Smiles Forever

The Smiles Forever mission is to break the cycle of poverty by vocationally training young indigenous women to be dental hygienists in Cochabamba, Bolivia. We recognize women as the first socialization factor in the family. Enabling them to become financially self-sufficient, we are both creating female community leaders and bettering the lives of their children. Students give back to their community by providing free dental care at the school, burn center and rural communities.
Jun 6, 2016

Rooting out Cavities & Rooting for Aracely's Team

Aracely in bright pink scrubs
Aracely in bright pink scrubs

Aracely and her team of fellow dental hygienists have been busy all year helping to root out cavities in Bolivia.  She and the other students have been serving to help screen indigenous children at a community of miners outside Cochabamba, Bolivia.  Aracely has also been doing her internship with a woman dentist.

Soon Aracely will be back at the Smiles Forever school for dental hygienists to complete her exams and become accredited to work full time with a dentist.  She has had a remarkable story.  Aracely was virtually abandoned by her family when her parents died, and she lived in an orphanage.  Smiles Forever discovered this bright and personable student, and it has been our pleasure to see Aracely grow over two years time.  We noticed how she has an affinity for working with the poorest of the poor.  She has loved her special assignments to primitive jungle villages to help gauge early enamel wear.  The people she has become friends with are some of the oldest societies on the planet.

Smiles Forever considers Aracely to be a shining star and also a guiding star for the newer students doing the dental hygiene program.

"Aracely jumps into everything with both feet.  She really is fearless, and I wish you could all see her jump in and out of a canoe to travel the waterways in the villages of the Bolivian jungle.  She is returning to these people who compare her to a lively monkey with the fondest of nicknames."  Sandy Kemper, Founder of Smiles Forever

Aracely responds, "I am so excited to be returning to the villages this summer.  I will be reunited with my friends and I know I will make many more friends when I travel to more little communities.  I like seeing the critters who come right up into their courtyards and houses.  I love making the people, especially the children, feel better and avoid pain by helping check for cavities and telling them about dental care."

Introducing Smiles Forever New Board Member Virginia

Virginia has been behind the scene helping Smiles Forever both plan and execute the funding campaigns for GlobalGiving Bonus days.  Virginia and Aracely have something in common:  they both have had up-close experiences with possums!  Virginia has had a connection with the Shoreline Community College for over 20 years, and thus she became familiar with the trips the college made to Bolivia to help join the Smiles Forever school in operating clinics and for doing field clinics.  Virginia says, "I admire how the students find such meaningful education, and how this dental hygienist training gives back by helping so many in the indigenous community.  I became closely acquainted with Sandy and all the Smiles Forever family, and I am so impressed with the way each year the program builds.  How could I say no when Sandy asked me to serve on the board?"

 Join Virginia on June 15th beginning at 6:00 a.m. Seattle time to donate on 50% Matching Bonus Day!

Bolivian jungle possum
Bolivian jungle possum
Bolivian girl in pink with pigtails
Bolivian girl in pink with pigtails
Aracely polling the river in Bolivian Amazon
Aracely polling the river in Bolivian Amazon
Virginia
Virginia's possum posing for close-up
May 13, 2016

GlobalGiving & Smiles Forever Make "House Calls"

Girls in pink & yellow receive dental screening
Girls in pink & yellow receive dental screening

GlobalGiving's Chloe Pays a Visit to Smiles Forever in Bolivia!

Isn't it truly amazling that GlobalGiving cares enough about us here in out-of-the-way Bolivia to make a "house call" and see how we are doing?  Chloe arrived on a typical busy day here in Cochabamba, which is a fast-paced metropolitan area in the beautiful high valley where fruit and vegetables thrive.  Smiles Forever has been building our base of dental care for 16 years, and for over five years of that time we have partnered with GlobalGiving.  If I am not losing track, someone has come from Global Giving's main office three times.  We are so privileged to share what we are doing here as we expand dental care for the indigenous peoples in ever-widening circles.

