Dental assistant Scarlet Sandoval takes goes beyond the root of a
tooth to the root of her faith in her work as a missionary in her native
Healthy Teeth Journey of Hope provides dental care, haircuts and eyeglasses
to remote villages in her homeland as well as in Mexico, Ecuador and Peru.
Her four-year-old “mission” was chosen as this year’s winner of
the annual Catholic Herald “Adopt a Charity,”
where the staff chooses one charity from nominations to support through
publicity and donations.
The staff collected items from Sandoval’s wish list — small toys,
shoes, sandals, combs, toothbrushes, eye drops, reading glasses, as well as holy
cards and rosaries.
Sandoval said her inspiration came from a trip she took to El
Carmen Village in Guatemala with a dentist who was providing dental care to the
poor. She noticed their spiritual hunger and felt called to share God’s love. Since
then, she has traveled to all four countries on mission trips where she hires
local dentists and local hairdressers to handle the practical work.
Her faith inspires her work. Sandoval hands out rosaries and
prayer cards to the villagers, and prays the rosary with them. “I love Jesus
very much and by serving others I feel close to Him,” she said. “My biggest
blessing is to be a missionary and have my own charity.”
She obtained nonprofit status this year. “I think it will help
because now if people would like to give a donation, it will be
tax-deductible,” she said. “I’m very happy because I can reach out to companies
through my charity for donations and not through my job as a dental assistant”
at Cusumano and Stuvo dental practice in Arlington.
Her goals for the coming year include providing portable dental
equipment, exam chairs and curing lights for the villages, and an increased
focus on evangelization, as simple as providing toothbrushes printed with the message,
“Jesus loves me.” She also plans to teach more people how to pray the rosary
and the Divine Mercy chaplet, and wants to share Christian music as another
tool to evangelize.
With increased donations, she hopes to continue feeding the
homeless and helping children with medical expenses and education.
Her transportation costs add up, but she said this year she received
help from friends, and St. Mary of Sorrows Church in Fairfax helped with travel
costs for one mission.
Sandoval has advice for those considering missionary work. “We
all are called to do a mission. Just listen, do it and do not be afraid.”
Sandoval said her mission work has helped her faith grow, “because
I know Our Lord, Jesus, is with me.”
How to help
Contact Scarlet Sandoval at email@example.com or