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SOSH 2013: Haiti
by Kristina Ngo ’15OD, president PCO chapter of SOSH
For the first time since 2008, the SOSH (Students in Optometric Service to Humanity) team of twenty students and two faculty advisors traveled back to Cap Haitien, Haiti. Together the group examined 1,314 patients over the 5 days of clinic operation, dispensed more than 2,500 pairs of glasses and sunglasses and made 129 referrals for surgery or additional medical treatment. Lions Clubs, social organizations, and private contributors donated the glasses for the 2013 mission to SOSH.
We worked in five different clinics – all at least an hour’s drive from Cap Haitien, which made for a daily 6:00 a.m. start in order for us to meet the 7:45a.m. departure. We traveled in two vans along with five translators to reach the clinics, where we set up five stations: patient history taking (with the help of a translator); slit lamp station to examine ocular health and identify any pathology; tonometry station to rule out glaucoma; a ret rack station to determine the patient’s prescription, and the final station, where an OD examined the back of the eye and a final examination was performed with the doctors, utilizing the information collected at the previous patient stations.
As SOSH members on previous trips had told us, the number of patients needing care was tremendous. On the third day of clinic we saw 400 patients and had to turn away 100 more. The demand for glasses was so great that we were running short by the third day of seeing patients. Thanks to Dr. Dave McPhillips of VOSH (Volunteers in Optometric Service to Humanity) and Dr. Guerline Roney of a vision clinic in Cap Haitien, we received additional glasses for our fourth and fifth clinic days.
It was a busy and rewarding trip to bring much needed vision care services to a population that would not have them without our help. We were all proud to be a small part of helping people to see clearly, many of them for the first time in decades.
Thank you to our sponsors and supporters whose efforts and donations made this trip possible. Thank you to our faculty advisors, Dr. Alissa Coyne and Dr. Michael Rebar, and thank you to the SOSH Class of 2015 members who participated: Veronika Ageyeva, Sana Alfimari, Christina DalPorto, Priya Desai (internal fundraiser), Jerson Desiderio, Alyssa Donahue, Elina Dorfman, Lindsey Eisenberg, Jill Federico, Stacy Fortin, Amber Gonka, Alysson Mass, Tamara Mendez (vice president), Kelsey Moody (external fundraiser), Charlene Pineda, Aaron Punim (treasurer), Kathleen Van Horn, Fei Yang and Francis Mai '16OD.
About one hundred students and faculty gathered at the Hafter Student Community Center on Friday, January 25 for the First Annual Mr. Salus Pageant hosted by SOSH (Students in Optometric Service to Humanity).
A total of nine contestants competed for the title of Mr. Salus 2013: Class of 2014 students David Kong and Vittoria Mena Jr., Class of 2015 students Julian Chang, Jason Cheung, Michael Kelleman and Andrew Meagher, and Class of 2016 students Francis Mai, Thomas Ravas and Justin Sherman.
The show was a great success, with many great performances - from the contestants as well as from Dean Linda Casser. The students competed in four categories: Clinic Attire; "In It To Win It" mini- competitions; Talent, and On-Stage Questions. Faculty judges, Dr. Francine Pearlman-Storch, Dr. Alyssa Coyne, and Dr. Elisa Bano scored the men based on the originality and professionalism of their clinic attire, their fitness and speed in the "In It To Win It" mini-competitions, clever and insightful answers to the On-Stage Questions, and how entertaining and engaging their talent presentation was. It was a night of fun, laughter and raffle prizes.
Second year optometry students Erin Kenny ’15OD and Sam Heater ’15OD did a wonderful job as the emcees. The show began with the contestants strutting their stuff in the Introduction and Clinic Attire segment, and followed with three fun "In It To Win It" mini-competitions. The first mini-competition was "Movin' On Up!," where contestants had to quickly stack blue cups using alternating hands until a single red cup reached the end of the stack. The second mini-competition, "Pink Elephant," had contestants wearing a SlinkyTM attached to a headband. They had to stack the SlinkyTM on top of their heads by moving their heads as if the SlinkyTM were an elephant’s trunk. Lastly, the third mini-competition was "Junk in the Trunk," where contestants wore a tissue box filled with ping pong balls around their waists and they had to jump up and down to pop all of the ping pong balls out of the tissue box. The Hafter Center was filled with laughter, as the audience watched the contestants hustle to win each of the mini-competitions!