  • Chloe visited Smiles the 3rd of May, 2016 at 10:30 AM, we picked her up from her hotel.
  • She visited Smiles in the morning: interacted with some of the patients from the community clinic. Also visited Smiles Forever clinic (fee for service clinic). Chloe toured the entire facility and we had coffee and explained in detail what we do and how we do it and how GG is so important for us.
  • Then lunch with Sandy Kemper and discussed the cultural differences between North and South America. Also, we discussed about the other details like working with indigenous students and accommodating their personal baggage and how we need to change and adapt to new situations and overcome different issues.
  • Then we visited the pediatric burn wing at the children’s hospital, so Chloe could meet with some of our beneficiary organizations. Seeing firsthand how much is the need for these kids and others in similar situation (HIV, cancer , abused, etc), was very emotional.
  • In the afternoon, we returned to Smiles Forever  facilities so Chloe could meet the rest of the staff and some of the students. We again met with different patients from community service. We exchanged ideas about founding projects and she will boost us with corporate donors once she gets back.
  • After her visit we took Chloe to the hotel and she expressed,  “I really appreciate the time you took to give me a tour and explain so much about your organization……now I understand what you guys do and how complicated it is to work down here.” She thinks that a small organization like Smiles Forever is really important to provide service for all those in need.

In return, we would like to say that Chloe is a wonderful field representative for GlobalGiving: she is caring, inquisitive, and responsive to the needs of our organization.  Chloe added she was sorry not to meet Nancy Clark, our Project Leader for the entire time we have worked with GlobalGiving for the betterment of our corner of the world. 

Smiles Forever Makes House Calls!

We have 16 Homes we Visit to bring Dental Screenings and Care, and we also pack up our whole mobile clinic and do "House Calls" to entire villages, esp. Ushpa Ushpa, Villa Tunari, and Morachata.

Our next ambitious "house call" will be a road trip in July to the tropical village of Ushpa Ushpa.

Smiles Forever is advancing to another chapter of community service. Many new organizations are finding out about our wonderful preventative and restorative care and are contacting us instead of us reaching out to others.

We work closely with organizations and parents training them to be on time and not to miss appointments. Completing all the antibiotics required for abscesses and completing the root canal therapy is vital. Working with a culture who has had little exposure to prevention can sometimes be frustrating. We solve this by being patient and extremely organized. All patients or organization leaders are given reminder calls prior to appointments. To prevent further decay we stress a 6-month recall for cleaning, exam and fluoride. All parents and staff of organizations are trained in preventative dental care techniques and provided dental services as well. We encourage toothbrushing and proper nutrition at home and in organizations and shelters.

This what our latest new organization had to say:

"Smiles Forever is an amazing organization to work with. We have learned so much about prevention of cavities and gum disease for the children as well as ourselves. When they work with the children they are so caring, gentle, and loving. They even call us at night to check and see if the children are in pain!"

Smiles Forever will receive an International Dental Hygienist Award in June in Switzerland
In June, Sandy will travel from Bolivia to be honored with a prestigious award for leading the way with her ground-breaking work in the 3rd world.  The Smiles Forever model of using education of indigenous women in the marketable skill of dental hygiene to bring better dental care to a nation is being recognized for excellence. You may remember Sandy and Smiles Forever were nominated last October in a conference in Victoria, B.C., and we are very proud to announce that she and the foundation have won.  Our hope is that our success in an extremely difficult environment can motivate others in similarly challenging countries to try and change lives and improve dental health in the process.
Summer Event Planning Underway:
Fresh from our fun-filled Meet & Greet with dental hygienist alumni of a Bolivian learning trip, in the local Seattle area, Smiles Forever  is saying, "Let's do this again!"  We are now planning a summertime event, perhaps sometime during the last weekend in July if all pans out.  This will be another opportunity to visit with the Founder & Executive Director Sandy Kemper and several members of her new board to exchange ideas.
As quickly as details are finalized, we will send out a Save-the-Date notice.
But do not wait for summertime, to share your ideas.  We are always here to listen, and comments may be sent to sandykemper@smilesforever.org. 
Put June 15th, a 50% matching day for our Superstar organization on your calendar. 

Sandy Kemper in Bolivian jacket receiving award
Sandy Kemper in Bolivian jacket receiving award
Beautiful flower in Bolivia
Beautiful flower in Bolivia's Tropical zone
Chloe from Global Giving
Chloe from Global Giving
Bolivian girl in pink with pigtails
Bolivian girl in pink with pigtails
Apr 25, 2016

Dental Instructor Joins our Smiles Forever Family

Katie Fleming with Amber and Lisa in jungle clinic
Katie Fleming with Amber and Lisa in jungle clinic

