Isabel Bloom Creation Supports Work of Operation Smile 

December 01, 2015 9:45 am • By Jennifer DeWitt

The smile that 3-year-old Charlie Wolfe had as she painted an Isabel Bloom sculpture bright pink is just the expression that Operation Smile helps restore for children around the world.

Fittingly, a statue inspired by Charlie now will give a financial boost to Operation Smile’s medical work with children and young adults.

Thanks to a collaboration between Isabel Bloom and Charlie’s parents, “American Pickers” star Mike Wolfe and Jodi Wolfe, Operation Smile will be able to help more children who, like Charlie, were born with cleft lips and cleft palates.  Isabel Bloom’s co-owners presented a $10,000 donation Monday to an Operation Smile representative.

“We’ve done other sculptures for organizations…but this one is different because we have a personal connection,” said Donna Young, co-owner of Isabel Bloom.  Charlie’s aunt, Jill Shively (Jody’s Sister), is the company’s controller.

The donation was raised through proceeds from the sale of the Isabel Bloom sculpture “Charlie’s Smile,” which features a little girl dressed in a pink tutu and boots, sitting on a dog. It was inspired by a photograph of Charlie.

Mike Wolfe, the creator and executive producer of the History Channel’s TV series “American Pickers,” explained how doctors discovered Charlie’s cleft lip and cleft palate during a routine ultrasound before her birth.  “It’s been a journey.”

“We had a lot of questions and were very concerned.  But one of the things we felt blessed about is that she had something that was cosmetic.” He said.  “We were very fortunate we had the ability to find good doctors.”

Charlie creates her own Isabel Bloom with her grandmother, Photo by: Isabel Bloom
Charlie creates her own Isabel Bloom with her grandmother, Photo by: Isabel Bloom

But through her extensive research, Jodi Wolfe learned of Operation Smile and its vast work as well as how common the birth defect is, and how devastating it can be particularly in third world countries.  “Charlie’s case here was so different; it’s cosmetic in the U.S. But in other countries it can mean life or death,” she said. “(These children) can’t eat. Sometimes they are left alongside the road to die.  These families often are shunned.  We are so blessed to be in this country.”

It was the couple’s own positive experience with Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital that prompted them to become advocates for Operation Smile and reach out to Isabel Bloom.  They since have been asked to become Operation Smile ambassadors, Jodi Wolfe said.

Young, who owns Isabel Bloom with Cathy Nevins and Bill Barrett, said the project “would not have happened without Mike, Jodi and Charlie.”

She added Operation Smile’s surgeries, which are performed by trained medical teams of volunteers, cost about $240 a piece.  “I’m no mathematician, but I did the math.  We will provide 41 surgeries for 41 children.”

Connie Chiles, an Operation Smile volunteer and a registered nurse at Ottumwa (Iowa) Regional Health Center, was thrilled to accept the check on behalf of the organization.  Thinking of the hundreds of families they help, she said “Until you volunteer on a mission, you do not know the impact it makes on a child.”

Chiles, who has been on 27 missions, said it is not unusual for the team to operate on 100 children per mission.  Though she has “lots of stories” from her trips, she cannot forget one father in Jimma, Ethiopia, who saved enough for one operation although he had three children, ages 12, 14 and 18, all in need.  He arrived at the hospital with all three, she said, telling how his wife had died in childbirth.  Her fourth child, who had been born without the birth defect, later died “because there was no one to feed it.”

“We did (operations on) all three children,” Chiles said.  The father knew his wife “was watching down and knew all three of her children were perfect now.”

“Charlie’s Smile” is available for sale online at

Left to right, Donna Young, (Co-owner and artist), Bill Barrett, Mike and Cathy Nevins. / Photo By: Isabel Bloom
Left to right, Donna Young, (Co-owner and artist), Bill Barrett, Mike Wolfe, and Cathy Nevins. Photo By: Isabel Bloom















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  1. Cheryl just martin

    Being the grandmother of a beautiful baby boy born with cerebral palsy I can speak 1st hand of how heartbreaking it is to have a child born with a handicapp. May God continue to bless you and your family for what you give back to those who are less fortunate. Miss Charice is a beautiful little spirit.

    1. Carmen Bernice Leyva-Gonzales

      I agree it’s better to give to help the ones who need to receive as for my grandson Jesse first born with web fingers both hands took approx two years for surgery now at the age of twenty he free from web fingers. I have a total of twenty-one grandchildren. My story gets better his mother my first born daughter Amber born with a brain tumor had surgery but unable to remove it’s in the center of her brain not cancerous but still lives one day at a time she prays every day to spend with her children . I just thought I would share my story with others god bless every single one of your children.

  2. ShirleyLyons

    As a child of cleft palate and hare lip myself, I can testify that s ‘SMILE’ makes all the difference in the world. I was born 62 years ago and my parents couldn’t afford my surgeries so I also was helped finically by a foundation. It has made me the outgoing person I am today. Thanks for taking up the cause Mike!!!!

  3. Ellyn

    Hi Mike! sorry to bother but as I nurse I want to recommend you and Frank buy a truck that has a lift on it TO SAVE YOUR BACKS PLEASE. Okay, sorry to boss and preach. Get it done. Love you and show!! Keep up the good work and buy that lift. e.

  4. Nevile and Janice Cole

    My Dear Favourite Boys on the tele….We just love your show! Nothing gets done when you are on, well other things are done half heartedly! We are in our 70’s and should have more brains but we have learnt so much from viewing your programmes. Love all the silly banter that passes between the two of you and of course must mention darling Danielle! She is such a cutie and a lot of credit must go to her also for your show to be such a success. I know so much more about motor bikes, old cars, old people and what they collect, oh, the list is too long! Keep up the excellent work young men and the girls running the shops! Heaps of hugs, Janice and Neville from NZ.

  5. Rhys and Patty

    Just wanted to wish you a belated Happy Birthday and the wish you spend many more with your little girl. Enjoy and treasure the time they grow up fast.
    Rhys and Patty
    We met and rode around Daytona Beach a couple of years back.

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