VOSH/International presents the prestigious VOSH/INTERNATIONAL DR. HARRY I. ZELTZER LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD to a person who has been recognized during 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. The Dr. Harry I. Zeltzer Lifetime Achievement Award was presented this year at the 25th VOSH Annual Meeting in Chicago, Illinois on October 14, 2017 to C. Ellis Potter, OD, FAAO, FVI.

These are the remarks he made when accepting this prestigious award:

            This is a huge honor to be not only associated with, but named as a recipient for the Harry Zeltzer Lifetime Achievement Award named after my friend and colleague, Dr. Harry Zeltzer.  Harry is one of the greats, a hall of famer for VOSH/International.  When I was President, he served not only as VOSH executive director but as a personal mentor and advisor.  We had many conversations. I can’t say enough about him as a friend and colleague.  I was truly blessed to have his aid and blessed for you to consider me in the same league with him.  

                        VOSH/International has come a long way in the last 10-15 years.  We have evolved.  We have used our International contacts to serve hundreds of thousands of patients in thousands of clinics with thousands of volunteers.  We have helped build and support the development of sustainable eye care systems in developing countries.  We have improved our administration with an informative web site, using conference calls and online communication, and by appointing an executive director.  We have recognized the importance of data collection and how it interrelates with our objectives and goals.  We have increased our public image exponentially to become a full-fledged program capitalizing on many media fronts.  We have gradually helped our chapters understand sustainability and the need for full service eye care. We have outreached to introduce humanitarian endeavors to Students and others in far reaching places.  We are recognized as advocates for the underprivileged.  We are welcomed as colleagues and equals at major meetings.  We have delivered equipment in faraway places.  We have led by example as a signee to open the new Optometry School in Haiti as well as being part of the development of the Optometry Schools in Nicaragua and El Salvador.  We have implemented the exciting VOSH Corp program to provide more educators in developing Optometry Schools.   We have encouraged participation in Domestic clinics and worked to develop a Disaster response.  We encouraged and incorporated our student colleagues and chapters into our long-range plans and objectives.

            We have done much, but we could do more.  I challenged the Board at the mid-year strategic planning event to think big and out of the box.  We could do much more if we had significant independent funding.  We could do much more with short term visitation and hosting of international colleagues in academic interchanges.  We could do more with many more sustainable vision locations to recommend to our chapters.  We could do more if we had more engaged participants.  We could do more with more individuals at this Annual meeting to hear of the possibilities and exchange ideas.  We could do more by joining with other organizations with common cause.  We could do more if we partnered with other NGO’s, Vendors, and Corporations.  We could do more if we partnered with other health care organizations.  We could do more if our board of directors had a greater range of representation.  We could do more if we seized upon our unparalleled name recognition and a reputation for doing good.  We could do more if _______________…  I’ll let you finish the sentence. 

            We are limited only by our own thought, imagination and energy.  I challenge each of you to think big and out of the box; to find creative ways to do these things and even more on a greater scale.  We can do more!  We can do much more!

            You have paid me the highest compliment with the Dr. Harry Zeltzer Lifetime Achievement Award but I couldn’t have done these things myself.   Working together, finding new ideas, executing significant plans can only be accomplished with teamwork.  You are part of the team.  And so part of the thanks for this award goes to you!  I Thank YOU!