Posted by: apguess | April 9, 2017

Final Clinic Day in San Mateo

The last day of clinic is always a half day as we have to spend time taking inventory for next year, and packing and putting everything away. That said, Friday was a very successful and busy day for the team! In total, we treated 40 patients in the dental clinic.

Pictured above (from left to right): Dental student, Piper, applies fluoride to a young boy’s teeth; Dr. Polan and Dr. Harper with their youngest patient of the day; Dr. Gonzales shows dental hygiene student (and brother), Matt the steps for doing a filling.

Before clinic ended Matt spent time showing a group of kids how to properly brush and floss, in the hopes of empowering the kids to have better dental hygiene.

Pictured above (from left to right): A young girl practices brushing some teeth; three young boys are excited to use their dental activity booklet; a young girl demonstrates her flossing technique that Matt just showed her.

The team’s physical therapist, Maureen, treated 21 patients from the villages of El Hato and San Mateo and 12 Rotarians and volunteers. Each patient received education regarding their condition, an exercise program, and, in many cases, manual therapy.


Posted by: apguess | April 7, 2017

San Mateo Clinic Days 1 and 2

Wednesday and Thursday the team spent treating patients in the village of San Mateo. Over the past two days, the team has treated 131 people (63 on Wednesday, 68 on Thursday)! Patients have ranged in age from as young as three, upward to 65. The vast majority of people the team treated Wednesday were young children. Yesterday was a broader mix of children and adults.


Pictured above: The team uses a large community room to treat patients in San Mateo.

The dental team has experience working with children; though we have one pediatric dentist, Dr. Post, who works solely with children every day. As such, we work to pair her with our youngest patients. Dr. Fox also has a lot of experience treating children; so she and Dr. Post make a great pair here! They have treated our two youngest patients this year, both age three. It is a delicate art to be able to calm a child and carry out a procedure at the same time. These two do it with grace!

Pictured above (left to right): Dr. Post examines a young girl; Dr. Post and Dr. Fox treat the youngest patient of the day, a three year old girl.

Yesterday Dr. Andrews was in charge of triaging patients before they sat down in the dental chair to receive treatment. He worked with one of our star volunteers, Thomas Olson, who served as translator, to determine the best course of action for each person.


Pictured above: Thomas is excited to help translate for Dr. Andrews.

Also Thursday, Dr. Polan and Dr. Harper removed an extra tooth of a young man who stated it had been hurting him his whole life — or at least as long as he’d had the adult tooth in his mouth! Every time he would eat, it hurt him, he said. It also affected how he talked. He expressed is gratitude to the two for alleviating the pain he’d been in for a very long time.

Towards the of end of the day yesterday, the sanitizer malfunctioned. As I mentioned before, the sanitizer is a very important piece of equipment as he cleans (sanitizes) all of the tools. If it stopped working for good, the team would only be able to work for as long as they had the proper tools to carry out procedures. Fortunately, we have a second sanitizer this year that we swapped in for the malfunctioning one.

All in all, Wednesday and Thursday were very busy and fruitful clinic days in San Mateo! The team is looking forward to the final clinic day, today.

Posted by: apguess | April 6, 2017

El Hato in Pictures

Year after year the team is happy to serve the people of El Hato. Experience the team’s two days in El Hato in pictures, below.

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Posted by: apguess | April 4, 2017

El Hato Clinic Day 2

Yesterday was a great day! We spent half the day treating people in El Hato and the other half preparing the clinic in the village of San Mateo.

Since it was a school day there were children running around at recess, interacting with the team and were generally inquisitive about what we were up to.


Pictured above: School children clamor to see what’s going on in there!

Although we weren’t able to treat all of the children, many practiced brushing the teeth of the model mouth we brought with us this year, and/or received a dental hygiene booklet that teaches the importance of good dental hygiene.

