Western University of Health Sciences will honor two organizations dedicated to building healthier communities at the 27th annual A Tribute to Caring gala at the Beverly Hills Hotel on Nov. 10.

L.A. Care Health Plan and its chief executive officer, Howard Kahn, will receive the first Access to Caring award. The Helen Woodward Animal Center and its president, Michael Arms, will receive the Corporate Humanitarian award.

A Tribute to Caring, which raises money for student scholarships, will transport guests back to the glamorous era of the 1930s and ‘40s. The Master of Ceremonies will be Frank Mottek, who hosts the KNX Business Hour on KNX 1070 and serves as a reporter and business news anchor on the KTLA Channel 5 News @ Ten and the KTLA Morning Show.

“A Tribute to Caring recognizes the university’s commitment to ensuring that students have the resources to complete their health professions degree programs,” WesternU President Philip Pumerantz said. “It’s also an opportunity to showcase what the university stands for and to recognize the university’s friends and supporters. We’re touched by the confidence they have in our ability to fulfill our mission.”

L.A. Care is a community-accountable health plan serving low-income residents of Los Angeles County through a variety of programs, including Medi-Cal, Healthy Families and Healthy Kids.

With nearly 800,000 enrolled members, L.A. Care is the largest public managed care organization in the nation, said Brenda Premo, director of WesternU’s Center for Disability Issues and the Health Professions.

“L.A. Care commits a large number of dollars to the safety net, to caring for underinsured and uninsured through its grants programs,” Premo said. “And it works diligently to provide comprehensive access to medical members, including those who have language differences, seniors and individuals with disabilities.”

The organization reaches out to the community through health fairs and it provides extensive education for their staff and providers, she said.

“They’re trying to create a comprehensive system not only for acute health but of primary care and prevention,” Premo said.

Kahn has served as CEO of L.A. Care Health Plan since 2001. He has more than 20 years of experience in health care, leading for-profit and non-profit organizations with an emphasis on serving diverse and vulnerable populations.

As L.A. Care CEO, he is a key architect of the Children’s Health Initiative of Greater Los Angeles, a coalition of more than 50 diverse community organizations that is dedicated to providing health insurance for every low-income child in L.A. County. Under his leadership, the initiative has successfully raised more than $110 million through a public-private partnership, and currently provides health coverage to approximately 40,000 children.

Michael Arms became president of the Helen Woodward Animal Center in Rancho Santa Fe in 1999. The center’s mission is “People Helping Animals and Animals Helping People,” with programs in animal adoption, education, therapeutic riding, “AniMeals” and Pet Encounter Therapy.

AniMeals provides delivery of free pet food so homebound cat and dog owners can ensure their pets receive nutritious meals. Pet Encounter Therapy brings dogs, rabbits, birds and guinea pigs to people in emergency children’s shelters, hospitals, psychiatric facilities, senior centers and other facilities. Studies have shown that holding and caressing an animal provides relaxation, improved memory, lower blood pressure and other benefits.

The center trains shelter workers from all over the world to learn more effective ways to find homes for orphaned pets, and also provides humane education to more than 33,000 children annually.

The center’s Therapeutic Riding program helps children and adults with cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, autism, stroke recovery and learning disabilities develop increased balance and muscle control, improve concentration and short-term memory, and enhance their confidence and self-esteem.

Arms organized the “Home 4 the Holidays” adoption drive, which takes place between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. The number of participating shelters increased from 14 in 1999 to more than 1,300 worldwide, and the number of annual adoptions increased from 2,500 to more than 300,000.

“In his work at the Helen Woodward Animal Center, Michael Arms has transformed an animal shelter to an animal center,” said Dr. Shirley Johnston, WesternU vice president of University Advancement. “His work has epitomized the value to society of ‘people helping animals and animals helping people.’ Through the sheltering of unwanted pets and the provision, to people, of AniMeals, pet encounter therapy, therapeutic riding and humane education, Michael represents of what the future of the human-animal bond can represent.”

For more information about A Tribute to Caring, visit the Web site:www.westernu.edu/tribute/