Monday, September 25 , 2017, 11:57 pm | Fair 62º


Santa Barbara-Based Nonprofit ‘Look At Us’ a Beacon of Hope for Craniofacial Community

The Santa Barbara-based Look At Us Alliance has become a global leader in advocacy and care for children born with craniofacial birth defects. Click to view larger
The Santa Barbara-based Look At Us Alliance has become a global leader in advocacy and care for children born with craniofacial birth defects. (Look At Us Alliance photo)

​The Santa Barbara based nonprofit organization, Look At Us Alliance, recently celebrated its first anniversary. Founded by local resident Rob Williams, Look At Us funds reconstructive surgeries and provides medical devices, like bone conduction hearing aids (BAHAs) to children born with craniofacial birth defects.

What began as a personal journey for Willams and his wife, Jennifer, regarding their son’s specialized care, became a universal mission to help other families and children without access to proper medical attention. Click here to more about their inspirational story.

Although originating locally, Look At Us has become “a global leader in advocacy and care,” Williams says.

The organization provides “permanent, life-changing reconstructive surgeries and bone conduction hearing aids to children, many of whom hear for the first time.”

Look At Us now provides peripheral care for families in the United States, with a focus on intervention in developing countries. Many organizations promote awareness, but very few provide this specific type of intervention in developing nations.

Williams believes that awareness without action doesn’t justify the effort.

“Our goal is to actually provide life-changing care for these children, and let their families know that their child’s success comes from within, not how the outside world views them,” he said. “I feel an obligation to be an example for these families. This opportunity chose me.”

Williams says he is most proud of the organization’s programs in Haiti, Mexico, Latin America and Africa.

“It’s a powerful and humbling experience to help some of the most vulnerable children on earth,” he said. “Their families can’t believe we are there to assist them. Many of them don’t know anything about their child’s condition or that there are devices like BAHAs to allow them to hear.

“The BAHA devices sometimes cost twice as much as they do the United States. Look At Us has an proprietary agreement with the manufacturers to acquire them at a large discount.”

So far, Look at Us has helped dozens of children receive BAHAs and transformative surgeries. It is impossible to acquire these devices and medical care in their communities due to Third World conditions and lack of any financial resources.

In Haiti, Look At Us provides life saving surgeries to children with Hydrocephalus and other craniofacial conditions that are often left untreated.

“We love our families in Haiti,” Williams said. “They have no resources or access to medical care until we intervene. A little support goes a long way.

“Recently, we flew two children to Port-au-Prince for life-saving surgeries. We chartered the plane, they spent five days in the hospital and the total cost was just over $500. Remarkable.”

Williams boldly admits, “My motto is: ‘Do it scared!’ Don’t let fear stop you from accomplishing your goals.”

“Stepping through the fear and doing something that scares you builds confidence,” he explained. “Everything you want in life is just outside your comfort zone. Joy is just beyond the darkest place that says you aren’t good enough.”

Williams said he never imagined that his life would take him all over the world speaking to hundreds of families. He recently participated in conferences in San Diego, New York, Mexico and Australia, and is scheduled for Russia and the Netherlands this month.

“It’s the same story of fear and desperation that all of these families have in common,” he said. “Look At Us provides knowledge, hope and support to assure that these children lead normal and happy lives.”

Williams reminds us that the surgeries Look At Us financially sponsors are not cosmetic or aesthetic; rather, they are reconstructive. These are medically necessary so they can correct serious issues to allow the children to eat, breathe and hear properly.

Click here for more information about Look At Us is advocating, please visit their website. Click here to make an online donation.

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