In this very special episode of What The Hell Just Happened?! Paul speaks to a call-in guest, Robin Coen, who is the national executive director of the Smile For A Lifetime foundation. Their mission is to help give children access to braces who may otherwise not be able to afford it. Listen to find out how you can help their cause, and give back this season.
Voice Over: You’re about to listen to another episode of What The Hell Just Happened?! Join Paul Edwwards and his guests as they discuss and sometimes even solve some interesting HR problems.
Paul: And… I’m gonna go off the rails sometimes and talk about whatever I want.
Paul: I want to Welcome, everybody, to today’s podcast of what the heck just happened today. I’m pretty excited. I well, just to kind of give a little preface to today’s interview, which is going to be with Robin Coen, you’re on with us. How’s your day going?
Robin: I’m pretty good. Thank you for having me.
Paul: Excellent, I’m very happy to have you. And you’re based in Colorado, Colorado Springs, is that correct?
Paul: And for everybody’s benefit, the reason why we’re having Robin on is we’re going to she’s the national executive director of Smile for Lifetime. And this is a wonderful organization who we found or they found us at one of our meetings that we were at. And once we interacted with Robin, we just knew that this was something that we wanted to support.
Paul: You know, what the hell just happened,podcast. Well, mine is something that’s born out of the other company that I own and founded with my brother, which is called Cedr HR Solutions. And we’ve had a history at Cedr of supporting charitable work ever since our inception in 2006. Robin, when were you guys founded?
Paul: Awesome. So, Robin, let’s just jump in and talk about the work that Smile for Lifetime does. What is your guy’s mission?
Robin: Our mission is to help families who cannot afford great the cost of research because as you can imagine, it’s very expensive and these families, we are really trying to work with these kids to help build their self-esteem, to build their confidence, to help link them with orthodontist who want to donate their service because believe it or not, most orthodontist want to give back to the community and want to help.
Robin:So we kind of found that there was a need for these kids who were really struggling getting bullied and teased, made fun of because they couldn’t afford braces. And then we had orthodontists wanting to help these families. So we just kind of came together naturally to like hey, let’s have a national charity that can kind of vet and screen and find the families.Imagine the orthodontists who want to get back.
Paul: OK, so when when a orthodontist or dentist joins your program, you guys are the one that do all the vetting for them because, you know, one of the things that that I find among, you know, entrepreneurs and owners of practices and stuff is we want to do something for people, but we don’t know exactly how to do it or, you know, we just don’t have the methods even though we have the means for for accomplishing it.
Paul: So one of the things I love about you guys is that you actually do the vetting
Paul: How is that done? Or how do people apply and get picked to get services through your organization?
Robin: Well, we have several things as far as the applicants. Well, actually, let me start with the orthodontist first and then kind of close and make sense.
Robin: For orthodontists again, most of them want to give back. They really want to, you know, help people in their community and give back, but they don’t know how to find those families that are really in need, you know, but what we do is we will then vet the families so families will apply through schools, through they’ll go to schools or social workers and say, hey, I can’t afford braces and getting bullied and teased.
Robin: So what people do is they send them to our website, there’s an application there that they fill out and then they actually submit to us tax returns. We make sure that the orthodontists are getting a family in need.
Robin: We get clearance forms. We make sure they’re going to the dentist and getting their teeth cleaned because either you’re not going to follow through with the tons of orthodontics appointments that you’re going to have if you’re not even getting your teeth cleaned once a year.
Robin: So we really try to vet the families and make sure that we’re going to send you the orthodontist, a family that’s going to follow through. We make sure they’re doing well in school. And if not, this gives them something to work for. We’ll say, you know, a C or better if you have a B and you’re not doing very well, work harder in school and then you can get a scholarship through our program to get the braces.
Robin: So families like that as well. And then what happens once we gather all the records and we know the family, you know, meets our criteria, we then get with an orthodontist, we say, hey, we have a family in your area. Would you be willing to treat them pro-bono? And again, most of them love it because we’ve already screened the families.
Robin: And for the orthodontist, we have two ways they can join. They can be we call it a chapter member, where what they do is they actually either will have a staff or work with us to market it in your community because believe it or not, it’s hard to find kids who are in need of the braces because most time families that are struggling, they never think to even dream that there’s an orthodontist who would actually donate service.
Robin: So they don’t even dream to go that route, to think, is there a charity that would help me with braces or.
Paul: Yeah, and I imagine that there is no shortage of kids. It’s just trying to figure out how to get you know, how to let them know that this is available. So once they join the chapter as a as a practice, then they can help with your outreach. I suppose you guys do outreach as well.
Robin: Yeah, they could either as a chapter member, we can help them get into the schools, promote it. We make little bookmarks and posters that they can send to their local school dentist office, different places, the kind of market that, “hey, my practice is partnering with Smile For Lifetime and I’m going to treat so many kids free every year.”
