Ellen Weiss, OD, FVI
At the beginning of this year, I set two goals. The first was to increase our outreach with our SVOSH chapters. Our SVOSH visits to each of the schools by board or committee members are coming along nicely, and the student enthusiasm is contagious. VOSH was blessed with student interns that helped us in so many ways this past year. We also hosted successful student reception in Boston in June, in conjunction with AOA, and in Anaheim at our annual meeting. If you didn’t get a chance, check out our student video contest winners on our Facebook page.
My second priority was to support the expansion of VOSH chapters in Mexico. The VOSH board has a wonderful resource in member Marcela Frazier, and with the addition of Cecilia Denny from Mexico to our VOSH/SVOSH International chapters committee and I see great potential for VOSH expanding throughout Mexico.
Following are a few other 2016 VOSH accomplishments I want to highlight….
Our newly formed VOSH chapters in Ghana, ably led by Dr. Abena Ntim, held two outreach missions. Dr. Ntim and VOSH Ghana, in conjunction with Rotary Club of Accra west, organized a free eye screening and education for the people of Kitase and the surrounding community on March 19, 2016. VOSH and the Rotarians, 24 optometry students from KNUST School of Optometry and local dignitaries worked together on this historical event.
I had the pleasure of representing VOSH at the American Partner’s Forum for Our Children’s Vision during the Vision Expo West meeting. The purpose of this meeting was to bring VOSH, Essilor Vision Foundation, Vision Impact Institute, Eyelliance, VSP, Optometry Giving Sight, World Council of Optometry, Charity Vision, Special Olympics and others together to join forces and address the lack of eyecare for children in the United States. While there, Greg Pearl and I met with Kim Schuy, president of Essilor Vision Foundation-Americas and Sam Hahn from Kids Vision for Life to brainstorm more about domestic missions and resources regarding US school kids. From this meeting, VOSH has created a calendar on our website highlighting the domestic missions and contact people, to better coordinate timing, personnel, and supplies.
In October I attended the IAPB meeting in Durban, S. Africa, where I presented a poster on the VOSH Technology Transfer Program (TTP). The speakers were excellent and the networking opportunities on behalf of VOSH immense.
In November VOSH held their annual meeting in Anaheim. We had a great line of speakers at our annual meeting this year, and panel presentations on our TTP (Technology Transfer Program) and VOSH Corps. In addition to our award winners, I had the pleasure of presenting Michel Listenberger, OD, FVI who is the VOSH historian, where I had the pleasure of presenting a Presidential Circle Award for his book “Bringing The World Into Focus. The Story of VOSH. Volunteer Optometric Services To Humanity”. Prior to the meeting, I presented at the International Optometric Educators SIG luncheon.
My job as president is to guide, provide feedback, and delegate. We all have different strengths and weaknesses, but together we’re a wonderful organization. I greatly admire our volunteer board and the time and effort they put into making VOSH the great organization that it is.
Save the Date! Our VOSH Annual Meeting this next year will be Saturday, October 14, 2017 in Chicago, with the theme “Winning Together”.
Our Children’s Vision is a new initiative spearheaded by Brien Holden Vision Institute. I had the pleasure of representing VOSH at the American Partner’s Forum for Our Children’s Vision during the Vision Expo West meeting. The purpose of this meeting was to bring VOSH, Essilor Vision Foundation, Vision Impact Institute, Eyelliance, VSP, Optometry Giving Sight, World Council of Optometry, Charity Vision, Special Olympics and others together to join forces and address the lack of eyecare for children in the United States.
An often quoted statistic is that 80 percent of learning takes place through our eyes. So it makes sense that a comprehensive eye exam is the best way to ensure that a child can see clearly at distance and near out of each eye, has eyes that come together into one clear image in the brain, and are healthy. I’ve been a licensed optometrist for 24 years now, and have worked locally to educate my patient’s parents, teachers and school nurses, and pediatricians on why it’s important for children having a comprehensive eye exam by an optometrist or ophthalmologist prior to starting kindergarten. I know this has made a small difference in my community, but it’s obvious that locally and as a nation, we can do better.
The purpose of the American Partner’s Forum was to bring various different players in the eye care world together. As discussed, “Our Children’s Vision needs local, national and global partners to help screen more children, in more regions, establish stronger referral pathways, ensure comprehensive treatment, and impact sustainable change in eye care provision.” As President of VOSH, I’m proud that we’re a team player of this united approach and look forward to our organization helping improve the lives of children.
VOSH is truly an International organization. I respect our colleagues at other organizations such as IAPB, OGS, BHVI, WCO, and the Vision Impact Institute for all of the great work they do on an international level to address the issue of uncorrected refractive error.
I just booked my flight to the IAPB meeting in Durban, South Africa where I will be presenting a poster on our Technology Transfer Program, where VOSH takes donated equipment and moves it to schools and clinics in developing areas. The three day meeting is full of exciting lectures. In addition to the education, I look forward to the opportunity to interact with colleagues from throughout the world. It’s treuely an exciting opportunity to be affiliated with these other organizations that are making a global impact.
VOSH is often referred to as the “boots on the ground”. We have organizations that fundraise, those that strategically plan, those that guide and educate, and those that are visionaries in the fight to eliminate uncorrected refractive error. VOSH brings a unique perspective on this, as we have dedicated souls that take time off of work, at their own expense, to go to areas of need. But, the vision impact we have is a small one on our own. So, being affiliated with other organizations that approach the issue of uncorrected refractive error from their perspective is so important and so gratifying. It’s wonderful to see these other entities, what they’re doing, how they’re doing it, and realizing that together we’re all making a much bigger impact, all with the same end goal, but each with a unique approach, is so gratifying.