Summer 2020 Newsletter

Over the last ten years of trips with OWF, volunteers have shared countless breathtaking photos that truly capture our appreciation of the texture and vibrant culture of Guatemala and the relationships that we have collectively built over time. Especially during these last few months, we’ve had the time to review our photo library and savor abundant memories captured and shared by so many of you. It is no surprise to see that many in the dental profession are natural photographers! As you may know, we have recently launched Open Wide’s first fundraiser to collect and purchase critical dental and PPE supplies to stock our clinics in Guatemala. We are calling it our “While We Can’t Go” fund. To share our appreciation with our donors to this campaign, Shutterfly has donated 25 canvas prints, 25 poster prints and 25 print books to the first 75 donors who contribute $250 or more. Check out our photos available inside this issue and be inspired!

Since the COVID pandemic has forced the closures of clinics and borders, we have had to postpone volunteer trips and find new ways to help our Guatemalan partners across borders. Here’s some of what we’re doing:

Providing support to our Guatemalan dental teams and their communities on the frontlines of the pandemic by reaching into our stock of PPE and donating it to the broader communities. Replenishing our PPE stockpile in preparation for when the clinics reopened. Restocking dental supplies in preparation for when the clinics reopened. Collaborating with our Guatemalan dental directors to develop new COVID compliant procedures that will be ready to roll out when the clinics reopened. Working in collaboration with our Open Wide ambassadors to develop virtual training platforms for dentists because we can’t be there in person to mentor and train. Continuing the development of our SDF program – a groundbreaking treatment to prevent caries in young children.

Open Wide is what it is today because of your sustained support and for that, we are so grateful. Even while we can’t be in Guatemala during this temporary time, we are still making a difference.

U.S. dental students from University of California San Francisco PSI Omega have, for the last three years, committed to leading a team to volunteer with OWF in Guatemala. Unfortunately, this year’s trip was impacted by the travel restrictions so the group was not able to go. The disappointment was transformed into creativity when Courtney Nguyen created a message from her UCSF team to the OWF Peronia team in a heartfelt video message. . We appreciate this group’s commitment to OWF! We love seeing the participation of young U.S. dental students in the work of Open Wide.

This June, OWF Founders Glen and Lisa Wysel led a Zoom Ambassador Update where we had the opportunity to catch up on all that’s been going on with this dynamic group of Open Wide volunteers. Glen and Lisa also had the pleasure of welcoming three new ambassadors, Angela Mckinney, RDH, Dr. Frank Romano, & Candice Giotopoulos. The Open Wide Ambassador Program began out of the insight of our executive director Charity Bertenshaw. Charity noted that several of our volunteers, who were already making regular volunteer trips to Guatemala, wanted to do more. They had the ideas and were ready to offer more of their time, experience and pure generosity of heart to the work of Open Wide. In answer, the Open Wide Ambassador Program was launched in 2013 and has grown to a membership of 24. Via Zoom, it was exciting to hear about the Open Wide virtual education programs being created by a group of ambassadors in the areas of special needs, caries prevention and advanced restorative techniques. Especially while borders are closed but also after things open up again, virtual education is key to reaching dentists who treat underserved populations – wherever they are. SDF, was another topic on the agenda. Silver Diamine Fluoride is a ground breaking treatment that stops decay in primary teeth. In places like Guatemala, where access to a dentist is a rare opportunity, SDF is a life-changer. Led by one of our ambassadors, Angela McKinney, this program will be rolled out and ready to go when borders and clinics open up again. We also heard from one of our first ambassadors, Dr. Mike Johnson, who had the privilege of visiting a group of clinics in Kenya where he was able to learn more about the needs of dentists working with underserved populations. He took home a treasure chest of ideas and was able to leave some of his own experience and wisdom with his new connections in Kenya. At an ever-growing rate, Open Wide ambassadors are shaping the trajectory of our impact on oral health in communities of great need. We are grateful for every one of them!