Tag Archives: Giving Back

RealSelf Announces Partnership to Support Training and Mentoring of Female Surgeons in Africa

RealSelf, the most trusted online destination to get informed about elective cosmetic treatments and find the right provider, announced a partnership with Mission: Restore to support the next generation of female surgeons in Africa. The first initiative is the Women in Surgery campaign, which provides training to fifteen surgeons who seek to advance their skills in reconstructive surgery. RealSelf is matching up to $15,000 in new donations to the campaign through October 31.

Through the matching grant from RealSelf, funds will support East African female surgeons’ access to highly focused hands-on surgical training, mentorship and grant opportunities, and access to regional conferences so they can further their impact in the surgical field.

“RealSelf has a commitment to supporting doctors who deliver reconstructive care in underserved communities around the world,” said RealSelf Founder and CEO Tom Seery. “We are proud to support a campaign that provides training and mentorship to female surgeons and highlights the powerful work they’re doing to bring reconstructive care, and confidence, to patients who need it most.”

Both Mission: Restore and RealSelf recognize that closing the gender gap in surgery is not only about equality for women, but is one of the most impactful and effective ways to meet the global surgical need. This partnership builds on other philanthropic efforts by RealSelf, including the RealSelf Fellowship Program, which awards funding to medical professionals who donate their time to deliver medical care and training to vulnerable populations around the world.

“We work with amazing female surgeons in East Africa every day, and we see the impact they have on their communities. With partners like RealSelf we can continue to support these women and recruit the next generation of surgeons,” said Executive Director of Mission: Restore Karina Nagin.

To learn more or donate to the Women in Surgery campaign, please visit: Generosity.com/medical-fundraising/women-in-global-surgery

About RealSelf

RealSelf is the largest online marketplace for people to learn and share experiences about elective cosmetic procedures and connect with the right providers. Offering millions of photos and medical expert answers, 10 million people visit RealSelf each month to find out which treatments and providers live up to their promise of being “Worth It.” From simple skincare to highly considered cosmetic surgery, RealSelf makes it easy to discover what’s possible and find the right provider.

About Mission: Restore

Mission: Restore is a global health non-profit increasing the capacity of surgeons in developing countries through training and mentorship. We specialize in reconstructive surgery and create a sustainable infrastructure in which local surgeons have the knowledge, skills and support they need to treat debilitating injuries in their own communities.

RealSelf Fellow Teaches Through Surgery in Vietnam

When Dr. Joseph Gruss set out on a recent humanitarian medical trip to Vietnam, he did so not expecting to spend much, if any, time in the operating room. The trip was designed to be a teaching trip, where he could connect with local surgeons and give lectures. The operating room turned out to be the perfect classroom.

“The problem is when you get to these countries, a lot of the local people don’t speak good English, so it’s really hard to teach all the time without translators,” Dr. Gruss said in an interview with RealSelf. “I found the best way to teach was in the operating room.”

And teach he did. A lot.

“Even though I was not supposed to do many surgeries … I eventually did five cases a day for five days,” Dr. Gruss said. “To do five major cases in a day is absolutely impossible in the U.S.”

Dr. Gruss explains a procedure in the operating room. Photo via ReSurge.

Most of the patients were children in need of facial reconstruction. The majority of the surgeries were to repair cleft lips or cleft palates. Dr. Gruss said it would take at least a month in the United States to perform as many surgeries as he did in five days. He credited the efficiency of the process in Vietnam. From the nurses and anesthesiologists who got patients set up quickly, to the lack of road blocks in the process that doctors often face in the United States.

“Myself and my resident were actually blown away by how efficient the operating rooms run there,” Dr. Gruss said.

Dr. Gruss noted that while the process is much quicker than it is in the United States, it isn’t because of a lack of safety. All of the appropriate safety measures are taken with each patient. Dr. Gruss said the level of care in Vietnam was fairly sophisticated compared to many countries. There just isn’t enough of it. He visited one of the few major hospitals. Many patients live long distances away and struggle to travel for the care they need.

Dr. Gruss made this trip with a group from ReSurge, who are working to expand and raise the level of care in countries like Vietnam. He did so with a sponsorship from RealSelf as one of the members of the initial class for the RealSelf Fellowship. RealSelf Fellows are awarded $7,500 to help fund nonprofit-sponsored humanitarian trips with the potential to further the RealSelf mission to bring confidence to people worldwide.

He is planning a return trip to Vietnam, and hoping to be able to see some of the patients he operated on.

Until then, he’s continuing to do what he initially set out to do; teach. He has maintained relationships with some of the doctors he met in Vietnam, and frequently answers their questions via email.

Learn more about the RealSelf Fellowship and how to apply here.

RealSelf’s Volunteering Day at the Treehouse Warehouse

RealSelf employees recently put their sorting, folding, packing, and tagging skills to the test during an afternoon volunteering in the Treehouse warehouse.

