When Austin Smiles first began their mission trips to El Salvador, there were two men who were instrumental in our success; one was Julio Gonzales (a local businessman) and the other was Dr. Roberto Pineta (a local orthodontist). Both men wanted to help their fellow countrymen and provide benevolent services to their people.
Austin Smiles has been fortunate to continue this relationship with both these men for over 25 years!
Fred Wilder, Rick Parker, Bill Davis, Roberto Pineda, and Julio Gonzales are pictured below in 1995. Fred, Rick and Bill are three of the twelve founding plastic surgeons of Austin Smiles.
Every year, Dr. Pineda works side by side with us to provide excellent health care to the children of El Salvador. To this day, Dr. Pineda continues to provide free orthodontic services to ALL the Austin Smiles patients. In addition, we provide surgical services to many of his patients that otherwise would not receive the necessary surgery. This year was no exception. Dr. Pineda was at our first day of triage evaluating all the patients with us and deciding what services each child needed. To those patients that didn’t need surgery but needed dental and orthodontia work, Dr. Pineda gave his card so they could come and see him and receive services.
Julio and his wife, Christy, hosted their annual pupusa party for all the Austin Smiles volunteers on Tuesday. It is always a special evening when the team can get out of the hotel environment and be in a “real authentic El Salvadoran home” with such hospitality, beauty and culture attached. Mr. Gonzales designed the amazing home filled with art, antiques, and hunting trophies. He has an impressive trophy room where he described for us the animals and some of his adventures.
It was fun to enjoy a relaxing evening and delicious homemade pupusas together. We sat outside until the rain started. Volunteer Adam Sawicki is trained as a professional chef, and he tried his hand at making a pupusa.