On 5 August, a new corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative, Vision Drive, handed over 20 new prescription spectacles to school taxi drivers. Vision Drive tests the eyes of drivers and donates prescription spectacles to them if required.
The founders of the initiative, Michelle Fisher and Shana Cohen, who are also the owners of Peers and Fisher Optometrists, an optometry practice based in Dunkeld West, Johannesburg, began 2021 with a deep desire to give back to their community.
“Our practice turns 30 next year and we began this year reflecting on how lucky we have been,” says Michelle. “Seeing how deeply people and businesses have struggled during the pandemic highlighted to us just how important it is for businesses to give back if they are in a position to do so.”
Many of the drivers that Vision Drive supports do not have medical aid. Regular check-ups and glasses are often beyond their means, and Michelle and Shana determined that by offering this service to taxi drivers, they would be serving both the drivers and the safety of the children who are transported each day.
“The most important thing in any initiative is the partners who you work with,” says Michelle. “Brad Fisher of the Supplier Development Initiative (SDI) helped us develop the idea and connected us with the Momba Foundation, an NGO that works closely with under-serviced communities. Brad’s other business, AdReach, has also generously supplied us with billboards to promote the initiative.”
The Momba Foundation has been actively sanitising taxis during the COVID-19 pandemic and works closely with taxi bosses. This connection has enabled the foundation to educate school taxi drivers about the service that Vision Drive offers and that there is no cost to them. “Momba’s team also makes the appointments and ensures that they are kept. Their support has been critical to the success of the initiative.”
Each Thursday morning, Michelle and Shana offer free eye tests at a state-of-the-art facility in Kramerville, Johannesburg, and two weeks later patients can fetch their prescription glasses. “It was important to bring optical equipment supplier, 101 Optical, on board because it gives us access to an incredible facility that is just off the highway and very convenient for drivers. Because of COVID-19, we are also limiting patient numbers in our practice, so partnering with 101 Optical also solved a capacity issue.”
101 Optical has set up a full test-room that includes pathology screening. “It’s a beautiful facility and makes the overall experience wonderful for our patients,” says Michelle.
The suppliers that Michelle and Shana have worked with for 30 years have also joined the cause, donating frames and lenses to the drivers who need glasses.
“It’s been such a pleasure experiencing how happy everyone we approached is to donate their time or goods,” says Michelle. “Working together has made Vision Drive a reality.”
This is only the first step in what Michelle and Shana plan to grow into a foundation that supports multiple initiatives.
“Our goal is to build Vision Drive into a foundation that supports multiple CSR projects within the optometric realm. There’s no limit. Right now, we are targeting school taxi drivers but over time, as we identify different areas of need and bring more partners on board, we will increase our scope. We are incredibly excited about the first handover, and look forward to continuing to add value to our community,” says Michelle.