Honoree Tina Hollcroft w/her mother and grandmother
Thanks for Supporting the Gala!
The ninth annual Volunteer Appreciation Gala, held on February 22, 2014 at the W Hotel in San Francisco, was the most successful event in all of Alliance for Smiles’ history.
Over 225 guests arrived ready to party, celebrate, and honor those individuals who give of their talents so generously to the work of repairing broken smiles.
The evening began with a great cocktail party and silent auction. That was followed by dinner and a live auction, conducted by Jim Patrick with such popular items as two donated stays in Hawaii – one at the ever popular home of John Goings on Kauai and the second at a spectacular Molokai island estate.
Once again Lisa and Johnny Scopazzi offered their Five Stars Yacht for a cruise on the Bay for 30 special guests along with great food and wine.
The most important event of the evening was the awarding of the three AfS awards to recognize donors and volunteers. The John Uth Memorial Award was given to the Rotary Club of Wanchai Hong Kong for its continued generosity over the last nine years. When AfS first began this club raised over $100,000 to support missions.
The Volunteer of the Year Award went to Dr. Chih-Chen Fang, AfS lead anesthesiologist from Kaiser Sacramento and an AfS Board Member. To celebrate, Dr. Fang brought 50 of his closest friends from Sacramento who cheered wildly on the presentation of his award.
AfS’ most prestigious award, The Distinguished Service Award, went to Tina Hollcroft. After an emotional introduction by her co-volunteer, Barbara Fisher, Tina gave a heartwarming speech recounting her experiences with AfS and her belief in the work being done by all the volunteers.
Tina has put in countless hours dedicated to developing missions to difficult regions of the world and to raising funds to support these missions.
Tina’s speech so inspired the audience that when asked to step to the plate and donate directly to mission work, over $60,000 was raised in five minutes! AfS sends its thanks to all the generous supporters.
The formal part of the evening being over, the attendees swung out to the floor to dance the rest of the night away with DJ Dave Crosby directing the music. AfS extends its appreciation to everyone who participated in the event and to all of the generous businesses and individuals who donated items for the live and silent auctions.
Trip Report: Yangon, Myanmar
This March, we completed our first mission to Myanmar, a country in Southeast Asia with a population of over 60 million. The team was made up of seasoned mission veterans (the surgeons alone have been on a combined total of over 60 missions) and worked together like a well oiled machine. During the two week mission, the team completed 100 surgeries—mostly lips.
One poignant story from this mission is that of the three Saw brothers. Mission photographer Gretchen Wustrack writes:
The Saw brothers have stolen our hearts. Today we operated on all three and they are doing very well. They travelled six hours by car from the rice growing village of Shwe Kyin for these procedures. A family friend, Mrs. Naw, heard about the AfS mission and made arrangements to bring the boys here to Yangon.
We asked her what these operations mean for the family. She said these boys don’t go to school anymore.
They have been bullied by other kids their whole lives because of their cleft lips. So when money got tight for the family, it was these three (of 8 children) that were pulled from school…Mrs. Naw says these operations will help them grow into confident adults with new opportunities in life.
Maybe even a return to school.
A big thank you to Mission Director Tina Hollcroft, all of our medical and non-medical volunteers, Victoria Hospital, the Sacramento Regional Community Foundation, James and Frederica Meindl, Dorothy Ferreira, Wilber Breseman, Wakelee United Methodist Church, David and Stacey High, and all of our donors and supporters.
Trip Report: Weining, China
The city of Weining in the Guizhou Province of China was the location for the second medical mission of 2014 for the Alliance for Smiles Team. Weining, by Chinese standards, is a small city with 1.1 million inhabitants. It is located in a remote region of the province which is the reason why many of the patients, although teens, had not received any surgery, even on their cleft lips.
The AfS team once again partnered with the China Population Welfare Foundation and the Family Planning Commission to find, pre-screen, and house the patients. Many had thought there would be no help for them – ever.
There were the normal heartbreaking stories on the mission. In one instance, the team found a teenage girl crying in a corner during the opening clinic. She had come alone because her father did not approve of her having surgery, due to the fact that several of his other children had died young and he did not want to lose her, even though having a cleft lip left her isolated.
Our partners rallied and after a few days, having talked to the father and giving him assurance that his daughter would be all right, she returned to the hospital and had a successful operation. Please see her before and after photos on the top right.
This is just one of the many stories the team heard during its two week stay. Amazingly enough, with just two plastic surgeons, 121 patients were treated. When commenting on their experiences, most team members noted the wonderful involvement of the local hospital staff in the entire process and their desire to support and learn from the AfS team.
Their enthusiasm and willing-ness to work many long hours made the mission an extremely fulfilling one. This was a huge achievement from a dedicated team of volunteers.
Spotlight on Rotary Support of Missions
Alliance for Smiles wants to acknowledge the fantastic support that it has received from Rotarians and Rotary Clubs and Districts since its first day almost 10 years ago. Founded by six members of the Rotary Club of San Francisco, Alliance for Smiles’ roots spring from a commitment to Service Above Self and the Building of Bridges of International Understanding and Goodwill.
Big kudos go to our Rotarian supporters across the world – from the United States to Hong Kong to Taiwan to Bangladesh, the Philippines and the African nations of Nigeria and Ghana – all working together to make a difference and change children’s futures. These are individuals and clubs who have raised funds and maintained enthusiasm over the years. They are integral to our success.
We thank our board members, all of them volunteers, who continue to give of their time and funds to develop our programs. Of the fourteen board members, eight are active Rotarians. On our board we have representation from across the United States and even from Bangladesh.They take on huge tasks such as developing our China program with Dr. Colin Wong in charge, and our outreach to Africa, Bangladesh, The Philippines and recently Myanmar with Barbara Fisher and Tina Hollcroft at the helm.
Rotary has changed its grant structure, and our Rotarian team from Greene and Putnam Counties back in Georgia wrote and won a Vocational Training Team Grant for the September 2013 mission to Tanzania; they are also writing a grant for Nigeria.
Aliena Yang of the Rotary Club of Kingspark spearheaded another grant joining 24 Rotary Clubs in four countries (Hong Kong, Taiwan, The United States and Thailand) to join in the effort to raise over $100,000 for training missions to China.
The Rotary Clubs of San Francisco and Mill Valley, California participated significantly in this exceptional grant.
Rotarian Howard Ho from Taipei is the motivator of business leaders from Wenzhou, China inspiring them to fund one to two missions a year in China. Individual Clubs such as Fairbanks Alaska with Doug Schrage and Jack Randolph raised over $17,500 towards the Weining China mission; and Charlotte Meade from Lemoore Rotary added more support. The Rotary Club of Wanchai is an anchor in Hong Kong as well.