Operation SmileInside Lydia Hearst's Mission Trip to Panama
How did you first become involved with Operation Smile?
I first became involved 13 years ago when I volunteered to help stuff envelopes for the Smile Gala. Since then, I've been on a few volunteer missions to Egypt and Panama. Working with Operation Smile has been a completely life-altering experience for me. It is an organization I am truly passionate about and grateful to be a part of...
Tell us about these missions...
I spoke with distraught parents who were unable to feed their starving babies and with children, who were ostracized at school for looking different. When a child’s smile is healed, it does more than fix his or her life. It brings positive change to the family as a whole, which brings positive change to the entire community. This ripple effect miraculously changes the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.
“Each and every one of us has the ability to bring hope and give smiles.”
What was the most rewarding part about these trips?
There is no feeling more rewarding and no emotion more powerful than being present as children are reunited with their parents or when they look in the mirror for the first time after their procedure. Those collective smiles will travel with me forever. It really is remarkable how we all can make a difference in the life of a child.
Why is this cause important to you?
Operation Smile is a solution that not only saves but changes the life of a child forever. The charity now works in more than 60 countries, providing free surgery—and ongoing post-op treatment such as speech therapy, dental care, nutrition counseling and psycho-social support—for children whose parents could never otherwise afford it. Each and every one of us has the ability to bring hope and give smiles. I never knew my heart could hold so much love before joining Operation Smile.