Dr. Robert Meisel is a man of action. He served on active duty with the U.S. Navy and jumped out of helicopters for the U.S. Marines. He built a successful optometry practice before retiring, and then worked part-time to provide eye care to both veterans and prisoners. He volunteers locally and globally, in between trips to see his grandkids. But what makes him a real superhero in our eyes is his dedication to the students at Monarch School in San Diego, California.
Monarch School is designed to educate K-12 students impacted by homelessness and help them develop the necessary skills and experiences for personal success. In partnership with the school, Dr. Meisel works to ensure these students see their best to help them reach their goals.
“I grew up in a very modest home, and I didn’t have many aspirations, because I didn’t have people to mentor me,” said Dr. Meisel. “Here, there are mentors all over the place. They really have a great environment here, a great situation to foster those ideas. You’re at a school where you can make that difference.”
Six years ago, Dr. Meisel and other eye doctors from the San Diego County Optometric Society started providing eye exams to the students at the Monarch School, but many of the kids were still going without the glasses they needed.
“I came down as part of the team to do the screenings and the exams. Through Eyes of Hope, VSP would provide the students with a gift certificate to go to the eye doctor of their choice, and six months later, the student would come back for another screening,” said Dr. Meisel. “I would say, ‘Wow! It looks like you got glasses.’ And the student would tell me, ‘No, I never got them. I couldn’t get there.’”
Since then, twice a year, Dr. Meisel has worked with the school nurse and the VSP Eyes of Hope mobile clinic to ensure Monarch School students get both an eye exam and glasses right on their school campus.
“I get to see some of the same kids year after year, and you have a relationship with them,” said Dr. Meisel. “So yeah, it’s kind of special that way. They get in your heart.”
Eye doctors like Dr. Meisel make it possible for the VSP Eyes of Hope mobile clinic to increase access to eye care and eyewear where it’s needed most. VSP Eyes of Hope has helped more than 2 million people in need with no-cost eye care and glasses and is committed to helping another million more by 2020.