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Florida Hospital Sharing Smiles Medical Volunteers

POSTED BY: Peggy Smith

Florida Hospital Sharing Smiles provides healing and hope to children in developing countries. By collaborating with onsite medical professionals and Rotary Clubs we ensure these children receive the ongoing care needed to help them do what all children do best - smile.


Mexico: Campeche, Merida, Playa del Carmen, Villahermosa

Bolivia: Cochabamba

Peru: Tarapoto

Honduras: Tegucigalpa

Dominican Republic: Puerto Plata, Santo Domingo



Since 1996, I have participated in 39 mission trips in 16 different locations and I have performed well over 1,000 surgical procedures.  The rewards and benefits I have received from participating with the Sharing Smiles program have been far greater than the services I have been able to provide.  It’s been an absolute joy and privilege to have such an opportunity to participate in these surgical mission trips. 

Cooperation is key to the Sharing Smiles program.  Not only do we have the opportunity to share talents and resources with our cleft lip and palate patients to help them maximize their function and development, but we have the opportunity to share with our colleagues in our host countries. 

Sharing Smiles has helped to stimulate and enable our partners to provide continued needed services well beyond the short time period when we are working together during an individual trip.

It has been a special personal delight of mine to work with students and residents in training.  There are now 12 students who have worked with us and they are in medicine, including one student who plans to return to Merida, Mexico to continue cleft lip and palate care to his community.

Unquestionably, with every mission trip I have been on, I have received far more than I have given.  I hope to be able to continue to participate for many years to come.


When I arrived at the Mustard Seed Community in the Dominican Republic I saw children and caregivers with the faith to do what others might say would be impossible.  Children reached out to play and for a hug.  Caregivers provided children with special needs excellent care and a loving home.  As a physical therapist at Florida Hospital for Children, I am passionate about working with children every day to help them learn what kids are supposed to do: play and be kids.

While in the Dominican Republic, I remember working with one energetic boy.  He was a hard worker and he got upset when I tried to place him back in his wheelchair.  I had to promise I would bring him back to the mat to work again after circle time.  Working with the center’s physical therapist was rewarding as we developed new plans and goals for the children to grow stronger and develop their muscles and skills.

Max Lucado says, “No one can help everyone, but everyone can help someone.”  Thanks to Sharing Smiles, for a few days, I was able to reach outside my typical routine and touch the lives of children and their caregivers.  They have touched mine.


Sharing Smiles provided me in 2015 with the opportunity to participate in my first dental mission trip since dental school.  I have been returning to the Dominican Republic every year since.  On my recent trip, a sweet seven-year-old named, Jazmin, asked for a dental visit for her birthday!

She has six brothers and sisters, none of whom attend school this year because the family could not provide school supplies.  Jazmin’s neighbor brought her to the Mission Emmanuel dental clinic and never let go of Jazmin’s hand.  Jazmin’s smile never faded during her first dental experience.

I leave these mission trips each year with great satisfaction because there is nothing more rewarding than the huge smiles I get back from the children.  By giving our time and talents to show love for others, we receive in return a life changing experience and come away filled spiritually and emotionally.

Join us in Sharing Smiles with a gift.

Learn more about Sharing Smiles at