Sharing Smiles is grateful for all our exceptional volunteers because our mission trips are only possible because of those who generously give their time and expertise to provide children with new smiles.
Today, we are honored to shine our volunteer spotlight on Maryam Dorri for her outstanding work helping children around the world. Maryam and her family originally emigrated from Iran in 1979 and settled in the Washington D.C. area. Throughout her 30-year career as a nurse helping patients close to home, Maryam discovered she also had a passion for helping children abroad.
Since 2007, Maryam has volunteered on 10 Sharing Smiles trips as a circulating nurse and scrub technician. In addition to her involvement on Sharing Smiles trips as a medical professional, Maryam has also helped organize the supply warehouse and pack medical suitcases for future
And that’s not all she does. Maryam is also part of the Association of Perioperative Registered Nurses (AORN), which facilitates the management of shared knowledge and teaches best practices within the field of perioperative nursing. In addition, Maryam volunteers at the Cardiovascular Institute at AdventHealth as an information liaison between recently operated patients and their families.
Even though she no longer attends mission trips, Maryam has found a new way to stay involved by sewing blankets and pediatric surgical gowns for all Sharing Smiles cleft lip and palate patients. On previous missions, Maryam would take toys for the patients, but quickly realized that other volunteers were doing the same. Then after seeing the pediatric patients in the cold operating room, she realized that what the children really needed were blankets and gowns. These items not only provide physical protection for the children by conserving their body heat during surgery, but they also provide emotional comfort and a sense of safety post-surgery.
“When I make blankets, I can picture the child in the blanket. I don’t need to go on a plane anymore, when a child uses my blanket, I feel that I am there.”
At almost 80 years old, Maryam has fond memories of her Sharing Smiles experiences. Throughout her many mission trips, she vividly remembers how the local partners in each country strived to make her feel special and welcome in their communities.
Her advice for others? “Go and volunteer at least once to see what is happening on the other side of the world.”