Repairing facial deformities nonprofit’s focus

Todd Cohen

GREENSBORO, N.C. — In Honduras, Operation Smile operates a comprehensive care center that is open for business every day.

The center provides pre-operative care for kids awaiting surgery to repair cleft lips and cleft palates.

It also provides nutrition counseling, dental work, speech therapy, as well as a health clinic, as well as training for medical volunteers and biomedical technicians.

Operation Smile, which is based in Norfolk, Va., has operated a regional office in Greensboro since 1990.

Headed by Rachel Moore, the international group’s major gift officer for the Carolinas and Latin American development, the local office aims to raise $100,000 on Feb. 20 at its second annual “Dancing with the Carolina Stars” fundraising event.

The event, to be held at Revolution Mills Studio beginning at 7:30 p.m., will feature local celebrities competing for two prizes, one based on technical skills, the other based on total number of votes.

Celebrities who will be taking part include Jack Murphy of 107.5 KZL; Chris Kelly of WKRR, Rock 92; Zack Matheny, a member of the Greensboro City Council; and country singer Lisa Dames.

Registration information is available at

Founded in 1982 by Bill Magee, a dentist and plastic surgeon, and his wife, Cathy Magee, a nurse and social worker, Operation Smile operates in 51 countries and serves 12,000 to 15,000 children a year.

Each year, 200,000 children throughout the world are born with a cleft lip or cleft palate, which together are the world’s fourth-most-common birth defect.

Operating with an annual budget totaling nearly $55.9 million in cash and in-kind contributions the fiscal year ended June 30, 2009, Operation Smile provides free surgery for children, mobilizing volunteer teams from throughout the world to work in developing countries and existing hot spots.

The nonprofit also provides education programs for local medical staff in countries where it operates, teaching topics such as sterile operating-room techniques, surgical techniques and post-operative care.

The American Heart Association has certified Operation Smile to train instructors and offer courses in basic life support, advanced cardiac life support, and pediatric advanced life support.

The group provides medical equipment for hospitals and medical foundations it has created, including 13 in Latin American.

And now it is building comprehensive care centers like the one in Honduras, and trying to raise $600,000 to $750,000 to develop each center, depending on local costs.

Overall, Operation Smile receives over $26 million a year in donated services and supplies, over $22 million in donations, $5.5 million in corporate and foundation support, and $1.2 million from other revenue sources.

Beth Marshall, who founded the Carolinas chapter, lives in Greensboro and is Cathy Magee’s sister, serves on a voluntary basis as senior executive adviser to Operation Smile.

Moore, who recently moved to Greensboro from the organization’s headquarters in Norfolk to head the local chapter, says the main responsibilities of the local office are to raise funds and help recruit medical and non-medical volunteers for the worldwide operation.

The Greensboro office serves the Carolinas, Georgia, Tennessee, Florida, the Caribbean and Latin America.

It also provides care for local patients through partnerships with Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center, Forsyth Medical Center and UNC Hospitals.

Operation Smile, which since the Carolinas chapter was founded has provided care for 75 patients born with facial deformities, pays for the use of those facilities, with surgeons and anesthesiologists donating their time.

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