Donated vehicle helps Sumter United Ministries client make cataract surgery; Summer of Caring money given to ministry


You never know how your contribution, big or small, can make a difference in someone's life in a major way right at home.

The Sumter Item's Summer of Caring does just that by asking our readers to offer financial assistance that goes toward Sumter United Ministries, a faith-based nonprofit that provides emergency and life-rebuilding services and programs locally. From food, shelter and clothing to education and medical assistance, SUM relies on donations and community support to survive.

Each week, along with an update on who has donated recently, a SUM staffer recounts a real example of how their funding and staff is able to help those in need. This week's update was written by Jacqueline Butler, Medical Ministry director.

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"Of all the senses, sight must be the most delightful." - Helen Keller

Tonight, look at everything as though you are seeing it for the very last time. Vision is taken for granted until we are at risk of losing our sight. One of our patients was diagnosed with cataracts.

Susan (not her real name) has been a dedicated and compliant patient since coming to us shortly after the Sumter United Ministries Free Medical Clinic opened in 2014. If grades were given, she would get an A+ for patient compliance. She keeps all her appointments, takes her medications as directed and completes all necessary lab work.

Unfortunately, after a routine eye exam, she learned that she had cataracts and would need surgery. She called our office because she did not know what she would do.

We gave her information about Operation Sight, the Lowcountry's only nonprofit offering free cataract surgery for qualified, uninsured/underinsured South Carolina residents.

The eye clinic offers services to South Carolina residents who meet their criteria. If approved, the program covers the cost of the surgery and the eye drops. Being the exemplary patient that she is, she contacted the program and completed their application procedure. She was approved and waited to be scheduled for her preliminary examination.

Susan called the clinic one afternoon to let us know that she missed her appointment because her ride to Charleston was unable to take her. Having reliable transportation was the difference between her having vision-saving surgery or slowly losing her sight.

SUM staff had a discussion, and it was decided that we would assist with her travel to Charleston. Susan was told to reschedule her appointment.

Daphney Scarborough, SUM's Emergency Shelter director, drove her to Charleston on the day of the appointment in the minivan that had been donated to SUM.

That one small act enabled Susan to have her initial dilated eye exam and to be scheduled for her surgeries.

Susan called the SUMFMC clinic to express her appreciation for our help. She has kept us abreast of all steps of her cataract care. She was able to arrange for a family friend to take her for her actual surgeries and follow-up appointments, but she never forgot us. Susan called after every trip to Charleston to let us know that things were going well and how thankful she was for everything.

We are so thankful for the contributions made to The Item's Summer of Caring campaign. Please consider giving to the Summer of Caring to help people right here at home.

New donations as of July 6: Charlie Pitts, in honor of Roland Pitts, $25.