Robin: Then the other way an orthodontist can join us is they can literally just kind of participate with us. And just, you know, I mentioned to you, we have a waiting list. They could contact me. I don’t want to join and market but I want to take a child off the waiting list and I’ll take, you know, one per year or whatever and make it so so you can really join full fledged jump in as a chapter member or just saying, hey, oh, I’m going to take one or two kids.
Paul: Oh, absolutely. I love that. And I love that, too, for our businesses out there who are going to be calling in. I promise you, Robin, that we’re going to get some more folks in service to their communities through your program. It’s really good to also know that you’re not going to be overrun. I mean, we have this dentistry from a heart program that I know I don’t know if it’s still going on or not.
Paul: But dentists from around the country would all kinds of band together in a community and offer a day of free dentistry. And no kidding, the lines were like, I mean, out the door where they would start at six in the morning and they would go till 9:00 at night and, you know, barely get through everybody who was in line by 10:00 that morning.
Robin: That’s really nice that they do them.
Paul: Yeah, it’s good. OK,, so you guys do the vetting. You guys provide the resources to either take kids off the waitlist or to have the orthodontic practice join a chapter as a chapter member. And they’re kind of, you know, they’re in the community, they’re doing this. I do want to say one thing where I want to take a little bit of a left hand turn.
Paul: We talk about engagement with employees all the time. And from the stage, I will often say, you know, you got to come up with a vision for your practice and what it means in the community. And you got to communicate that and you got to communicate it to new employees and you got to reinforce it with the employees who stay with you for, you know, months and years.
Paul: You always got to be kind of justifying why you are in the community and we’re here to straighten teeth isn’t nearly as inspirational as you know. “We’re here to provide care”. And as part of that care, not only do we work with people who come to us, but we also do outreach into our community and we make a difference for the kids.
Paul: You know, one of the things I was reading, you know, through your stuff is and I can relate to this because I’m a military brat and you’re based in Colorado Springs. I was there as a kid. And kids can be cruel and and one of the things that I was not surprised to see is that teeth shaming is like one of the number one causes of kids getting bullied in school.
Paul: And you know, if you can just make a difference in one or two or five of those kids lives in your community, I mean, what an impact, you know, what a big deal that is. So I just love that part.
Robin: Well, you know, and for our staff, you know, it’s so meaningful. I will have kids send us in cards will call us to let us know how we made a difference for these kids. Because a lot of times people are really thinking that braces are cosmetic, that they’re luxury, that it’s, you know, like getting a facelift or something.
Robin: And, you know, it’s not really for these families. This is you’re changing their life by fixing their teeth because as you just said, they’re getting bullied. They’re getting teased. They’re covering their mouths. They don’t want to smile. They’re withdrawing because they’re so embarrassed of their teeth and their smile. And like you said, kids are going to make fun of them.
Robin: So it’s really life changing. And I love it when we get those calls and those notes that just say, you’ve changed my life. You know, you made me feel more confident. I’m more outgoing.. and tell me if I’m rambling too much.
Paul: No you’re not, not at all. I mean, look, you may help a kid join the band when they weren’t going to go do that. You may help a kid, you know, join the theater group. You may just help a kid not get picked on every single day and just be able to, you know, go about their day.
Paul: And that is no, that is no small thing.
Robin: It’s really not. And I and I just really, you know, just want people to know that it’s not just about cosmetics, you’re changing their self-esteem. Their confidence. You’re changing a lot when you’re doing that with these kids, because truly, you know, and with our orthodontist, we’re not taking cases that are just like a little minor or two turn. You know, make your teeth perfect. These are kids that dramatically need it, that they need help. So we had a case of one in North Carolina that we had an orthodontist who donated his services, the dentist donated his service, the periodontist, the oral surgeon, everybody came together because this young lady had a very severe now formality of her teeth, changed her like a matter of fact, today, she now works in an oral surgeon’s office and she talked about how she would just like she would just, you know, would not want to do anything in the community. And it just changed her life. So it’s just wonderful.
Paul: I love that. I love that. And you guys must have hundreds of stories.
Robin: Yeah [Robin Laughs]
Paul: Yeah. I mean, you’ve been around so long, so I guess, you know, the other thing that I wanted to ask about just a little bit more practical when it comes to the the the products, you know, to all the you know, the hardware and everything that the orthodontist may have to use.
Paul: Do you guys have a program to help out with that? Is that out of pocket for the orthodontist? How does that work?
