Member Spotlight – Melissa Flick, Where Organic Meets Sassy!

Since 1998, Melissa Flick, BodyBalms, had been crafting basic melt and pour soap for a few months, selling it to co-workers and experimenting with lotions/balms from recipes found in a magazine. While learning to make cold process soap at a home class, she was nervous and a tad intimated of terms like trace, lye, and saponification, just like many of us were. The first time she saw trace, she was instantly in love. She now calls it the start to her “addiction”. The teacher gave Melissa a bar scented with sandalwood essential oil and that was it, she was hooked. She now realizes that was a defining moment that would change her life forever.

chillpillbars

Soap integrates with Melissa’s work and lifestyle, being an organic vegetarian, buys local and fair trade and lives simply and responsibly. Creating healthy, handcrafted and natural soap just seems like an extension of what she stands for. As an RN, she knows that basic hand washing and hygiene go a long way to stop the spread of illness and disease. She states, “It really seems simple to me, soap, its something we all take for granted, something that can save peoples lives, something that women everywhere can be taught to make with a few supplies, a bit of education, and hope.”

World’s Largest Bar of Soap

One of Melissa’s largest accomplishments, so far we should say, was the making of the World’s Largest Bar of Soap, in memory of her Mother. On March 5th, 2003, her dream and what many deemed an impossible task came to pass – Tons of Suds for Scleroderma. Melissa’s best friend, co-creator, Angela, and a few hundred volunteers mixed and poured 8.5 tons of soap. Yes, tons! From a budget of only $900, raised from weekends of car washes, the project’s true cost is over $250,000. Many generous people and companies gave their support through things like generators, cranes, port-a-potties, colorant, fragrance, flatbeds and lights. The XXXL soap even survived being hit by a tornado out in the middle of the ranch. Melissa found the entire project a way to cope with her Mother’s death one year earlier. She jokes. “Once again, soap is therapeutic.” Her goal to educate people about Scleroderma was accomplished along with some fundraising for the Foundation.

Haiti Soap Distribution

Still today, the big soap continues to change lives by sending it all over the world. There are still almost 2 pallets left!! Her website www.bodybalms.com, under –  Help Scleroderma Research, See our 8.5 TON bar of soap! Organic Soaps & Toiletries – shows the press release and continues to track bars sent to good causes.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gZZqbqYiHPA

Her latest and a very exciting accomplishment is helping to establish a NPO called, The Nourish Collective  nourishing spirit, body, and land, to teach women in developing countries to make and sell soap. It is her hope to empower women to change their communities, their health, and their future.

Mongolia

The Nourish Collective has a fourfold Mission:

1. Empowering Women through Education.

2. Supporting and equipping communities.

3. Promoting Hygiene, Health, and Sanitation.

4. Improve Environmental Sustainability.

Melissa has learned. “If you have a dream, just take the first steps and do it. Dreams shouldn’t be left for later, tomorrow may not come. The time is NOW. Be engaged in life, don’t settle for just being present.” The initial idea for the NPO, The Nourish Collective , started almost the minute she learned to make soap. Melissa and Angela (her best friend) brainstormed ways to empower, help and educate women while helping to decrease death and illness. They both have a strong desire to help women overseas and volunteered for all sorts of groups like Invisible Children and held fundraisers for Bead for Life. After Melissa’s recent trips to India, Ethiopia, and Mongolia, she got serious and said “Let’s just do it”. Within a week, their paperwork was submitted and approved. Next stop, Africa in June, to teach women how to make soap along with businesses classes, hygiene and basic healthcare classes. They are currently sourcing supplies, storefronts and program development

Operation Smile

Her real passion is volunteering with Operation Smile. This past year, she worked as a pre/post op nurse in India and Ethiopia repairing cleft lips, palates and burn reconstruction. One can only imagine the challenges, but in February, she is heading back to India in the hope to do 1,000 surgeries in 12 days!!

More than 200,000 children are born with a severe cleft condition each year — often unable to eat, speak, socialize or smile and their parents can’t afford the surgery. Operation Smile — through the help of dedicated medical volunteers like Melissa — is making a huge difference in more than 50 countries. Every medical mission gives each child a Smile Bag (see below). Inside the bag are a mirror, toothbrush, washcloth, toys and SOAP! The following morning, after surgery, the kids are able to wash their face and take a look at their new smile. Operation Smile is in need of travel/hotel sized soaps to put in these Smile Bags. If you can help, just email Melissa for a form (sample below) at bodybalms@aol.com . Send the form and any small bars of soap to Operation Smile Headquarters at:

Bonnie Keuhne, Senior Donor Relations Specialist,

Operation Smile International Headquarters

6435 Tidewater Drive, Norfolk, VA 23509 USA.

Melissa and the HSMG thank you in advance for helping to change lives.

