All about LAUGHH

The purpose of the LAUGHH Foundation is to serve those who are underserved through medical missions, support of educational ministries, and community service. A major component of these is to go beyond traditional medical treatment to include a major effort on education on how to improve health. Our mission includes providing tools that enable and empower people to change their lives. We not only treat conditions, but educate on how to control and prevent chronic conditions. This includes exercise and nutrition education through workshops that help people understand how they can improve their lives, so that the quality of their life continues to improve after we leave.

In 2007, thinking there was a need for helping people get education that can help them with life skills, Francie Stoner began the process of setting up a foundation to do that. She incorporated The LAUGHH Foundation – with LAUGHH as an acronym for Live Abundantly Using Guided Helping Hands, as when you Laugh, it causes the release of endorphins in the body to boost immune system. And in his book The Power of Intention, Wayne Dyer points out that when we see good, do good or receive good, these same endorphins are released and our immune systems are bolstered. So LAUGHH was created to help people LAUGHH and get healthy – psychologically, medically and physically!

Francie received training clinically as a medical technologist, rad tech and EMT, and spent 29 years as an executive at Cerner Corporation, a leading health care informatics and health care change agent. In 2004, Francie went on her first mission trip – a surgical mission to Chulucanas, Peru, with the team that has become the founding members of LAUGHH. The deep friendships that developed meant that this group would gather at least once a year to participate in a community activity. Ten years after that first mission trip, the group decided to take another mission trip together. We needed a charitable organization to help drive this. It was just perfect for LAUGHH to be the organization to carry these missions forward. And the partnership was formed!

“We really wanted to be different from standard mission organizations. One of the biggest problems with medical missions was that they would go into a town and apply lots of ‘bandaids’ to medical problems but don’t have time to treat the causes, so patients may have had a temporary fix, but rarely know how to cure, control or prevent disease, especially chronic conditions,” says Ms. Stoner.

“So we set about designing a program that would not only diagnose and treat patients in a clinic situation, but also develop an educational process that would help the patients understand what the condition was, what caused it, how to treat it and what would happen if they didn’t take care of themselves. It would include diet and nutrition, exercise and ideas for creating healthier communities, even in the poorest of conditions! What better way to help people realize better health than with a LAUGHH! We can hardly wait to see what our Guided Helping Hands do as we join together in this great mission!”

Our first Health and Wellness mission was July 18-25, 2014.  The LAUGHH Foundation team flew to Bucaramanga, Colombia to offer medical assistance in the towns of Berlin, Piedecuesta, Lebrija and Giron. Led by Gisella Alvarez and Dr. Bruce Sands, the 30-member team offered primary medical care including internal medicine, pediatrics, physical therapy, occupational therapy, and nursing to over 1,200 patients. We were also lucky to be joined by 30 high school and college students from Bucaramanga. The Colombian Army even joined us for 3 of our clinic days bringing dentists and great entertainment to those waiting for care!

Through our partnering with the Santander state, as well as city governments and hospitals, we sought to improve health outcomes through education.  Nutrition consults were provided to every patient and exercise was encouraged by conducting exercise classes at the clinic sites.  In addition, each patient received vitamins, a toothbrush, fluoride painting (for the kids) and those in need were given eye exams and glasses.

This year’s Health and Wellness Mission was back in Colombia.  The LAUGHH Foundation team flew to Bucaramanga, Colombia in July of this year to offer health and wellness care and education in the towns of La Fortuna, Girón, Berlín and Piedecuesta. Led by Gisella Alvarez and Dr. Bruce Sands, the 40-member team offered primary medical care including general medicine, pediatrics, gynecology, wound care, physical therapy, occupational therapy, nursing and an incredibly successful education process to over 1,400 patients. We  gave 10 wheelchairs, 15 walkers and 30 canes. We continued our distribution of vitamins, tooth brushes and fluoride (for kids) in the clinic sites.

In Berlin, we saw the beginning of a new project that includes a school vegetable and fruit garden that the students plant and care for.  We are planning to add an exercise and nutrition education program for the children so they know the importance of eating more fruits and vegetables. This is designed as a pilot that will be expanded not only in Colombia, but ideally brought back to the US! That way we have impact in both countries and will have local projects as well as international.  This is a very exciting part of our expanding programs!

