A new dental care service, Greater Smiles of Eastern Oregon, hopes to put bright smiles on the faces of people who need it most.
The charity, based in John Day, will be a cooperative agreement with dentists in private practice to provide services to people who meet a certain criteria for need, such as sliding scale federal poverty financial guidelines, according to board of directors member Craige McMillan of John Day.
Priority will be give to veterans, domestic violence abuse victims, the working poor and children who have no other options for dental care, McMillan said. Bad teeth often hold people back in life and result in health, employment and self-esteem issues, he added.
“For those without insurance, restoring normal chewing function, treating chronic infection or restoring even a simple smile can seem impossible,” McMillan said.
He said, for some people, a new smile alone might not be enough to provide the necessary turnaround in life. Through assessments, Greater Smiles will be able to partner with other organizations to help with other issues the person might have.
Greater Smiles is an outreach of Christian Communication and Ministry, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. McMillan’s wife, Virginia, is a John Day dentist and also on the Greater Smiles board.
The pilot phase of the project will start in Grant County. After the first year, the organizers plan to expand the service into Harney County, followed by other areas of Eastern Oregon, Idaho and Eastern Washington.
McMillan said fundraising for Greater Smiles will be a two-step process.
He said there are many private foundations in Oregon available to help fund such services as Greater Smiles. However, to get the plan before those foundations, organizers have determined a need of $12,000 for specialized software and fundraising experience.
They plan to raise that money locally, with the raffle of a steer raised by the Voigt ranch, as the first fundraiser. The prize includes cutting, de-boning and wrapping by Russell’s Custom Meats in John Day.
Tickets are on sale at various locations. The drawing will be Sept. 30.
However, people can win prizes even before the big drawing. Everyone who purchases a ticket gets a big, shiny red button advertising the steer raffle. Fundraiser organizers are out and about looking for people wearing the buttons and are ready to award them a prize on the spot.
Terry Williams, who was “caught” leaving the Squeeze In in John Day, won a gift card for lunch for two — coincidentally, at the Squeeze In. Toni McCollum, a waitress at the Squeeze In, was wearing her button and won a gift card for chocolate from Flower Shop and More.
McMillan said no one in the organization is taking a salary this year, “so almost all the money we raise will go for the tools to target Oregon foundations for the funding to take this project across all of Eastern Oregon.”
To make a donation, volunteer or for more information, call Eddie Smith at 541-620-1895 or contact Greater Smiles at 541-628-7866 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Visit Greater Smiles at greatersmiles.org.
Steer for smiles
What: Steer raffle to benefit Greater Smiles.
When: Drawing will be Sept. 30.
Cost: Tickets are $10 each, three for $25, 6 for $50, plus a bonus ticket; or 12 for $100, plus two tickets.
Where: Tickets are available at the Austin House, Prairie Gifts and Hardware, True Value Hardware, Ace Hardware, 1188 Brewing Company, Squeeze In, Russell’s Custom Meats, Canyon City Shell, Grant County Chamber of Commerce, Virginia McMillan DDS, Silver Spur in Mt. Vernon, OK Garage in Long Creek and Boyers Store in Monument.