Robin: Well, we currently have a partnership with Henry Shaw Orthodontics, And they will donate wires, brackets, liners and retainers to any orthodontist treating our kids. OK, whether that orthodontist uses their manufacturing company or not, they’re like, we’ll give you the supplies you need, any supplies you need to treat this child, we’ll give it to you. We are reaching out to other manufacturers and other companies to help do that as well, because, again, there’s a lot of them that different orthodontists use.
Robin: They could use Orthco, American, all these other ones. So so we’re reaching out to other companies to say, hey, this is how you can get back, give back to the orthodontist who’s donating his service, which is the biggest cost of the braces, but donate the supplies. And, you know, so we’re trying to help offset everything for the orthodontist who’s volunteering.
Paul: Excellent.. So you take care of that for them as well. Robin, as we come to a close today, I’m looking, you sent me a list of places where we have kids on the waiting list already.
Paul: And I imagine that if we do a little more outreach and anybody gets involved in this, it’ll be easy to get even more kids on the waitlist.
Paul: But I can’t I almost I’m trying to figure out how to do this. I’m going to point some places out on the list. Is that OK with you?
Robin: Sure. Sure of course.
Paul: So, look, if you’re listening and look, we have listeners everywhere in the United States, I mean, in every little town, every little city, every big city, everywhere. So if you’re in Geneva, Alabama, we need your help. If you’re in Tucson, where I am and I’m really not happy about us being on the list, on the waitlist, not having someone.
Paul: So I’m going to see what I can do once we hang up to get us off that list and get somebody in there who can keep taking kids. Tampa, Florida needs help. Fort Lauderdale needs help. Harrison, Michigan needs help. I could just keep going on and on. And in North Wilkesboro, North Carolina, I got somebody there and putting a call in when we get done, Portland, Oregon needs help and the list just keeps going on and on and on.
Paul: So big cities, little cities there on the list. Robin, what do they need to do when they’re done listening to this podcast? Today, What do they need to do in order to learn more and to engage with you guys?
Robin: They could do two things. They could call me directly, you know, whenever they have a free moment, and I could explain the program a little bit more.
Paul: Are we going to give them a phone number?
Robin: Sure, sure. I’ll even give you my cell. They could call my personal cell.
Paul: Robin, are you sure about that?
Robin: Yes. Yes. Absolutely
Robin: If they want to give back to the community, I’m ready and willing to talk to anybody.
Paul: Oh, my goodness. OK, so, Robin, what’s that phone number? They can call you directly and then we’ll get into the website as well.
Robin: Sure. It is 719.629.8245
Paul: Excellent. OK, and then how else can they get in touch?
Robin: We are on Mountain Standard Time, Just to let everybody know even though we are nationwide, the corporate office is Colorado Springs. So I typically answer the phone from eight in the morning to six at night. So any time within there.
Paul: So no 3am calls is what you’re saying.
Robin: Sometimes it rings at 6 a.m. and I’m like, oh that’s a little early but yeah [Robin Laughs]
Paul: OK. All right. And so if they’re not going to call and they’d like to do a little to get in touch to the website, what do they need to fo there
Robin: Yeah sure our website is smileforalifetime.org and go on there and click on become a provider. And then there’s a form there. You could just fill out and submit it. And I will shoot you an email or a phone call and just say you want more information about our program.
Paul: Robin, thank you so much for being on the podcast today. We just really appreciate the work you’re doing . You know, you’re making an impact in communities, a specific kind of impact and it’s just something that we love to see. Thank you so much for the work that you do.
Robin: Can I also mention if, you know, since it’s coming to your your end. Yeah. If anybody wanted to financially support it or if they did not want to, you know, or couldn’t take a kids this year, donations are needed because as you can imagine, a charity and you’re giving everything away for free.
Robin: You know, you got to find the funds to help support the charity.And again, they could go to our website to make that donation, but we always need that to help keep the program going because it’s hard to get fundraisers.
Paul: OK, three ways that you can participate, get involved here. First of all, you can call up Robin, we gave you the phone number. You can go to the website, you can join that way. You can become a chapter member or you can just pick a kid off the list if they’re in your area and take them off the list and provide services to them.
Paul: And you can also donate so you can give money to the charity and the charity will spend it well and use it to further outreach and do the things that they need to do.
Robin: And thank you for bringing awareness to everybody about our charity and for you guys getting involved. I really appreciate it. That was very nice for your company to do that.
Paul: Oh, it’s our pleasure. We work with about 3000 dentists actively every single day, and we have a good 20 to 30,000 that we’re talking to all the time. So we’re just going to make sure for the next couple of months that, that they just, they hear about you and I hope it has an effect.
Robin: All right.THank you so much
Paul: All right, Robin, thank you. Have a great day. Thank you for being on What the heck just happened \in HR even though it didn’t have much to do with HR
Robin: Well, thank you for talking with me.
Paul: OK, Robin, have a good day.
Robin: You to, bye bye.
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