By Tom Bostock
Tom Lane, former Navy chaplain and successful businessman, searched for a meaningful way to give back by helping people smile again. In 2009, Tom launched SmileFaith Foundation to bless under-served Veterans and others in need with charitable dental care and life-changing inspiration.
Although many Veterans can receive medical treatment at Veterans hospitals and facilities around the country, most have no access to low or no cost VA dental services. SmileFaith helps to fill that void, offering a quality dental care program to honorably discharged Veterans. Veterans with proof of service may receive certain free services such as exams, X-Rays, routine cleanings, simple extractions, and fillings. In addition, some Veterans may qualify for free dental implants upon special assessment.
In a recent telephone interview, Dr. Michael O’Carroll (“Dr. Mike”), SmileFaith Vice President of Operations, shared a heartfelt story indicative of Tom Lane and his wife’s early ministry, demonstrating their willingness to help others.
Over 12 years ago, Ace Opportunities, a local “transitional facility”, asked Tom if he could help one of their new residents named “Rosemarie”. She had recently completed the Pasco County Drug Court Program, emerging from a life filled with addictions and homelessness.
Together, Tom and his team gave Rosemarie the opportunity of a wonderful, new life… repairing years of dental neglect with a beautiful, new smile, and restoring hope and renewed self-esteem through mentoring and discipleship. Today, that same young woman is an integral part of SmileFaith Foundation, working tirelessly with the less fortunate.
SmileFaith’s mission statement reads: “Smile Faith Foundation has been providing ‘HOPE WITH EVERY SMILE’ since its beginning in 2009. As a 501c3 nonprofit, SmileFaith brings charitable dental care and life-changing resources to under-served Veterans, disadvantaged residents of the Appalachian Mountains and others in need through several unique programs. SmileFaith’s professional network also affords dental practitioners with unique opportunities for community service, advanced training, and practice growth.”
With $20,659,742 in charitable services already provided to date, SmileFaith’s outreach programs are each designed to meet different community dental and social needs. Since its humble beginnings, SmileFaith has grown to encompass new programs to assist various populations. These programs include SmileFaith Veterans Dental Clinic, Smiles 4 Tampa Bay, SmileFaith Appalachia, SmileFaith Dental Labs, SmileFaith Advanced Training & Research Institute, and Dentistry That Cares. Each is an important part of their services to the less fortunate.
SmileFaith Veterans Dental Clinic provides dental services for our under-served Veterans of Pasco County, Tampa Bay and the surrounding areas who lack access to dental benefits. This equates to about 95% of all Veterans. SmileFaith’s website, (www.SmileFaith.org), reminds us that “the SmileFaith Veterans Dental Clinic is not affiliated with the Veterans Administration (VA). We are only able to bless our deserving Veterans through your generous contributions, and through the support of our dedicated volunteer staff and dentists.”
It is the mission of Smiles 4 Tampa Bay to provide charitable and low-cost dental care to the Tampa Bay area, using a suggested donation schedule and payment plans that fit patient’s individual budgets. The suggested donations support the Veterans Dental Clinic outreach. Call SmileFaith at 727-261-1211 for your consultation and additional information. Note: SmileFaith does not accept dental insurance.
SmileFaith Appalachia is another faith-based outreach program that targets the dental needs of the less fortunate living in the Appalachian Mountains. Special events are held at the Jenkins, Kentucky SmileFaith Dental Clinic and the SmileFaith Event Center. Typical of that program, the website reported another successful event held in that portion of the state:
“On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the SmileFaith Dental Team visited the Happy Church in Quicksand, Kentucky providing their services for free. Generators buzzed in the Happy Church parking lot this weekend. This is a perfect place to hold this event because our ministry is primarily to poor children in Appalachia,” John Jacobson, Administrative Pastor of the Happy Church said.
“The 10,000 square foot SmileFaith Event Center in Jenkins, Kentucky hosts birthday parties, business meetings, sporting events, conferences, concerts, church events and many more community happenings. The funds raised help defray the cost of the free dental services offered by SmileFaith Appalachia.
Dentistry That Cares is a SmileFaith program which assists dental practices nationwide. Participating dental offices have the opportunity to relieve suffering and garner positive media attention by holding “Day of Hope” community charity dental events. Practices that participate in these events typically see a marked growth, and quickly become known in the community as caring dental professionals!
SmileFaith Foundation has devoted an important portion of their 35,000 square foot main campus located at 5400 School Road, New Port Richey, FL to the education of dentists in implantology and surgical dentistry. Through the SmileFaith Advanced Training & Research Institute, licensed dentists receive hands-on training treating Veteran patients. The site notes that “practicing dentists receive an unparalleled understanding and superior skill enhancement of implantology and surgical dentistry!”
As a 501c3 charity, SmileFaith depends on the donations from the caring business community and private individuals. If you would like to help with this life-changing work, visit www.smilefaith.org. Click on “Donate” and choose where you want your donation used: General Donation; Support Our Veterans; or Human Trafficking.
For further information, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or plan to visit the local SmileFaith facility located at 5400 School Road, New Port Richey, FL 34652. Call 727-261-1211 with any questions or to make a dental appointment. Hours of Operation: Mon-Thurs 8:00AM-4:00PM; Fri 8:00AM-1:00PM. Everyone is welcome!