It’s a tale of miraculous networking, connecting the dots and putting together puzzle pieces – ultimately culminating in a grand, beautiful picture. It’s the story of how Veronica Munguia, a widow and single mother of five boys, received complimentary dental treatment from the Bright Now!® Dental office in Visalia, Calif., courtesy of Smiles for Everyone Foundation’s Community Smile Project (CSP). But it’s also so much more than that.
Back to the Basics
It all starts with life’s serendipitous moments, good hearts and the dedicated actions of employees and affiliated providers.
Todd Nelson, Smile Brands Union Sales Account Manager, had worked with Michele Kennedy at the Teamsters Union Local #517, for years. “Michele is the office manager for one of the union clients I partner with,” says Todd. “Over the years, she and I got to know each other pretty well.”
“I felt comfortable enough to open up to Todd about Veronica,” says Michele. “When Veronica’s husband passed away, she had no one to help her. My church welcomed her into the congregation, and it was then we learned the extent of her devastating situation.”
After losing her husband, Veronica was left alone with five sons, one of whom is severely autistic and requires around-the-clock care, rendering her unable to work. Furthermore, she was in dire need of dental treatment, which she wasn’t able to obtain because she had no coverage and little money.
“Neglect of dental care can lead to horrible illnesses, and Veronica was continually becoming sick due to the abysses and infections,” says Michele. “I then felt convinced that I had to ask, ‘Could somebody help?’”
Destiny Delivers an Answer
Michele turned to Todd, not necessarily with the expectation of receiving treatment through Smile Brands, but merely as a starting point to ask for direction. Little did she know that it would be through the Smiles for Everyone Foundation Community Smile Project that Veronica would receive not just dental treatment that transformed her teeth, but her life as well.
Todd credits Omid Alemi, Director of Market Operations for Northern California, saying, “I sent photos of Veronica to Omid, along with a backstory. Omid took the ball and ran with it; he’s the one who really made it happen.”
Valerie Murillo, Office Manager at the Visalia, Calif., Bright Now! Dental practice where Veronica received treatment, says, “Her story really got to the Team members. The PC was prepared to go full-out and Dr. Jennifer Masters did an amazing job by giving her a brand new makeover! By the end of the treatments, Veronica had tears in her eyes, and her emotions affected everyone. In the beginning, we had a hard time getting Veronica to smile. Now, she’s smiling all the time!”
Michele agrees, “Before, she used to cover her mouth with her hand and never smile. Now, she looks up and lights up the whole room with her smile. One act of kindness can truly make a difference. Not only is this changing her life, it’s changing her children’s lives.”
Todd concludes, “It is heartwarming to work for an organization that’s willing to go above and beyond for somebody in the community. That’s really something. It brings a human side to the organization I work for, and makes me appreciate Smile Brands that much more.”
Pictured above: The Visalia, Calif., Bright Now!® Dental office Team, l – r: Nicole Bueno, SRDA; Baylie Underwood, RDH; Valerie Murillo, OM; Dr. Jennifer Masters; and Hli Vang, PBC. Seated is Community Smile Project patient Veronica Munguia.
Before & After