By RENEE FITE
Retired optometrist Lynn Cyert volunteers to improve the quality of life in Tahlequah. She also believes it helps build a sense of community.
“I like getting out into the community and working with people. I hope I am making my community a better place to live,” Cyert said. “I want to be part of the activities in town.”
Knowing someone who enjoys volunteering can encourage others to do the same. Cyert has been pitching in with Feed My Sheep, an interdenominational program to feed the hungry that provides a free meal every Thursday evening for those who need it.
“I admire the many people who work at Feed My Sheep,” Cyert said. “We have fun, we work hard, we provide a needed service, we help build community. I especially admire Susie Williams, who works tirelessly in the kitchen at FMS, but there are many other people, too.”
Finding the right spot to volunteer is essential to keeping the person committed. Not all volunteer work is fun or easy, but it should involve a project or work that will make a difference.
“I think it is important to do volunteer work enjoyable to you. If you don’t enjoy going when it’s time, find something else you do enjoy,” Cyert said. “Come when you say you will come, and do what you say you will do. Don’t let other people down. But above all, enjoy what you do. Love multiplies when shared.”
Cyert has volunteered more often since her retirement.
“Being able to volunteer is one of the really good things about being retired,” she said.
As a member of the First United Methodist Church, Cyert rings handbells and attends classes. She works in the kitchen at Feed My Sheep. She also volunteers with the American Optometric Association as a member of the Council on Research, Prevent Blindness America, and is chairwoman of the Health Advisory Committee of the Cherokee Nation Early Childhood Unit.
Cyert worked at Northeastern State University College of Optometry as chief of pediatrics from 1981-2010. She then worked part-time at Keys Family Eye Care in Park Hill.
“I was teaching at the College of Optometry in Boston when my husband, Paul Westbrook, and I moved to Tahlequah in 1981,” she said.
Cyert came to help found the NSU College of Optometry.
“It has been the opportunity of a lifetime, being in on the ground-floor development and helping to build that magnificent program, both the academic parts and the clinical parts,” she said. “It has been rewarding, watching the eye and vision health of people in this community change over the years the College of Optometry has been here.”
Preventing Blindness America, PBA, is one of the organizations Cyert helps with.
“I am a member of the National Expert Panel of the National Center for Children’s Vision and Eye Health at Prevent Blindness America. Right now, I am particularly busy at this volunteer job, because the National Expert Panel is writing national standards for vision screening for 3- to 6-year-old children,” she said.
This is important because, traditionally, children receive their first vision screenings in early elementary school.
“However, we now know there are some important vision problems in young children that are easier to detect and treat at a younger age,” Cyert said. “The National Expert Panel, through a research grant from the Maternal and Child Health Bureau at the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is working to implement vision screenings for 3- to 6-year-old children.”
For many years, Cyert worked with Head Start programs all over Northeastern Oklahoma as clinic director of the Vision in Preschoolers program.
“The VIP study owned a mobile medical unit that we drove to the Head Start centers,” she said. “I loved driving through the beautiful rural areas of Northeastern Oklahoma, meeting people in the small towns.”
Cyert loves Tahlequah, particularly Seminary Hall.
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