Treehouse’s mission is to bring equity for youth in foster care. That includes providing the kids with the academic support they need to graduate from high school at the same rate as their peers. The impact of the effort has been significant. Washington youth in foster care who aren’t in the Treehouse program have a 5-year high school graduation rate of 49%. The rate for those in the program jumps to 89% — above the Washington state average rate of 82%.

A huge part of the effort is an annual back-to-school drive that helps supply youth in the program with the supplies they need to feel confident in school.

That is where RealSelf came in.

In July, RealSelf employees participated in a back-to-school drive for Treehouse, donating clothing and school supplies.

We wanted to make an even bigger impact, so we partnered with Treehouse on a volunteer day in the warehouse. Treehouse receives thousands of donations ranging from new school supplies to used clothing, and everything in between. Each item has to be checked for quality, sorted, and processed before it hits the floor of the Treehouse store where the kids shop. Nearly a dozen RealSelf employees spent an afternoon doing just that.

“Working with Treehouse
was a great 
team experience,
and I can’t wait to go back!”

— Michael Peberdy

From separating pencils and pens to processing bags and bags of clothing, we did a little bit of everything. The majority of the day was spent in the Treehouse warehouse, but we also spent some time stocking the the store floor while several kids were busy shopping.

Treehouse received so many school supply donations we were running out of bins to store them all in. We were also put on duty of sorting more than 100 donated backpacks and dozens and dozens of new clothing items.

Everything donated to Treehouse gets put to use. If it’s not up to the standard of what the kids would receive, then it is donated to Goodwill in exchange for vouchers Treehouse uses to purchase additional inventory. Processing all of the items is a major effort, and volunteer teams are a big help.

This wasn’t the first time RealSelf partnered with Treehouse and that partnership will continue in the future with more clothing drives and volunteer opportunities.

Want to work for one of Seattle’s best companies? We’re hiring! Apply to join our team today.

RealSelf Joins the 2017 Seattle Pride Parade

The 43rd annual Seattle Pride Parade will be Sunday, June 25, and for the first time, RealSelf will be a sponsoring participant. More than 30 RealSelfers, family members, and friends will march to celebrate the LGBTQ community.

Planning for the event was a team effort with more than 40 employees collaborating on the process. While this will be the first time RealSelf participates as a company, there were plenty of Seattle Pride veterans to help with preparations.

The result is RealPride.

RealPride means supporting our community and people’s ability to be proud of themselves as individuals. It means love for all. It means celebrating joy and happiness. And it means paving the way for the next generation to be out and proud.

Courtesy: Seattle Pride

RealSelf will join more than 200 other organizations as sponsoring participants. The RealSelf team will be decked out in ’90s themed wardrobes, and passing out goodies for the crowd.

Participating in the event is another opportunity for the RealSelf Local Giving team to support the local community. Recently the Local Giving team prepared groceries with the Food Lifeline Hunger Solution Center and helped with a spring cleanup of Seattle’s Pioneer Square neighborhood

The Seattle Pride Parade begins at 11 a.m. PT. The parade will run along 4th Avenue in Downtown Seattle, beginning at Union Street and running north to Denny Way, ending near the Seattle Center and Space Needle.

Want to work for one of Seattle’s best companies? We’re hiring! Apply to join our team today.

RealSelf Fellowship Assists Project Medishare’s Haiti Efforts

For 15 years, Dr. Seth Thaller and his team with Project Medishare have taken humanitarian medical trips to Port Au Prince, Haiti, every quarter. Some trips have been postponed due to social, political, or environmental factors, but whenever the barriers clear, the Miami-based doctor and his team are back helping the community.

Dr. Thaller’s team has treated hundreds of patients on these trips. Most need surgery for cleft lips, cleft palates, or significant burn injuries, patients with issues so severe that they struggle to adapt to regular society. Patients just like the 38-year-old woman Dr. Thaller treated on his most recent visit to Haiti. The woman suffered from a cleft lip. She complained of breathing issues and had trouble eating. She talked about the shame she felt from her facial appearance and how often she noticed people staring. A mother of two, the woman dealt with the issue her entire life.

Now, the woman never has to be ashamed again.

The woman was one of 22 patients Dr. Thaller’s team operated on during a recent trip to Port Au Prince. Although the trip was a familiar one for Dr. Thaller, there was a change this trip. This time Dr. Thaller traveled as a member of the inaugural class of the RealSelf Fellowship. The RealSelf Fellowship awards funding for medical professionals donating their time and expertise to deliver care and training in underserved communities around the world. Project Medishare is entirely self-funded and relies on programs like the RealSelf Fellowship to make these trips possible.

Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. There is desperate need for improved medical care. Not only for reconstructive surgical care, but for even routine, basic healthcare. Patients travel from all over the country just for the chance to receive care from visiting doctors. The trips are not only vital to the patients who undergo operations, but also for training and improving the standard of care.

“We have definite plans to continue our enduring promise to our Haitian neighbors,” Dr. Thaller said in an interview with RealSelf.

The procedures Dr. Thaller and his team performed don’t just fix issues, they change lives. The conditions can be debilitating and fixing them can be a platform to return to society whether it’s a child returning to or starting school, or an adult getting back into the workforce.

To make a sustainable impact, the effort needs to go beyond performing a couple dozen surgeries once a quarter. That’s why education is such a focus of the trips. Dr. Thaller said his staff works with the local care providers to assist in pre- and post-operative care. They also work with local surgery residents.

“They were able to closely observe our surgeries, and we could teach them directly,” Dr. Thaller said.

“You will always get more from these trips then you are giving,” he said.

Learn more about the RealSelf Fellowship and how to apply here.

RealSelf Joins Food Lifeline During National Volunteer Week

Every year, millions of pounds of food goes to waste in Seattle. We’re not talking about the avocado you forgot in the back of your fridge. We’re talking about good food from restaurants, grocery stores, manufacturers, and farmers.

Food Lifeline works to reduce that waste, rescuing more than 44 million pounds of food last year alone, and redirecting it to more than 275 food banks, shelters, and meal programs.

Sorting and repacking that much food requires a lot of help, and this week the RealSelf Local Giving team chipped in. After learning about the Food Lifeline operation and touring the facility, a few of our employees got to work sorting pears.

A lot of pears.

Additionally, as part of National Volunteer Week, it was perfect timing for the RealSelf team to support our community. Their efforts will go beyond Volunteer Week, and they are already planning philanthropic activities for summer and fall.

Food Lifeline has flexible and family-friendly volunteer hours. There are opportunities during the day and at night during the week and on the weekend. The robust operation is part of the reason why Food Lifeline is able to provide 90,000 meals every day, accounting for 30 percent of the meals served by food programs in Seattle.

If you’re interested in volunteering with Food Lifeline, you can register on their website.

Want to work for one of Seattle’s best companies? We’re hiring! Apply to join our team today.

RealSelf Joins Downtown Seattle Spring Cleanup

Seattle’s downtown neighborhood Pioneer Square has a fresh look thanks in part to the RealSelf local giving team.

Photo credit: Kari Quaas

RealSelf team members, along with a few of their family members and friends, participated in the 2017 Pioneer Square Spring Clean on April 8. Over 100 volunteers, many from other companies in the area, participated.

The group spent a Saturday morning cleaning and restoring the neighborhood. They picked up bottles, broken glass, and other trash. They also cleaned the sidewalk and put down fresh bark in the flower beds.

Photo credit: Sarah Williams

The Alliance for Pioneer Square hosts the the Pioneer Square Spring Clean every year. This is the first time RealSelf participated, as we wanted to make an impact on the area we work in every day.

Later this month, RealSelf’s local giving team will be back in action during National Volunteer Week by helping prepare groceries for the Food Lifeline Hunger Solution Center.

We’re hiring! To learn more about life at RealSelf, apply today.

Hundreds Attend Free Self-Defense Class Hosted By RealSelf

In early March, RealSelf doctor advisor Kelly Herron was attacked by a known sex offender when she stopped during a run to use the bathroom at Golden Gardens, a popular park in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood. Kelly fought back using training she learned at a self-defense course RealSelf had hosted just weeks before.

On Tuesday, RealSelf offered the same Fighting Chance Seattle self-defense class to the public for free.

Hundreds showed up to take part.

https://twitter.com/JenniferCsays/status/846764349981044736

https://twitter.com/ColleenKIROFM/status/846748542777507840

Participants learned to identify red flags, avoid dangerous situations, and unlock their most powerful selves. Fighting Chance Seattle instructor Jordan Giarratano taught the class, who was also the instructor for the first class hosted at RealSelf.

“Making it free removed a barrier, sad but true, that discouraged me from attending such a class in the past,” one attendee said. “Thank you for eliminating that excuse and for investing in us!”

Giving Back: Celebrating the Start of School With a Treehouse Drive

treehouse_edited

At RealSelf, we love to find ways to give back, and the Treehouse back-to-school donation drive seemed an especially great opportunity to contribute to our Seattle-area community.

An organization that supports foster children, helping to give them “a childhood and a future,” Treehouse has a strong focus on leveling the playing field for foster kids, so they can graduate on par with their peers.

A big part of feeling confident about going back to school is having appropriate gear and nice clothes. This year, Treehouse’s Wearhouse expects at least 900 kids and their foster families to come through its doors to prepare for fall classes.

During our two-week donation drive, we collected over 80 backpacks and 70 items of clothing.

