I had the great fortune of being able to volunteer with FTS last April in Guatemala and found it to be tremendously rewarding. I learned so much from the caring and talented volunteers who came from all over the country to assist this organization in treating the immensely deserving and grateful people of Guatemala. I know that we were signing up to help the underprivileged people of Guatemala to receive the dental care and cleft palate surgeries that they needed so desperately, but I came away from the experience with so much as well. I plan to continue supporting Free to Smile for many years to come.
I just went on a cleft lip/palate trip to Guatemala with Free to Smile, and was amazed at the work done by this incredible group of people. My role was photographer for the group, and I saw first-hand the joy on the parents' faces when they saw their child after surgery. To see them thanking the volunteers and telling them tearfully that they have changed their child's life and they can now have a future - it was an amazing sight to behold. As a mama of a cleft lip and palate child myself, I am so happy to see the dedication and love that goes into and pours forth from Free to Smile. So many thanks to all the volunteers for all that they do!
In April of 2015 I was invited to join the Free To Smile team in Guatemala. I'm a general dentist. My responsibility was to offer dental care to the supporting teams in Guatemala and their families. The experience was a delight. I worked with my dental assistant daughter and surgeon son. It was the experience of a lifetime. Watching particularly the mothers of these blessed children react when first seeing her child with the obvious defect corrected was priceless. Watching my little girl and my little boy bless the lives of these Guatemalan children was a lifetime moment. Will soon forget the moments. I shall never forget how I felt.
Mike Gailey, DDS MS
I have volunteered on every surgical trip Free to Smile has organized since 2013. Our goal on each of these trips has been to provide excellent medical care for children in need. Each of these children deserves the best chance at a happy, fulfilling life. Our incredible volunteers come together under challenging conditions to make this happen. I feel lucky to have found Free to Smile, and I am honored to donate my time, skills and dollars to help Free to Smile provide care for these children.
Free to Smile is a tremendous organization. I have volunteered numerous times with other groups and have had great experiences. However, my last trip to Guatemala with Free to Smile was something special. I have never seen a group come together so well and accomplish so much. The Free to Smile leadership is focused, kind, and enthusiastic. They are constantly trying to improve the superb care they already deliver. Their focus on helping children in need, and the sacrifices they make to do this are inspiring. I am grateful to be a part of this organization.
I learned of Free to Smile after I met the co-founders at our son's school. I will never forget how impressed I was to hear of their travels and works. Throughout the last five years, I've attended fundraisers and donated money to support their efforts. Last fall, I had the opportunity to travel to Ethiopia on a mission as the administrative role. It's difficult to find the words to explain how the trip changed my life. The group of people that run FTS and those that attend FTS trips are so selfless, compassionate, generous and loving. I realize there are much larger organizations that fund cleft lip and palette surgeries, but FTS is different. The volunteers pay their own way willingly and don't expect any financial support from the FTS fundraising. If you're looking to help children have a new life by correcting their cleft lip or palette, this is the organization to donate to. Every dollar you give truly changes a life.
I have had the pleasure of volunteering on multiple medical missions with Free To Smile. I look forward to every one of them. These medical missions are what keep me going through the year at my job back home. The board members, who participate on and organize the medical missions, truly care about and have a passion for what they are doing and that translates to all of the volunteers. Whether you're a new volunteer or seasoned, everyone is friendly and welcoming. Stacy is amazing! EVERY trip is well-organized and she makes sure everything runs smoothly and we have what we need to take care of all the children. I have volunteered on medical missions with other organizations and none have topped the quality and caring I have seen with Free To Smile. I am proud to be a part of such a wonderful cause with a fantastic Foundation.
I have gone on three mission trips with Free to Smile in the past year. This organization has truly changed my life along with the hundreds of children they help every year. Every trip has run smoothly and is adequately staffed. Free to smile truly puts forth its resources to make sure every child they serve has top notch care throughout the perioprative process. I can't say enough about Free to Smile. They are a cut above the rest!
I have the pleasure of volunteering with free to smile three to four times a year. It is a testament to the organization that we routinely have return volunteers who actively recruit new volunteers to further our mission. Byron and Stacy Henry, our founders, continue to show the same level of passion for helping the children of Latin America and African countries that they showed when the organization was initially founded. Every mission is meticulously planned and all volunteers are highly qualified for the position the will fulfill. I look forward to continuing to watch Free to Smile grow.
This small organization does amazing work. My son volunteered with their Guatemala cleft lip/ palate mission in 2013. It was absolutely amazing to see the lives they changed and the hope they gave these kids, young adults and families. They do all this with donations... I was so amazed that I have developed a program in which our small family business , the Dramm Corp.,promotes Free to Smile and donates financially... "springing Hope, Gardening for Smiles". Stacy and Byron Henry are the 'real deal', with their hearts in the right place:)
I volunteered ,for the first time,with FTS this past September and cannot wait go with this organization again. They were organized with our transportation accommodation and meals. And more so, the organization on the ground with the hospital and Tess UnLimited was flawless. It made the work us volunteers had to do so much smoother and easier.
I am a registered nurse and I have traveled to Guatemala with Free to Smile for the last 7 years. This is an extraordinary group of talented and caring individuals who come together a week at a time to change lives. The work they do, and the caring they show to each person they come in contact with is cherished by those they touch. They do more than surgery. They give children a future.
I love Free to Smile! I am a high schooler who loves the work FTS does to help children in third world countries. I can't go on a mission trip, but I still try to help with mailings and local fundraisers.
