Sandy's Story-- A Saga of Social Impact in Bolivia-- 15 Years of Smiles Forever Making a Difference
When Sandy Kemper came to visit Bolivia over 15 years ago, little did she know how hers and so many other lives would change. She saw the beauty Boliva has to offer, but she also was struck with the surrounding poverty & hopelessness of the indigenous people. She couldn't walk away. She stopped and asked herself what she could do, and then she thought she could start with what she knows: the registered dental hygienist profession. Sandy found a way to begin the Smiles Forever Foundation and school for homeless Bolivian women. Countless lives have since been touched with this initial heartfelt gesture and her unswerving dedication.
This update is all about measuring social impact one life at a time: Dr. Apata tells her own story.
Let me preface Dr. Apata's compelling story, with why I happened to ask her to share. As a longtime Project Leader for Smiles Forever, I have been involved in many Global Giving Webinars. I just listened to Mari Kuraishi, the Co-founder and President of Global Giving who was the opening speaker for the brand new Social Impact class. She posed the question, "How do our organizations measure social impact without incurring any additonal cost?" The answer we found is to ask our dental hygienist graduates about how their lives have been affected, both individually and as a group. In June 2013, we are so proud that they formed the Dental Hygiene Society to focus on community service projects.
Dr. Apata Shares How Smiles Forever Impacted her Life
The Smiles Forever Dental Hygiene Training Program changed my life dramatically. I'm the 4th of a family of 7 brothers and sisters. My father and mother worked really heard to try to provide, but money was always a problem, even if we are a really united family. Smiles Forever gave the opportunity to have a superior education. At first, I only pictured education as my way out of poverty, now it is different.
After finishing my dental hygiene training, I worked for Dr. Salazar who was my teacher, and seeing how she worked encouraged me to take my education one step forward. I decided to put myself through dental school. Without my training in dental hygienist work, I would never have been able to complete my goals. It was really difficult, but I completed my degree to become a dentist -- the first Smiles Forever School graduate to do so.
Then I returned to Smiles Forever since opportunities for a dentist fresh out of college are so limited, and knocked on their doors again. They opened their doors happily and gave me my first paid job as a dentist. I was able to teach young women like me. Now I can proudly say that I support my parents economically and help my brothers, and I made a major decision in my life. I want to return something to the organization which opened the doors for me at various times. With part of my salary, I enrolled myself into a PHD program. I will continue to receive a superior education in applied dentistry, since the one thing I love the most is to teach. I love giving the opportunity to other women who are going through the same issues that I faced in the past or worse! I understand that teaching is not simply telling what I know--rather it is a transfer of my knowledge.
That is why I have so much to thank Sandy Kemper for and the Smiles Forever Foundation. I have heard the saying of the gift that keeps on giving-- perhaps I can be that gift for many years.
The Social Impact of Educating a Woman Goes beyond into the sphere of her family & children & community.
15 years of Smiles Forever working in Bolivia hasn't been easy, and at first it was hard to measure how individual lives and the surrounding community could be changed. Even though the need sometimes seems insurmountable, nevertheless the picture is getting clearer-- we are making an impact. Literally, thousands have received dental care. With your help Smiles Forever will be serving for another 15 years.
Superstar 50% Bonus Day July 15th Starting at 9:00 a.m. Washington D.C. & Bolivian time-- 6:00 a.m. Seattle time
All of us at Smiles Forever invite you to join us July 15th as Global Giving helps us raise money for the 2015/ 2016 school year.
Smiles Forever Dental School Welcomes Dental Professionals
It's been an exciting time here in Cochabama as Rosie Bellert, RDH BS, Dr. Tracey Wayman, Dr. Michael le Clair, Deborah McGlynn, RDH BS, and Becki Delaney, RDH, and Kristin Labeck RDH, came to teach for two weeks, sponsored by Rotarians and a generous grant.
This is the 3rd visit for Rosie who leads the Shoreline Community College Dental Hygienist school, and in many ways the most rewarding. Our students here were excited to be learning so much. Besides seeing demonstrations about the newest cleaning techniques, and learning about root canal therapy, they also were hearing cutting-edge information about oral cancers--one caused by a HPV virus.
Fame, Fanfare, Food, and Fun
These dental professionals took their show on the road and did teaching demonstrations at the nearby Universidad de Valle dental school. They received recognition from the University President and were given a book his poetry. Then they were interviewed on TV. In between, they were discovering the adventurous foods of Bolivia: quinoa tabouli, barbecued heart, potatoes with peanut sauce, Bolivian style chocolate with the natural salts from the Salar de Unari salt flats, and all washed down with robust Bolivian coffee. The group had excursions, including to the colorful market. What wonderful relationships were forged between the professionals and the eager students. Rosie shares, "Each time is a new experience. I am so proud of the strong women who are the pioneers of the dental hygiene profession." We wish you all could have been here!
