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. (Sadly, the eponymous Dr. Zeltzer passed away in August 2020. To read the tribute to Dr. Zeltzer, please refer 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. http://vosh.org/about-us/awards/

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. http://vosh.org/humanitarian-of-the-year-award/

VOSH/International 2020 Harry I. Zeltzer Lifetime Achievement Award: Matthew Blondin, OD, MPH and Audrey Blondin, Esq. MPH, VOSH-Connecticut

VOSH/International 2020 Humanitarian of the Year: Marina Roma March, OD, FVI and Derrick March, VOSH-TWECS (British Columbia, Canada)

VOSH/International 2020 Harry I. Zeltzer Lifetime Achievement Award: Matthew Blondin, OD, MPH and Audrey Blondin, Esq. MPH, VOSH-Connecticut

With the year 2020 a particularly significant year for the international eye health sector,  VOSH/International is proud to announce that the Harry L. Zeltzer Lifetime Achievement Award has been awarded to Matthew Blondin, OD and his wife Audrey Blondin, Esq. leaders of VOSH-Connecticut for their unconditional commitment to serve those in need in their local community and internationally.  The Blondins have been dedicated for over 20 years providing eye health care to over 50,000 people in Southern Nicaragua through a successful and sustainable service in this country. In addition, Dr Blondin has spent the past 40 years in private practice in Torrington, CT providing eye care services to low-income children, adults and seniors under the CT Husky, Medicaid and Medicare programs.  Under their leadership VOSH-CT has partnered with RAM-USA in 2019 to provide eye care services to those in need in Emporia, VA and has been recognized as VOSH Chapter of the Month twice.

Through their volunteer work, the Blondins have inspired other optometrists, optometry students, opticians, optical assistants and lay volunteers to engage in community service highlighting the importance of giving back to society.  They are examples of lifelong dedication to selfless service, eyecare and VOSH/International values.  Dr Matthew and Attorney Audrey work together as a great team, complementing their expertise and with their infectious enthusiasm to continue supporting more and more people.  Their interest to continue improving their skills and knowledge to offer better services saw them complete their Master of Public Health (MPH) Degrees at the University of Connecticut Health Center this year.  Audrey was recipient of the 2020 Susan S. Addiss Award in Applied Public Health Practice recognizing her qualities as a leader, public health advocate and commitment to the community and academic performance. The Blondins are an example of what this award stands for.

On receiving the news of the award Audrey Blondin indicated “”We are both very honored and humbled to receive this award, especially in honor of such a wonderful and distinguished leader and humanitarian, Dr. Harry Zeltzer. This award is not about us. It’s about the devoted and dedicated volunteers, who have given so generously of their time and efforts over the years to all leave the world a little better place than they found it.”

The VOSH/International Harry I. Zeltzer Lifetime Achievement Award is presented to a person who has been recognized for a lifetime of service to humanity for improving visual welfare through leadership, invention, public health, developing sustainable eye care and furthering the understanding and correction of refractive error. It is not an annual award and meets the highest criteria that exemplifies the spirit of VOSH/International. This year’s award will be presented at our virtual Annual Meeting. VOSH/International is the largest non-profit network of volunteer optometrists in the world with 92 chapters globally.  More information available here: https://vosh.org/get-involved/annual-meetings/

VOSH/International 2020 Humanitarian of the Year: Marina Roma March, OD, FVI and Derrick March, VOSH-TWECS (British Columbia, Canada)

VOSH/International is honored to announce selection of its 2020 Humanitarian of the Year Award to a power couple from its chapter in British Columbia, Canada. The award will be presented at the VOSH virtual Annual Meeting to be held on November 7th, 2020 via Zoom. Dr Marina Roma-March and Derrick March have devoted the last 26 years to provide eye health care to communities in need across the world.  Established in Canada in 1995, their volunteer organization -Third World Eye Care Society (TWECS) has worked tirelessly to offer free eye care services to over 100,000 people in Mexico, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Costa Rica, Grenada, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi, Ethiopia, Vietnam, India and the Philippines where they returned several times including after Typhon Haiyan hit this country.  

Dr. Marina Roma-March immigrated from the Philippines to Canada as a child.  When she returned for a visit to her original motherland, she realized the significant differences between those two countries and those memories left a mark that motivated her future humanitarian work.  Her volunteer work and leadership have been recognized nationally and internationally. Prior awards include  the Presidential award from Philippine President Joseph Estrada, the distinguished service award by Lions Club International and was named Optometrist of the Year by the British Columbia Association of Optometrist and a Maharlika Awardee. In 2014, Dr Roma-March received the VOSH International President’s Circle Award in recognition for her work in the Philippines following Typhoon Haiyan.

The Roma-March family are totally dedicated to offer humanitarian care both locally for refugees/immigrants in their community and internationally.  They are also active presenting results of their work in relevant optometric conferences and events. TWECS is affiliated with VOSH/International as our VOSH-British Columbia chapter. Dr Roma-March has served in VOSH/International Board of Directors twice. Additionally, TWECS has developed a strong relationship with Lions Club International and Rotary International.

The Marches exemplify the whole meaning of this award. On receiving the news of the award, Dr Marina Roma-March said “We feel honored and are very grateful and appreciative of this acknowledgement from VOSH/International, recognizing our 26 years of providing restored vision to over 100,000 of the world’s poor”.

The annual Humanitarian of the Year Award honors a VOSH member who through leadership, invention, public health practice, sustainable eye care service or furthering the understanding and correction of refractive error is making a significant difference. VOSH is the largest non-profit network of volunteer optometrists in the world with 92 chapters globally.  More info on  the November 7 Virtual Annual Meeting is available at: https://vosh.org/get-involved/annual-meetings/