A CONVERSATION BETWEEN
DR. DAVID WAY & CHRISTY SPRAGUE
We sat down for a conversation with Dr. David Way, who has been leading our Vision Initiative since its inception.
(Christy) Tell us a little bit about yourself.
(David) My name is David Way, OD. I was born and raised in Houston and attended Klein ISD schools throughout my entire education. I grew up in the south side of the KISD and graduated from Klein Forest HS in 1995. Following High School I attended the University of St Thomas in downtown Houston and graduated with a degree in Biology with the intention of attending Optometry School. I began attending the University of Houston Optometry College in 1999 and graduated Magna Cum Laude from there in 2003. Following graduation from optometry school, my wife, Sharon, and I decided to start a private optometry practice in Spring where we have been now for almost 14 years. I am married to my beautiful wife and high school sweetheart Sharon and we have 4 beautiful children (triplet daughters Sydney, Morgan, and Natalie who are 10 and our son Aidan who is 7). I have a passion for global and local mission work, which is where I spend much of my spare time. I have recently gone back to school at the Dallas Theological Seminary to pursue a Master’s Degree in Biblical Counseling which I hope to utilize as a new outreach to impoverished young men and teenage boys to help them learn what it means to be a Man of Christ rather than a “man” of this world.
(Christy) How did you become involved with Bridging For Tomorrow and develop this idea of vision screenings for children?
(David) I have been involved with BFT since its inception. Before BFT was formed I was made aware of the need in some of the Klein ISD schools for affordable eye exams and glasses for those kids who were not able to have vision insurance. After a couple of years of trying unsuccessfully to offer discounted services through my private office, I was given the opportunity by the Essilor Vision Foundation to adopt a Title I elementary school in the Klein ISD and the Vision Foundation would provide the glasses for free. That first year, along with Essilor Vision Foundation’s help, we had begun to perform vision outreach services to the local Klein ISD Title I schools through our church Faithbridge. It quickly became apparent that in order to properly grow multiple community outreach initiatives (along with the Vision outreach), the community and the schools would be better served by a separate, Christian-based non-profit organization rather than directly by the church itself. Having the separate non-profit enabled a much smoother and broader outreach to the Klein ISD and to its surrounding community. When my good friend Maria Belusar approached me about moving the Vision Initiative out from under the church and under the new umbrella of BFT, we both quickly agreed that it would allow us to serve more schools and students because our volunteer pool and resources would broaden. Now, I am happy to say that the Vision initiative is just one of the many community outreach services offered through BFT, which gives it a global ability to reach out to many different needs in the community and not just reaching out to those who need glasses.
(Christy) How has the Vision Initiative evolved over time?
(David) Initially the vision initiative involved 2 optometrists and 10-15 volunteers at each of the 7 Title I KISD schools. We would use portable equipment and set up a mobile eye clinic in different rooms of the school. Volunteers would be trained by the doctors to perform preliminary testing and the doctors would perform a basic eye exam for glasses and a screening for eye diseases. In the first year, we were able to do these field exams at 4 of the Title I schools in Klein. The following year we found a way to do these exams at all 7 Title I elementary schools in one year. The first few days were, of course, chaotic but we managed to see 50 to 70 kids at each school and deliver glasses a few weeks later to all those kids who needed them. Over time, the initiative grew to also include the two Title I intermediate schools in the KISD. As we continued to provide free exams and glasses over the last 5 years, the number of kids in need reduced each year to the point that we were able to combine 2 - 3 schools into one screening day, thereby making the whole process more efficient. Then this last year we had the opportunity to have all of the children from the the KISD schools who were still in need of exams and glasses bussed in from the various schools to my private office in Spring. At this year’s screening we were able to see all of the kids from 5 different schools in one Saturday by working with BFT, KISD volunteers and several optometry students from the University of Houston Optometry College, who performed the exams.
(Christy) What do you find most fulfilling about your work and partnership with BFT?
(David) The most fulfilling thing I find in working with BFT is that it affords me the opportunity to use the gifts and talents that God has blessed me with not only to give back to the school district that taught me so well but also to meet the needs of children in school who otherwise would not be seeing well. Also, I find it rewarding that the vision initiative adds to the arsenal of outreach programs offered by BFT to its surrounding community so that BFT can offer a robust array of services to meet all of the needs of the community and to give BFT more opportunities to be the Hands and Feet of Christ in this community.
(Christy) Is there a specific story or moment you would like to share?
(David) One of the most special moments that happens at least once at each vision initiative is either one of the kids being seen or their parents ask “Why are you doing all of this for free?” At that point, I get to look them in the eye and tell them that Jesus loves them very much and because He loves them He has asked me to come and do this nice thing for them.
(Christy) What do you like to do when you’re not working?
(David) When not working I enjoy hunting, fishing, reading and sport/target shooting. I am also thoroughly enjoying my Seminary classes at DTS.