The Eversight Connecticut Story
In 1961, the Independent Order of Odd Fellows and Rebekahs (IOOF) established the first eye bank in Connecticut.
Originally named the Connecticut Odd Fellows Eye Bank and Vision Research Foundation, it quickly gained notoriety as one of the most active eye banks in both the local community and across the country. The eye bank worked diligently to educate the public about eye donation through the IOOF network, newspapers and television. Their outreach efforts resulted in exponential increases year after year in the number of people pledging their support for eye donation, subsequently increasing the number of tissues available for sight-restoring transplants.
From the very beginning, the eye bank has embodied the same mission and values it holds today, with a strong commitment to improving access to vision care, and supporting research and international humanitarian aid. Partnerships with area hospitals and institutions, including Yale University, the University of Connecticut and others, lead to the development of eye care clinics, ophthalmology research programs and grant funding for researchers investigating eye diseases. In addition, the eye bank coordinated transplants for patients in places like Puerto Rico and as far away as Hong Kong, an incredible logistical feat for the time.
Fast-forward 55 years to 2015 when the eye bank joined the Eversight network of community eye banks, one of the world’s largest organizations restoring sight and preventing blindness to more than 8,000 people each year through donation, transplantation and research.
Now Eversight Connecticut, the organization continues its long history of serving people across the state and the Northeastern U.S. And the IOOF remains a pillar in Eversight Connecticut’s success through their contributions in philanthropy, leadership and volunteerism.
The Odd Fellows and Rebekahs is an organization which aims to promote personal and social development, improve and elevate every person to a higher, nobler plane, and extend sympathy and aid to those in need. Learn more about their mission at www.ioof.org.