Pictured above (left to right): two young girls practice brushing on the model mouth; Lacey shows the kids how to floss; the model mouth

The morning started quickly, and by lunchtime the team had treated nearly 40 people, many of them older kids and adults. In addition to oftentimes treating some patients year after year for dental care, Maureen occasionally has the opportunity to work with people a second year. This, she says, is one of the hardest parts about this trip. She works with her patients to provide them with the tools they need to start feeling better, but without follow-up appointments later in the year, and continued coaching, it can be very difficult for people to rehabilitate. Yesterday, however, Maureen met with a women with severe elbow pain. She also shared that she used to have very bad knee pain, but the exercises Maureen had given her the year before had helped to alleviate that pain. Despite the time in between consultations, the follow-up appointment was helpful because Maureen was able to assess the woman’s progress and provide her with additional exercises and advice to help her elbow feel better. Great work Maureen!

Before the team packed up the clinic in El Hato, Irvin Chan, a professor at the school and past Rotary scholarship recipient, presented the Antigua and Newberg Rotary with a plaque acknowledging the continued hard work and education the two organizations have fostered over the years.


Pictured above: Mr. Chan presents the team with a plaque.

Today the team has a free day, and is looking forward to exploring Antigua!



Posted by: apguess | April 3, 2017

El Hato Clinic Day 1


Our first clinic day is in the books! After a few initial hurdles, the team had quite a successful day, treating 72 patients in the dental clinic. Maureen, the team’s physical therapist, treated seven people for various physical ailments as well.

In the morning we had to find an alternative route up to El Hato because of the procession that was taking place in Antigua that blocked some of the roads we usually take to get into town. As some may know, Easter is a very important and well celebrated holiday in Guatemala.

Once we arrived in El Hato, the team realized the sterilizer was not functioning properly. The sterilizer is very pertinent to the function of the clinic as it’s how we sanitize all of the dental instruments. Without clean instruments, we wouldn’t be able to treat patients! The team worked quickly to troubleshoot the problem and by 9:30am they had started to treat patients.

Yesterday the team utilized four dental chairs dedicated to operative procedures (fillings and extractions) and two chairs dedicated to preventative treatment (cleanings, fluoride treatment and placing sealants). The dentists were very busy yesterday! And, the team’s dental hygiene students, Matt and Justin (supervised by Dr. Fox) were equally busy carrying out preventative care throughout the day.

One of the great things about hosting one of the clinics in El Hato, a town the team has come to since the beginning, is that we oftentimes are treating return patients. For example, one woman Dr. Hartman treated shared with him that she had gotten a filling from the team six years ago. She returned yesterday because she needed a tooth removed.

Sometimes people come to us and think the only option is to have a tooth removed instead of getting a filling. One example of this from yesterday was when Dr. Fox and Dr. Post met a women who asked to have her front tooth removed. The two evaluated the tooth and determined a filling was a better option after all. The woman was relieved to hear this.

Something worth nothing is that every person the team treats gets a toothbrush, toothpaste, and dental floss to help with continued dental hygiene. Additionally, this year we brought with us a mode mouth to show people how to properly brush and floss. The young kids had a particularly fun time practicing brushing and flossing with it!

From a physical therapy perspective, Maureen treated a number of people during the day. This included one adult man with severe ankle pain. He had fractured his ankle nearly two years ago and hadn’t had the opportunity to receive physical therapy treatment after the cast came off. Maureen taught him a program with special exercises to help rehabilitate and strengthen his ankle. The man’s goal was to get back to climbing a volcano, which Maureen noted would be possible in about a year if he kept up with his exercises.

Today, we’ll be back in El Hato for a second clinic day!




Posted by: apguess | April 2, 2017

Team Introductions

We have a diverse team of volunteers joining us from Oregon this year! Some have years of experience participating in this trip; others are volunteering for the first time. Let’s take a few minutes to get to the know team, each in their own words.


