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Acadiana's Local Hero for September 2013 - St. Bernard/ St. Francis Food Pantry
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Hero Name: St. Bernard/ St. Francis Food Pantry

About our Acadiana Local Hero!

Why this finalist was deserving of Acadian's Local Hero.  
It is an honor to nominate the St. Bernard / St. Francis Food Pantry “Eye Glass Program” which is a non-profit, faith based non-sectarian, equal opportunity organization. This program is run by an all-volunteer staff providing food and eye exams and glasses to those St. Martin Parish residents that qualify. This eye exam / voucher program is the only resource available to the needy in the parish.
In order to qualify people for the Food Pantry eye exam / glasses services, the volunteer staff interviews each prospective client. If a person qualifies, then he/she and anyone in that person’s immediate family is eligible to receive a voucher to obtain an eye exam and glasses if needed, and if the family remains qualified, the voucher can be re-issued every two years and every year for diabetics.
In 2010, 34 vouchers were issued at a cost of $2,322. In 2012, sixty vouchers were issued for eye exams and forty one clients were issued glasses at a cost of $5,270. The numbers have risen in the first six months of 2013 as referrals are increasing.
This eye exam / glass program is fortunate to have an optometrist in Breaux Bridge who provides a complete eye exam and glasses, single or bi-focal lens for a nominal fee. And the Pantry is blessed with a work space provided by the St. Francis of Assisi Church located at 610 N. Main Street in Breaux Bridge.
The all-volunteer staff is directed by Mrs. Hazel Theriot and the Eye Glass Program coordinator is Mrs. Viv Brasseaux.
The St. Bernard / St. Francis Food Pantry is supported through donations from individuals, businesses and service organizations and is very proud to announce that 100% of all donations go towards helping the needy of St. Martin Parish. The Food Pantry is a tax-exempt entity with its own Federal ID number as described in section 501c(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
The concept of the St. Bernard / St, Francis Food Pantry providing the opportunity of eye exams and glasses to those in need truly embodies what is meant to be an “Acadiana Hero”.

How St. Bernard/'s efforts have made a difference in the community for the better.  
The award would pay for at least 50 eye exams or 20 eye exams with glasses. The recognition of this award would bring well deserved attention to the St. Bernard / St. Francis Food Pantry “Eye Glass Program”, thus improving future donations and bringing in additional needy clients who need help with their vision. In the last three and one half years approximately 175 people have been helped through this program and with additional donations we hope to increase this number.

How becoming Acadiana's Local Hero will further St. Bernard/'s cause.  
A review of the program's success in 2012 revealed that 25% of referrals were dependents under the age of 25 and 10% were between the age of 26 and 50 years old. This was the first eye exam for many of the clients. With improved eyesight through corrective lenses, students should be able to improve in their studies and move one step closer to escaping poverty; those in the work force should be more productive working in a safer environment. Essentially all who benefit from improved vision should attain a better quality of life.

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