Monday, May 28, 2012

Help fund the Denture Project

Greater Seattle Cares is embarking on an exciting new initiative, and we need your help.

Putting teeth into our support for TC3

For many years, GSC has been partnering with Medical Teams International to regularly bring a mobile dental clinic to Tent City 3, to provide emergency dental care to campers there. And for many years, we’ve known that there were campers who needed more help than the mobile clinic could offer. Then, last December, we actually did a survey to see what the need was. And we were stunned by what we found: 20% of the campers needed dentures.

“I’ve tried to get a job, but who’s going to hire me looking like this?”

What does it mean to not have teeth? It means you can’t eat the meals that generous supporters provide to Tent City 3. You can only eat things that are very soft. You tend not to smile too much, so your lack of teeth doesn’t show. People who meet you make automatic negative judgments. And if you’re living with chronic infections from broken teeth, that can even become life threatening. We realized that we needed to do something about this situation. While some campers may qualify for Medicaid, state budget cuts have resulted in the entire dental program being closed. But dentures are expensive -$5,000 for a full set. How could we ever afford this?

The difference it makes

In the face of so much need, the GSC board decided to act. And here’s what we’re hearing from the few campers we’ve been able to help so far.

Trudi hasn’t had any upper teeth since someone stole her dentures while she was living in a shelter. Now Trudi can eat things she hasn’t tasted in years. Best of all, when Trudi’s daughter gets married this summer, Trudi can meet her daughter’s in-laws with confidence.  

Shawn says, "Last year I was out with some friends and someone made a comment about my bad teeth. It made me feel really bad. I like to smile. Now I can without feeling ashamed. Having the dentures gives a great uplifting feeling. I am able to chew my food, and I am regaining my health with better nutrition. I was one of the first to sign up – I was so excited I actually cried. Bless the people who donated money to make this happen for me."  

And Wade says, "I just got my dentures. I feel more confident about myself. I am chewing my food for the first time in a long time. With my teeth in, I was able to talk to people and get housing. The best part about that is now I will be able to see my kids. I am very grateful for this new life I have been given."

We need your help.

Clearly, this is an opportunity for us to make a significant difference in the life of a homeless person – a difference that can lead to improved health, increased self-esteem, and the hope of moving back into the mainstream. Won’t you help?
  • $475 buys an upper or lower denture
  • $950 provides an entire set of teeth
  • And any amount helps!
Donating is easy! Simply donate online or you can send us a check with your contribution.

 Springtime is a time of hope. Let’s put some hope into the hearts of these Tent City residents – and some teeth in their mouths! Thank you. And God bless you. The Greater Seattle Cares Board

A Special Note from GSC Board Member, Bill Bear Dear friends of Tent City 3 campers, I am one of those people who has dentures. While annoying at times, it is nothing compared to going through life with missing teeth. Without all your teeth, you can't eat or talk properly, and for many it is impossible to work because of the low self-esteem that missing teeth brings. I was fortunate to have most of the cost of my dentures covered by insurance. Folks at Tent City don't have that option. Campers in my situation have had to resign themselves to never having a full mouth of teeth. There are many barriers to people who are trying to get out of homelessness. Many are really hard to address. But here’s one we can address. Greater Seattle Cares has contracted with an experienced denturist to provide dentures for an initial group of Tent City 3 campers. The total cost is around $12,000. The board has committed itself to raising this money, because we see how big a difference this will make in the lives of these campers. But we cannot do this without your help. Whatever amount you can give will help us reach our goal. Please donate any amount online or you can send us a check with your contribution. Thank you, Bill