Auggie Gonzales, Team Project Coordinator and Team Dad: The Guatemala Community Service Project has been part of a life journey for me…over 14 years of service! In 2002 I listened to Leroy Benham and others report on the Rotary Dental Mission Clinics performed in Guatemala. And I said to myself, “This sounds like a wonderful opportunity to serve others in a significant way, I would like to go.” One year later, I heard another report from a different year’s Rotary service; and again I heard myself say the same thing: “This sounds like a wonderful opportunity to serve others in a significant way, I would like to go.” I was struck with an epiphany. I needed to change my words; I needed a different response. Then and there, I said, “This sounds like a wonderful opportunity to serve others in a significant way and I am going to go!”  So, later that year, I went with Leroy Benham as part of the survey team to Guatemala to determine where our Rotary Club could serve for the next five years. We recommended that our Club choose to serve in two mountain villages, El Hato and Vuelta Grande, above Antigua, Guatemala. Needless to say, this project has found a very special place in my heart to serve the wonderful people of Guatemala.

My participation has naturally evolved from volunteer to interpreter to Co-Team Coordinator to Team Project Coordinator.  I have returned to serve every subsequent year and there were several years I have traveled to serve more than once per year.

I have seen the support of the Newberg Rotary Club grow from Dental Clinic to include the following: water project, construction/electrical, medical clinic, education and micro-banking. And for several years we brought numerous Rotarians from other clubs so that they could see what and how we performed our projects so that they could set up their own. Over the years the number of participants grew from 9 to 44. This year there are 17 volunteers involved in the Dental Clinic. We also continue to support an Educational Project lead by Ervin Chan Reyes, “El Profe,” (in El Hato) whose educational expenses were subsidized by Newberg (and Antigua) Rotarians. Ervin’s extra-curricular educational endeavors greatly impact students who have dropped out of the public system due to poverty. They are now able continue their education in the evening and weekends.

“In Service Above Self”, and participation in the Guatemala Community Service Project, I continue, along with many others, to contribute our time, talent, and treasure for many reasons. I believe we serve primarily because we are making a significant difference in the lives of many who would not have this opportunity to improve their life, be it through a more beautiful and healthy smile or educational opportunity. Another major reason I participate is because of the relationships we have been able to develop with fellow participants, Rotarians and villagers. We have made life-long friendships. Thus, we have impacted other’s lives as well as our own. I also am grateful and blessed to have my wife, Maureen and four of my children and their significant others serve as well. In fact, I feel that the relationships we have developed here in Guatemala have all been familial; we are one big family! We have contributed to the personal and Rotary ideal of “doing good in the world.”


Dr. Allen Methven, Dentist: I have been with the Guate team since before it was the Guate team. It was the Belize team for the first year. The second year we started working working with the Guatemala City Rotary. We worked in low income areas. It was not as rewarding as working with the villages we work in now. The Guate City Rotary had too many projects to have us back the next year. We were asked to work with the Antigua Rotary. We have found a home with them. They helped us start a clinic in Vuelta Grande and then on to El Hato. I have practiced dentistry with the Guate group every year except one.

I personally enjoy mentoring the young dental students and new dentists. Old dogs do have a few tricks in their bags. I love the dental family that we have created with our Rotary volunteers both from the U.S. and Guatemala. It is rewarding to see the improvement in the villagers dental health over the years. I believe that we have made a difference.


Maureen Gonzales, Physical Therapist and “Team Mom”: I am a physical therapist with about 40 years of practice experience. I am also married to Auggie Gonzales, our team lead (and I have about the same number of years of experience in the marriage department). For the last 10 years I have been taking a week of vacation to travel to Guatemala with the team. During this time I have either worked with the dental team or on my own providing physical therapy care to the people of the local villages.

The people here are hard working and their bodies pay the price. There is no safety net if they are injured, no workers’ compensation, no social services to help provide for the families. And the elderly are often at the mercy of their families who have a hard time providing for themselves. They ask for nothing (except vitamins). Crutches are nowhere to be found. Last year I looked for some for a villager in need and couldn’t find any. Shoes are flimsy leather sandals for women or plastic boots for the kids. There is no support and yet they are on their feet every day from morning to evening.

