilman via social media and his website Blind Bike Trials. Matt suffered complications of diabetic retinopathy despite 22 surgeries to try to save his sight. He is (and always has been) a bike mechanic and trial bike rider. He pursues his passion of stunt biking despite his vision loss, even climbing up steep rock formations on his bike. His courage is immeasurable, and he now gives motivational speeches while he demonstrates his trial tricks, encouraging others to find a way to face adversity in their lives through the power of positive thinking and reminds them that “vision is more than just sight.” Why not support a person like Matt and help him spread his message? As optometrists, we cannot solely fixate on prevention. There are people whose lives have already been changed by eye diseases and illnesses, and our attention and efforts should also be with them.
Help lift up your community. Justin Bazan, OD, of Park Slope Eye does an excellent job of connecting to his community and uplifting local businesses and artists in his neighborhood. He displays local artists' work on the walls of his practice, giving them more exposure at no charge. This also gives him a beautifully decorated office. He also sponsors a local Little League and basketball team, lends his professional office space to local business networking events, and gives away the delicious baked goods of his favorite local bakery. He promotes authors, musicians and even knitters in the community via his professional Facebook and Twitter accounts and has started a campaign he calls his "business card collection." Small business owners drop their business cards in a bowl. Each month, Dr. Bazin picks one person’s card and showcases that person’s talents or business on his social media platforms. All of this is done at little or no cost to him. Think about how much local businesses in each of our neighborhoods would grow if we were all this thoughtful and supportive of one another? Now is the time to start lifting each other up.
Participate in a run/walk to raise money and awareness while getting some fresh air and exercise. There are run/walk events locally that you could participate in either together as an office or as an individual. The March of Dimes March for Babies is one of my favorites, and it raises money to help fund research and raise education and awareness on babies born prematurely. Feel good by collecting and contributing donations to the cause while getting a great workout yourself. If you make it an office event, be sure to make up team T-shirts to display your staff’s participation with pride.
As optometrists, we positively affect the lives of our patients instantly through prescription changes, monitoring their eye health and by treating their medical ailments. Now let’s expand our influence and make a difference in our neighborhoods and across the globe.
The Business Gains of Giving Back:
Possible tax deduction
Increased office morale
Networking with other local businesses
Stepping back to see the big picture of why you do what you do
Renewed spirit and sense of purpose
Strengthened connection to the community
Expanded sphere of influence
Get your office staff excited about giving back, and make a plan on how to do so. It may be one of the best investments you can make for your business, your staff and your profession this year!
How is your practice giving back to your community this holiday season? What are the most rewarding philanthropies your practice has participated in?
Cheryl G. Murphy, OD, practices at an independent optometric practice in Holbrook, NY. You can like her on Facebook or follow her on twitter @murphyod. To contact her: firstname.lastname@example.org@gmail.com