Executive Director, Arizona Dental Foundation
Executive Director, Arizona Community Dental Clinic
"We have so many stories that they have become history around the office. Imagine a 12-year-old girl (who had) decay in 26 of her teeth... (a boy who can now) share dinner with his family, eat the same foods they are having, and chew without pain..."
Organization through which your Give Kids A Smile program takes place:
Arizona Dental Foundation
The duration of your involvement in the GKAS program:
I was hired in 2002 specifically to coordinate the first GKAS events in Arizona. Since then over 15,000 children have received $5 million in free dental care statewide.
Why do you participate in Give Kids A Smile programs?
I always had an affinity for helping youth succeed – from bookstore story times to Girl Scout summer camps. To see so many children visit the dentist for the first time wearing giant smiles weakened my knees! I just have to repeat it over and over again.
We have so many stories that they have become history around the office. The children who say they can’t go home yet because their face is still “numbling” or the ones that pull on your shirt and say, “can I sign up for next year?” are the best. But here are a few stories that we like to share about the impact of GKAS.
Imagine a young boy living with his grandparents in Tucson. After visiting a dentist for the first time at a GKAS event, he writes a note entirely in Spanish thanking the dentist because now he can share dinner with his family, eat the same foods they are having, and chew without pain.
Then imagine a young girl visiting the homeless dental clinic in Phoenix with the rest of her classmates. Lately, she’s been fighting chronic infections throughout her little body because her father knocked out a front tooth during a domestic dispute. Volunteer dentists not only remove the culprit tooth fragments, but they work with her school nurse to file a complaint with Child Protective Services.
Now, imagine a young teenager from Mesa who for the past couple of years has been taking a mirror and a pocket knife and cutting into his gums to remove a salivary gland that keeps growing back and impacting his speech patterns. Arizona Dental Foundation volunteers were able to treat him with minor surgery along with 300 of his peers who received free care at a recent dental school GKAS event.
Finally, imagine a 12-year-old girl with decay in 26 of her teeth. She did not have any systemic problems creating the bacterial infections and two of her siblings only required minor treatment. Working through community volunteers, ADF was able to assure her treatment was completed by identifying a dental home following a GKAS event.