President’s Insight

A Message to all VOSH and SVOSH Chapters

As 2018 begins, we would like to let you know what VOSH/International® (V/I) is doing for you and your VOSH chapter. Did you know there are now 81 VOSH Chapters ​including ​35 State​, Regional ​or Global ​Chapters and 46 Student-VOSH Chapters? Truly, ​VOSH Chapters are the essence of the VOSH family. 

In the past few years, under the presidency of Ellen Weiss, OD, FVI, and V/I Board member Michael Ciszek, OD, Chair of the V/I Student VOSH Committee, V/I focused on improving communications and relationships with all 46 Student VOSH chapters. That included a new network of communication which easily links all SVOSH chapters, 2 SVOSH Presidents symposiums, sponsored by National Vision, Inc, increased participation of SVOSH interns, the development of a highly anticipated Student VOSH Fellowship Program, an SVOSH Members only page on the VOSH website, and more. Did you know that the students want to go on your trips? It is amazing what can be accomplished by passionate volunteers. But then again, that is the beauty of VOSH, isn’t it?

This year, I have made VOSH chapter services and domestic, local VOSH efforts priorities of my term as V/I President. This means that 2018 will be a year in which you will see a lot of benefits and changes to help your chapter communicate and operate even better. VOSH is here to help you!

Here are a few highlights of what is newly available to your chapters, as well as what will be developed as the year unfolds​:​

New Clinic Form Streamlines Missions/Clinics and Eases Essential Data Collection. ​

The most exciting new development is that V/I has developed a universal form to be used by all chapters during their clinics. The development of this form has gone through many renditions to achieve the best form. VOSH knows that data collection is the key to obtaining funding (which will be used, in part, to assist chapter development). Data collection is also important to validate what VOSH is doing, the importance of our work.  Board member Bob Stein and NVI provided the funding and knowledge to create a universal form which captures the data needed during clinic trips, and then later sent to NVI to capture the data. This is an invaluable way to capture optometric mission data to enhance the global fight against uncorrected refractive error & preventable ocular disease. This data will be shared with you and will be used by V/I and national organizations, such as IAPB, WCO and others, to improve humanitarian eye care delivery. You can use this data to anticipate the type of eye care issues will be treating, and apply for your own funding as well. Take a look here to access this new form and an instruction power point to learn all about it Please start using this on your next mission trip. We know there will be questions! So please ask us: or


​Chapter Relations Initiatives. ​

John Larcabal, V/I Board member and chair of the VOSH Chapters Committee is very active these days! Here are a few more things John is doing to help your chapter:

  •  John hosts a bimonthly conference call for all chapters. This is your opportunity to share and discuss challenges and solutions, question and learn. The next Chapter Call will be on Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2018, 8 pm Central (VOSH conference call-in numbers: USA and Canada: (515) 604-9602, Access code: 565275#). This call will feature Kim Schuy from the Essilor Vision Foundation, discussing their various programs including providing free frames and lenses.  
  • John has established an Equipment Loan program for you to access for your mission trips. See And remember, the V/I Technology Transfer Program can supply you with other equipment, frames and more. See
  • Implementing new communication system with VOSH chapters, embracing “VOSH-name of your” so that even if your leadership changes you can still be connected with VOSH. 
  • In 2017, at the request of the SVOSH chapters, V/I developed a “Members Only” page on the VOSH website. V/I plans on implementing that for VOSH chapters too, so that all the forms, waivers, applications for readers and frames, as well as a chapter – driven blog will be contained in there. More coming your way on that soon.
  • We are developing updated Chapter Protocols. John is developing universal Bylaws, Waiver Documents, a Universal Membership form, and we have a VOSH logo for everyone of the 81 VOSH chapters. This will all be on the Members only page soon, but, in the meantime, ask us. 
  • Nominate your chapter as a Chapter of the Month!
  • John can be reached at
​Funding Opportunity. ​

Did you know that if your chapter collaborates with a non-US or Canadian SVOSH chapter, you can receive funding? See the VOSH-SVOSH Mentorship Program (now known as MOVE: Motivating Others to VOSH Excellence): 

V/I is planning a VOSH Presidents’ Symposium in Denver during the AOA Meetings in June. Watch for an email inviting one of your leadership members to attend this symposium. We did this with the SVOSH chapter presidents in 2017, and so many amazing ideas and successful programs came out of that symposium. We want to do the same for you. Pencil that meeting in tentatively on June 23, 2018 in Denver CO and we will send you more information separately. 


Streamlining mission/clinic travel.

V/I has developed a new relationship with ProTravel embracing a universal booking method ​that​ reduces travel costs while increasing convenience. Several chapters have started using their travel services and have been please​d​ with the outcome. There are many benefits to using ProTravel for your VOSH Travel needs, only some of which are listed below. Note that ProTravel does charge a fee (reduced for VOSH volunteers and VOSH receives a $5 rebate, which will be set aside for chapter- related programs. You will be receiving information from ProTravel to encourage you to register in advance of your trips. 

