Non-profit 'Smiles For Hope' marks $200,000 of free dental work

Elizabeth Kuebel # State

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) - Two hundred thousand dollars. That's enough money to buy a new car or send your kids to college.

It's also now the amount of free dental work a unique local nonprofit has provided to some of the most vulnerable women in our area.

Playing with her baby boy, Knoxville mom Rachel Solomon's smile speaks for itself. But this particular smile is one that's lit up her face for just about 24 hours now.

"I really don't recognize myself. It's been about 10 years since I've been able to look in the mirror and be happy with what I look at,"
Solomon said.

Solomon is fitted with a new set of dentures, thanks to the non-profit organization Smiles For Hope.

Years of drug abuse wreaked havoc on her teeth.

"I had one solid front tooth and the rest were kind of broke off on top. On bottom I had about six, and the rest were broke off,"
said Solomon.

The organization's mission is to help women like Solomon, who've struggled with addiction or been victims of domestic abuse.

The founder saying each patient has a different story and path, but there's a common thread among them all.

"They are trying to change their past. They are trying to say this was my past but this will not be my future,"
said Dr. Smita Borole.

Smiles For Hope was officially incorporated in October 2017, and this weekend, it rang in a major milestone.

"Yesterday was our 37th clinic and we gave away to date we have given away $200,000 worth of dentistry for free,"
Dr. Borole said.

She made it clear she thinks there's more work to be done, and hoping to reach even more women. Women like Solomon, who's now looking ahead to a bright future.

"The biggest thing is I won't be judged. I don't want to look like a person from my past. I want to look like a new person that never had a drug addiction, and I want to live like a person who never had a drug addiction,"
Solomon said.

A fitting ending to her story - Solomon will celebrate one year of being clean just a few days from now on April 11.

Smiles For Hope says it really need clinical professionals to volunteer for future clinics. That includes dentists and dental assistants. If you want to volunteer or donate, click here.