Sheffield Orthodontics recently placed braces on local teens as part of the Smiles for a Lifetime program. The national nonprofit organization provides free orthodonture to patients who can’t afford treatment.
“It was a great week,” said Dr. Robert Sheffield. “The kids were so happy. There were lots tears from the parents and me. It’s such a life change for these children.”
For the Hankins family – one of the recipients of the program – it was a day they’ll never forget. “As a dad, every time Asia and I discussed braces I would feel as though I was letting her down,” said Carlos Hankins in a letter to Sheffield. “When Asia told me she received a scholarship, she had tears of joy in her eyes, which brought tears of joy to mine … I am so grateful to your foundation.”
Bringing smiles – and the occasional tears of joy – to local families is the impetus behind the program. Local dentists Drs. Wendy Herman and Bill Morrice provided free dental care for the seven recipients, and Dr. John Gilbert, an oral surgeon, volunteered to do wisdom-teeth extractions for two patients. This year, Sheffield is planning to offer 12 orthodontic scholarships, which includes free bands and ongoing treatment.
As part of the scholarship program, recipients agree to continue the good will by paying it forward to another group or organization that helps those in need.
“As a family we created a program to serve some of the underprivileged in various communities,” said Hankins. “The name of the program is Project HELLO, which stands for Helping Everyone Live Life Optimistically. It has been nearly 10 years since our program’s conception and sometimes we feel like giving up, but your generosity has motivated us to continue providing these services in these challenging times.”
The East County board of directors for Smile selects children from the local area through an application process. Nominations are currently being accepted, and Sheffield encourages anyone with a need – or anyone who knows a child with a need – to apply.
“The board is looking for children between the ages of 11 and 18 who really need orthodontic treatment,” said Sheffield. “It’s the gift of a new smile, which hopefully leads to improved self-confidence and a dramatic change for these children. And that in essence, is the mission of Smile for a Lifetime.”
Applications may be obtained by visiting www.sheffieldortho.com, e-mailing email@example.com or calling 925-757-9100.