Many of the women have chronic headaches, back, foot, shoulder and hand pain. They need to know that someone cares about them and I suppose that is what I do best. I listen to their stories. I hold their hands. Sometimes there are tears. Sometimes laughter. So I can make a difference for a few, for those willing to take the risk to come and see me. And every year I come back. Because they are still there and still in need.


Dr. Benjamin Gonzales, Dentist: The first time I made the trip down here I was a second year dental student — that was all the way in 2006. I convinced my friend and fellow second year dental student Mike Harper to also join me, and my dad, Auggie on this trip. Since then, we’ve made the journey nine additional times, inviting more friends each year.


Dr. Michael Harper, Dentist: My first year serving in Guatemala with the dental team was 2007. I’ve been returning every year since, except for last year when my wife Katie and I were preparing to have our first baby! This year will be my 10th trip with the team and I’m very excited to be going back to help provide care for our patients. My favorite part of visiting our patients is having them point to a tooth that we treated during a previous trip and asking that we do the same to save another tooth that they are having issues with. Better yet, thanks to years of continuous care and patient education, many times they report just wanting a cleaning because they aren’t having any tooth trouble at all!



Dr. Charlie Hartman, Dentist: I first went with Auggie and crew to Guatemala in 2006 as a dental student. I wasn’t very useful then, but I learned a few things. I’ve been back six times since and have gradually become more useful. I have many memories from the clinic, but the one that I remember most vividly was watching Dr. Gonzales get sick into a garbage can while I finished the filling he had started. We realized later he had a really bad stomach bug. I also met the love of my life (Dr. Brittany Fox) during this trip, so that’s a bonus.


Dr. Adam Polan, Dentist: My first expedition to Guatemala was in 2011. My friends and dental school classmates (Ben and Mike) had been participating in previous years’ trips, and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. This year marks my fifth time participating. One of my most memorable experiences in the clinic was when I was treating a patient who began to have a medical emergency. After we stabilized her, we realized that she had been dealing with an undiagnosed disorder and she was able to seek help through the assistance of our program. One of my most memorable non-clinical experiences was when wandering back to our hostel through the streets of Antigua, Antigua Rotarian Tom Olson heard us passing and popped out of his house to greet us and give us a tour. He and his wife Alma have been wonderful hosts to our group every year after that.


Dr. Brittany Fox, Dentist: This is my sixth consecutive time going on the Rotary Guatemala trip. My first time was as fourth year dental student and I loved it so much I’ve kept coming back. One of my favorite things is all the little kiddos we get to treat. I love that we are helping alleviate their pain and/or avoid dental pain through education and cleanings. We often have kids peering through the windows or open doors to watch as a sibling or parent gets treated. I love that some of the kids are genuinely interested and I hope that translates to them taking good care of their teeth.


Dr. Kelly Andrews, Dentist: My first Guate trip was nine years ago. It was eye opening and changed my view of the world and life forever. It has been one of the most enriching and valuable experiences of my life. Thanks to Dr. Mike Harper for inviting me nine years ago. Mike helped me deliver care to my first patient and it was an experience I’ll never forget. He also got me to ride on a 175cc motorbike through the hills of Guatemala with our good friend, Tobin. Between Tobin and I there was about 475 pounds of man scooting around town, entertaining the Guatemalans who saw two large Gringos strapped to each other like spider monkeys. And of course, Auggie, Allen, Tom and Alma are that glue that started it all and keep this going. They are the best life mentors I could have asked for. This is my seventh trip in nine years and I don’t see myself stopping. Much love to all involved!



Dr. Sarah Post, Dentist: My favorite memory participating in this trip was when the women of Vuelta Grande (a village we used to go to) made an enchilada feast on the last in the village. They were the best enchiladas and horchata I’ve ever had! I also love how brave and cooperative the kids are here. I’m looking forward to another year of providing a great service to people who wouldn’t otherwise have access to the dental care we provide.

