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Press Release May 12, 2020

Sharing Smiles: Local Nurse Highlighted for Her Work with Children Born with Cleft Conditions

From a young age, Ashlee Allen saw the important roles that nurses played inpatient care. “When I was young, my dad was pretty sick, and seeing firsthand the impact the nurses had inspired me to eventually become one,” said Allen.

For National Nurses Week and International Nurses Day, Operation Smile would like to thank Allen and all our nurses working on the frontlines during this pandemic. Allen has volunteered with Operation Smile for over ten years and participated on 13 medical missions helping children receive life-changing cleft lip and cleft palate surgery.  

When Allen is not volunteering her time around the world, she is working as a staff nurse in a burn unite at a local Gainesville hospital. “Being a nurse is so fulfilling and my being there for my patients when they are most vulnerable motivates me to keep coming into work every day,” stated Allen.

Allen is one of five Operation Smile medical volunteers chosen by Operation Smile to receive the “Operation Smile 2020 U.S. Volunteer Award,” which is awarded to volunteers who have shown outstanding service, impeccable skill, and have gone above and beyond this year to improve the lives of our patients and quality of our programs.

“Experiencing the love and hope Operation Smile brings has been a major gift. I feel extremely lucky to learn and work with amazing people from around the world and build beautiful friendships. Operation Smile inspires me,” said Allen.

Operation Smile has more than 6000 volunteers worldwide who help to provide free surgery to children born with cleft conditions. Without the countless hours, they donate many children would not be able to receive this life-changing surgery.

About Operation Smile: Operation Smile has provided hundreds of thousands of safe surgeries for those born with cleft lip and cleft palate. With more than three decades of expertise, Operation Smile creates solutions that deliver free surgery to people where it’s needed most. As one of the largest medical volunteer-based nonprofits, Operation Smile has mobilized thousands of medical volunteers from a wide range of medical specialties from more than 80 countries. Operation Smile engages public-private partnerships to advance health care delivery, train local medical professionals to provide surgical care for patients in their communities, donate crucial medical equipment and supplies, and increase access to surgical care so that everyone living with cleft is treated. Visit, find us on Facebook or follow us on Instagram and Twitter.


It takes as little as $240 and as few as 45 minutes to provide life-changing surgery and a bright, beautiful new smile to a waiting child.