Michael, an 11-year-old boy, came to us with a simple request: “I need braces for one reason: the people make fun of me at school because my teeth are crooked. That makes me sad.”
Michael’s teeth not only affected his self-confidence, but they also impacted his speech, which caused additional problems at school including reading and his ability to read fluently.
“He often walks with his head down and is hesitant to talk to others,” his teachers said.
Unfortunately, Michael’s family did not have the means to help make his wish come true. But Michael wasn’t the only one struggling. Jaden, a 13-year-old girl from the same area, was also dealing with self-confidence issues surrounding her teeth. When her mom lost her job and the family lost their house, she had little reason to smile.
She commented, “I don’t like to smile right now. If I got braces, I would be excited. It would want to make me smile all the time.”
When the staff at Molen Orthodontics heard the heart-breaking stories of Michael and Jaden, we knew we had to do something. So we decided to put a smile back on these kids’ faces and pay it forward to the community that has helped us for so many years.
Molen Orthodontics partnered with Smile for a Lifetime (S4L), an international program that provides orthodontic scholarships for kids in need. We even decided to head up a local chapter in the South Puget Sound area to provide additional scholarships to families in need. The scholarships cover the cost of receiving braces for children between the ages of 11 and 17.
With a plan in motion, Molen Orthodontics set out to help Michael and Jaden by providing them with orthodontic scholarships. As a matter of fact, we just finished putting the new braces on their teeth. It was a life-changing moment for both children as well as the staff at Molen.
Many of us have families that have lived in this community for generations. To hear stories about local kids who are struggling with self-confidence, speech impediments or pain in their mouth is difficult. Knowing that we can make an impact and instill some newfound confidence gives us a reason to smile as well.
As part of the scholarship program, Molen asked Michael and Jaden to submit a Pay it Forward plan of their own. We like to think of it as a business plan for the soul. Each youth will give back to their community by providing 40 hours of community service and may choose to donate their time however they like. They might volunteer at a local food bank, an orphanage, an animal shelter or any number or charities. The specifics are up to them. We just encourage them to choose a cause that touches their hearts.
Both Jaden and Michael have decided to give back to the community by volunteering their time at the local food bank. Giving back teaches kids about the power of service. It helps them to develop character and compassion. And it allows them to develop skills and gain experiences that will prepare them for college and for being a responsible adult.
We believe that when you seek to change lives for the better, you discover that it is you who has been changed. Reaching out and serving others impacts you in ways you might never imagine. It makes each of us, not only better citizens in our community, but better human beings. At Molen, it is our hope that this scholarship program will be the means of inspiring hope in our community while changing lives for the better, one smile at a time.