Threatening rain didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of visitors at the Johnson Carriage House on Brawley School Road last month. Inside, people chatted, participated in a silent auction, munched hors d’oeuvres and supported their favorite cause, Smile for a Lifetime.
Dave and Jenny Paquette, founders of the Lake Norman Chapter of Smile for a Lifetime, are spreading the word about the nonprofit organization. They’re a team working to improve the dental health of children. Paquette, an orthodontist, said the chapter’s mission is to provide smiles for a group of kids who “fall through the cracks.”
Jenny manages the nonprofit foundation. She coordinates scholarship applications, chairs the Smile for a Lifetime board and works with a committee to organize a once-a-year fundraiser.
Board members, dentists and members of the community have joined the cause to provide smiles for deserving children.
Correcting orthodontic needs of children can change lives. Paquette said studies show that people with attractive smiles are more successful. Youngsters who lack attractive smiles may not reach their potential.
The chapter pledges to treat 12 children a year. Scholarships provide financial assistance for patients.
The criteria for selection are based on a child’s financial need, academic standing and the severity of the dental problem.
Many applicants are involved in school or community activities such as student government or Scouting. During the course of treatment, each patient contributes 40 hours of service to the community.
Paquette provides orthodontic services and Ormco Corp., a national sponsor, donates braces.
Before orthodontic work can begin, most youngsters require additional treatment. Often, they do not have a dentist.
“Dentists donate whatever they can within the scope of their practice,” Paquette said.
Jon Packman, a general dentist, is treating a child awaiting jaw surgery. “These are good kids who’ve grown up without lots of luxuries. They work hard and are doing the best they can,” Packman said.
Although dentists and oral surgeons may donate their time, fees are incurred when a patient requires restorative work. The fundraiser covers costs such as ordering prosthetics or paying hospitals for the use of surgical facilities.
Benefits like this one raise awareness about improving the dental health of youngsters.
Smile for a Lifetime board member Laura Marino is an Iredell-Statesville school nurse who shares information about the program with other nurses. She has seen a need within the school system.
“I’m all about the kids. You want them to feel confident and good about themselves,” Marino said.
Smile for a Lifetime was founded in Arkansas four years ago by orthodontist Benjamin Burris, a friend of the Paquettes. The Lake Norman chapter was the third one organized. Today, 136 chapters exist.
At the first fundraiser last year, the Lake Norman chapter raised more money than any other in the country.
“I think we’re doing really good things for kids. Given the right structure, people in the community really do take care of their own,” Paquette said.
Sandra Phillips is a freelance writer for Lake Norman News. Have a story idea for Sandra? Email her at email@example.com.
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