Tuesday, November 12, 2013

12 Little Smiles

Nobody likes working on a Saturday.  It's not my favorite thing, cramps my weekend style. 
Recently I volunteered to work a Saturday, along with the majority of my coworkers.  Key word there is VOLUNTEERED.  It had to be one of the most rewarding "workdays" of my career.


Last November as I walked my daughter into school I was stopped by a teacher.  She knew I worked in the dental field.  She told me there was a child in her class in desperate need of dental care.  She said that he visited the nurse daily, had trouble eating, and remained mute for the majority of the day.  I was speechless.  As fate would have it the little boy walked by and the teacher stopped him.  She introduced him to me and said "Show Ava's mom your hurt tooth".  Oy.  I was lost on advice.  I knew what I was looking at was out of my ballpark.  This kid needed dental care, and in a bad way.  I knew who I could call, but I also knew that this kid needed more than what we were able to offer. 

So, what did I do?  I called Dr. Sindelar. On a Friday.  His day off.  At 8am.  And that's what started project "12 Little Smiles".  It took nearly a year for us to clear the time, work out the legal mumbo jumbo , find the kiddos who needed us the most, and make this happen. 

Three weeks ago we gathered in the wee hours of a Saturday morning.  Dr. Ewing,
Dr. Sindelar, Pam, Marcia, Linda, Jen, Leah, Katie, Megan, Jan, and myself.  We all had smiles on our faces and were eager to get started.  And then they began to file in.....one by one.  Every kid started out in hygiene and ended in restorative.  There were minimal tears, lots of smiles and a few moments that made me crack up.  My favorite was a kid in Dr. Sindelar's chair.  Linda was assisting, Katie was observing and he called me in.  This kid was a bit on the hyper side, but he was funny.  He was getting some cavities filled and it was injection time.  He was flipping and flopping like a fish.  I went over and took charge of the left arm and leg.  He apparently just wanted to dance.  By the time we were done I realized that was probably similar to what the priests in the Exorcist felt like.  You gotta love Dr. Sindelar.  The kid danced out of the chair and straight to the treasure chest.  Turned out he had a good time. 

I think we all had a good time that day.  Dr. Ewing has always said that there is nothing more valuable that we can give to our community than volunteering our time and our talent.  What a shock.....he was right.  There are 12 kids walking around with healthy mouths and a lot of eagerness to w0rk on good hygiene habits. 

"12 Little Smiles" part 2 is in the works for this February.  This time it's going to be a little different.  The first time I relied on school nurses from the Mehlville School District to select the children, this time we're relying on you.  Stay tuned for further details.  Who do you know that needs us? 

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