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1000 Smiles readies for another year of Caribbean service

January 29, 2018

By David Burger

Photo of Dr. Nguyen treating a patient
Working together: Dr. Nam Michelle Nguyen, right, treats a patient during a 1000 Smiles project in St. Lucia in 2017 with pre-dental student Vrinda Shah, assisting.
Gig Harbor, Wash. — Dr. Sherwin R. Shinn is leading the call for much-needed volunteers to continue the mission of Great Shape!'s 1000 Smiles project.

Great Shape!, a California-based nonprofit that operates the 1000 Smiles volunteer dental project in the Caribbean, had primarily been active in Jamaica until expanding 1000 Smiles to St. Lucia in 2015. The project was founded by Dr. Shinn, recipient of the 2013 ADA Humanitarian Award, and Joseph Wright 16 years ago.

"This kind of experience provides the maximum amount of fulfillment," said Dr. Shinn. "We need anybody that wants to volunteer."

While the humanitarian trips are dental missions, volunteers are dental professionals and nondental people alike: dentists, hygienists, assistants, front desk staff, family members, friends and anyone who wants to serve others in need, Dr. Shinn said.

Photo of Dr. Shinn treating a patient
Thumbs up: Dr. Sherwin Shinn, top, the cofounder of the 1000 Smiles project, poses with a patient during a 2012 humanitarian trip to Jamaica.
Volunteers are needed for the weeks of July 20-29 and July 28-Aug 6. Each participant must pay airfare, an $850 project fee and supplies they'll need. All-inclusive accommodations at Sandals Resorts and in-country transportation are free, compliments of a partnership with the Sandals Foundation.

In Jamaica, where there is just one dentist for every 100,000 people, according to Dr. Shinn, volunteers serve in the parishes surrounding Negril, Ocho Rios, Montego Bay, and Whitehouse. In St. Lucia, volunteers will serve communities in and near Castries.

Over its nearly two decades of existence, 1000 Smiles has served more than 250,000 patients, Dr. Shinn said. In 2017, more than 26,000 people benefitted from the dental project, with services that included X-ray examinations, cleanings, fillings, extractions, sealants, root canals, dentures and oral health education.

"If you haven't done it, you don't know what you're missing," he said. "You learn things that no amount of money can buy."

To learn more or fill out an application, visit greatshapeinc.org or call 1-510-893-1751.

To learn more about international volunteering and explore international volunteer opportunities, visit the ADA Foundation's website.