Work Life

Why Sharing Smiles is a Cause the Whole Family Gets Behind

Choose the health content that’s right for you, and get it delivered right in your inbox.

a photo of dr james garas and his son

Sharing Smiles is a program that provides healing and hope to disadvantaged children in selected countries through quality health care, education and training. By partnering with host country’s health care providers and civic leaders, we create smiles in three ways:

  1. Providing cleft lip and palate treatment

  1. Comprehensive dental care

  1. Individualized pediatric rehabilitation programs.

These lasting legacies ensure that children receive the care they need to live happy, hopeful lives.

Dr. Garas has been a longtime supporter of Sharing Smiles efforts in Central and South America. While he has supported this cause financially and attended trips in the past, Dr. Garas felt called to bring his son along for the next trip to Peru. He shared with us how impactful it was to make this cause a family affair.

“This was a great trip for many reasons. We did excellent work and provided high-quality care but also got to follow up with children the team had seen in the fall. We saw their progress and a major improvement in their life in just a short amount of time. It was beyond rewarding, probably a once in a lifetime opportunity for me to see my 16-year-old son pouring his heart and mind into this effort as well.”

When we asked Dr. Garas why he decided to include his son on this trip he mentioned that he wanted to be a physician like his Dad.

“He's sixteen and at the point in his life where he's maturing into a compassionate, conscientious and hardworking young man. He wasn't under my wing the whole time, I gave him space to work in different roles on the team. After the trip, he’s taken the momentum into other areas of his life. He's been motivated to do his best so he can bless others.”

As a parent himself, Dr. Garas mentioned the opportunity to help children in these countries is very humbling.

“Anyone that's different can get picked on when you’re young. Not only will these children be able to eat and speak with ease, but they're going to have an easier time with social relationships that are so important during this stage of life. I know many parents would do anything to give their child an opportunity for good health. It isn't often in your control, so the love of these parents is inspiring. They do whatever it takes to help, it's really a beautiful thing.”

Not only does the Sharing Smiles team help to heal smiles, but they also teach other physicians skills so they can continue the care after our team departs.

“We get to immediately changing lives on these trips, but then the organization builds a network where the care for these kids is ongoing. They are committed to the long-term health of these children, and I think that's what makes Sharing Smiles different than other organizations.”

There are more upcoming trips later this year. The teams truly rely on the support from our community to extend the healing ministry of Christ outside of the walls of AdventHealth. Generous donors and volunteers give the gift of a new smile to children in developing countries and help local health care providers establish long-term care. You too can make a gift or find information at

a collage of photos with DA. Garas

Recent Blogs

ed varnes
Volunteer of the Month | Ed Varnes
linda in honduras with child
The Global Reach of Generosity
Volunteer of the Month | Dave Walker and Lisa Bowen
ahu winner
Team Members Living Generously
Raising Hope
View More Articles