A mention of Global Volunteers on our partner’s website moved an aspiring dental student and her dentist father to help meet the needs of families and children in the Reaching Children’s Potential (RCP) Demonstration Project in Ipalamwa, Tanzania. What followed her first call to our office was an impassioned appeal to her family, friends and faith community to join her in spirit and charity.
Maddy Aungst, a 22-year-old biology student in Hollidaysburg, PA said the moment she read about the RCP Demonstration Project, she was motivated to help.
“I found Global Volunteers on the Rise Against Hunger website, which works with my church packing food. I researched more and discovered Global Volunteers offers exactly the type of volunteer opportunity I’ve been looking for. Instantly, my heart gravitated towards Tanzania. I was excited,” she said.
Maddy had been discouraged by volunteering programs that required her to have a medical license. “I’m graduating from college in May and taking a gap year before attending dental school. However, since I am not a qualified dentist or professional, a lot of volunteer programs don’t allow me to have hands-on involvement with their health care projects.” But Volunteer Manager Diane Fredricksen assured her she could make a significant contribution with Global Volunteers in Tanzania. Maddy didn’t imagine at first how significant that would be.
“Diane was marvelous. She explained how people of Ipalamwa who don’t have access to toothbrushes just use sticks to clean their teeth. That’s when it really hit home – and how my idea for raising money to supply toothbrushes came about. After all, we here in the U.S. take so much for granted. We often forget that a simple ‘hygiene tool’ such as a toothbrush can do so much for our oral health as well as our overall health. I wanted to give the people of Ipalamwa the opportunity to improve their health and live happier lives.”
“I wanted to make the most out of my volunteer experience, and to improve the lives of the people in Tanzania.”
Just as soon as she registered for the program, she launched a fundraising campaign to provide toothbrushes to the village children. The initial goal for “Don’t Brush It Off; Be the Change” was $1,000 to supply toothbrushes. But after her father agreed to join her on the service program, she knew she’d have to purchase all the equipment and supplies he would need to provide oral healthcare.
“My father, Dr. Bryan Aungst is a general dentist, and was on board right away. He too had always wanted to serve on a volunteer program and was the first dentist to register to work in the new clinic,” Maddy explained. “So that’s how my fundraising goal quickly increased.”
The Community Responds With Contributions Big and Small
Maddy created a GoFundMe page so her neighbors, church family, and community could easily donate online, and promoted the fundraiser on social media. “My mom and I got involved with our neighborhood yard sale and put all the proceeds towards my campaign. I spoke at my grandparents’ church and they helped me collect $200, which is unbelievable for such a small church. The biggest success I had fundraising though, was reaching out to my church, the First United Methodist Church in Hollidaysburg. I spoke at all five services. Before my presentation, I had collected $2,100. After my presentation, I had raised $4,300. Unbelievable! I was absolutely amazed by the overwhelming support and encouragement.” One parishioner from Blair Gastroenterology raised $1,000 for Maddy’s effort. “You can imagine my surprise when I received the check,” she said.
“So far, I’ve raised $6,010 and am still getting cash donations from my church as well as toothbrush donations from my friends.” Her list:
- 905 toothbrushes
- 905 tubes of toothpaste.
- $4,500 worth of dental equipment for the clinic
“Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I’d be able to raise that much money. I didn’t think I was capable of touching the hearts of so many people. I am so overwhelmed by the love and support that my church and community have shown me. They are thrilled and eager for me to go, return, and then finally share my adventures with them.”
Maddy promises to share her experience with our readers, too! Check back here to read Part Two of Maddy and Bryan Aungst’s service story!