April Highlights: A Visit from Global Giving's Natalie, and a Microsoft Youthspark Fundraiser April 14th
We're delighted here at our Smiles Forever school to have the opportunity to entertain Natalie from the Global Giving home office. She'll be joining us April 13th to meet and greet our new students & to get a first-hand update in all we are accomplishing. Also, now that we have been active on Global Giving for 5 years, Natalie will use our knowledge to help recruit other organizations and projects. This effort should raise worldwide awareness for Bolivia and help many more deserving indigenous communities.
Join us on 50% Match Youthspark Day April 14th, beginning at 6:00 A.M. Seattle Time!
Help Geovanna, and our other young mothers. Donate to our two newest projects: "Geovanna's Genuine Goal: Career and Safety for her Baby", and our new permanent project "Send a Young Bolivian Mother to School for a Year." Our original project "Send a Homeless Bolivian Woman to School for a Year" is also Youthspark eligible.
Just a few times per year, we are eligible for 50% matching. Join us for this opportunity to increase your gift!
The donation window closed 9:00 P.M. Seattle time. Each gifts helps these women & all they will do to give back.
In September of 2015, fourteeen nursing and dental hygiene students will be headed to Bolivia for an experience of a lifetime. Nurses and hygienists will together prepare health fairs, open to the indigenous low income folks on the street, that will include dental and medical checks together. Blood pressure, diabetes checks, as well as tooth brushing techniques and free dental exams will be included. The goal of this trip is to not only provide hands on experience for students in a developing country, but also to incorporate medical and dental health. The oral cavity is connected to the rest of the body and can determine and give hints to general body health. After assessing many patients and viewing the Smiles Forever dental hygiene program in Cochabamba and nursing programs in the area, the students (nurses and hygienists) will be asked to create a training program scenario for a nurse/hygienist professional to work in rural areas where there is little or no access to medical and dental care. Rosie Bellert director of the Smiles Forever dental hygiene program and Lisa Libassi director of the Nursing program at Shoreline college will be heading this project together.
“ I am anxious to see how others live and work together in a developing country. I want to work with the other dental hygiene students and help them with their studies,” exclaimed one of the eager students.
Call to Action: Reaching out to our Wonderful Donors
You may be a part of this joint effort by helping fund our lunches. We estimate there will be another $2,000 in expenses which is not covered under a grant. Especially important is to feed everyone during the workday. Some of Bolivia's fun foods to taste are pique macho traditional meat and vegetable dish, silpancho (rice, egg, and, meat), and tacos. Join us at the table vicariously. Please contribute to our lunch money fund.
Further down the pike at sometime this year:
I'm considering using this total project for a Microproject Youthspark eligible bonus program, likely coming this July. Stay tuned for the opportunity to help us earn bonus money!
2014 a Banner Year! Our 14th Serving the Cocabamba Community & Operating a Dental Hygienist School!
Our grassroots, home-grown Seattle charity Smiles Forever, which has run a dental hygienist school for 14 years in Cochabamba, Bolivia, now has gone global.
We're Proud of Our Global Giving Superstar Ranking!
For four years Smiles Forever has been building to Superstar Level on www.globalgiving.org. This year has been an exciting one since we participated in a www.globalgivinguk.org (based in London, England with outreach to Europe, Australia & New Zealand) 50% matching contest and won the grand prize, 800 pounds, plus more in matching funds. A special thanks goes to Sandy's parents, Sam & Eddie Robison for helping! Another special thanks goes to Nancy Clark, who has been attending both in-person and online seminars offered by the Washington, D.C. staff. The D.C. and the London office, too, have been doing a fine job of sharing helpful hints and of making sure we understand contest rules.
Invitation-- Reaching out to New Recurring Givers from December 1st - December 31st
Now Smiles Forever has four active projects with GlobalGiving. One of these, "Fund Dental Care for 7,000 Indigenous Children," #17807 is signed up for the month-long December campaign to recruit recurring givers. This project zeros in on the dental needs of the surrounding community by bringing dental health to shelter children, children with cancers, and children who have been burned. Also, we are serving others at schools in the indigenous communities. Click on http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/fund-dental-care-for-7000-indigenous-children/ to sign-up as new recurring givers ANYTIME DURING DECEMBER!
