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This National Volunteer Week, we are honoured to highlight some of our amazing program volunteers who are integral to all aspects of our work. Join us in recognizing and celebrating their commitment to providing complete comprehensive cleft care to the children and families we serve.  


Lisa Paton, volunteer, with child from Morocco
Lisa with a patient in Tangier, Morocco.


Lisa Paton has been volunteering as a Pre & Post Operative Nurse with Operation Smile since 2019. From Morocco to India, her passion lies with the opportunity to connect & support patients and families from around the world, “to give back in a way that’s truly meaningful.” With an upcoming program in Marrakech, Morocco, Lisa knows the moments that matter most are the ones with the patients.  

Pre & Post Operative Nurses like Lisa are responsible for patient admission, comprehensive pre-operative care, immediate post-operative care, and stabilization for discharge. Her attentive care not only provides the medical support patients need for recovery, but also the reassurance and comfort our patients & families deserve. The ability to volunteer with Operation Smile is the most rewarding experience in her nursing career, and for us, it’s having support from amazing volunteers like Lisa. 

Bernadette Sanchez, sitting with child from the Philippines, preparing them for what to expect during surgery.
Bernadette sitting with a patient in the Child Life room in Palawan, Philippines.


Bernadette Sanchez is one of our volunteer Psychosocial Care Providers. On our surgical programs, she supports children & families navigating hospital care by providing useful coping strategies to lessen the stress of preparing for surgery. From self-expression activities to exposure to the surgical process, Bernadette provides emotional support for families, while also encouraging positive child development.  

Bernadette is forever changed by her experience serving on the Palwan, Philippines program. Volunteering with highly skilled health providers like herself, a team bond was created over a shared passion to provide quality health care. Since her family is originally from the Philippines, she also felt a connection to the patients and families that she couldn’t fully put into words, undoubtedly becoming a volunteer experience she will never forget – “one of the highlights of my career.”  


Five female volunteers pictured during a surgical program in Morocco.
Lynda, second to the right, with Operation Smile volunteers in Morocco.

Lynda Van Vliet is one of our Pre & Post Operative Nurse volunteers, and over the past three years, she has volunteered on five different surgical programs in Morocco specifically. From Tangier to Marrakech to Casablanca, she has supported many programs, patients, and their families.  


From the moment a patient comes to us for screening, to when they are discharged, Lynda is there by the patients’ side ensuring they have the quality, comprehensive care we provide.  

Her memorable moments lie with the amazing Morocco team and Operation Smile’s value to treat every patient like they are family (because they are!). Her compassion and resilience are the driving force behind her volunteer work, and the connection with the Morocco team grows with each program she attends. “Behind every great woman is another great woman,” and we at Operation Smile agree that Lynda is one of those great women. 

Female volunteer with two young children with cleft and their father.
Candace is proud to work with this family to support the father and his two children.

Candace Myers
has volunteered on over 20 Operation Smile surgical programs as a
Speech Language Pathologist. She provides treatment, support, and care for children and adults who have difficulties with communication, or with eating, drinking, and swallowing.  


Candace recounts a memorable moment when a 3-year-old patient said the word ‘dad’ clearly for the first time. Excited, the young patient used her mom’s phone to call her father and share her progress – “Hi, DAD!”. With one session, Candace taught this child how to say a word she once avoided. 


Candace is supporting an upcoming educational surgical program in Bolivia and China. In both programs, she will support patients who will be receiving surgery and patients who have already received surgery and are scheduled for follow-up therapy sessions. She will also be mentoring new professionals to continue speech therapy in their home countries and building upon local capacity. The comprehensive care Operation Smile provides is more than a surgery – it’s a life–long journey for and with the patient.

Female nurse shows patient his new smile through a mirror.
Felicia shows a patient his new smile after surgery in Madagascar.

Felicia Hossman
has been one of our
Recovery Room Nurse volunteers since 2015, supporting programs in countries like the Dominican Republic, all the way to Madagascar. As a Recovery Room Nurse, her role is to monitor and care for patients after surgery and anesthesia treatments. She assesses vital signs, ensures patient comfort, and provides essential support during critical recovery periods.  


Felicia’s memorable moments are experiencing the patients’ and family members’ happiness post-surgery. From the first time a patient sees themselves in the mirror, after their surgery, to when their family enters the room to embrace their loved one, Felicia has been there by their side. Moments like these are unforgettable and life changing.  

Every Program Volunteer is Important


Professionals from around the world come together to volunteer their time and skillset for a life-changing moment – the moment a patient receives comprehensive surgical care for their cleft lip and/or palate.  


Operation Smile volunteer Cleft Surgeons are responsible for the preoperative diagnosis of the patient, for performing the operation, and for providing the patient with post-operative surgical care and treatment.  


In the operating room, Anesthesiologists evaluate, monitor, and supervise patient anesthesia care, ensuring optimal patient safety. With them, and the surgeons, are Operating Room Nurses who manage the overall nursing care in the operating room to help maintain a safe and comfortable environment for the patient.  


To all our incredible program volunteers – every moment you give matters to us and the patients and families we serve. Thank you for sharing these moments with us. Thank you for being the messengers who share the kindness and compassion of Canadians – and the skilled professionals who transform lives. This work is only possible because you give of your time, talent, and skills so selflessly. 


Every Moment Matters. Every Program Volunteer Matters. 


Thank you! 

Donors and Volunteers made this story possible. Thank you.