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Next time a charity asks for a contribution, ask them what else they're gonna do with it.

One organization has figured out a smart way to succeed that other charities may want to think about.

Next time a charity asks for a contribution, ask them what else they're gonna do with it.

Charitable organizations often struggle to find the money they need to continue their good work.

Not SmileTrain. Survival's been baked right in.

SmileTrain's mission is repairing cleft palates and lips in children around the world. Without them, these kids would never get these life-changing surgeries.


What's a cleft palate, anyway?

Your palate is the roof of your mouth, and a cleft occurs when the palate hasn't properly formed, leaving a split, a gap, in the palate.

A cleft typically goes all the way out, so there's often a gap in the lip, sometimes a break in the gum line, and there can be nothing there all the way up to the nose.

The thing is, surgery can fix these problems if the child has access to treatment. In lots of places, there aren't doctors or facilities or money to pay for operations.

Without surgeries, many of these kids barely stand a chance.

Their palates and lips make them look different.

And in many cultures, looking that different means you're automatically an outcast.

Even more seriously, they have trouble eating.

Cleft-palate babies often can't take a bottle because they lack the necessary suction because air escapes through their cleft. They don't get the nutrition they need to grow or even survive.

They have trouble talking.

Since cleft-palate kids can't control air in their mouths that well, speech is difficult. In some cultures, they're considered such lost causes that no one even tries to teach them to speak.

They get sick.

Chronic ear infections can be a persistent side effect of having a cleft palate. Having weak immune systems from eating issues doesn't help.

That's where SmileTrain comes in.

Two key ideas keep this charity in business.

First: Don't be a temporary solution.

SmileTrain doesn't just sweep into a country with foreign doctors and operate on whoever they have time for. They train local doctors in the latest techniques and help provide operating rooms. This results in motivated, well-trained, local surgeons who carry on the mission long after they've gone.

Second: Persuade local stakeholders that helping makes good business sense.

SmileTrain figured out how to make a compelling case to local governments that it costs more to have a population of budget-draining castoffs than to provide the care they need to become fully productive members of their communities. This has generated an exceptional amount of local government support — read: money — to pay for surgeries. If an organization has a worthwhile mission, they just have to learn how to make the case.

Putting these two things together may provide a workable model for other charities.

This video digs down into the strategy behind SmileTrain.

FULL DISCLOSURE: A SmileTrain-trained surgeon is probably responsible for my 4-year-old daughter's beautifully repaired cleft lip. (Her palate was repaired in the States.)

via Fox 5 / YouTube

Back in February, northern Virginia was experiencing freezing temperatures, so FOX 5 DC's Bob Barnard took to the streets to get the low down. His report opens with him having fun with some Leesburg locals and trying his hand at scraping ice off their parked cars.

But at about the 1:50 mark, he was interrupted by an unaccompanied puppy running down the street towards the news crew.

The dog had a collar but there was no owner in sight.

Barnard stopped everything he was doing to pick the dog up off the freezing road to keep it safe. "Forget the people we talked to earlier, I want to get to know this dog," he told his fellow reporters back in the warm newsroom.

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Courtesy of CeraVe
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"I love being a nurse because I have the honor of connecting with my patients during some of their best and some of their worst days and making a difference in their lives is among the most rewarding things that I can do in my own life" - Tenesia Richards, RN

From ushering new life into the world to holding the hand of a patient as they take their last breath, nurses are everyday heroes that deserve our respect and appreciation.

To give back to this community that is always giving so selflessly to others, CeraVe® put out a call to nurses to share their stories for a chance to be featured in Heroes Behind the Masks, a digital content series shining a light on nurses who go above and beyond to provide safe and quality care to patients and their communities.

First up: Tenesia Richards, a labor and delivery nurse working in New York City who, in addition to her regular job, started a community outreach program in a homeless shelter that houses expectant mothers for up to one year postpartum.

Tenesia | Heroes Behind the Masks presented by CeraVe www.youtube.com

Upon learning at a conference that black mothers in the U.S. die at three to four times the rate of white mothers, one of the widest of all racial disparities in women's health, Richards decided to take further action to help her community. She, along with a handful of fellow nurses, volunteered to provide antepartum, childbirth and postpartum education to the women living at the shelter. Additionally, they looked for other ways to boost the spirits of the residents, like throwing baby showers and bringing in guest speakers. When COVID-19 hit and in-person gatherings were no longer possible, Richards and her team found creative workarounds and created holiday care packages for the mothers instead.

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