Changing the lives of foster children one smile at a time

Maria Pinzon, D.D.S.Pinzon

I first heard about For The Seventh Generation and the possibility of working with metro area foster children when my patient Kelly Ramsey approached me in late 2004. Pro bono work has always been part of my practice, so I was happy to help, and thrilled when in early 2005, I started working with my first For The Seventh Generation referred patient, a fourteen year old girl named Jasmine.

When Jasmine first came to my office she was a shy, introverted young girl who had severe dental protrusion because of a childhood spent sucking her thumb. The first thing she and I worked on was getting her to stop the thumb-sucking habit. I explained braces wouldn’t help if she couldn’t stop relying on her thumb, and gave her resources to ultimately discontinue her habit. Six months later, Jasmine was ready to begin Orthodontic treatment.

One of the fantastic things about being an orthodontist is that I get to spend a substantial amount of time with my patients, interacting with and getting to know them as we work together on their treatment. Over the next year and a half, I watched Jasmine literally bloom into a self-confident, caring, giving individual. Jasmine told me all about her first babysitting job – and her plans to buy a present for her best friend with her first paycheck. As her teeth straightened and her smile became more attractive, she obviously started feeling better about herself and her prospects for the future.

It’s hard to imagine the things that foster children go through – and being able to help turn Jasmine’s entire life around, with something as minor as orthodontic treatment, was such a reward!

I lost contact with Jasmine after we finished her treatment, but a few years later I saw her at a For The Seventh Generation fundraising event. Jasmine looked beautiful! During the event, she spoke about the difference that For The Seventh Generation made in her life, and I felt a lot of pride knowing I was part of that difference. Today, Jasmine is in college and plans to become an attorney advocating for the next generation of children in foster care.

I worked with another young woman in foster care after completing Jasmine’s treatment, and I learned that not every young person is as resilient and ready to turn his or her life around as Jasmine was. But whether or not we as volunteers are able to bond with our patients as I did with Jasmine, we are still changing young lives for the better.

If you’re considering providing volunteer services to a metro Detroit-area foster child or family, I encourage you to make the commitment. For The Seventh Generation makes the process easy – and however you choose to contribute your time and effort, I guarantee that working with this organization will change your life for the better.

I am currently completing treatment on several pro bono patients, and am looking forward to working with more foster children referred by For The Seventh Generation. Please join in, one child at a time. We as professionals really can leave a positive effect on our community for the next seven generations!

For more about Jasmine’s story, check out this video from the FTSG Facebook page: