Sometime after I first began volunteering in the Whitewater Affordable Dental Clinic in 2010 and before I took the position of Executive Director in 2017, I had the privilege of spending 18 months in the "Land of the Eternal Spring"- aka Guatemala.
These are NOT what a typical 3 year old Guatemalan girl from the village's teeth look like... but this is the impact that can happen when change is made!! Education that counts. By this age, most kids in Guatemala have had debilitating pain from tooth decay and infection that can affect their whole body. So, so proud of Hilda Chiquitó for her countless hours, months of studying and years of service in preventative dentistry to her country!
I am blessed to have been able to travel on many out of the country dental mission trips both in Guatemala and the Dominican Republic. I have anesthetized children for the removal of permanent teeth that came in no more than a year ago but due to poor diet, poor oral hygiene and a decayed baby tooth which was supposed to hold it's spot, are nothing more than a source of pain and health problems. I've seen countless children and adults alike who are struggling to be productive at school, work and home due to dental conditions. I have left every one of those mission trips knowing we'd barely scratched the surface of needs and in some ways contributed to more. Necessarily taking out grossly decayed teeth removes the infection but brings on it's own set of additional problems.
Today my friend and former dental hygiene student sent me this picture of her and her daughter in the clinic. It touched me to see pearly whites on a 3 year old Guatemalan girl. To be honest, in all my time working in 3rd world countries, I can count on one hand how many smiles I've seen like hers in children. It will always be my passion to share what access to knowledge and preventative dental care can do for everyone.
I'm proud of the work Affordable Dental Care is doing for those in the gap right here in Wisconsin! Neglecting dental needs due to cost simply leads to more needs and more costs. Yet many Americans are stuck.
If the vision of making ADC nationwide seems crazy, maybe you haven't experienced what I and the 1 in 3 Americans without access to dental care have. We are only 1 step in front of 3rd world countries. And in some ways, not even.
Teamwork Divides the Task and Multiplies the Success. Team ADC in the Madison Marathon 11/11/18 by Krysta Wetzel
Sometimes the only pretty thing about my running is the scenery! :)- By Krysta Wetzel- Executive Director
The Madison Marathon is RIGHT around the corner. I'm not sure if I'm more excited or more scared!! :) Excited, I suppose, knowing what we're doing it for. Miles for Smiles. Agape Grants. Hope, Health and Opportunity in the communities we serve. If you'd have asked me 150 miles ago though, I'd have told you "SCARED"!! Running isn't exactly my thing. And I've often used Achievements' biggest enemy, "Mr. Excuse", to keep from it!
That all changed a couple months ago when one of our supporters, Jason Krause of Henry Schein came to the clinic and said, "Do you suppose it's just luck that the Madison Marathon runs RIGHT in front of your new clinic?! No way! Let's make it an event!!" Now, if you have met Jason even one time, you know he's got a contagious energy to him, you'd have said "heck yes!!" too!!! :)
Imagining myself cheering on our team of runners at our water table in front of the clinic was exciting! Then a board member, Dr. Robb Warren challenged me to be a leader...doh! My board is really supportive of me MOST of the time. So when any one of them make a suggestion different than my plan, I LISTEN! "Yah, I should get in on this", I told myself! Just 12 weeks away from the marathon, having not run more than 3 consecutive miles anytime in the last few years, I found a 10 week half marathon training guide (I'm a strategic planner by nature so I planned for an injury, surprise trip to Tahiti, or runner abduction and kidnapping all limited to 14 days, ha!). I saved it to my home screen. I don't even want to think how many times I probably have looked at that thing! Eeek, but it worked! A week ago I ran the final and longest run of the plan. 12 miles. I averaged 11:37 miles. It's not fast. But I can assure you, I cannot walk a mile in that time! And it's a long way from where I began. The times on the trail have not only made my dog love me more than anyone or anything on the planet (very annoying if you need a personal space bubble ever but otherwise pretty cool, lol), they have made me realize that I can achieve the things I don't make excuses for why I can't.
Like you, I thought I didn't have time to run. Truth be told, that long run took me 2hr and 19 minutes. And after some quick math, calculations show I've spent over 25 hours running in preparation for this event. These aren't lost hours though. They are hours of gain. Health for myself. Thought with no (normal) distractions. Focus on the patients who have touched me deeply because they need our help. I have thought about them so much on my runs, many by face and name. And there is something magical that happens when you mix thinking of such things with endorphins- I'm not Webster but I'll call it MOTIVATION. I suppose God doesn't need endorphins to think of us each by name and face as He helps us each day. In fact, He must have natural Divine Super Level Endorphins Squared in order to love us all in our need!
So now that I'm 2 weeks ahead of schedule, I bet you're wondering what I'm doing for fun in my "spare time"?
