Big hearts come in small packages! Last year, seven-year-old Ziva Bodenschatz received a school assignment: find a way to improve her community and write an official letter to a local agency. She decided that she would like to help people –especially children – see.
When discovering that her town of Irvine, California already had a number of resources for children’s eye care, Ziva decided that she would write her official letter to her family’s housing development of University Hills. She would ask to use its community center free of charge to host a fundraiser to raise money for international eye care.
The school assignment was to end there, but Ziva’s parents encouraged Ziva to see her vision through and actually host a local event to help sponsor a community in need halfway across the world.
Once Ziva received the good news that she would be able to use the University Hills Community Center at no cost to host her event, she began researching international eye care nonprofits and found the Armenian EyeCare Project.
Upon researching our organization, Ziva decided she would like to raise money to adopt a village in Armenia through our Adopt-a-Village Program, which offers eye screenings and treatment if needed at no cost to an entire community in need in Armenia. To raise funds for this effort, Ziva, with the help of her parents, would organize a wine tasting fundraiser at the UHills Community Center.
“I would like my community to adopt a village in Armenia so the children and their families can have glasses and eye care if they need it,” Ziva said. “Then we can make new friends in Armenia and in our neighborhood.”
On September 28, 2019, a sunny afternoon in southern California, about 50 of Ziva’s closest family and friends got together for Ziva’s fundraiser at the University Hills Community Center in Irvine. AECP Founder and President Dr. Roger Ohanesian, along with other local AECP staff, were also happy to attend!
Ziva’s father, John, a wine enthusiast, led the group of enthusiastic attendees through a handful of expertly selected wines for tasting, including a wine from Armenia! Each wine was paired with some light bites, ranging from chocolate to nuts and even cheese boreg!
By the end of the event, over $3,500 was raised for the AECP and our Adopt-a-Village Program, allowing Ziva to adopt two villages in need in Armenia, including visits to the village’s schools for screening and treatment!
Once the threat of COVID-19 has stabilized and our Mobile Eye Hospital is back in operation, the AECP will be visiting the two villages with the greatest need for care. There, residents will have the opportunity to get their eyes checked aboard our mobile clinic and receive treatment including new prescription eyeglasses and even surgery – all at no cost.
Thanks to Ziva’s and her parents’ incredible initiative and their greater community’s thoughtful support, thousands of residents in rural regions of Armenia who would otherwise not have access to eye care will be able to receive the quality care they need and deserve.
With kindness and determination, Ziva’s local community in southern California is helping another community in great need across the world and we are incredibly grateful. You can learn more about the AECP’s Adopt-a-Village Program here.