Katherine's Service Missions

I hope that you are having a good new year and are surviving the cold and snow. I am a junior at Norfolk Academy, where I have been very involved in service. I am so fortunate to live a life in which I do not have to worry about shelter, my next meal, my education, or access to medical treatment. The reality is many people in our world do worry about these things in their life. Through my involvement in service clubs at Norfolk Academy I have the opportunity to be directly involved in supporting people with real needs.  I am very excited to be going on missions with both Operation Smile and Outreach 360 this year.

I became involved in our local chapter of Operation Smile in eighth grade. As you may know, Operation Smile is a private, non-profit organization that devotes itself to providing medical care and reconstructive surgery to children and young adults in low to middle income countries and the United States. Operation Smile focuses on providing free surgery for children with cleft lip, cleft palate and other facial deformities. My involvement with the organization has been mainly through our high school club, which focuses on raising awareness and fundraising for surgeries. A surgery costs about $240.00, takes approximately 45 minutes and can change a child’s life forever. Operation Smile currently has a presence in over 60 countries, including Ecuador, China, Kenya, the Philippines, and many more. (For more information, I encourage you to visit the website at www.operationsmile.org)

During the summer of 2013 I attended the Operation Smile International Student Leadership Conference in Norfolk, VA and during the summer of 2014 I attended a similar conference in Limerick, Ireland. The goal of ISLC is to educate students on the value of service within their communities and help them establish a lifetime of giving to others. While at both ISLC’s I listened to many inspiring keynote speakers, participated in team building activities, competed in field games, and completed a service project for future Operation Smile patients. This summer I will be traveling to Operation Smile’s 24th International Student Leadership Conference at Chapman University in Orange County, California. About 600 students will gather from at least 25 different countries to become better leaders.

I will be going on an Operation Smile medical mission later this year. As a part of the Student Education Team, I will be responsible for teaching burn care and prevention, dental hygiene, nutrition, oral rehydration therapy and other health care basics at local hospitals, schools and orphanages. I will also be spending time with patients before and after surgeries.

I also have the amazing opportunity to go on a service-learning trip June 6-13 to Monte Cristi in the Dominican Republic with the organization Outreach 360. Outreach360’s Service Program in Monte Cristi focuses on education for children as a sustainable solution to many of the issues of rural poverty. By providing capacity building programs that meet local needs, Outreach360 volunteers play an important role in creating opportunities for disadvantaged children to overcome the challenges of poverty and transform their own lives. As a volunteer in Monte Cristi, I will take on the role of a teacher, primarily teaching English in their full-time programs with local partner schools. Fourteen other students and two chaperones from Norfolk Academy will be traveling with me on this trip. (For more information about Outreach360, I encourage you to visit their website at www.outreach360.org)

I am looking for donations to support both my travel expenses and to help purchase supplies for educating and entertaining the children. Feel free to contact me if you would like to  directly donate some of the supplies!

I am very excited for the experiences and learning I will gain from these trips this year. Thank you for your time and support. Please contact me with any questions.

Sincerely,
Katherine Gill
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Organizer

Katherine Gill 
Organizer
Virginia Beach, VA
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