5 MINUTES WITH…
Operation Smile Treasurer

Anna Khachatryan shares how students in her club are able to impact children all over the world by helping them receive necessary surgeries.

During+the+club+meetings%2C+we+do+service+projects+that+we+offer+volunteer+hours+for.+These+projects+consist+of+creating+sock+puppets+and+many+other+arts+and+crafts.

CREDIT: BEVERLY REGINO | THE MIRROR

During the club meetings, we do service projects that we offer volunteer hours for. These projects consist of creating sock puppets and many other arts and crafts.”

After learning about the Operation Smile club and their mission to help children with cleft palates and lips, junior Anna Khachatryan was determined to help these children in any way she could. By joining the club and running for the treasurer position, she is now able to make a difference in their lives. 

What is the mission of the club?

“The mission of Operation Smile is to raise awareness and money to perform safe surgeries for those who have cleft palates or cleft lips in developing countries, where healthcare is extremely expensive. A cleft palate and lip is an opening on the roof of the lip when a child’s mouth does not form properly during pregnancy.”

How did you first get involved with Operation Smile?

“I first got involved with Operation Smile when the Vice President, Tanni Nandi, told me about the club back in 2019. Once club meetings started, I decided to join them and that is when I realized how incredible of an organization it is. Anyone can still join the club now using the remind code ‘@vnhsops’ and we usually meet on Wednesdays during lunch.”

Who or what inspired you to take on this position in the club?

“Since I got so involved in the club and realized that I wanted to help make more of a difference, I decided to apply for the treasurer position when it became available. I had to be interviewed and submit a formal application, but that was nothing compared to the joy of getting the position and being able to work with an amazing team. Our club officers include Ann James, Tanni Nandi, Michaela Castro, Luigi Bartulo and myself, Anna Khachatryan. The Operation Smile club would not be this successful without them.”

Every three minutes, a child is born with a cleft lip or palate. (CREDIT: RAJ D0509 | WIKIPEDIA COMMONS)

How have you created an impact by being in Operation Smile?

“Being in Operation Smile, has opened my eyes to the struggles of individuals with cleft lips and palates. In developing countries, those who suffer with them are treated as outcasts and if they do not receive medical help as soon as possible, it may become deadly. These cleft lips and palates do not allow children to eat or drink, making the situation worse. Every three minutes, a child is born with a cleft lip or palate and millions of children all over the world need Operation Smile’s help. Through donations and spreading awareness, Operation Smile travels to developing countries and performs surgery on these patients for free. Within Operation Smile, students can join the Regional Leadership Council to help make a difference in these patients’ lives and have the opportunity to go on missions with a team of healthcare professionals and volunteers. During the club meetings, we do service projects that we offer volunteer hours for. These projects consist of creating sock puppets and many other arts and crafts which we send into Operation Smile headquarters to be given to the children on the missions before and after they get their surgery.”

What do you enjoy most about being treasurer?

“Personally, I enjoy handling the money and coming up with fundraising ideas, which is what a treasurer’s job consists of. However, we do help each other out when needed, so as an officer I do get to experience and learn what the other officers do as well. The work done behind the scenes of a club is extremely important and it helps students learn how to become better leaders.”

What has being in the club taught you?

“Being the treasurer of Operation Smile, I have learned so much about leadership and the organization itself. Teamwork and cooperation are key to having a successful club and we at Operation Smile value that. Learning how to have a fundraiser and the marketing needed, makes the whole process extremely educational. Being the treasurer comes with a lot of responsibility but it is worth it. Joining Operation Smile was one of my best decisions. I have had an opportunity to work with an incredible team, meet many new students and help make an impact on the world.”