FORT WAYNE, Ind.—Jeff Valliere, a senior and Chapman Scholar at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW), recently brought smiles back to a dozen people in a community service project with the Matthew 25 Dental Clinic during a Healthy Cities Health Fair.
Valliere is a pre-dental major, and has already earned an associate degree in dental laboratory technology. He decided to use his abilities to repair and replace dental appliances and dentures as a community service project under the Chapman Scholar’s Program.
Part of the mission of the Chapman Scholars Program is to enhance the Scholars' development both in and out of the classroom and prepare them for a life of learning, service, and civic engagement. Laurie Bell, director of the Chapman Scholars Program, said, “Howard and Betsy Chapman, the benefactors of the Chapman Scholars Program, are considered by many to be role models for volunteerism and citizenship in the Fort Wayne community. Aligning the program to model the example of the Chapmans, the Chapman Scholars engage in numerous community engagement activities during their undergraduate careers, culminating in a capstone project that is both academic in nature and impacts or serves the Fort Wayne Community.”
“Jeff's program restored 12 clients to fully functioning dentitions,” said Nancy Mann, Chapman Scholars Program faculty advisor. “It is difficult to eat properly without teeth, therefore making it difficult to gain proper nutrition and have good body health. In addition, it is difficult to present well on job interviews with obviously missing teeth. A nice smile adds to self-esteem. At the end of the day, 12 people had beautiful new smiles.” Mann went on to say, “As a pre-dental student, Jeff works part time in the dental lab at IPFW assisting students. He was able to involve students in the lab tech program allowing them to make the appliances under his supervision, and under the supervision of his dentist father, Dr. Roger Valliere, who also teaches in the program. The lab tech students helped to make the appliances for Jeff's clients instead of their usual hypothetical cases. They came to the fair also, and were able to see what they had made be fitted into the client's mouth. It was a win-win situation, and was all supervised by Jeff.”
When asked about the project, Jeff said, “Volunteering has always been a big part of my life and was instilled in me by the example of both my parents, Drs. Roger and Brenda Valliere, who work extensively in different community groups. I have been blessed with many great opportunities and gifts in my life and I firmly believe that we are given talents so that we can share them with the others. This project started simply as an idea inspired by the many needs of the people I have encountered during my years of volunteering at Matthew 25. Countless needs exist in our community, but I found my niche when I realized that many patients struggle to eat and have difficulty leading successful lives simply because they lack teeth. A smile, or lack of, is one of the first things you notice about a person. I created the Smiles for Success project so that we could make a dent in restoring functional dentition to people who have lost it for whatever reason. The relines, repairs, and new appliances do more than help with function, phonetics, and esthetics—they give patients a new-found sense of confidence and a reason to smile. With the financial support of community organizations like the Isaac Knapp Dental Hygiene Association, Indiana Campus Compact, and Dentech Porcelain Studio Inc., we were able to do just that. Together with the IPFW second-year dental laboratory students, staff, doctors, and other volunteers, we were able to give back to the community and make a difference in the lives of these patients—that’s something to smile about!”
For more information on Jeff’s project, contact Nancy Mann at 260-481-6569 or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information on the Chapman Scholars Program, contact Laurie Bell at 260-481-0535 or email@example.com.