All this and Melissa is a full time ER RN at the county trauma center. She started first as an EMT, completed paramedic school, before getting her RN license about 2.5 years ago.

Melissa loves being a part of the HSMG especially the conventions. She says, “Where else can you go and talk to people about oil properties, saponification, and the agony of a completely botched batch of organic oils without getting a blank stare?” She thinks, and we agree, that soapmakers are the most creative, compassionate, sharing and giving group of people you can meet. Melissa shares that she has always felt so supported and encouraged by the members she knows and walks away with new inspiration and motivation.

Melissa’s advice to those getting started in soapmaking – “Try to find a local soapmaker to teach you. Research and read a lot about soapmaking. Get involved with the HSMG. It is truly one of the greatest resources you can find! Experiment! I often find myself translating life into my latest soaps. Masala soap inspired by India is next on my list!”

Melissa is never bored. Always trying something random, her current projects are sprouting, Kombucha tea brewing and raw food fasts; and just recently became a Certified Clinical Aromatherapy Practitioner.

Contact Melissa with questions at bodybalms@aol.com.

6435 Tidewater Drive ■ Norfolk, VA 23509 ■ PHONE 757.321.SMILE (7645) ■ FAX 757.321.7660

www.operationsmile.org

Operation Smile – Items and Supplies for Donation Smile Bags

Upon completion of their surgery, each child receives a “Smile Bag” that is filled with small sized personal care items. These bags are 12 inches wide by 14 inches deep (to fit a coloring book). The bags have a drawstring placed so that they are filled from the top. Operation Smile has a full-time volunteer staff that fills the smile bags which ensures that each child on the same mission receives the same items.

Each Smile Bag contains the following items:

.85 to 1.4 oz shampoo (screw-on top only) a small stuffed animal (beanie baby size)

a small comb (no rat tails) a small square mirror approx 3”x 3”

a new wash cloth a sample size toothpaste (not expired)

a child size toothbrush – single packed a hotel size bar of soap

an 8 pack box of crayons

a thin 81/2 x 11 coloring book

Bigger is Not Better

All items we request are the small, travel size for one simple reason—we need to pack 50 smile bags into a box. Large personal hygiene items take up more room.

Keep It Simple – Personal hygiene items such as dental floss, lotion, and baby oil are wonderful items, however, are not included in our smile bags. Remember—we have limited space in our boxes. Any kind of food product, like candy and gum, is not packed for Operation Smile missions. International shipping prohibits sending food items across international borders. These items could cause all of are medical equipment and supplies to quarantined in the customs office. Keep in mind as well that hand-made bean bags can not contain real beans.

Medical Records Supplies – Operation Smile sets up a complete office upon arrival at a host hospital. We bring everything from pens to paper clips as most of these facilities can not provide these items. Each potential patient receives a medical chart and is given a complete physical exam.

6435 Tidewater Drive ■ Norfolk, VA 23509 ■ PHONE 757.321.SMILE (7645) ■ FAX 757.321.7660

www.operationsmile.org

Why do you need flashlights and D Cell batteries? In most developing countries, the power is bound to go out at some point. We ask all our team members to bring their own flashlight but wealso provide a few for the hospital wards where the patients are staying. We arm our clinicianswith flashlights in case there is a power outage—and it often happens!

Why do you send trash bags? Most hospitals incinerate their garbage. Operation Smile  separates biomedical waste and general waste as we would do here in the United States. Heavy duty trash bags (55 gallon) allow us to clean up our waste and dispose of it properly.  Why do you send Ziploc bags? Many patients are sent home with medication and supplies  after their surgery. These bags are used for the patient or their family to carry the items home.  Why do you send 1 inch masking tape? This is used for labeling supply shelves, hanging up signs in screening, and taping up boxes. Tape is a must on any mission.  They are always in need of the following supplies:

Flashlights and D Cell Batteries Blue and black ink pens

Bulk file folders (colored) Sandwich-size Ziploc bags

Staplers (Bostitch or Swingline) Staples

Staple removers Scissors

Large rubber bands Scotch tape and dispensers

2 hole punch Glue sticks

Clipboards White-out (correction pen/exactliner )

Colored markers (10-12 packs) Black Sharpie markers

Highlighters (yellow, green, pink) 55 gallon trash bags

1 inch masking tape Pencil sharpeners

Child Life Therapy Toy Boxes

Operation Smile will accept new and gently used stuffed animals, arts and crafts supplies, liquid bubbles and other toys to help with screening, for pre-surgical and post-surgical play therapy, and to leave with the hospitals which are in great need of supplies for their pediatric departments. It is VERY important that no items included in your supplies have any religious symbols or markings on them so as not to conflict with cultural beliefs. Operation Smile does NOT accept war-related toys (guns, tanks, military action figures).  We are always in need of toys that have wide appeal for a range of ages and abilities that are novel and sustain interest, and have inexhaustible imaginative potential or multi-sensory involvement. Operation Smile looks for donations of toys that work effectively to accomplish diversion, preparation, support, expression and meaningful interventions! The following supplies are welcomed for use with this program.

6435 Tidewater Drive ■ Norfolk, VA 23509 ■ PHONE 757.321.SMILE (7645) ■ FAX 757.321.7660

www.operationsmile.org

Interactive Toys Arts and Crafts

Action figures Chalk

Barbie Children’s Scissors

Barrettes Coloring books

Blow up Beach Balls Construction paper

Board games Crayons

Busy Boxes Ink pads/ Stamps

Cars and trucks Pipe cleaners

Dolls Play-doh

Fisher price medical kits Rolls of examining paper for murals

Floor mats or large sheets Stickers

Frisbees

Giant duplo blocks

Go fish

Hungry Hippo Travel

Infant rattles

Jacks

Jenga blocks

Jump ropes

Liquid bubbles

Magic wands

Matchbox cars

Mr. Potato Head

Nail polish

Perfection game

Plastic slinky

Play telephone

Pull toys

Puppets

Puzzles

Sassy infant toys

See-n-say toys

Soft balls

Stacking cups

Wall mount mini basketball hoop with ball

Wind-up-toys

Hospital Gowns

Child-size hospital gowns are given to children to wear during surgery. Operation Smile has a pattern if you are interested in making the hospital gowns. A gown pattern is available from Operation Smile Headquarters for $5.00 by contacting Donor Relations at drelations@operationsmile.org. Use plain or printed lightweight cotton or cotton/blend fabric, with the opening and closures in the form of ties or Velcro sewn at the back. Please use child friendly patterns avoiding war or religious themes.

6435 Tidewater Drive ■ Norfolk, VA 23509 ■ PHONE 757.321.SMILE (7645) ■ FAX 757.321.7660

www.operationsmile.org

Quilts / Blankets / Afghans – Quilts are another wonderful project for any club. All quilts require light batting. All of our countries get cold at some point. Although the child uses the quilt in the hospital, they do take the quilts home with them. This project is a wonderful way to provide warmth and comfort for the children of Operation Smile. Quilts/blankets/afghans need to be child sized: 45″ X 45″ or 54″ X 54″ or 45” X 54”. Knitted or crocheted afghans are also welcome, in the mentioned size. Cotton fabric is preferred. A light fleece can also be used. Please remember quilts should have light batting.

Operation Smile’s Warehouse & Headquarters – Operation Smile accepts supply donations throughout the year. Please send supplies along with an inventory sheet to:

Operation Smile

ATTN:Warehouse

6435 Tidewater Drive

Norfolk, VA 23509

Make copies of the blank form and include one completed inventory sheet per box. Please place this inventory sheet on TOP of contents not in the bottom of the box.  Shipments of multiple boxes should be numbered like: 1 of 3, 2 of 3, 3 of 3.

Please be sure to fill out the inventory sheet for each package, with the name, address and telephone number of the school or club member designated to receive the letter of acknowledgment/receipt. If you are with a club, this will ensure that your school or club receives credit for your contribution and participation in this project.

Please keep copies of your inventory sheet for your records.

6435 Tidewater Drive ■ Norfolk, VA 23509 ■ PHONE 757.321.SMILE (7645) ■ FAX 757.321.7660

www.operationsmile.org

Supply Donation Inventory Sheet / Packing List

(Please include this sheet with each shipment)

Please complete the following information:

*******************************************************************

Contact person & title: ________________________________________

Business, School or Club name:__________________________________

Address: ___________________________________________________

City, state, zip: _______________________________________________

Phone:_______________ Alternate phone: _________________________

Email: _____________________________________________________________________

Item Quantity Item Quantity

Total Estimated Dollar Value of

Donation:

Thank you!  Your involvement with Operation Smile is greatly appreciated!  Thank you for your generous heart to heal children’s smiles and  transform lives across the globe!

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5 Comments

  1. Melissa, What a busy and interesting life you have! I have so enjoyed spending time with you at our annual Conference and look forward to seeing you in April. I’m sure your generosity and talent will have impacted many more lives before I see you again. You are an inspiration. Thanks Maria for a wonderful blog post.

  2. What fantastic work! Such an inspiration to us all Melissa. I’m planning to send a box in the coming week. Thanks for bringing this to our attention.

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