Ray Guin assists Wise County residents through Remote Area MedicalPosted July 9, 2012 at 11:30 AM, Filed Under: Community News, Front Page, Village Mill
By Lynda Raines
As an optician, Quail Hill resident Ray Guin has served the Greater Richmond community for 45 years, dispensing eyeglass and contact lens prescriptions at his practice, Riverfront Optical, in downtown Richmond. And for almost 15 years, Guin has served as the lead optician for the Remote Area Medical (RAM) expedition site in Wise County, Va. RAM is a volunteer corps that offers free vision, dental and medical assistance to the needy residents in Wise County, an area of poverty in South-western Virginia tucked away in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains.
RAM sets up remote examination stations at the Wise County fairgrounds and examines patients who have registered months in advance. “We used to meet at the Lonesome Pine Airport,” Guin says, “but we outgrew it.”
The lines form early, and it is not unusual to find families sleeping in tents and trucks in order to make sure they are seen by opticians. This year, the clinics will provide services from July 20 to July 22.
“Over the years, we have performed over 14,000 eye exams and fitted over 10,000 pairs of eyeglasses,” Guin says. Guin takes pride that three generations of Guins have participated in the Wise County RAM volunteers corps. His wife Peggy, their daughter Patti and granddaughter Katie have accompanied Guin on several RAM expeditions. Patti owns an optical gallery in Richmond’s West End.
Guin is a proud member of the Richmond James River Lions Club, and was recently elected first vice governor for district 24B, which includes 49 Lions Clubs. Lions Club International is a service organization that collects eyeglasses to be used in impoverished or disaster-ravaged corners of the world, including Wise County, Va. Collection boxes for gently used eyeglasses can be found in local businesses, including one in the BCA office.
James River Lions Club also raises money for its eyeglasses mission by hosting bingo games on Friday evenings at Ireton Center on Courthouse Road. Guin says James River Lions gives more than150 free eye exams and more than 150 pairs of eyeglasses each year to those in need, including every tribe of Native Americans living in the Northern Neck of Virginia.
Vietnam and Myanmar
With so many years of experience serving his fellow man at home, Guin now feels the need to take the next step, helping those who live thousands of miles from his home and comfort zone. “I spent 10 days in Vietnam in February,” he says, “and at some point I am going to help the Vietnamese government set up a school to train opticians.” Guin may return to Vietnam in February of 2013 when he visits the Republic of the Union of Myanmar to fit eyeglasses for the needy; and like the many residents of Wise County, Va., many men, women, and children have never had an eye examination and suffer from poor vision.
Guin looks forward to the Wise County RAM expedition later this month. “The reason I do it is to change people’s lives,” he says. “And I always feel like I get much more than I give.”