Next, the gentleman performed their amazing talents and answered live, onstage questions from the judges and audience. We witnessed amazing talents such as singing, dancing, card tricks, piecing puzzles, and changing onstage for clinic in just one minute. There was also a special guest appearance from Hulk "Frank the Tank" Hogan and PCO Dean Linda Casser performed a song with the contestants. It was a very fun and memorable night for the contestants and audience members alike!
The night came to a close with Julian Chang winning the coveted title of Mr. Salus 2013 and an iPad 4. First runner up, Frank Mai, won a free breakfast, lunch and dinner at Chick-Fil-A and a $20 gift card to Jules; second runner up, Justin Sherman, won a free breakfast, lunch, and dinner at Chick-Fila and a $10 gift card to Fill-A-Bagel. The title of Mr. Congeniality was won by Thomas Ravas, who earned a free breakfast, lunch and dinner at Chick-Fil-A.
SOSH members would like to give special recognition and thanks to Dr. Bano, Dr. Pearlman-Storch, and Dr. Coyne for serving as amazing judges, as well as to the contestants for their time and talents. SOSH would also like to thank the sponsors and contributers to the pageant: HOYA, Volk, Big Top Beverage, Chick-Fil-A, Panera Breads, Jules, Starbucks, Fill-A-Bagel, and West Ave Grill. We also thank the people who made the Mr. Salus pageant possible: Dean Caldwell, the DACS department, Jim Rubeo of the Salus Cafe, Alyssa Donahue, SOSH members, SOSH officers, the audience members and everyone else who, with their support, helped to raise funds for those who would otherwise be denied the gift of sight!
by Angelica V. Delgado
On February 18, 2012, SOSH hosted The SOSH Eye BOWL-A-RAMA at Thunderbird Lanes in Willow Grove. It was a fun-filled night with 8 teams consisting of 45 bowlers, two hours of unlimited bowling, prizes and fun. The event took eight weeks to plan and all in the spirit of rising funds for our mission trip this August to El Savador.
This event was made possible by the generous support of the community and students. Our bowling lane sponsors of the night were the following: HEINE, Linda Jean's Café, Susquehanna Bank, The Daily Grind, and The Eye Care Center and Dr. Sona Kalra. On the behalf of S.O.S.H., we thank you and appreciate your support. Food and beverages was also provided by Linda Jean’s Café and by S.O.S.H. members. As students bowled the night away, raffles were held throughout the night, giving away what very optometry student hearts’ desires: framed “Eye Anatomy” posters. The lucky winners, Jared Scheff (class 2015), and Eugene Wong (class of 2104). Enjoy and memorize it!
Students and friends were able to relieve some stress by knocking down some pins all to support a worthy cause. The winning team of night coming in at averaged score of 170 was Team Mario, which included class 2104 optometry students, Havish Bhalani, Hanh Ngo, An Huynh, Crystal SooJung Pae, and Huy Pham. They all took Apples Bee’s giftcards. Our first place winner was physician assistant student (class 2014), Brittany McGinnis, coming in with an impressive average of 190, and taking home a Starbucks gift package. A great prize to help her late night study hours! The rest of our winners received gift certificates provided by local businesses. The only first year optometry student of the night, Jared Scheff, coming in at bowling average score of 180, was awarded with a gift certificate to Rosey’s BBQ. In third place, optometry student (class 2014) Havish Bhalani, received gift certificate to Jules’ Thin Crust. In fourth place bowler, optometry student (class 2014), Huy Pham received a gift certificate to Joey’s Tate Restaurant. We thank you for your participation!
Bowling is a great away to bring people together and away from their cubicles. Due to the success of BOWL-A-RAMA and positive feedback from participants, we hope to make this an annual event. We would like to thank everyone that participated in making this event one of our most enjoyable nights of fundraising. S.O.S.H. relies heavily on fundraisers such as bowling, to make their mission possible and we could not have done it without you! We will continue to fundraiser throughout the year and make more memorable nights like this. Bowling for sight is just the beginning!
Optometry students at the Pennsylvania College of Optometry prepare for the annual missions through fundraising efforts such as bake sales, sports tournaments, and auctions in addition to external support. The students of SOSH work diligently to insure the financial feasibility of the missions.
