SVOSH, also known as Student Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity, is one of the largest clubs in SUNY College of Optometry. SVOSH provides plenty of opportunities for students to perform vision screenings to underserved communities locally, nationally, and internationally. SVOSH at SUNY frequently collaborates with other SUNY organizations, such as Fellowship of Christian Optometry, Lions Club, and Student Association of Public Health for several events throughout the year. This article provides a few highlights of SVOSH’s events at SUNY-O this past 2012-2013 school year.
Preparations for trips:
SVOSH holds weekly meetings at SUNY to allow our members to actively participate in preparation for trips. Duties include cleaning, sorting, performing “stress-tests,” and finding the prescriptions of donated glasses. Students also help write handwritten thank you letters to our generous supporters who donate funds to the club.
Members can accumulate the number of hours they volunteer throughout the year to earn a spot on a trip abroad, which typically occurs in the spring semester. Priority is given to members who have volunteered the most hours. These meetings are a great way for students to unwind from classes and clinic and catch up with one another. It is especially beneficial for 1st years, as this time gives them a chance to obtain valuable advice about school from their upperclassmen!
- 1,500 patients seen
2. Rwanda (December 2012)
- 3,850 patients seen
- $150,000 worth of medications distributed
- Read a personal recap about the trip from the participants themselves here.
1. Bristol, Tennesee (May 3 – May 5)
- 493 eye exams given
- 598 glasses provided
2. Wise, Virginia (July 18 – July 21)
- 814 eye exams given
- 899 glasses provided
In addition to providing service at events, SVOSH also holds social events to promote awareness about eye care in the underserved communities around the world. In April of 2013, the club hosted a movie screening for “First Sight”, a documentary about preventable blindness in India. The screening was presented by its director, Ms. Joya Dass, and included a Q&A session with the team who traveled to India and worked behind-the-scenes to create the film.
I have always had a huge passion for service, and working with SVOSH made me realize how beneficial and rewarding it can be to travel out of our comfort zones and interact with people in other parts of the world. It reminds us of the bigger purpose behind why we’re currently in optometry school and how much of an impact we can actually make on a global level. I strongly believe that partaking in opportunities through these service-oriented clubs helps us grow and become better, more well-rounded doctors.