Meet This Year's VOSH/International Award Recipients

The DR. HARRY I. ZELTZER LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD is presented at the V/I Annual Meeting to a person recognized as an exemplary humanitarian by providing a lifetime of service to humanity through improving visual welfare through leadership, dedication, invention, public health, developing sustainable eye care and furthering the understanding and correction of refractive error. (To learn more about the eponymous Dr. Zeltzer, please click here.) This award is not an annual award but is awarded at the discretion of the V/I Board of Directors. The recipient of this award is recognized as one who meets the highest criteria that exemplifies the spirit of VOSH/International.

The HUMANITARIAN OF THE YEAR AWARD is presented at the V/I Annual Meeting to honor an individual who has distinguished him or herself during the year by bringing eye care to underserved populations. The award recognizes a VOSH member who, during the year, has improved visual welfare through leadership, invention, public health, the development of sustainable eye care and the further understanding and correction of refractive error.

VOSH/International 2019 Harry I. Zeltzer Lifetime Achievement Award: VOSH-Southeast’s Max Bruss

VOSH/International 2019 Humanitarian of the Year: BASIC Nicaragua’s Suzy Eberle

VOSH/International 2019 Harry I. Zeltzer Lifetime Achievement Award: VOSH-Southeast’s Max Bruss

My wife Della and I have been married 51 years and have 3 children, 2 daughters and a son. We have 6 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren.

I was born on June 12, 1939 in Lemont, PA. Graduated in 1957 from College Area Schools, State College, PA. Graduated from Carnegie College of Medical Technology in Cleveland OH in 1958.

Employed at Munroe Regional Medical Center from August 1, 1961 to January 1, 1984. Retired as Director of Diagnostic and Treatment.

Licensed as a Radiological Technician

Licensed as a Laboratory Technologist.

Licensed as a Physician Assistant with James Stone M.D.

Established the recycling center at the Marion County Jail with the Silver Springs Lion Club in August of 1993. Joined VOSH Florida in August of 2000 and went on my first mission to La Merced in Peru that year.

Participated in 25 missions and rented the first tin hut in 2009. Currently operate the warehouse for VOSH Southeast with 8 10’x20’ warehouses at Citrus Park Storage Center, 3804 SE Lake Weir Ave. Ocala, FL. 34480

VOSH/International 2019 Humanitarian of the Year: BASIC Nicaragua’s Suzy Eberle

VOSH/International proudly announces Suzy Eberle as its 2019 Humanitarian of the Year.  The founder and President of the non-profit BASIC Nicaragua, Eberle is cited as the driving force in a laundry list of humanitarian initiatives in the non profit she founded. BASIC Nicaragua focuses on sustainable care.  Its vision is to succeed with its partners in improving the lives and opportunities for the people of Nicaragua through education, housing and visual health, train people Nicaragua in job skills and lead a volunteer revolution towards humanitarian assistance.

 “What started as a test pilot became a permanent fixture,” Eberle observed on being selected.   “In  2014, BASIC Nicaragua with donated supplies and equipment from VOSH- Southeast opened a permanent optical lab in Chinandega, Nicaragua hiring a local craftsman to be trained by seasoned opticians from the US. Three years later, we constructed our own building and moved the lab to its permanent location. To date, we have crafted over 11,500 pairs of finished eyeglasses for use in-country.” VOSH has been a partner since its inception. Eberle also serves on the VOSH-Southeast (ne Florida) Board.

The statistics in visual health for BASIC Nicaragua are impressive including:  25 vision clinics held in 25 different locations around the country serving 18,698 patients in vision clinics, dispensing 20,379 pairs of glasses with 57 optometry students shadowing licensed optometrists in clinics. Sixty-six different optometrists have participated in vision clinics.  In addition, 71 cataract and Pterygium surgeries were funded in partnership with FONIPRECE in Nicaragua who completes the surgeries. 

Eberle will receive the VOSH Humanitarian of the Year Award the VOSH 27thAnnual Meeting October 27 in Orlando Florida.    VOSH is a leading nonprofit optometric and eye care humanitarian and volunteer organization with 88 chapters globally.  The VOSH Annual meeting with its 2019 theme “BIG VISION small world” brings together chapters including professionals and lay volunteers, partners and others, many attending the World Congress of Optometry  and American Academy of Optometry meeting concurrently to share experiences and gain the latest in humanitarian and vision efforts in actively confronting the challenges of the global eye care crisis. Information on attending and registering for the VOSH Annual meeting in Orlando can be found on the website at

Updated COVID-19 and VOSH Humanitarian Clinics Advice

VOSH/International recently consulted its US and International Chapters about the feasibility and timing to restart our humanitarian clinics. While the vaccination process continues with different levels of success depending on availability and acceptance, it is evident that vaccine inequity and the availability and reliability of data in several countries are issues we need to consider.

Even if already vaccinated, our chapters are still concerned about the wellbeing of our volunteers and patients.  Some chapters, are organizing clinics locally where they are better able to comply with the existing safety requirements and respective state/country regulations.

The COVID-19 pandemic is being experienced quite differently depending on state, region, country, vaccine availability, vaccine acceptance, and the spread of SARS-COV-2 variants. Most VOSH chapters are not holding clinics or traveling internationally in 2021.

Thus, VOSH/International is slightly moderating its overall guidance against clinics and travel issued in late March 2020 and renewed in January 2021. This will be reviewed and communicated on a quarterly basis.

If a VOSH Chapter choses to hold a clinic or travel internationally, we highly recommend that the chapter performs due diligence to comply fully with the requirements established by the visited country, ensures all VOSH volunteers are aware of and follow strict safety guidelines and all existing protocols and regulations of the country, and keeps the principle of “do no harm” embedded in all its decision making. As always, the wellbeing and safety for VOSH volunteers and our patients is of utmost importance and central to any decision-making process. We have published our updated clinic guidelines with best practices to be observed in this new context. VOSH chapters in specific countries are using protocols that need to be considered as well. You can download VOSH/International clinic guidelines here.

*VOSH/International is formed by autonomous US and international chapters that are fully and only responsible for their activities, fundraising and decision-making.  VOSH/International can only provide recommendations based on our best knowledge and information at the time.

Also please keep checking the following sites with official and most recent updates:

World Health Organisation:


US Government Travel Advise:

Thank you for your hard work and dedication to improving vision and eye health throughout the world.

John Daniel Twelker, OD, PhD, FAAO, FVI

President, VOSH/International

July 2021