Our first partnership with a Colombian medical school brought six 3rd year medical students onto the team and they acted as translators for the physicians and part of the education team. We hope to have a Skype session with them during the program so everyone can hear their amazing message about the mission.  The entire mission team saw lives changed and miracles every day!  You will experience more of those during the program!  It will be great!

Our 2016 mission will be a return to Bucaramanga, Colombia July 15-22.  Maybe you will be joining us!

LAUGHH Foundation is registered as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Contributions to the LAUGHH Foundation are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.

2015 Mission Team Roster Nearly Complete!

The applications are coming in, and those combined with verbal confirmations we nearly have our team roster filled!

If you’ve been in contact with Gisella or Francie about this trip, please complete your application ASAP for your spot on the team.

We are still hoping to recruit 2 more PEDIATRICIANS for this rewarding mission trip.  If you know someone who may be interested, please have them contact us through this web page or Facebook.

Mission Dates:  July 16-26, 2015

2015 LAUGHH Medical Mission Trip – July 16-26!

We are happy to announce our 2015 LAUGHH Medical Mission trip back to Bucaramanga, Colombia.  (It’s COLOMBIA, not Columbia!).

If you’re new to LAUGHH and want to join us, visit the Forms Library to begin your application process.

If you’ve previously been on a LAUGHH Mission trip and want to go this year, you can use our Short Form to apply.


2014 Mission Destinations: Lebrija, Piedecuesta, Giron, and Berlin

Bucaramanga by night

Bucaramanga by night

Francie, our founder and president, accompanied Gisella, our medical coordinator, on an exploratory trip to the small cities near our mission home base of Bucaramanga, Colombia.  Gisella is from Bucaramanga and has led mission trips to the area for many years.

Our missions have the support of local medical leadership and we are welcomed by the First Ladies in the region, who are happy to support health care and education for their most needy people.

Lebrija school

A school in Lebrija that will serve as our clinic.

We are adding a key feature to our missions to plant seeds of change and improve health outcomes through education.  We will give nutrition consults to every patient and encourage exercise by conducting exercise classes at the clinic sites.  In addition, each patient will receive vitamins, a toothbrush, fluoride painting (for the kids) and those in need will receive eye exams and glasses.

We will visit Lebrija, Piedecuesta, and Giron on the outskirts of Bucaramanga and travel up to Berlin at 10,000 feet.



The clinic in Piedecuesta.

The clinic in Piedecuesta.

The clinic in Giron.

The clinic in Giron.

We have a new look!

With all the new positive energy surrounding LAUGHH Foundation and our growing programs, it was time to take a step back to better understand who we are, who we want to be and why we are driven to do what we do.

As we began that process, we worked with Mike at Fervor to really get down to the nitty-gritty and through those conversations, our new logo evolved.  How do you evoke the healing action of laughing with a logo?  Mike and his team figured it out!  Our new logo features a red helium balloon.  Can’t you just see the JOY and hear the belly laughter of a child with a new red helium balloon LIFTing towards the heavens?  The string and the bottom of the balloon look like an arrow pointing UP – just the way we want to go and lead others.

LAUGHH is an acronym that stands for Live Abundantly Using Guided Helping Hands.

LIVE:  Live!  Live well, with joy and laughter.  Use the healing powers of laughter to your advantage.

“Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.” Psalm 126:2

ABUNDANTLY:  We are blessed and believe we must share our abundance with others.  We are inspired by John 10:10:

“I came that they may have life, and may have it abundantly.”

USING:  Our gifts are many; we must put them to good use.

“From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from the one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded.”  Luke 12:48

GUIDED:  We believe a higher power is guiding us through the creation of LAUGHH and its programs.  We continue to ask for inspiration and guidance as we grow and evolve.

HELPING: We aspire to help others through our programs, to LIFT those who need a hand UP and not a hand out.  We want to give those in need an edge to improve their lives, whether it be an improvement to their health and wellness or to a young person’s professional future.

HANDS:  Hands provide a connecting point for us all. With our hands we deliver manual labor, a healing touch, a strong, confident handshake. With our hands we hold the string to a red balloon as it lifts towards the heavens. St. Theresa of Avila tells us:

“Christ has no body on earth but yours, no hands but yours, no feet but yours. Yours are the eyes through which Christ’s compassion for the world is to look out; yours are the feet with which He is to go about doing good; and yours are the hands with which He is to bless us now.”

Thank you, Mike and the gang at Fervor!  You rock!

We love our new look and hope YOU do too.