The glasses dispensed on these trips are donated from a variety of sources, including religious organizations, optical companies, doctors, and private individuals. SOSH relies heavily upon outside support and donations for medical supplies and finances. Through the generosity of corporations and private donors, SOSH has been able to provide continuous eye care to people in need of its services.
Two weeks at the end of the summer semester,a team of approximately 21 students (20 third-year and 1 second-year students) travels to countries with indescribable poverty and care shortages. Thousands of patients are given complete visual examinations, ocular pathologies are detected and treated or referred if necessary. Eyeglasses are dispensed to the patients as needed. The glasses are collected and processed at PCO and carried to these countries along with all of the other equipment and medications used in the clinics. The project is funded entirely by private contributions and it is the team's responsibility to raise the necessary funding each year. There is no cost to the individual team members.
Immediately following their return from their trip, the 2nd-year officer assumes leadership of SOSH. He/she will have chosen team members from their class by that time which will comprise the next SOSH team. In the spring, a committee from the 2nd year class' SOSH team will choose one member from the 1st year class who will eventually act as President of SOSH for their class and who will travel to the chosen site the following year.
Participation in SOSH begins in the first year byattendance at work nights. You'll meet upper-class persons there, and learn how to neutralize glasses
SOSH rely heavily on donations from caring individuals and organizations. Monetary, pharmaceutical, and ophthalmic equipment donations are invaluable to our cause. PCO students spend countless hours preparing and fundraising for each mission; however, we de replies on external contributions to help us meet our goal of $50,000. We hope you find SOSH to be worthy of your donation and we thank you in advance for your consideration.
From left to right: Brad Sparks, Roma Desai, Frank Mai, Melissa Keller, Emily Jones, and Bridget Veglia
SOSH was founded in 1968 by Dr. Algernon Phillips during his years as a student at the Pennsylvania College of Optometry (PCO). The original purpose of the organization was to administer eye examinations and to dispense spectacles to the people of Haiti. In 1986, SOSH expended its scope to provide more comprehensive eye care to people throughout the world. Over the years, SOSH has traveled to Africa, the Caribbean, and North, South and Central America. Often, the services that SOSH renders in these regions are the only means of receiving proper eye care.
During the past few years, SOSH has also been a partner in developing a permanent eye clinic in Guatemala, seeing over 18,000 patients and referring approximately 800 for surgery.
Pictured top row, L to R: Shawn Yu, Dr. A. Phillips, Dr. Harry Kaplan, Robert Wang, Mark Street, Michael Rebar; Bottom row, L to R: Allyssa Nguyen, Anjali Desai, Lisa Schneider, Kristy Dean, Erin Van Shura, Lisa Chow.
On December 5, 2008, members of SOSH, with memories of their September mission to Haiti still fresh in their minds, had the privilege of meeting Dr. A.A. Phillips ’69, founder of SOSH (Student Optometric Service to Humanity) at the University.
After viewing videos of the September mission created by SOSH president Robert Wang ’10, Dr. Phillips shared some of his experiences with the students. The first SOSH mission to Haiti in 1969, planned after then second year student Phillips’ visited and saw the acute need for vision care, included PCO faculty member Dr. Harry Kaplan ’49.
Dr. Kaplan and Dr. Anthony Di Stefano, Vice President, Academic Affairs, were present at the meeting and, with the students, heard some of the interesting and diverse experiences Dr. Phillips has had during his many years of volunteer service and travels around the world.
The PCO students and faculty and an ophthalmologist and surgical nurse from SEE International, completed the ten day September mission in Cap Haitian, providing eye exams to more than 2400 individuals, dispensed more than spectacle glasses, distributed more than 2300 UV protection sunglasses and provided funding for over 70 cataract extractions and 50 glaucoma referrals.
Two SOSH teams working at two sites maximized the number of patients seen and the students and faculty worked long hours and gained invaluable experience. With the help of the PCO Lions Club, the students also purchased a screening tonometer (with the PCO Lions Club) for use during future missions and included an underclassman representative to ensure a smoother 2009 mission.
Faculty members Dr. Gwenn Amos and Dr. Mark Snyder accompanied SOSH Class of 2010 members: Herbert Bressler, Kristy Dean, Anjali Desai, Aesha Sharia, Carl Ekman, Caryn Jones, Timothy Kim, Colleen Kroll, Matthew Lim Ah Ken, Doua Lor, Yupheng Ly, Allyssa Nguyen, Sheila Poon, Michael Rebar, Cara Reitnauer, Lisa Schneider, Mark Street, Julie Tran, Robert Wang, Shawn Yu and Dianna Zhang. Erin Vanshura ’11 was class representative for the 2009 trip.