Take Part in Microsoft's 100% Matching Challenge on Giving Tuesday December 2nd
Mark Giving Tuesday, December 2nd, on your personal giving calendars, and the key times to push the DONATE NOW BUTTON are 6:00 a.m. Seattle time and 12:00 p.m. noon Seattle time. These times mark when the contest begins & when Microsoft replenishes the 100% matching pot. (Please use debit/credit/or PayPal. Gift cards, checks, & text donations don't work with this instant "game" in quest of matching dollars). We are privileged to have our projects designated as YouthSpark. This means our projects educate young people between the ages of 6-24 in a direct way which will impact not only their lives, but in turn have the long-range effect of benefiting their communities. All donations to either our original project, "Send a Homeless Bolivian Woman to School for a Year" #7925 http://www.globalgiving.org/projects/educating-homeless-bolivian-women/ are of immense help. Click to donate to our micro-projects, "Fund Vania's Journey from a Shelter to Success" #18747 http://www.globalgiving.org/microprojects/fund-vanias-journey-from-a-shelter-to-success/ or "Marcela Needs Safety While Studying Dental Hygiene" #18744 http://www.globalgiving.org/microprojects/marcela-needs-safety-while-studying-dental-hygiene/ unique donations count up until midnight Pacific time towards several prizes. If you wish, you may set your screen to simultaneously donate from $10-$500 for all three.
See & Share Smiles Forever's Stories & Reports & Pictures
Meet our staff and students and their clients by browsing through four years of stories found on these project web sites. There are links provided by GlobalGiving between them, and there are options to read any of the reports about all we have done, including what we have accomplished with help from outside volunteers. You are welcome to share these stories and links in your own holiday friends & family letters & social media contacts. Also, if you know of dental professionals who wish to inquire about a minimum two-week stay helping in Bolivia, please ask them to contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Honorees at Gala Bolivian Dinner for 800
While we missed seeing you all at our customary Seattle Smiles Forever benefit dinner, we instead wish to share the night we were honored for our Bolivian work. Smiles Forever was the featured charity at a major Bolivian dinner for 800, prepared by 80 volunteer chefs and hosted by VIP Magazine. Sandy's husband Freddy, and their adopted daughter Gisele (who had severe ear infections when she was brought home from an orphanage) are in one article. Sandy is a "cover girl" and her story is told in a great write-up about the dental hygienist school and her unswerving commitment to the under-served indigenous community.
Meet Paola - One of Our Newest Students
Paola is a young mother with children Kyara, Lucas, and Camila. When her first child was born, Paola worked during the day to provide for her daughter and finished high school at a night school named Amor de Dios. Paola shares, "When I graduated from high school my economic situation was really bad, and I couldn't study nothing. I was in that situation for many years. Smiles Forever provides me the opportunity to learn about dental hygiene without having to choose between my family and the studies. Smiles Forever opened the doors and they are giving me an opportunity in the future for me and my whole family." Paola explains how she wants to complete her studies and to help her daughters so they don't go on the path she did. Paola continues, "Since the first day, I've found in Smiles Forever friends, and great people who help not only in my studies ,but also in other apsects of my life. I won't let Smiles Forever down, and I will be a great and wise hygienist. I know this kind of opportunity is only once in a lifetime."
Smiles Forever has come a Long Way!
Smiles Forever is grateful to have come a long way, but we need that steady flow of donations to keep our school and outreach clinics going. Paola speaks for all of us, "Ï want to thank God, Smiles Forever, and all the people who donates so I can be in this program."
Smiles Forever is completing another banner year!
Our project is coming full circle. We are happy to announce the addition of a new staff member. Dr. Nayda A., our former student is returning to us as an instructor. Nayda graduated five years ago as a dental hygienist. After graduation she worked as a dental hygienist in a local private clinic, while she simultaneously trained to become a dentist at the public university San Simon here in Cochabamba.
Smiles Forever's graduate Nayda returns to work as a dentist
Smiles Forever provides free dental care to the underserved population of children and adults in Cochabamba through our community service project. Nayda, as a young dental hygienist, spent countless hours working with these patients. Through the program she developed a real sense of community. After graduation she came to us and asked if there was any opportunity for her to help. We had an opening in the community service clinc as a dentist. For the past three months Nayda has given back to those in need. She is an excellent and caring dentist. By using her time wisely, and by mastering streamlined dental techniques, Nayda has increased her patient load by almost 50%.
"I want to thank all the people that support Smiles Forever with their different donations because the donors and the people who support Smiles Forever doesn't know by firsthand all the good which they are doing for children in need. I will keep giving the best of me for those kids and future dental hygiene students."
Smiles Forever serves the under-served indigenous community
This year we will be working with 13 other non-profit organizations providing their dental care. Our outreach program will serve children who are the poorest of the poor: these children live in homeless shelters, or live with their parents in jail. We also serve children who have been badly burnt, children affected by HIV, and abused boys and girls -- about 2,000 in total this year!
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