The Smiles for Hope foundation gives children the gift of a confident smile.
The Gift of a Beautiful Smile
In 2010, Dr. David Lach noticed the rising number of homeless people in the Central Florida area and saw a need to give back to children in displaced circumstances. This sparked the idea for his foundation and Smiles for Hope was born.
Through Smiles for Hope, underprivileged children whose families may not be able to afford orthodontic care are provided scholarships for treatment. They are given the gift of a confident smile.
“I felt they needed something in their life that inspires them, gives them confidence and hope, something that helps them to move on and reach their goals,” Lach says. “You can never estimate the inspiration of what a beautiful new smile can bring.”
Smiles For Hope
The Smiles for Hope program provides between eight to 10 children at a time with free orthodontic care. A child will typically wear a set of braces for about 18 months and, depending on the insurance coverage, the cost can range from $3,000 to $7,000, according to the Journal of Clinical Orthodontists.
Lach recently expanded the scope of Smiles for Hope to include children with pediatric cancer. One day, the mother of a patient who heard about the foundation through a local charity called Runway to Hope, approached him about how her children could benefit from both organizations. When Runway to Hope was unable to assist her daughter, Jacqueline Jara, the Smiles for Hope foundation selected her as scholarship recipient.
“[Jacqueline’s] story was touching and very powerful,” Lach says. “She was always positive, always came with her brother to office visits with a big smile on her face no matter what she was going through. I think her disposition through all of this, and her patience, her persistent interest in having a new smile and how important it was to her was very moving.”
The board of directors is tasked with choosing applicants for the Smiles for Hope scholarship. While its members change regularly, each one looks for applicants who give back to the community or have a special story. Most of all, they choose children that they feel would value the benefit the most. Once one child graduates from the program, the application process opens back up for others.
Smiles for Hope has partnered with Orange County Public Schools to further its mission by providing a way to give back to local schools. For example, families who attend family fun night events are encouraged to bring canned goods that are donated back to a school’s pantry.
Lach plans to further this partnership by creating sponsorships and continuing to donate food and canned goods to schools in need.
He says, “We would love to continue to expand the scope in the future to include more doctors, more children’s dentists and orthodontists. Hopefully children could eventually be seen in other Orlando offices to make an even greater impact in our community, each providing one more Smile for Hope at a time.”