I'm blogging. And I ran today. :)
I'm updating our team of 19 runners on how we're doing on fund raising. And I'm sending out financial support requests to friends, family and community members I think would care about helping neighbors smile. I'm picking up our jerseys and volunteer Tshirts tomorrow to deliver to our 6 corporate sponsors: Lifetime Family Dentistry, Cool Beans, Warren Family Dental, SVA, Middleton Family Dental and Associated Bank, the volunteers they are sending to cheer us on, and to our running team led by Jason. I'm thinking about heading back to the soccer field tomorrow after having not been there for weeks because there is only so many hours in the day. And like I tell my kids (who have 4 BILLION times the energy I do), "You can't do it all!" Ugh, hate that when good parenting gets in the way!
Want to help support? We've got secure online giving that will take you less than 2 min. Check out our website while you're at it. 1 in 3 people aren't going to the dentist because they can't afford it. It's affecting their health and eventually their self esteem. Tell them about us. Our fees are around half of traditional fees, creating a middle ground for those without dental insurance. Find my name in the list of runners on our donation page.
We talk all the time about our mission to CREATE A MIDDLE GROUND. That's who we are honored to serve. Those who fall in the cracks between traditional dentistry and government aid. Where is the middle ground? It's in our clinics, which look just like a traditional one except for the fees. What do our patients look like? They look like Rick and Diane, a positive couple who has had to neglect dental care sometimes because they simply couldn't afford it. They're parents and they are grandparents, excited about their most recent granddaughter just born! The old adage that life is 90% what you make of it came to mind as I chatted with Rick one day in our reception room. He has a medical condition that has hampered his ability to hold a traditional job, even to drive. But as a family provider, Rick runs an online camping store. When is the last time you decompressed in the great outdoors? www.newmansoutdoorgear.com. Taking care of your teeth and gums isn't the only way to create a healthier you, spending time to recharge and refocus your priorities is another one! Thank you Rick and Diane for letting us get to know you and sharing a little of your story to inspire others! We wish you great success!
Vicky was a recipient of one of the Agape Grants. She came to Affordable Dental Care (ADC) after hearing this about our clinic and mission on Channel 3000 in Madison. Her medical doctor implored that she go see a dentist because her entire body was suffering from what he believed stemmed from dental conditions. She came to us after 40 YEARS of not having been to the dentist. "My self esteem is nil.", she told us in regards to how her smile affected her. She and her husband both work but their incomes don't cover enough for regular dental care, nor do they qualify for government aid. Like many, they hang in the gap. They are the sweetest, most grateful people and have allowed us to share their story to help others. Part way through Vicky's treatment series with us, their apartment building caught fire, killing one infant in the building. Thankfully they didn't loose anything in comparison to a life but they did have to stay out of the building for a while, yielding unexpected expense. "The positive side was we got to have cable at the hotel!" joked Vicky's husband, "That's a treat for us!" Thanking us and sharing their gratitude of finding a dental home at around half cost, they had no idea we had a grant program. After reviewing their application, ADC felt compelled to provide her an Agape Grant which covered Vicky's entire next appointment. There's hardly a way to explain this beautiful experience when she came in for that. Thank you to the Madison Christian Giving Fund for providing this grant to Vicky with us. God works in such mysterious ways- completely unplanned, a stack of Bibles donated by Dr. Nathan Considine were dropped off in our office as Vicky was in the chair the day of her treatment of the grant. She came around the corner when finished and saw the Bible's and asked if she could have one. I watched her clutch it to her chest. Maybe that's what dental work does to us, or maybe it was divine! LOL
We are so thankful for all the partners with us in this mission to make a change in our communities, one smile at a time!
Independence Day celebrates America’s independence from the British Empire. It is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776.
We're so thankful for our freedom, the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
"When it comes to dental care, many veterans simply fall through the cracks. According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, veterans have to meet certain eligibility factors to receive dental care, such as service-related dental disability or condition, or be a former prisoner of war. In addition, some veterans who quality for dental benefits still don't receive the care they need." (source: American Dental Assoc)
Our clinics are open to anyone in need, but this week, we especially think of everyone who was and is a part of maintaining our freedoms in the US. God bless the USA!
At the very end of December, 2017, Affordable Dental Care was able to negotiate a lease agreement with Chiropractor Dr. Tim Turino at 2110 Fordem Ave. to open our second non profit dental clinic within his building. Tim is a truly kind and caring guy, the kind of person and landlord you enjoy seeing around during the week! Several weeks before we opened the location, Dr. Gary Silbaugh, a chiropractor in Sun Prarie, WI who knows our mission serves the Latino population as well, donated a stack of Spanish Bibles to be available to patients in the reception area or to take home if they don't have one. Score! Then just this week, we received a stack of English Bibles to make available in our clinics as well. These came from Dr. Nathan Considine, one of the LSM chiropractors who invited me in to one of their doctor meetings to share about our ADC model. 15 minutes after our Founder Tim Buck dropped those Bibles off, a patient, who before coming to us had gone 40 years without visiting the dentist, came out after having several badly diseased teeth removed, thanks to the help of a scholarship provided by the Madison Christian Giving Fund. As she arrived at the front desk, her eyes went straight to the freshly placed Bibles and she asked in her ever so sweet voice, "May I take one of those?" If I had never believed in divine timing, I did at that moment! She grabbed it and clutched it to her chest, the folded gauze leaving her mouth hanging open just a smidge, as she said "thank you". We are blessed to walk this woman through gaining her self confidence back, along with getting her to a place where she can gain back weight lost from poor nutrition due to dental pain and disease.
