IN THE NEWS
LOCAL WORKShare a Smile began by doing local service projects including: hygiene kits for the homeless, presentations in local elementary schools, sub for Santa, and the ADA’s “Give Kids a Smile Day”. Shortly after we were organized we teamed up with the Food and Care Coalition in Provo Utah to provide dentistry for the homeless and poor.
Each month Share a Smile volunteers push back the dining room tables in the Food and Care Coalition and set up our portable dental office where those in need are given new smiles. This effort is unique in that it focuses on rehabilitation of individuals. Those served are enrolled in a mentoring program that helps assist them back to a more “normal” way of life. Dental care is a part of this rehabilitation.
Rather than receiving only emergency care, each individual receives full comprehensive care. This may stretch out over several months. We have seen severely decayed mouths restored to full esthetics and function. Confidence in talking and smiling is also
restored. The change is remarkable!
This program is also unique in that services provided are not just a hand out. Those receiving care are required to give back to the community. They provide community service for each dental visit. This service includes washing streets in the downtown area, gardening and snow removal for the elderly, trash removal, and many other community projects. In this way they preserve their dignity and learn the importance of being part of a community.
Last year alone volunteers were able to give comprehensive care to 52 individuals and gave over $40,000 of services.
This year Share a Smile is again teaming up with the Food and Care Coalition to build a permanent dental clinic. Because our goal is to be open 3 days a week, many more individuals will be able to be served. It will also make it possible for more dental professionals to become involved.
Share a Smile recruits volunteers from the dental professionals in the Utah Valley area. They have been very eager to come and give their time and skills. We also work with local labs who build crowns, partials and full dentures at no charge. We have students from the pre-dental department at Brigham Young University and Utah Valley State College joining us each month in our efforts. They are learning first hand the value of service very early in their careers. We also have hygienists from the local hygiene school that come and give oral hygiene education demonstrations. We also have Boy Scout of America volunteers who come to learn and meet the requirements of their dentistry merit badge. Our volunteer pool is well over a hundred and continues to grow.
Many others volunteer by giving donations to help fund our projects. We have also had several foundations sponsor our larger equipment items. We have accountants that oversee our books. We run completely on donations and volunteerism. We do not have paid staff or employees. Board members run the programs and administrate without compensation. We are very unique in that we have 0% administrative costs.
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