By Gwen Rollings
“It’s beautiful,” said Melanie Davis, SouthShore Chamber of Commerce executive director, referring to the SouthShore community’s spirit of giving. “You never know what kind gestures people here will come up with to create solutions when they discover others in need.”
One kind gesture occurred recently when Christian Pearson, a State Farm agent located in Apollo Beach, was given a monetary donation from State Farm.
He said, “State Farm has a rich history of giving back and building safer, stronger and better educated communities. This program is special because an agent can help a cause in their community and inspire others into action.”
Pearson and an Apollo Beach dentist, Dr. Casey Lynn of SmileLYNN Pediatric Dentistry, were inspired and collaborated on a very real need, especially in view COVID-19’s impact on families.
Dr. Lynn explained, “Christian brought up the idea of helping some people who were poorly affected by the pandemic. I thought this was a great idea since I could use my education, skills and business to help some in our community. I’m always up for helping those who truly need it.”
Pediatric dental visits are often neglected, according to Dr. Lynn, because parents rationalize that baby teeth are going to fall out anyway, so there is no need to visit a dentist.
Dr. Lynn said, “Baby teeth have very important roles in growth and development. We recommend first visits when a child gets that first tooth or their first birthday. Patients gain tools for success and decrease the likelihood for restorative dental needs throughout life.”
Once the Pearson and Dr. Lynn team came up with the plan, Pearson approached Davis at the SouthShore Chamber to help locate pediatric patients in the greatest need of dental assistance.
Davis said, “I reached out to a ‘coach’ at a local nonprofit here. He put me in contact with a grandmother raising her two grandchildren. I also knew a local migrant family with three siblings in need.”
Davis contacted Pearson with these names, who relayed that information to the SmileLYNN office. The children were scheduled for new patient exams and cleaning. The goal was to educate and provide a positive dental experience, and that was accomplished.
The grandmother and migrant mother were thrilled, according to Davis. “They both couldn’t believe people just want to reach out and help with something like this just because,” she said.
This “just because” spirit of giving is what makes SouthShore a beautiful community.