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Local Lioness Club sees students' vision as part of its mission

September 20, 2007|By MARLO BARNHART

HAGERSTOWN - In 1994, May Crabb had an encounter with a 6-year-old girl at a Washington County school that had a profound effect on her.

"This child bounced in wearing new glasses," the Hagerstown Lioness Club member said. "She told me she could see now, thanks to the vision screening she'd had a year earlier."

When Crabb checked the records, she discovered that she screened the little girl the year before.

"That made it all worthwhile," Crabb said of the club's vision-screening program that has been testing all public school students in Washington County since 1993.

It was that year that budget cuts forced the Washington County Health Department to give up its vision-screening services in schools, Crabb said.

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When the Hagerstown Lioness Club learned of the cutbacks, the members bought secondhand screening equipment and underwent training.

Washington County Public Schools turned over the screening program to the club, which annually conducts the testing at no cost to the school system.

Dr. Rose Wood, a club member and optometrist, provided the training. For 13 years, club members and other volunteers have brought vision screening to 34 schools in Washington County during the first two months of each school year.

Last year, one of the machines broke and the club discovered the parts to repair it were no longer available, Crabb said.

Crabb said she told Sen. Donald F. Munson, R-Washington, about the club's plight. The result was the introduction of three new vision-screening machines, owned by the school system but used by the club members.

Crabb said Munson told her that the Hagerstown Lionesses have saved the county about $100,000 a year by doing the screenings on a volunteer basis.

Each year, children in kindergarten, first, third, fifth and eighth grades are screened.

"The kids like the screenings. It's not like a doctor's office, and they know they're not going to get a shot," Crabb said.

When a problem is spotted, volunteers report it to the school nurse so parents can be notified as quickly as possible, Crabb said.

Traditionally, four club members co-chair the screening program each year. This year, Crabb is sharing those duties with Doris Fisher, Betty Morgan and Joan Bachtell.

Crabb and her husband, Gordon, are the parents of four children, and they have seven grandchildren.

In addition to a feeling of satisfaction doing the screenings, Crabb said she gets a kick out of the children.

"Once, a little boy at Pleasant Valley Elementary School came in and saw us there," Crabb said. "He asked if it was Grandparents Day, because if it was, he had forgotten it."

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