By KEN STEADMAN
For The Vista
Michelle Gilreath has been a Cumberland County resident for over 30 years.
She was born and raised in Dawsonville, Georgia which is a small town just north of Atlanta. She moved to Crossville with her family when her father found work in our city and attended Cumberland County schools.
She is a graduate from Cumberland County High School. She is the mother of one son and a grandmother to nine years old, Jackson Gilreath, who she has cared for all his life. Jackson is currently enrolled in North Cumberland Elementary.
Lion Fred Mundt, Lion Ken Steadman, Michelle Gilreath and grandson Jackson, met at a local restaurant for dinner a few nights ago to get acquainted and hear Michelle’s story for this article.
Michelle began to notice that her sight was beginning to worsen about a year and a half ago and went to see Dr. Janis Holt at Cumberland Eye Care.
Cataracts were forming on both eyes and soon she couldn’t see from either eye, lost her job and had no health insurance to cover the costs of operations.
She commented, “It felt like I was in a smoke filled room with no clear vision of anything.”
She was now desperate to find some help.
Her very close friend, Donna Jones, had heard that the Lions Club was very active in helping people with sight problems.
Donna talked to Michelle who encouraged her to find out more. Donna tracked down President Fred Mundt of the Fairfield Glade Lions Club in late January, 2017. He told her about the Lions District 12-0 Eye Bank and Sight Services Organization and their Chairman who was located in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
He stated that he would call him to see what procedure was required.
The FFG Lions Club holds a “Reverse Raffle” fundraiser each year. $4,000 is donated by the Club each year from the proceeds to help a needy person with sight problems such as cataracts in Cumberland County.
Lion Fred advised that he thought Michelle would meet the qualification and advised that he would obtain the necessary application forms. Many restrictions must be answered like annual income and overall health conditions.
Dr. Stewart Galloway, Owner of Cumberland Eye Care works closely with the FFG Lions Club and offers a special rate to those patients who qualify for Eye Bank and Sight Services through the Lions Club.
Forms were filled out by Michelle, quickly approved and operations were scheduled this year for March 13th and 20th at Dr. Galloway’s Office in Fairfield Glade. Cataracts were removed from each eye- one eye each date – in a matter of minutes, sight was restored in both eyes, and Michelle is fully employed again at Quality Private Care in Crossville.
The worried look on her face is now removed and a big smile has now taken its place.
Both Fred and I were rewarded for our time and dinner with a great big hug from Michelle and a hardy handshake from grandson, Jackson.