The Student Optometric Service to Humanity (SOSH) is a student-run volunteer organization that brings eyecare and vision services to countries of indescribable poverty. Some of you may be familiar with PCO alumnus Dr. Carlo Pelino, who began teaching at PCO in 1995. Since then, Dr. Pelino has been compiling his research and lecture material into the Pelino Book. A well-used reference tool, the Pelino Book covers ocular pathologies, emergencies, expected/standard values for various binocular and accommodative tests, as well as updated results from the National Eye Institute studies.
For several years Dr. Pelino generously has donated all of the book’s proceeds to SOSH, helping to subsidize the cost of annual humanitarian trips. This year’s SOSH vision screening trip to El Salvador will receive the majority of the book’s proceeds, with a portion going to support St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital.
The Pelino Book traditionally is sold to optometry students, who find it indispensable for their clinical experience both at The Eye Institute and on externships. Two years ago SOSH opened sales to PCO alumni and, based on last year’s great alumni response, we will open up sales again.
For those of you who were debating getting the book last year or were not sure if you wanted one, here is another chance to order your 2012 copy!
The cost of the new 2012 Pelino Book is $55.00.
There is a $7.00 shipping charge for all books. (Click here for order form).
The 2012 Pelino Book was last updated in December 2010. This latest version includes more sections than previous editions, as well as updated NEI studies. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.
Thank you in advance for your support.
SOSH 2010 – 2011 Membership
Pennsylvania College of Optometry
O.D. Candidate, Class of 2015
For the third year in a row, the PCO chapter of SOSH (Student Optometric Service to Humanity) traveled to El Salvador for their annual mission trip over the week of August 9-15. The group made a significant impact on the communities they served, providing eyeglasses, readers, sunglasses, medications, and artificial tears to those in need.
SOSH members who took part in the trip were PCO Class of 2014 students Tara Bucklew, John Chan, Michelle Chen, Lindsay Cook, Angelica Delgado, Chelsea Dunn, Brittany Flaherty, Maegan Folk, Rachel Fritz, Rahul Gupta, Alex Levashvili, Nicole Maierhoffer, Allie Mercurio, Steven Miller, Tara Morris, Ben Steger, and Jenna Walters, and Kristina Ngo ’15OD
In addition to the eighteen students, there were three translators and three optometrists, PCO clinical faculty member Dr. Jean Marie Pagani, Dr. Julie Marsh and Dr. Heather Miller. SOSH also worked with Dr. Andrew Badulak, a local physician, his wife Stephanie Badulak and three medical residents, Dr. Michelle Chan, Dr. Usaima Siddiqi, and Dr. Tung Nguyen.
While in El Salvador, the entire group worked with the local organization, Commandos de Salvamento El Salvador, to travel to remote communities all over El Salvador and provide care. Over the course of four clinic days, the team traveled to the following communities: Suchitoto Canton Colima, Casa Comunal La Sabana Tecoluca, Canton San Bartolo San Miguel Tepezontes, and Canton Santa Marta Sensuntepeque.
During these four days, SOSH provided vision screenings to approximately 650 individuals. Many of these patients received their first eye exam ever, due to the limited access to healthcare for the rural villages in El Salvador. The communities were very grateful to have had SOSH in the villages, and community members delivered very touching speeches to the group after every clinic day.
About 15 to 20 referrals were made daily in conjunction with the medical team. Patients were provided with a variety of medications, including glaucoma medications, steroids and antibiotics. Artificial tears were handed out to almost every patient as well.
A possible return to El Salvador is being discussed again for next year. At the end of the trip, the students were greeted and thanked by members of the Commandos de Salvamento, who extended a further invitation to SOSH in the years to come.
Members of SOSH would like to extend a huge thank you to all of the doctors and translators involved in the trip, making the trip a success. A special thank you to Stephanie Badulak, for her help in coordinating the trip with the SOSH officers. In addition, we would like to thank the Salus community and our alumni for their support in all of SOSH’s fundraising efforts, donation drives, equipment donations and medication donations. Without the generous donations, the SOSH trip would not be possible.