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Ali Guess, Blogger and Interpreter: Hi everyone! This is my third year participating in this volunteer trip. I initially got involved because my fiancé, Dr. Ben Gonzales urged me to join him on the trip because the team were in need of a blogger and second translator. It felt like a natural fit given my interest in community service and knowledge of the Spanish language. It’s one thing I certainly look forward to each year. I now have countless memories (too many to choose a favorite) that I know will last a lifetime. Beyond serving local communities in need, my favorite part is connecting with the rest of the team and local Antigua Rotarians. The Olsons have been the most amazings hosts to us in the three years I’ve been here!


Lacey Cox, Interpreter: Hello everyone! I work as the project’s interpreter and this will be my second year participating. I’m so excited to be back and looking forward to learning daily. This year my goal is to pick up more local vernacular and continue to improve on the dental hygiene education table that we have set up at the clinics

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Matthew Gonzales, Dental Hygiene Student, Pacific University:  I’m a junior in dental hygiene school at Pacific University. 2016 was my first year working with the team and it was an amazing experience. One of my favorite memories last year was from our final day of clinic at San Mateo. My brother (Dr. Ben Gonzales) and I met three young kids who had waited around to show us magic tricks they had learned. It was great to connect with our patients outside of clinic and an awesome way to end the day, laughing and making new friends.


Justin Mai, Dental Hygiene Student, Pacific University: Being new to both dental hygiene and this Guatemala trip, I am very excited to further my knowledge of oral health and developing my skills. When I first began hygiene school, I was close-minded in that I wanted to work in a private practice when I graduate. However, I was fortunate enough to be exposed to various programs during school that ignited a passion in me for public health. I am grateful for this opportunity and Rotary International for allowing me to go to Guatemala with them! I am hoping to give as much as I can to the communities and obtain valuable skills and knowledge of public health and oral hygiene.


Piper Janke, OHSU Dental Student: This is my first year attending the Guatemala trip with Newberg Rotary. As a second year dental students at Oregon Health and Sciences University I am really excited to increase my knowledge and use my new skills by working hard every day to make a difference.


Taylor Hunt, OHSU Dental Student: I am a second-year dental student at OHSU. This is my first time participating in this trip and I can’t wait! I am really excited to learn more about dental care in a developing country. I want to better understand the needs of the people so that I can continue to improve their care throughout my career. I am also really excited to use the skills I have learned over the last two years on an extremely deserving population.


Lynn Quinn, Newberg Rotarian: I’m excited to  join the dental team in Guatemala this year. It’s my first trip with them and my first trip to Guatemala! I’m making the trip to work on another project that is being sponsored by Newberg Noon Rotary Club, but because that won’t begin until Wednesday when we go to San Mateo, I’ll have the chance to help out at the clinic on the other days. I don’t have any dental experience – except for having teeth – so I’ll be on hand to do whatever I can to be helpful.

Not included above: Auggie Gonzales (Team Leader and Team “Dad”)
Posted by: apguess | April 1, 2017

Hello again!

Another year of our Guatemala service project officially begins tomorrow. The team arrived in Guatemala over the past several days pleased to see the shining sun, (a very welcome thing given the plethora of Oregon rain we’ve had lately), and to an air of excitement knowing the hard work and fun upon us.

We have a number of returning and new volunteers with us this year, including two Oregon Health and Science University dental students and two Pacific University dental hygiene students. In total, 18 volunteers have made the journey from Oregon! We are excited to be working again with many Antigua Rotarians this year as well. Stay tuned to read more about all of our returning and new project participants.

As in years past, Saturday is a set up day for the team. The team spent the first half of today setting up the dental clinic in El Hato. An early set up allows the team to feel very prepared, take inventory and purchase any additional supplies we may need before the clinic begins. This year, the team is planning to utilize four dental chairs dedicated to operative procedures (fillings and extractions) and two chairs dedicated to preventative treatment (cleanings, fluoride treatment and placing sealants).

The second half of today was spent at Caoba Farms, eating local cuisine and exploring the beautiful scenery. We are feeling well rested and looking forward to the first day of clinic tomorrow.



