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...

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...

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...

VOSH Represented at the WCO Meeting in India

President-Elect Tracy Matchinski and I had the honor of representing VOSH at the World Council of Optometry (WCO) meeting on September 11-13, 2017 in Hyderabad, India. The World Council of Optometry represents optometrist throughout the world and advocates for the advancement of the profession. It’s always educational to me to interact with other organizations that represent optometry on a global basis, especially in developing countries where optometry clinics may be scarce, schools of optometry may not exist, or optometry is not recognized as a profession. The WCO meeting offered a wide variety of excellent continuing education classes. Doctor Matchinski and I presented a course titled “Evaluation and Management of pediatric patients with visual impairment and pediatric patients with special needs” and also a Poster on the progress of our VOSH Corps program. One highlight of the trip was when our VOSH Philippine Chapter saw on Facebook that we were attending the meeting and found us in the exhibit hall to say hello. It’s always a pleasure visiting with our chapters, especially those international ones that we rarely have a chance to connect with personally.  After the meeting, Dr. Matchinski spent two days lecturing at the LV Prasad Eye Institute symposium to optometrist from many different countries. Thanks to Dr. Vijaya Gothwal and her co-workers for touring me through their state of the art facility. I look forward to seeing you at the VOSH Annual Meeting in Chicago on Saturday, October 14, where our theme “Winning Together” reflects my belief in our strength in...

Hurricane Harvey: Vision Assistance

Like so many others, ​I ​have been watching the devastation unfold in Texas and Louisiana in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. In addition to personal accounts from family in the area, social media platforms such as Facebook have provided us all a personal glimpse into the lives of people that have had to evacuate their homes, lost their business, cars, the list goes on and on.  VOSH stands for Volunteer Optometric Services to HUMANITY. There’s many definitions of humanity, but I like this one from Merriam-Webster “the quality or state of being kind to other people or animals”. VOSHer’s volunteer their time and talents because we care and get so much by giving of ourselves.   Vision related injuries, including broken or lost glasses​, are often the product of such disasters.  The severity of Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath call us once again to respond in desperate times. If you want to help with the recovery effort or know people affected by Hurricane Harvey, there’s a few sources to which we can guide you: Remote Area Medical (RAM) will be launching a mission to the affected area in the coming weeks. They are looking for medical and veterinary volunteers to help them in this cause. Go to http://ramusa.org/disaster-relief/ to find out more. The Eye Center of Houston, Vision Source has partnered with VSP and EyeMed Vision and plans to offer FREE Eye Exams and Glasses for First Responders or ANY disaster victims who have lost or damaged their glasses. If you have VSP or EyeMed, schedule your FREE exam today 713-777-2020. If you don’t have VSP or EyeMed, contact your local...

SALUS University MPH Certificate Program

Are you looking for a good foundation upon which to build for your VOSH experiences?  Salus University offers on-line courses that provide VOSH members the necessary knowledge to help build sustainable health systems around the world. The certificate program is 15 semester hours, divided among six selected courses form the Master of Public Health program:  three elective courses in the areas of humanitarian and refugee health, health and human rights, and global health and leadership. There are three core courses in the areas of health policy, epidemiology, and program implementation and evaluation.  Each course will provide students with an opportunity to apply new knowledge and skills to humanitarian problems. To learn more, visit...