Mabeline Norris, a resident of Hot Springs, is just one of the many people who has benefited from the free services at Bart’s Place.
“The way my Medicaid worked, they would pay for my eye exam, but not my glasses. So when I heard about Bart’s Place and them giving out glasses to folks, I said ‘Oh praise God! Thank you Lord!’ because I needed glasses bad and I couldn’t afford them,” Norris said.
Norris said she has been coming to Bart’s Place for about five years and recently found out that she has glaucoma, which means her prescription can change every year. Bart’s Place was able to find a pair of bifocals for her, which she said has greatly improved her vision.
“I was just using reading glasses before but now I can actually see!”
The clinic not only carries frames for adults, but they have a fun and colorful selection of children’s frames as well.
“That’s because Medicaid only covers one pair of glasses per year for kids, but little kids aren’t as careful as adults are with their glasses, so the local elementary schools will sometimes bring the kids who need new glasses to our clinic.
“This is all possible because of the partnerships we’ve made in the community. Our church is a mid-size church but because we have great volunteers, the space for the eyeglasses, and doctors who offer their services for free, we can do this work,” Breshears said.
For Norris, if not for Bart’s Place, she wouldn’t have the opportunities that she has now. Norris said that she considers herself homeless and spends her time volunteering at different churches in Hot Springs in order to make a little money and build her income back up.
Oaklawn gives her the opportunity to volunteer her time, as well as provide her with the glasses that she needs to see.
“[Oaklawn UMC] has been a real blessing to me. They show love and compassion to everyone. Anytime I need them, they are right here for me,” Norris said.
Breshears said this clinic has allowed their church to become more like the hands and feet of Christ.
“Not only can I tell someone that we can provide them food if they’re hungry, but we can now also tend to some of their real medical needs. I believe Jesus ministered to our bodies, minds, and souls. And it’s very gratifying when you see someone put on a new pair of glasses, maybe for the first time ever”
Bart’s Place Eye Clinic is open by appointment and is located at Oaklawn United Methodist Church, 216 Higdon Ferry Rd, Hot Springs, AR 71913.