There’s still time to help! If you’d like to host a donation drive or make a gift, contact Treehouse.

Learn more about RealSelf and all our giving efforts, including our new Fellowship for doctors. 

A Lucky Day in Dehradun: Helping Burn Victims Find New Potential

Nitish and Dr. Kush
Sarah Durkee, a UX designer at RealSelf, was chosen to join ReSurge International on a trip to Dehradun, India, to help those in need of reconstructive surgical care.
Read the first and second parts of her story.

The morning after clinic day, my team met in the hotel restaurant at 6 a.m. Over breakfast, we talked about how everyone slept, with every answer the same: “I woke up at 2 a.m.” This would become our daily routine.

As I ate, the previous day ran through my head. I worried I’d taken too many photos of some of the patients. How did they feel when I asked to see their disfigured hands, or when I zoomed in on their scarred faces? I’d seen so many people with so many deformities that I sometimes didn’t recognize them when they found me later to say they’d been approved for surgery.

Several people came up to me and asked what could be done about their injuries. I would tell them I’m not a doctor, but they didn’t seem to care. They would ask again. “Will surgery help my daughter? Will this scar go away?” I wished so badly there was something I could do to help. I thought about all the information I’m exposed to every day on RealSelf. Unlike me, most of these people have no information at all. They have no way of knowing what their options are or what it could cost or where they can be treated.

Father and Daughter at the Clinic

I couldn’t help but wonder if the doctors were also running through the previous day in their minds. Did they wish they could have done more? Did they regret that a particular patient wasn’t able to be granted surgery? Did they worry they had made a mistake? As I listened to them talk, they confirmed my concerns. They wished they’d written something else down on a chart or that asked different questions. They obviously cared deeply about doing things right.

When we arrived at the hospital, we were told the first patient hadn’t shown up. Did they change their minds? Were they just too scared? Dr. Kush knew of someone local who was in need of surgery. He contacted them to tell them that if they could make it to the hospital, he could fit them in.

Less than an hour later, a familiar face arrived: the same little boy who’d been introduced on the first day. Though Nitesh had already undergone one surgery to correct the burns on his legs, there was still some scar tissue around his groin that prevented him from going to the bathroom normally. Today was a lucky day. Because of that cancellation, he’d finally be able to get the surgery he needed to be fully healed.

Nitish and His Dad at the Cllinic
Shortly after Nitash’s surgery began, I was told I’d be making a trip up to Jangle Mangle, a permanent ReSurge clinic run by Kush’s father, Dr. Yogi Aeron. Typically, this is where the surgery camp takes place, but this year they decided to make it more accessible in the center of town.

I had heard a lot about Jangle Mangle. It’s a medical clinic set on a five-acre garden in the mountains of Dehradun, with room to feed and house people while they’re receiving medical care. Dr. Yogi led us in through a small hallway that opened up into a modest living room. Behind that room was another, just large enough to fit a bed, where he could catch a few hours of sleep during overnight stays.

Down another light-filled hallway was the an operating room with marble walls, a stark contrast to the one we’d seen at the clinic. Past the operating room was a large open air studio, where Dr. Yogi made plaster casts of his patients before surgery. Past that was a large covered porch with a row of beds and a view of the valley below. Patients stayed here as they received their care.

A Girl and Her Dad at Jungle Mangle
Each part of the property was more magical than the last. There were fish tanks that had been made into kaleidoscopes, where fish became a living part of the geometry. There were giant metal structures used to train trees, twisting them into topiaries. Dr. Yogi had even created an elaborate tree house for his guests, with the plan to one day add a staircase, washbasin, and fresh fruit you could pick from inside.

Dotting the edges of the property were small, simple huts overlooking the ravine. These huts provided homes for a few former patients who needed a job or a place to live. Perhaps these people were rejected by their families after being disfigured, or their injuries had left them unable to work. No matter the cause, they had nowhere else to go. Here, they’re given work and a place to stay, often helping out new patients in need.

Jungle Mangle
I imagined 100 years from now, people being taken on tours of the garden. The guides would tell the story of a man and his clinic, which drew people from all over the region in the hopes that they could be healed. Maybe they still would.

“No one has an appreciation of things that are unfinished,” Dr. Yogi told me. “No one has any imagination to see what something could be.” Although he’s 75, the doctor’s work is far from finished. Just as his garden is a work in progress, so are his patients. He can imagine the potential of what they can become through reconstructive surgery, even when they or their families cannot.

* * *

The next morning, the doctors reported that they’d completed six successful surgeries at the clinic. Scars on necks, arms, legs, and hands — scars that had often led people to be rejected by their communities — had all been repaired with skin grafts and flaps. More important than the physical changes were the mental and emotional transformations. Through the work of ReSurge and its doctors, these people had a new sense of who they are and what they can become.

— Sarah