At a time when dental costs can be "back breaking" for many people, we want to give a shout out to these 3 wonderful chiropractors in the Madison area who have played a role in helping us with our mission of restoring hope, health and opportunity in the community. Non profits are not made successful by great ideas, they are made successful by those who support great ideas and follow them up. Thanks guys!!
As my founder said when I shared the story... "What a fantastic testimony to the mission of ADC. Our Wonderful Founder, over 2000 years ago didn't just have an idea, but followed it up. He has been making all the difference, inspiring and entrusting His idea to those fallible people he loved and who love, and who, imperfectly, follow Him. (Referencing John 4:17-21)
Maybe I have dentistry on the brain but this cartoon reminds me of a dentist peering down into a patient's mouth.
Earlier in the week, we had a patient scheduled to be seen for a tooth that was causing her pain. She was driving from quite a ways away and was nearly to the office when her car broke down in an intersection. She called us to say she wouldn't be able to make her appointment. Then a good Samaritan stopped by and helped rig some cables in order for her to make it the few more blocks here. She was late but with her call we were able to coordinate the schedule to be able to see her, especially in light of her rough afternoon and efforts to get here! She ended up being our last patient of the day. Living a ways away, she had no family or friends close by to call so after her appointment our wonderful dentist, Dr. Jack Fisher was able to walk out to the parking lot to take a look at the car too. He used a wrench to tighten her battery cables and send her safely on her way back home.
Now, I should mention, Dr. Fisher is an AMAZING dentist but is not normally available for car repairs, haha! :) I will say though that just down the road from us is Chet's Car Care. http://www.chetscarcare.com/ Chet's has been providing honest, great quality car care in the area for more than 3 decades. It's where I have personally done all of my car care, I've gotten to know them over the years and I trust them. It's a place I highly recommend!
In a perfect world, prevention is always practiced. But it's peculiar how things like cars... or teeth, tend to break down at the most inconvenient times, leaving us a ball of stress, either from pain or financial strain. Thank you Dr. Fisher for being that kind of dentist, one who truly cares about the person in front of you! We are blessed to have you serving with us, providing affordable dentistry to those who have had to neglect needed care due to cost!
Yesterday I was serving in the clinic as the dental hygienist. I was seeing a patient for the second half of his deep cleaning. Scaling and Root Planing if you will, but that just sounds scary so I like to call it a "deep cleaning" like it is. :) I learned my patient was a sheep farmer. And that each day, the flock is moved to a new piece of ground. The reason is because the ground fills with parasites if they stay in the same place. The sheep shouldn't come back in less than 30 days but for good measure, my patient usually keeps at least 50 days between returns. As I got to know him more, I realized that it wasn't just with his sheep that he goes the extra mile. He shared about the his years serving in his local food pantry. At one point the pantry had a huge donation of frozen, whole chickens. "What a WONDERFUL donation!" he thought. But he watched the chicken nuggets fly off the shelves instead of the chickens. Why would anyone choose chicken nuggets over actual whole chickens?" he wondered. And then it dawned on him that the majority of those coming in there did not know how to prepare or cook chicken. So my patient gave cooking lessons in his food pantry. That is going the extra mile! He also goes the extra mile when he drives here, literally! Having an affordable option for dentistry is the reason he drives over one hour each way and that he's back in the dental chair after several years of neglecting what he knew he needed to do. We're so happy to have him and all the other farmers and wonderful people who go the extra mile!
It seems like an appropriate question to ask today being May 1. But that question lingers among the staff here at ADC as we think about one of our paitents last week who came in just a couple hours after receiving the hard news of a cancer diagnosis that day.
Catching glimpse of him while I walked down the hall, I watched my doc's eyes tear up just a bit . I heard him ask, "Do you mind me asking, are you a man of faith?" This patient is a man of few words in general and it was his second visit with us. "No" was all I heard as I finished my way back down the hall. Our doctor asked his permission to share the circumstance with some family and friends who he assured him would be willing to pray for him. And we did just that over the weekend. Today, Dr. Fisher called and left him a voicemail just to say we were thinking of him and praying for him. He left him his personal cell # in case he needed someone to just talk to.
Aside from how proud I am to work with a doctor like that, I just love the avenues that dentistry brings to get involved in peoples lives, at some of their hardest times, to just be there for them- not with all the answers, just there.
Having lived in Wisconsin all my life, I know April is does not qualify for "hardest times", but certainly the extra rain can be a downer. The question is, poetry aside, do the showers really bring the flowers? Well, that is our prayer for this special patient. That these hard times would allow something greater than he could have imagined to blossom. #hopehealthandopportunity