We are sisters who had a particularly difficult couple of years. To move forward, we created a plan that would help others while we helped ourselves.
Our goal was to spend 4 months driving across the United States engaging, educating and empowering its children about oral health, volunteering and spreading laughter throughout its communities, learning about its history, experiencing its many cultures, and discovering and appreciating its natural beauty. Thank you for checking us out. We could not have done this without your support.
We are Allison Routman and Monica Routman, and this is how we decided to spead smiles around the United States.
It started as a desire to drive to Mississippi this spring for our Aunt’s birthday party (a sure-to-be-incredible Southern get together with family we don’t often see). We planned on spending a weekend with them and then continuing on to the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. This quickly turned into a “BBQ & Blues” tour through the middle of the country, with hopes of stopping in places like Kansas City, St. Louis, and Memphis to learn about music, history, culture, and food. Before we knew it, we’d created an outline for a road trip that encompassed all 48 continental states and included not only opportunities to learn, visit friends and family, and explore the country, but also the chance to camp and hike through many of the U.S. National Parks and Forests, fulfilling dreams on both of our bucket lists.
We became quickly fixated on accomplishing our new dream but realized we wanted more than a vacation. We wanted to reshape our situation and help others to better theirs. We started incorporating ways to gain experience in our fields of interest while positively making a difference everywhere we traveled.
Allison Routman has a Master of Public Health and is a Certified Health Education Specialist. Monica Routman has a BA in English and speaks American Sign Language. Allison Routman and Monica have both worked extensively with children and are natural presenters who try to incorporate the arts in all aspects of life. Allison Routman and Monica Routman have both received certifications to be Laughter Yoga leaders.
So we were left with this question: How can we improve our lives and the lives of those we encounter? The answer was as basic and as effective as a smile. We decided our impact would be twofold; we would educate youth on oral health and bring healing families together through laughter yoga.
We have been strong advocates for oral health ever since we were little girls and our grandmother, a retired dental hygienist, would frequently come over and clean our teeth. She instilled in us the knowledge and desire to properly care for our teeth, taught us which foods to eat or avoid for optimal oral health, and insisted that our “pearly white smiles” could change the world!
Because of our interest in improving oral health behaviors through education and literacy, we decided to partner with National Children's Oral Health Foundation (NCOHF). We took NCOHF's ToothFairy 101 Community Education Kit on the road with us to educate youth on the importance of oral health care and hygiene.
Our interest in working with Ronald McDonald House Charities (RMHC) is perhaps even more personal. When our younger sister, Jacqueline, was being treated at Duke University Hospital in North Carolina, our mom left Georgia to be with her. When our father drove us up to visit them, and during Monica's two bone marrow transplant donations, we found temporary home and comfort at the Ronald McDonald House of Durham.
For many years, even after Jacqueline's death, our mom made it her personal mission to collect pop tabs for RMHC everywhere we went. We have vivid memories of her making announcements on airplanes and requesting help from the flight attendants. We used to take the small cardboard pop tab houses everywhere we went and leave them for people to fill. She encouraged us to get our elementary school to implement a pop tab collection program, which we did. Her office used to be filled with garbage bags full of them.
Though our time spent at RMHC revolved around our sister's illness, we made many positive memories with her there. Now that we are certified Laughter Yoga instructors, and we know the magic of smiles and laughter, we excitedly created lasting, happy memories for other children and families in need of healing at Ronald McDonald Houses across the country.
Now, having completed our trip, we will continue to spread smiles through laughter yoga and oral health education. We decided to relocate to New York. Please contact us via this website to set up a session.
En-Rout in a Nutshell
48 States. 2 Sisters. 1 Honda.
Miles of Smiles: A Healthy De·ter·mi·[nation]
Grandma Sylvia 1970 - Even at 46, she received the Best Student Award at the graduation of her Dental Hygienist class.
Allison, Jacqueline, Sarah, and Monica
Duke University Hospital September 1993