I volunteer regularly with Free to Smile Foundation. They are the best. Everything on a mission runs smoothly and the environment is always positive and fun. The work done by FTS is amazing. To be able to be there personally to see the changes that are being made in the lives of those in need and to see the look on parents faces when their baby is finally repaired is an experience I will always treasure.
The work that Free to Smile does is life-changing and incredible. I have traveled 3 times with FTS and have seen the faces of the parents and children of Guatemala and experienced with them the joy of finally having a cleft lip or palate fixed. Free to Smile Foundation and it’s Founders, Byron and Stacy Henry, put their whole hearts into this foundation and the work they do. Traveling with FTS is easy because they are so well-organized. The planning and execution of trips is nearly flawless, so that everyone is able to focus on the purpose of the trip and accomplishing our goal of helping those in need in severely under served regions. I plan to return to Guatemala with FTS in February and I can't wait!
I have been a volunteer surgeon with FTS for 3 years and multiple missions. Every time my respect and admiration of this organization, and the people behind it, continues to grow.
Nearly 3 years ago I wrote:
Many nonprofit charity groups are worthy of recognition, but Free To Smile stands apart from the rest. The people associated with this organization at every level exemplify selflessness and compassion, and it is evident in their work. They are focused and caring individuals who are driven to serve humanity on a global scale. I have participated as a surgeon on other mission trips, but my experience with Free To Smile has surpassed them all. I am proud of my association with this wonderful group of people, and look forward to many more opportunities to be a part of the Free To Smile team.
Those words are more true today than they were when I wrote them.
I went on my first mission to Guatemala in September 2013 as a non medically trained person. Each volunteer pays their own airfare, hotel and meals. Everything is well organized. The money you donate truly goes to the patient surgery and care. I have donated both time and money to Free To Smile and highly recommend them. Free to Smile changes the life of the patient, their family, the volunteer, making the world a little bit better.
I have been on several FTS mission trips as a translator. It has always been an honor and privilege to participate in the life changing procedures carried out by the FTS volunteers. I never imagined being able to use my language skills in such a meaningful way. I am grateful to have been involved with FTS, and look forward to my future involvement. I feel like I have gotten out as much or more than those that we have served. Dr. and Mrs. Henry are true heroes to the impoverished, and run a top notch organization with no agenda other than to serve those less fortunate. I thank them for the opportunity to help out.
I am a plastic surgeon and have been a volunteer with many organizations involved in repair of cleft lips and palates in Latin America and Africa. Free To Smile is unique in operating with the lowest possible overhead while recruiting the most enthusiastic volunteers that I have worked with and obtaining the best results that I have seen on any of my projects. It is a very special group with great leadership.
Where should I begin?????
As Co-Founder, Executive Director and a Board Member, it is obvious that I am passionate about our organization and our cause!! Entering our sixth year as a non-profit providing FREE cleft lip and cleft plate surgery and dental care to the impoverished, Free to Smile has been able to change the lives of 400 cleft children and 2,500 dental patients. We have taken nearly 350 volunteers on missions and worked with numerous others here locally. All of our volunteers are extremely invested in FTS as well. Each of them pay for their own airfare and their in country fees associated with each trip. There are no free rides which genuinely tells us that these volunteers REALLY want to be there and to help those FTS patients around the world! If you were to ask any of our volunteers, I think they would tell you Free to Smile is like a family-- that after spending a mission together there is a bond like no other. To me that is pretty special and that is why our volunteers return year after year for more missions or to help in other ways!
Free to Smile has been greatly supported by all private donations and grants. We receive nearly all our medical and dental supplies through donations from companies and other non-profits disbursing such supplies. This allows a donors money to truly help children and NOT to pay for large office buildings and grand overhead expenses. To us, this makes Free to Smile special!
I am a pediatric nurse and volunteered on a mission trip to Guatemala this past year. This experience with Free To Smile changed my life in more ways than one. It is hard to put into words what this organization does for those underprivileged and ostracized in this world. Free to Smile gives those in desperate need a chance to be part of their community and also gives them a second chance at life that they would not normally be granted. Their selfless giving shows such great compassion to these children and their families. To see the smiles on the children and their loved ones is one of the greatest gifts I've been given. Stacy and Byron Henry are truly great people who genuinely care to make a difference in this world. I am so privileged to be a firsthand witness to their unique gift to the world.
Free To Smile Foundation is definitely a GREAT Nonprofit and an incredible organization! I have been a special event volunteer with FTS for the past four years. FTS provides life-changing cleft lip and palate surgeries and dental services/education programs, which are improving the lives of so many people and their families throughout the world! FTS has a special place in our hearts, as our daughter was born with a cleft lip and palate 15 years ago. We know, first-hand, how incredibly challenging this birth defect can be with regards to feeding, overall nutrition, many surgeries, and socially, as well. To hear the stories about how some of the children and adults are shunned in these impoverished, third-world countries because of their deformity, makes us very sad. At the same time, we are very grateful for the wonderful care our daughter received here in the US and we are extremely impressed with the work of FTS in other countries around the globe to help these individuals with our same challenges. We know how much it means to receive help in repairing the cleft lip and palate and the positive results that affect many areas of someone's life - especially a child's life! The FTS Co-Founders, the FTS Board, and the mission and event volunteers have a genuine passion for wanting to help others and make a difference. I am very proud to be involved with such a wonderful organization.