I am truly delighted to welcome Katie Fleming, RDH.BS to our Smiles Forever Board.  Our new board is a powerhouse of talent, dental professional experience, and forward-thinking committed individuals who together can bring Smiles Forever to a new level. The board is comprised of a Microsoft employee with an international studies masters degree, a dentist who has come to Bolivia several times, two college dental professors who have brought dental hygienist students to Bolivia, and young humanitarian-minded hygienists.  We also have a writer with finance expertise, a technical genius, and a key donor who has partnered with us on planning and executing Global Giving bonus days. This is our first in a mini-series of board introductions.  I will let Katie tell her own story.  ---- Sandy Kemper, Smiles Forever Founder and Executive Director

I Strongly Believe in the Mission of Smiles Forever & Willingly Dedicate Time from my Busy Life.
I accepted Sandy's invitation to become a Smiles Forever Bolivia Board of Trustees member because I believe in the mission of Smiles Forever; to change lives through education and help break the cycle of poverty.  I feel Smiles Forever continually works to achieve their mission; I believe in the power of education and know it helps change people’s lives, and I have personally experienced the heart-felt work Smiles Forever consistently delivers to young Bolivian women and Bolivian communities.   My parents and family gave me a blessed life because they worked very hard to provide for us and teach us how to be good people through example.  I try my best every day to give my own children the same wonderful childhood I had by believing in them and loving them with all my heart every day.  I also realize not everyone has the same opportunities I had, or that my children have.  Smiles Forever  supports and educates young Bolivian women who don’t have these opportunities, so they can break their own cycle of poverty and have a career in dental hygiene that can support their own families.  These women become community leaders and are able to teach others how education empowered them and helps build stronger families and communities.  As a Board member, I help raise awareness and money for Smiles Forever I feel passionate about the services Smiles Forever provide to their students and the communities they help serve.  I believe in the work Smiles Forever has been accomplishing for the last 15 years and that is why I am proud to be part of the Smiles Forever Team.

I am the mother of two amazing boys, ages 7 and 8, who inspire me to be my best every day. Together with my husband of 15 years, who is a military veteran and journeyman plumber, I am trying to raise my boys to be good world citizens, and I feel my involvement with Smiles Forever helps accomplish this. Being away from each other for 2+ weeks when I traveled to Bolivia was difficult for all of us, but I wanted to show them the importance of volunteering and supporting those in need.  I juggle a busy schedule but strive to balance work and play.  As a family we enjoy camping, hiking, swimming, playing sports, coaching baseball and spending time together.
I currently am the 2nd year lead dental hygiene professor at a highly respected community college where along with my teaching responsibilities, I am working to establish an annual study abroad trip to Bolivia.  I want others to have the same opportunity I had and my students had last summer when we volunteered with Smiles Forever.  I feel the service-learning based format that is inherent to study abroad trips is pivotal in helping others better understand how they can contribute to the "bigger picture" and make a difference in the world that they can feel good about.

When I traveled to Bolivia, I learned that help and support comes in different forms.  I feel very fortunate that I was able to experience first-hand the pure passion the people associated with Smiles Forever radiate. Upon reflection of my experience, I realize everyone discovered their own strengths at different moments.  For me, I realized how much work goes into planning, organizing, finding funding and executing the community and educational projects Smiles Forever sponsors every year.  I realized anyone can help by signing up to receive email and newsletter updates from Smiles Forever and contributing what they can.  Some might feel like they cannot help because they don’t have money to donate, but attending events, showing support and helping create awareness of the Smiles Forever Foundation and their need for financial support brings awareness to additional supporters. Smiles Forever is the example of community service that I will continue to support because I believe they help empower others and give people the opportunity for a better life. - Katie Fleming, RDH, BS, Smiles Forever Board Member

Please join me at our 1st social event of 2016:

Meet & Greet at Barrel Thief in Fremont District of Seattle on April 28th from 6-8 p.m.

Come meet me, Katie Fleming, and Founder & Executive Director Sandy Kemper, also others who have worked directly with Smiles Forever in Bolivia, including dental hygienists alumni.  This should be a fun evening of sharing stories and socializing for a cause.

Participate in Online Smiles Forever Auction for Barrel Thief Meet & Greet:  Active tonight through April 30th

www.biddingowl.com/smilesforever

 

 

 

 

 

Katie
Katie's students arriving at Bolivian airport
Bolivian woman at roadside market
Bolivian woman at roadside market
Ushpa Ushpa clinic with Katie Fleming
Ushpa Ushpa clinic with Katie Fleming's students
Katie with Seahawk flag gift
Katie with Seahawk flag gift
Smiles Forever
Smiles Forever's Sandy hosting group in her home
 

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