The Hope SMILE Center’s Grand Opening was held Dec. 11, 2012 with a wonderful night of celebration. It was a night filled with remembering how miraculous the SMILE Center came about and rejoicing that the SMILE Center is now a reality.
It all started 4 years ago when a homeless man (Jeremy Burnett) came to The HOPE Center for help. He was very poorly dressed, and didn’t smell very pleasant and most of his teeth were rotten or missing. He was 35 years old and had lived on the streets for over 10 years. As he came for food, he heard messages about how important it is to give of yourself to help others. He loved math and decided to offer to volunteer to tutor math in the GED school at the HOPE Center. The school’s director gave him a math test and discovered that he was very knowledgeable in math and they welcomed him to tutor their students. They helped him get clean clothes through their clothing department, and he was able to get a bath at the Union Gospel Mission and he always got good meals at The HOPE Center.
After observing him for several months it became apparent that he was “gifted” in math. Jo Ann Reyes, the President of The HOPE Center, began encouraging him to go to college and get his degree in math so he could teach in high school or college. But because he was 35 years old, and only had gotten his GED, he didn’t think he would qualify to even apply to go to college. After much encouragement, he finally agreed to go to Texas Wesleyan University, in Fort Worth and take an entrance exam. The results were amazing to everyone. He made the highest score in math in the history of the school. That day he was offered a scholarship to enter college and within two weeks he moved off the “streets” and into a college dorm.
At the end of his first semester at TWU he had a GPA of 4.0. Jeremy was honored at The HOPE Center’s Christmas Banquet for his achievements and The Star-Telegram ran an article about him in the news paper. Dr. Laurence Oliver and Dental Implant Specialist from Colleyville, TX read the article and saw his pictures which showed his rotten and missing teeth and called The HOPE Center and offered to give Jeremy a new smile. After 3 months of going to Dr. Olivers office, he received a complete makeover with new implants. This radically changed Jeremy’s life. He is now a senior at TWU and while there he has been a summer missionary in Cambodia and an exchange student in Argentina and is making plans to get his doctorate degree in Math so he can teach on the college level.
Dr. Oliver became a board member of The HOPE Center and began working on opening a Dental office called HOPE Smile Center in the HOPE Center facility. With the help his dear friend, Jamie Phillips and a $30,000 grant from Honor Students class (The Nature of Giving) at TCU taught by Dr. Ron Pitcock, and many others from the HOPE Center, the clinic was completed and the Grand Opening was Dec. 11th, 2012.
The Mission of the HOPE Smile Center is to provide individuals with a beautiful Smile so they can have a better opportunity for getting jobs to support their families. It is very hard to get a good job if you have rotten, broken and missing teeth. It is like they are imprisoned in their own body and can’t break out to get that job that is so needed, because of the condition of their teeth. Dr. Oliver is opening the door for them to succeed with a beautiful smile.
Already over 10 people have received beautiful new smiles. It has been an exciting time at The HOPE Center as people come in embarrassed with their teeth and in a few weeks are given a beautiful smile. It’s amazing to see the transformation that takes place not only in their smile, but in the twinkle in their eyes. As Dr. Oliver’s hands creates their smile they are being touched with hands of love not only from man but from God.
After they get their new smile, they are enrolled in a Job training programs for 16 weeks and they will be preparing for job interviews and seeking employment through The HOPE Center’s Employment Job Search center and Texas Workforce Solutions. This is part of The HOPE Center’s mission of “Fighting Hunger and Feeding HOPE”. The HOPE Center fights hunger by distributing food three days a week, and it Feeds HOPE through job training and assisting in job interviews and researching where to send our students for job applications. With a new smile the potential for getting a job is much higher especially with all the training and support through HOPE Center’s job sources for new jobs.