Creating Smiles, Improving Lives

Interning with AS – Dedication

Interning with AS – Dedication it takes to run a nonprofit

By Alison Pagan

My name is Alison, and I am a Graduate Student at Concordia University in Austin, Texas. I started interning for Austin Smiles wanting to know what makes a nonprofit organization run and how a nonprofit works. What I have found is that there is never a task too small or too big. Everything from sealing envelopes full of Thank You Cards or reaching out to prospects about donations, it is all so important to the big picture. In the small amount of time that I have been with Austin Smiles, I have enjoyed learning about patient triage, deciding factors on how it is decided what city Austin Smiles will help next and learning about the patients. Everyone has a beautiful story that is so compelling and it so important to try and find out how the volunteers of Austin Smiles can help change their lives. I have had the opportunity to sit in on two triage calls with Renee, Ellise, the providers, and other medical staff along with other volunteers that traveled to El Salvador in February. Some patients were brand new to Austin Smiles and others were previous patients of Austin Smiles. Sitting in on the triages gave me a small insight on deciding factors for surgical candidates and what exactly could be done for these beautiful children. 

I also learned that there is so much more that comes with being a person born with a cleft lip and cleft palate. I am very eager to learn so much more and working with Austin Smiles has allowed me to find my why and my passion for what I what I want to do after I graduate. What I love most about Austin Smiles is their endless support for children and families, their access to resources as well as their support for children born with cleft lip and cleft palate and giving them the feeling that they are not alone. One of the most important things I have certainly learned from Austin Smiles is that making an organization like Austin Smiles run, it takes a team effort and a strong work ethic. Whether it is a task being done behind the scenes that many may not see, or a community of individuals and volunteers, to be involved with Austin Smiles, is a commitment that never stops giving.

Alison Pagan, Global Public Health Intern Spring 2022

Concordia University – Masters in Public Health


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

$250 covers the cost of one life-changing surgery

150 volunteers annually will change a child’s life forever

Austin Smiles - local services Camp Amigo photo

Medical Mission Trips

Austin Smiles goes on 2-3 medical mission trips annually

Austin Smiles - local services spring picnic photo

Our Local Services

Our local program support for children born with Cleft Lip and Palate in Texas

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