American Friends of Shalva (AFOS) announced that Steven W. Kess, Vice President, Global Professional Relations, Henry Schein, Inc., and President, Henry Schein Cares Foundation, has received the Spirit of Hope Award at its 29th Anniversary Gala Dinner. The event was held on March 6, 2019 at Guastavino’s in New York City.
Mr. Kess was selected as this year’s recipient because of his role as a visionary partner in establishing the Oral Health for Everyone (OHEV) program at the Shalva National Center in Israel, one of the largest and most advanced centers for disability care and inclusion in the Middle East. The OHEV program is a pioneering program that systematically integrates oral health care and education into the rehabilitative programs and developmental goals of children with disabilities. Utilizing a unique, preventive approach with specially trained staff and a state-of-the-art dental clinic accessible to those with disabilities called The Henry Schein Cares Oral Health Clinic, the program annually provides 400 children at Shalva with oral health check-ups, fluoride varnish treatments, personal guidance, and education. The program receives visits by dentistry students from universities across the globe and serves as an international model for medical and disability care institutions.
“Working with Steve to develop the OHEV program and our continued partnership over the years has been a most inspirational experience,” says Kalman Samuels, founder and president of the Shalva organization. “You quickly learn that his celebrated professional achievements pale in comparison to his care and compassion for others.”
Messrs. Kess and Samuels are both members of the Project Accessible Oral Health Alliance. Mr. Kess has served as a member of the Shalva organization’s OHEV professional board since the program’s inception in 2014 and has instrumentally escorted the program’s development and establishment in 2017.
“Steve’s leadership of Henry Schein Cares’ partnership with Shalva to develop the Oral Health For Everyone program is just the latest example of countless innovative partnerships he has forged throughout his career to advance worthy goals, in this case providing transformative care for individuals with disabilities, empowering their families, and promoting social inclusion,” said Stanley M. Bergman, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Henry Schein. “Steve continues to build on Henry Schein’s commitment to expand access to care for people with special needs by improving health literacy, expanding geographic coverage, increasing cultural competency, and addressing the financial and reimbursement rates for special needs care. On behalf of more than 18,000 Team Schein Members, we salute him.”
Additional awardees at the AFOS gala dinner include the Shalva Band, an Israeli band of musicians with disabilities which was a candidate to be Israel’s representative at the Eurovision competition this year.
Shalva, The Israel Association for Care and Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities provides an all-encompassing range of services for 2,000 individuals from infancy through adulthood and their families. Shalva gives equal access and opportunity to all participants regardless of religion, ethnic background, or financial capability.