MPH Blog

Jen Valdez: Helping Children Smile

Jen Valdez, a 20- year veteran registered nurse, and House Supervisor for Monterey Park Hospital, does more than provide medical care at our hospital; through Operation Smile, she helps change the lives of children and their families.

Operation Smile is a non-profit organization that provides free, safe, reconstructive surgery for children born with cleft lip, cleft palate, and other facial deformities for children around the world.

Jen started her volunteer experience with Operation Smile 20 years ago. A physician who was involved with Operation Smile introduced her to the organization. Looking for an opportunity to help change the lives of children around the world, she accepted a position, and went on her first surgical medical mission to Kenya. Jen has done mission work in over 18 countries, and serves on missions at least three times a year.

Her most rewarding experience? "After the surgery we visit with the families…the children run to you, tug on your coat, and point at their mouths and smile for you. Parents are overwhelmed with joy, and offer you what little they have like bananas and peanuts. This [surgery] helps transform the lives of many around the world; it's so powerful."

She collects keepsakes from the various countries she visits, mostly so that she can share her experience with others and remember her mission work. "I feel blessed…You must always love and embrace what you do. What we do comes from the heart".

To learn more about Operation Smile, please visit their website (

Categories: Staff Stories