|Peter Ash||Dr. Akio Kanai||Frances and Steve Knott||Natalia Olenicoff|
Distinguished Volunteers Selected for SCCO's V-Awards
FULLERTON, CA ---The Southern California College of Optometry (SCCO), has selected five individuals to recognize and honor for their distinguished volunteer and humanitarian service in the areas of non-profit, corporate, individual and community. SCCO's first-ever V-Awards will be presented to Peter Ash; Akio Kanai, O.D.; Frances and Steve Knott; and Natalia Olenicoff.
The V-Award Recipients will be honored at SCCO's Inaugural Shared Visions Gala and V-Awards Dinner on, Thursday, September 15, at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library in Yorba Linda, CA. Awards are based on service and contributions over time that have significantly advanced the stature and integrity of mankind.
The V-Award Recipient under the banner of Non-profit Service is, Peter Ash, a passionate philanthropist, entrepreneur and the Founder and CEO of Under the Same Sun (UTSS). UTSS efforts are focused on the crisis of persons with albinism in Tanzania, where mutilations, murders and the trafficking in human body parts of persons with albinism occur. Mr. Ash, a Canadian businessman, is a person with albinism. He holds an undergraduate degree in Theology and a graduate degree in Psychology. His background includes a decade of work in church ministry followed by over a decade in business.
As a result of his faith, disability and business background, Mr. Ash provides resources and assistance to those most disadvantaged by disability, discrimination and poverty. UTSS aims to provide these groups of persons with resources that will help them to increase their quality of life, gain increased independence and take their rightful place in their own culture and society.
Recognition for Corporate Service will be bestowed upon, optometrist and businessman Akio Kanai, O.D. A 1972 alumnus of SCCO, Dr. Kanai began his humanitarian work with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees in 1984. In remote locations like Cambodia, Thailand, Nepal, Azerbaijan and Armenia, Dr. Kanai and his team from Fuji Optical Co., Ltd., of Japan, have extended optometric services to tens of thousands of patients that rarely knew such vision was possible. It's estimated that through his humanitarian efforts, vision care has been provided for more than 100,000 refugees and more than 108,200 pairs of glasses have been dispensed. For his work he received the United Nations' 2006 Nansen Refugee Award.
Dr. Kanai is the President of Fuji Optical Co., Ltd., Chuo-ku, Sapporo, Japan. He was named the International Optometrist of the Year, World Council of Optometry, 1997; SCCO Distinguished Alumnus of the Year, 1997; and was an SCCO Centennial Honoree, 2004.
A combination of time, energy, and monetary gifts to educate and assist others are at the heart of, Frances and Steve Knott's, desire to contribute. The Knotts will receive the V-Award for Individual Service at SCCO's September event.
In the Orange County community the Knotts are incredibly involved in organizations that provide service to others and enable them to give. Mrs. Knott has been a member of SCCO's Board of Trustees since 1997 and completed her two-year stint as Chair on June 30, 2011. In 2004, she was named an SCCO Centennial Honoree. Some of the organizations they support include: Little Eagle Free, Inc.; California State University, Fullerton; and the Lincoln Club of Orange County. Mr. Knott was a co-chair of SCCO's Centennial Gala in 2004; and together they are co-chairing the College's Inaugural Shared Visions Gala and V-Awards.
Honored for her volunteer contributions is, Natalia Olenicoff, recipient of the V-Award for Community Service. Ms. Olenicoff is the managing partner, Andrei's Conscious Cuisine and Cocktails in Irvine, CA, a restaurant established as a tribute to her late brother, Andrei. In addition, the family established the Andrei Foundation in 2005, to help find a cure for Retinitis Pegmentosa (RP), and similar degenerative diseases and to help people who are currently affected. Andrei was afflicted with RP.
Born and raised in Laguna Beach, Ms. Olenicoff began her career in commercial and residential real estate, joining her father, Igor Olenicoff's Orange County-based Olen Properties shortly after graduating from college. She has given of her time, talent and financial resources to support a number of vision care programs.
SCCO's Inaugural Shared Visions Gala and V-Awards Dinner is a celebration of the advancement of vision care and health care education. For six years on the campus of SCCO, the phrase "Shared Visions" has referred to an annual art exhibit of works by blind and legally blind artists that's housed at its Eye Care Center. Today, "Shared Visions" has become the over-arching phrase for much that is taking place at the College, including the new signature fundraising event to be held on, Thursday, September 15, at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library. For event sponsorship and ticket information visit: www.scco.edu/sharedvisions.