Our World | September 18, 2013
Since 2012, we’ve supported the efforts of Global Dental Relief, donating nearly $150,000 to support the organization’s efforts in bringing much-needed dental care to children living in Nepal, Guatemala, Vietnam and Kenya, among other areas of the world. These children are often living in pain and would otherwise never have the opportunity to see a dentist.
Our CEO John Reed first met the cofounder, Laurie Matthews, in 2011 and immediately enlisted to volunteer at the Nepal clinic where he administered fluoride treatments to over 600 eager (and we mean eager!) children. We recently sat down with Laurie to talk more about Global Dental Relief, the clinics she helps coordinate on the other side of the world, the children they help and treat and the volunteers like John that remain so committed.
Tell us about the roots of the organization.
I began with a career in public policy and found myself searching for ways to make a difference. I went on a trip with a dentist and discovered the staggering need for dental care around the world.
My cofounder, Kim Troggio, was an international travel guide at the time and wanted to make a more positive impact in the cultures she experienced. So, we met, started brainstorming and found ourselves preparing for a trip to Nepal.
So what was that first trip like?
We went up in the Himalayas with a team of dentists, hygienists and non-dental workers. Let’s say, there was a lot to learn. We spent that first trip running back and forth between good power sources. At night, we even slept in a field of yaks! Yaks aren’t that scary, but they had a habit of wandering away with our equipment (we used them to carry everything!).
What a culture shock!
Yes. But it was incredibly inspiring too. The Sherpa children just stole our hearts. They were so stoic and brave. They would sit up and thank us, even after long hours in that dental chair. You’re never at arm’s length from the people you help.
How did you meet John Reed?
One of the Arhaus team members suggested we meet. He signed up right away for a dental clinic! And he was right there with us, applying fluoride for six full days in the mountains of Nepal. It’s funny, for those eight hours in the day, his whole world became one child at a time. He was the last stop before the kids left to get their sticker rewards, so they were really excited to see him.
After that trip, John decided to continue to support us. As a dedicated father himself, he has a real investment in helping children from around the world. And the difference has been dramatic since he and his company have joined our mission—we’ve been able to expand to four to five clinics a year. We expect to increase this number of clinics by 50 percent in 2014.
In all of your experiences, which have you found to be the most rewarding?
My very favorite thing about each trip is that first moment when you see the kids all lined up. For them, it’s about these amazing machines and the people who help stop the pain. And we always exchange the universal gesture—high fives all around.
Want to help? Learn more here.