Creating Smiles, Improving Lives

“He’s smarter than I thought!” ~ Claire Fason

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”

~ Benjamin Franklin

Volunteering is often a transformative experience – we gain as much if not more than we give. This Austin Smiles trip no doubt will be a particularly transformative experience for the five of us who have been fortunate to include our own teenagers in this journey as fellow team members. To begin the week, I have asked each parent and child to share their hopes and expectations for the experience and look forward to sharing each pairs’ reflection late this week.


“…even the smallest action as a volunteer can make a significant difference for others” ~ Holly

Holly Clause & Anton Stoebner (Anesthesiologist & All-Around Volunteer)

Holly first served Austin Smiles as a Resident many years ago, and now returns as an integral part of the Medical Team. As Anton enters high school, Holly hopes this trip helps Anton understand that there are many people less fortunate than he is and that even the smallest action as a volunteer can make a significant difference for others.” Anton shared that he is eager to see his mom in action and specifically wants to understand how our medical team interacts with children to ease their fears and worries as they enter surgery.


“He’s smarter than I thought!” ~ Claire

Drake & Claire Fason (Anesthesiologist & All-Around Volunteer)

Drake welcomes this week of togetherness with his daughter, a rising high school junior. Like other parents, he hopes she develops an appreciation of what reality looks like in other countries, while having the chance to use and develop her Spanish-speaking skills, and recognizing the incredible value of being able to communicate in another language beyond the classroom.   Claire echoes her father’s goal of using and improving her Spanish skills while helping, especially assisting with the children and gaining insight into surgery.

Today she and Anton both expressed how impressive it was to see their parents in the OR.   Claire noted that it was almost surreal to watch her father during surgery today – noting at times he was “still goofy” but “gets serious really quick”. In fact, she commented after watching – “He’s smarter than I thought!”


“To volunteer is a way of life.” ~ Martha

Martha & James Mashburn (Mission Administrator & Admin Assistant)

Many of us view Martha as the Austin Smiles “Team Mom” – but this is the first time Martha has been accompanied by her own child while she leads the administrative aspects of the trip. Martha hopes James gains the perspective of a different culture, enjoys learning about the field of medicine and meeting new people, and most importantly to see that “to volunteer is a way of life.” James, also a rising high school senior, looks forward to experiencing all that he has heard about from his mother – from a new culture to the medical field, and noted that this is probably the most valuable way he could spend a week of his summer.

" be around purposeful people" ~ Pam

“…to be around purposeful people” ~ Pam

Pam and Graham Hults (Photographer & Videographer)

Pam, a professional photographer, and her son, Graham, a high school senior are working together to document our trip with photographs and video.   Pam is excited to introduce Graham to the world outside of the US and most importantly “to be around purposeful people.” Graham, a high school senior, expects this trip will teach him about leadership and how to manage something completely unfamiliar – a critical life skill.

Cathy & Grant McHorse (Blogger & Surgical Support) 1webMy role is to capture and share the stories of this trip. Unlike the other parents who are sharing their professional skills, I am in a role that somewhat stretches my comfort zone and look forward to the challenge. I also look forward to seeing Grant support the surgical team this week. We are very thankful for the medical staff who have embraced his interest in medicine and invited him to observe and ask questions. Grant, a rising college sophomore, is looking forward to this exposure to the practice of medicine while navigating  in a new cultural and language.

Without a doubt, each member of the Austin Smiles El Salvador team below will not only make a huge impact on the families served here in El Salvador this week, but they are also setting an outstanding example for these young volunteers. At the same time, it was evident on even this first day that our youngest team members are more than eager to jump in and help wherever necessary – they are certainly not just along for the ride.


Austin Smiles Mission Team El Salvador 2015

Mission Team

Team Leader: Pat Beckham

Mission Director: Leilani Briseño

Mission Administrator: Martha Mashburn

Anesthesia Team Leader: John Hatridge

Anesthesiologists:  Holly Clause, Drake Fason,  Michael Lin, Keller Matthews

Plastic Surgeons:  Pat Beckham, Chili Robinson, John Teichgraeber, Ray Harshbarger

Plastic Surgery Residents: Rene Myers, Jacqueline Wegge

CST/Scrub: Theresa Vela Royal, Sandy Resendez, Jehona Tafilaj

RN Circulators:  Linda Morrow, Lya Macaya, Rosemeire Sawyer

PACU (Recovery Room) RNs:  Daira Wilson, Tanisha Flowers, Kimberly Zachary, Jennifer Zachary

Post‐Op RNs:  Elizabeth Stephens & Angie Engirt

Pre‐Operative/Triage MD: Quint Barnes

Pre-Operative/Triage:  NP – Laura Guerrero & PA – Jamie Sun

Dentist‐ Tom Sentz

Speech Pathologist-  Alisa Baron

Surgical Support -Instruments:  Grant McHorse

Spanish Translator:  Monique Robinson

Photographer:  Pam Hults

Videographer: Graham Hults
Admin Assistant/Computer: James Washburn

All-Around Non-Medical Volunteers:  Teri & Del Waters, Christian Schley, Claire Fason, Anton Stoebner

Blogger: Cathy McHorse

1 in 700 children are born with a cleft lip or palate

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