Posted by: apguess | March 12, 2016

Final Clinic Day

The team returned safely home to Oregon last weekend but not before a final successful clinic day in San Mateo. Friday’s clinic day is always a half day, as the team needs to allow plenty of time to take inventory and meticulously clean and pack everything for future use. As such, the team treated 32 patients!

Thank you to everyone noted below who contributed to this year’s successful service trip and to the entire Antigua Rotary for the ground support and partnership with the Newberg Rotary!

Newberg Rotarian, Dr. Allen Methven

Dr. Benjamin Gonzales

Dr. Brittany Fox

Dr. Charlie Hartman

Newberg Rotary President, Jim McMaster

Newberg Rotarian, Auggie Gonzales

Newberg Rotarian and A-Dec Representative, Grant Austin

Physical Therapist, Maureen Gonzales

Antigua Rotarian, Alma Olson

Antigua Rotarian, Tom Olson

Volunteer Extraordinaire and Translator, Lacey Cox

Volunteer Extraordinaire, Matthew Gonzales

Volunteer Extraordinaire, Melody McMaster

Volunteer Extraordinaire, Spencer McMaster

Volunteer Extraordinaire, Thomas Olson

And yours truly, Blogger, Ali Guess

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Posted by: apguess | March 4, 2016

Antigua Rotarians Awarded Paul Harris Fellow

After work yesterday the team spent a lovely evening with the Antigua Rotary, celebrating, eating and conversing about this year’s successes in the clinic. Each year this dinner is a great reminder of the countless number of people who contribute to the success of the project. In fact, it was announced last night that three members of the Antigua Rotary – Flor Caniz, Alma Olson and Tom Olson – will be awarded the prestigious Paul Harris Fellow for the many years of service they have provided in the local communities we serve.

Thank you Flor, Alma and Tom for your continued dedication!

This year also serves as the 15th year of partnership with the Newberg and Antigua Rotaries for this project. We look forward to many more years of partnership and success with this project.



Posted by: apguess | March 4, 2016

Clinic Day 2 in San Mateo

A typical clinic day for the team begins around 9:30 and ends around 4:30. We remain open all day, with a 45 minute lunch break in between, in the hopes of reaching as many people in the villages as possible. Yesterday was no different, as the team treated 47 patients. However, we did have an influx of people wanting to sign up to be seen at the end of the day. When this happens we have to kindly ask people to return the next day; otherwise the team would be working well into the night.

Early in the day Dr. Hartman treated a young man, 14, who said he had never been to the dentist. When asked why he thought a 14 year old had never visited the dentist, aside from, perhaps, the financial means to do so, Dr. Hartman replied, “Unfortunately, many people here don’t believe in taking kids to the dentist, especially when they’re young, because they say ‘Oh their teeth will fall out anyway.'” This is the mindset we are hoping to change in the villages. In addition to providing dental treatment that includes fillings, extractions, and cleanings, with each patient we remind them of the importance of brushing and flossing as it will ultimately contribute to being healthier overall. We believe we are making some progress, as this year the team has done far more fillings in San Mateo than extractions.

Twice yesterday Dr. Fox had the opportunity to use the cavitron on her patients, as they only required deep cleanings, versus fillings or extractions. The cavitron (pictured below) uses high frequency sound waves to vibrate tarter off of the teeth, removing plaque build up around the gums. This tool helps destroy pathogens which are often a driver in periodontal disease.

San Mateo Day 2_1

San Mateo Day 2_2

Dr. Fox shows the young girl, who she used the cavitron on, how to floss.

In an unfortunate event, around mid-day our amalgamator broke. The amalgamator is an essential piece of equipment; it’s job is to mix the restorative materials that the dental team uses for fillings. If we did not have this, we wouldn’t be able to place any fillings. Fortunately, we had a back-up amalgamator, albeit old, but it worked!

Today will serve as our final clinic day for 2016. The team is eager to get to work!


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