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Nonprofit recruiting dental volunteers for St. Lucia mission to provide needed care

April 14, 2016

By David Burger

Photo of Dr. Sherwin Shinnin St. Lucia in 2015
Volunteerism: Dr. Sherwin Shinn, the 2013 ADA Humanitarian Award recipient, poses with a patient in St. Lucia in 2015 as part of his mission with Great Shape!’s 1000 Smiles dental project.
Modesto, Calif. — The ADA Foundation is helping to get the word out about Great Shape!, a California-based nonprofit seeking dental volunteers to serve the underserved in St. Lucia this summer.

Great Shape! was founded in 1988 in response to the devastation in the Caribbean caused by Hurricane Gilbert. The organization's volunteers had primarily been active in Jamaica until inaugurating its 1000 Smiles dental project in St. Lucia in 2015.

"I was privileged to be part of the first wave of Great Shape! volunteers to deliver dental care to the wonderful people of St. Lucia," said Dr. C.R. Anderegg, a periodontist based in Washington state. "Like my many trips to Jamaica, I found a great need for care. There was so much enthusiasm in the community-based clinic where both volunteers and locals pitched in to provide examinations, dental education, extractions, fillings, cleaning, radiographs and most of all, much love. My only regret is we had to leave their beautiful island. We are going back this year."

Last year a group of 35 volunteers traveled to the St. Lucian communities of Marchand and Canaries to serve 507 residents, 180 children included. The team ended up providing 1,481 services, including 482 exams, 284 fillings, 146 cleanings, 178 extractions, 382 sealants and nine root canals, for a total value of $150,000.

Most Saint Lucians and Jamaicans have little access to dental care, according to Tiffany Rinaldi-Delaney of Great Shape!. In Jamaica there is just one public dentist for every 100,000 people, she said, and a healthy smile can be the difference between gaining employment in the tourist industry and no job at all.

Over the past 13 years, 1000 Smiles has provided dental care to 140,000 rural Jamaicans.
 
ADA Foundation logoDr. Sherwin Shinn, the 2013 ADA Humanitarian Award recipient and co-founder of the 1000 Smiles dental project, also traveled to St. Lucia in 2015 with Great Shape!, an organization he has worked with since its beginnings. "I encourage anyone who wants to have a wonderful tropical island experience in one of the most beautiful environments in the world to go to St. Lucia," Dr. Shinn said. "Anything and everything you can offer in way of help as dental professional or any other volunteer sharing of time and talent will be most appreciated."

Dental professionals including hygienists and dental assistants are needed, as well as nondental workers who can help with various jobs that include patient flow, sterilization and education.

The project dates for St. Lucia are July 22-31, and July 30-Aug. 8. All volunteers pay an $800 project fee and their own airfare.

This fall, the project will also serve the following areas in Jamaica: Negril, Ocho Rios, Montego Bay and Whitehouse. Limited spaces are available for Jamaica.

The application is online at greatshapeinc.org, and for more information call 1-510-893-1751 or email tiffanygsjamaica@gmail.com.

To learn more about international volunteerism and find an opportunity that is right for you, visit the ADA Foundation's international volunteer website internationalvolunteer.ADA.org.