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Smiling Again

March 2011

Randi Hays has been looking for work for two years. Unsuccessfully.

“You know you’re judged by your appearance,” says Hays, a Medford resident.

Hays moved to the Rogue Valley with her 2 ½ year old son in 1999, living initially at Medford’s Dunn House after escaping domestic violence that landed her abuser in jail. She believes her employment difficulties are due, in part, to her teeth.

Over the years, her teeth have been slowly deteriorating, and dental work has not always been successful. She has no lower teeth and few uppers.

Hays found Help Now! through a referral from Community Works’ Helpline. Over the years, Help Now! has received sporadic requests for emergency dental work from indigent individuals and families, but the pace of such requests has increased markedly over the past year as state dental assistance to low income and disabled individuals and families has fallen victim to state budget cuts. Fortunately, Help Now! has compiled a network of dental professionals who are willing to donate assistance to Help Now! clients.

Hays’ situation, was more complicated than usual. Dentures were needed requiring both dental expertise for impressions and fitting as well as a lab for their creation.

Help Now! advocates called Thunderhead Dental Lab of Medford, among others called in an attempt to help Hays. Thunderhead makes dentures.

“I read about Help Now!’s work in the newspaper a few months ago and wanted to help. This was my little way of helping out,” says Paula Grosse, owner of Thunderhead.

Grosse also recommended three dentists with whom she works regularly. A dentist would be needed to extract a few remaining teeth and manage the process. Central Point dentist Kathy Sprick agreed to donate her time and expertise to complete the work for Hays.

As of mid-March, Hays has been fitted for her new dentures and expects to have the process completed in two or three weeks.

“If it wasn’t for the help everyone has given me, I don’t know what I’d do. I even called Oprah once, but that didn’t help,” Hays says.

For now, she’s looking forward to a new smile… and a job after that.