In honour of World Smile Day, PRA Group, Inc., a global leader in acquiring and collecting nonperforming loans, has donated $100,000 to Operation Smile in support of their efforts to transform lives by providing free cleft surgery and comprehensive care to children around the world.
For PRA Group’s co-founder and board chairman Steve Fredrickson, the partnership between PRA Group and Operation Smile is more than a monetary donation. Steve and his family experienced first-hand the impact of bringing people together from across the globe to support a child.
Their own lives were touched by a child living with an untreated cleft condition in 2008, when they partnered with Operation Smile and other area families to host a monk from Nepal who came to Norfolk, Virginia (United States), with an infant who was abandoned by her family. In need of cleft surgery and medical care, this infant was treated by Operation Smile and a team of local medical volunteers from Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters. The Fredrickson family not only helped care for this infant but helped share her story with students and local community groups to raise awareness for cleft conditions.
With a child born with a cleft condition every three minutes, PRA Group’s gift will directly fund Operation Smile’s work in geographic regions where cleft care is out of reach for the children who need it. One of the largest volunteer-based non-profit organisations in the world, Operation Smile develops long-term relationships with each of its patients and families to ensure they receive the proper nutritional, dental and psychological care to ensure safe cleft surgeries, recoveries and smiles to last a lifetime.
“Thanks to the generosity of sponsors like PRA Group, our teams have remained strong. Even during COVID-19, we have been able to provide surgery and dental care for more than 15,000 patients,” said Kathy Magee, co-founder and president of Operation Smile. “We are grateful to have fostered such strong bonds within the PRA Group family over the years and are excited to see this partnership continue as we work together to bring children hope for a brighter future.”
The donation will also support outreach to local schools through educational programmes such as the Operation Smile Interactive Learning Center (ILC) that raises awareness for cleft and volunteerism among middle- and high-school students, as well as provides service opportunities that bring youth and adults alike directly into care-giving relationships with cleft patients and their families.
PRA Group’s Global Investments and Analytics Officer Chris Graves and his family are also avid advocates for Operation Smile. His daughters have attended Operation Smile’s International Student Leadership Conference (ISLC) and have been volunteers on surgical programmes with the organisation. From a shared personal passion and a friendship between the organisations’ leaders, PRA Group’s involvement evolved into an official partnership between the two growing companies in 2014.
“Operation Smile creates immediate, unambiguous and life-changing solutions for children born with a condition that is both physically challenging and isolating. In addition to this work, their education programmes start students on the life-long journey of becoming aware of the world beyond themselves,” said Graves. “We are proud to make this gift as a representation of our commitment, and we are thankful to Operation Smile for its incredible impact worldwide.”
Since 2009, PRA Group has contributed more than US$7.8 million to charitable causes dedicated to strengthening the health and well-being of financial service consumers, while enhancing the vitality of communities across the globe.