  • Clinic planners will have all traveler data consolidated by receiving flight manifests for all volunteers
  • Risk Management – VOSH has a vested interest in the well being of our volunteers while traveling for clinics.  ProTravel monitors global travel alerts and will notify travel planners of any applicable threats while traveling.
  • By each volunteer booking through the same travel agent, clinic planners are able to save time and energy coordinating travelers arriving together to customs in the receiving city for the equipment inventory process
  • Service Recovery, in the occurrence of flight delays, weather delays or any travel disruptions, ProTravel can assist in recovery to get VOSH travelers to their destinations rather than being at the mercy of the airlines.
  • Contact the VOSH dedicated agent, Jeffrey Olinghouse at

AND there is so much more for you and your chapter.


​We need your ideas and continuing involvement to meet the challenges of the global eye care crisis. 

Join us. Here are the immediate possibilities:
In 2018, there’ll be several positions open on the VOSH/International® Board of Directors. If you or someone you know wants to be part of this pro-active board, please let us know: . Here who is on the board now:
Please consider attending the next VOSH Annual Meeting in Montreal, Canada on October 12-14, 2018! This year it will be hosted by one of the most active VOSH Chapters, VOSH-Santa Cruz (Montreal). It promises to be more chapter-centric this year, with a major focus on what VOSH chapters want and how to accomplish that. Encourage all your members to come! See
Take a look at the VOSH website. There is a lot of information on there!

Thank you for continuing to provide free, quality eye care to those in need. VOSH is comprised of passionate, dedicated people like yourself. 
Please pass this on to all your chapter members. We are here to answer your questions and receive your suggestions. 

Optometry: A “Giving” Career

In this season of giving, it becomes a time of reflection about our lives and being thankful for what we have.  We can also reflect on how to give back, how we can make an impact.  It is important to give monetary support, but it is equally important to give of yourself and your time.  If you can help, help others with whatever special skills you have. 

Giving money is very impactful.  Within the optometric profession there are many organizations to donate money to make a difference.  Find one that you support and donate.  VOSH/International can be one of those organizations.   Donated money goes 100% to VOSH/International projects.  These projects include local and international efforts.  Locally, money can help to provide support and loaned equipment to VOSH chapters and student involvement.  International projects include supporting optometric education at newly established optometry schools in developing countries through VOSH Corps.  VOSH Corps is a program where North American trained optometrists become faculty members at the newly established optometry schools.  VOSH/International also supports these developing optometry schools with equipment through the Technology Transfer Program (TTP).

Giving of your time is also very impactful.  The ability to see enables social interaction, education, employment.  Without vision these things become much more difficult.  It is easy as an optometrist to use our skills to help others.  Eye examinations, prescription of glasses, detection and treatment of eye conditions, detection of medical conditions through eye signs is what we do.  We don’t always remember the impact you can have on someone’s life, it can be profound.  Volunteer with your local VOSH chapter.   VOSH clinic trips can happen internationally or in your own community.  Some local VOSH activities include: clinics for populations at risk (homeless, refugees, uninsured, single mothers, struggling families), screening for glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy, educational talks at schools, nursing homes, etc.  Find the way that works for you to be involved and jump in!

Recap of the VOSH 25th Annual Meeting

VOSH/International hosted its 25th annual meeting on October 14, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois.  Ninety- two people attended a full day of speakers, breakout sessions, exhibitors and networking. There were speakers from around the world including the USA, Canada, Thailand, Vietnam, El Salvador and Nicaragua. These speakers highlighted how VOSH/International and VOSH chapters have truly become an international force for optometry by providing care with local optometry and helping to educate optometry students in new optometry schools.  As VOSH moves to collaborates with local optometry and health care, our impact has become greater.

Also at the Annual Meeting, there were two awards given for exemplary service.  The Humanitarian of the Year Award was presented to Dr. Sandra Bury of Oak Lawn, Illinois.  Dr. Bury has been active in VOSH-Illinois since 1995.  She participates in both local and international clinic trips and, in addition, Dr. Bury is the mayor of her town.

The Harry I. Zeltzer Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Dr. Ellis Potter. Dr. Potter has had a lifetime of service as a Boy Scout, Rotarian and Optometrist.  Notably, Dr. Potter also became the first ever recipient of the American Academy of Optometry’s Brien Holden Humanitarian Award.  He received this award at the 2017 AAO meeting immediately preceding the VOSH/International meeting. To read Dr. Potter’s powerful remarks when accepting the Lifetime Achievement Award, please click here.

Both Drs. Bury and Potter are classic examples of the people involved in VOSH.  People with big hearts that have volunteerism as an essential part of who they are.  These two and the other nominees for the Lifetime Achievement and Humanitarian of the Year Awards, David McPhillips, OD, Walter Branson, Bud Falkenhain, OD, Lawrence Hauler, and David Stacy, OD, remind us of what we can be doing to help others.  Dr. Bury reminded us to have “service about self” and Dr. Potter challenged us to “think big…We have done much, but we could do more.”  Words to inspire us as we all continue in our own efforts.   

Mark your calendars for the next VOSH Annual Meeting in Montreal, Canada on October 12-14, 2018.  Our theme at this meeting will be “United VOSH”, demonstrating the good we can do when working together.