For 19-year-old Lyric Wardlow, walking into the Rose Dental Group clinic Saturday morning meant taking the first step toward changing how she feels about herself.
Wardlow, who is part of the Statesman Season for Caring campaign, has endured bullying since elementary school for an overbite that now has affected her self-confidence. She and her mom became homeless when she was 9.
“I never thought this day would come,” Wardlow said just before receiving her free teeth-cleaning. “I can’t remember the last time I’ve been to a doctor’s office.”
This year the Capital Area Dental Foundation decided to start its Season for Caring gift by holding a Dental Day and offering a free cleaning and assessment to all members of the featured families. It more than doubled the number of Season for Caring recipients served by the foundation this year compared with last year.
On Saturday, the foundation enlisted the help of seven dentists, four hygienists and four dental assistants as well as six other volunteers. Rose Dental Group donated its space, and Dentists with a Heart also helped facilitate the event.
Since 2011, the Capital Area Dental Foundation has donated $78,918.45 worth of services to Season for Caring, including about $23,000 worth of care last year.
“This initiative continues to be an indispensable resource for families throughout our community,” Executive Director Adam McKeivier said. “Not only does the program highlight some of the urgent needs of our neighbors, but it also demonstrates the positive impact we can make when we leverage our collective efforts for good. We know a healthy smile has the power to transform lives, and CADF is honored to contribute in this meaningful way.”
“Ready to go for a ride?” Kallina Mikulencak, a dentist volunteering Saturday, asked 6-year-old Adeline Jones. “This is my favorite part!” she said as the dentist stepped on a floor button that made the dental chair slowly recline.
Adeline’s mother, Nikki Jones, has a rare disorder that weakens her immune system. Frequent vomiting has decayed her teeth and eroded her enamel.
“Everyone used to know me for my smile,” she said. “I’m so excited to be seeing a dentist for the first time in about three years.”
“Days like today feed my soul,” said Sergio Escobar, chairman of Dentists with a Heart and a volunteer Saturday. “It’s such a luxury that we have the skill set these families need. They give me so much energy.”
Season for Caring is just one way the Capital Area Dental Foundation helps the community. Every year the foundation also helps Health Alliance for Austin Musicians with preventive care and treatment for working musicians, Healthy Smiles for Texas with comprehensive care for seniors and people who are disabled, St. Vincent de Paul with emergency dental care for adults who are considered working poor, and HeartGift with preoperative dental care for children who come to Austin from around the world for heart surgery.
The Capital Area Dental Foundation has started doing Dental Days for some of the causes it supports because it allows dentists to give patients a cleaning as well as assessing them for future needs. Then the foundation can go to its dentists and let them know what care might be needed for those patients and see which of its members would like to donate services. It’s allowed more dentists to become involved with the program.
The true amount of this year’s gift to Season for Caring from the Capital Area Dental Foundation won’t be known for months as future care plans for family members are established and carried out.
To volunteer your services with the Capital Area Dental Foundation, contact the foundation at 512-992-1217 or email@example.com.
SEASON FOR CARING
• To make a monetary donation to Season for Caring, use the coupon on Page D8 or go online to statesman.com/seasonforcaring . Now through Dec. 11, the Sheth family has offered a matching grant of up to $100,000.
• Find more stories, videos and photos of all the families at statesman.com/seasonforcaring .
• To learn more about making a donation of an item or a service, call 512-445-3590 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
MORE MEDICAL NEEDS
Many of the families have additional medical needs.
Jazmyne Johnson, 24, would like more testing for her daughter Nakayla, 4, to see if there is more than microcephaly to explain her developmental delays. To find out more about the Johnson family or to give an item on its wish list, contact Opportunities for Williamson and Burnet Counties, 512-763-1400, opportunitiesforwbc.org.
Nikki Jones needs colorful adhesive bandages to help Adeline be part of her care, as well as new toothbrushes, and donations to help with health insurance premiums and medical debt. Wonders & Worries, 512-329-5757, wondersandworries.org.
Trisha Sherwood, 40, needs an orthodonist; a wheelchair lift for her Dodge Journey; a wheelchair assistance dog for son Alden, 16; equine and art therapy; and help paying for medications not covered by insurance. Any Baby Can, 512-454-3743, anybabycan.org.
Bertha Foster, 43, who is partially paralyzed after a series of strokes, needs adult diapers and pads as well as more nursing care. Meal on Wheels Central Texas at 512-476-6325, ext. 159 or at mealsonwheelscentraltexas.org.
Marcelo Gracia, 46, who has Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, needs more home health care hours and a van with a wheelchair lift or a way to adapt his current van. Hospice Austin, 512-342-4726, hospiceaustin.org.
Mayra Negron Romero, 45, needs help with medical expenses for daughter, Samanta, 25, who has cancer. She also needs grief counseling for her son, Luis, 10, who has struggled with his dad’s death. Foundation Communities, 512-610-7391, foundcom.org.
Joyce Marvel, 73, who has developmental delays and uses a walker after a bus hit her, needs more home health care hours, a reclining lift chair and adult diapers. Family Eldercare, 512-450-0844, familyeldercare.org.
Hawa Hassan, 30, a refugee from Kenya, needs more physical therapy and a van with a wheelchair lift for her son Haji, 9, who has muscular dystrophy. Caritas of Austin, 512-646-1277, caritasofaustin.org.