When Dee walked in to the corporate office, she was looking for a job. She was looking for a way to earn enough money to rent an apartment, to be able to visit her kids again. The moment Dee walked in the door, it changed the direction of not only her life, but the direction of Brighter Image Lab.
The Transformation of Brighter Image Lab
A transformation occurred when Dee Erwin shared her story with the staff at Brighter Image Lab. She was homeless and had lost custody of her children. Every attempt to get back on her feet was met with rejection and ridicule.
"Temp agencies wouldn't send me out to any good jobs. Anything in an office environment was out of the question. I couldn't even get work as a cashier, because people didn't want their customers to see my teeth. Even with my years of management experience, they would put me in entry-level overnight positions or have me work with the janitorial staff. It just became very depressing."
Her embarrassing smile forced her into menial jobs making low wages and kept her from achieving her dream of one day getting visitation privileges with her children. Her life's path was was at a dead-end.
Bill Watson, Director of Brighter Image Lab, recounts the day he met Dee.
"When we first spoke with Dee, we could tell that there was a lot more going on than just a problem with her smile. You could see there was a spark hidden somewhere, and it was just covered up by years of hardship. It's unfortunate, but it's something we see quite often. People with bad teeth eventually begin to segregate themselves, and it's a hard thing to pull yourself out of. So we wanted to do more. We knew we could help."
Brighter Image Lab Transforms Dee's Life
Brighter Image Lab did more than help. Mr. Watson set the designers to work on improving her smile. Meanwhile, his team at the corporate office partnered with several local businesses to surprise Dee with a full makeover. Dee was transformed in front of cameras from a homeless woman with no foreseeable future into a professional business woman with the ability to pursue a career and her dream of seeing her children again.
"They bought me new clothes and sent me to a high-end salon. It is just incredible, and I feel complete with my amazing new smile! Putting my veneers in for the first time, totally overwhelmed me. Everyone in the room was crying, including me. It was one of those 'once-in-a-lifetime' experiences."
Brighter Image Lab Partners with New Life Smile
Moved by the experience, Mr. Watson began asking people on brighterimagelab.com for their "Smile Story", and received thousands of submissions. Searching after business hours, he found a suitable charity, New Life Smile, to partner with Brighter Image Lab to help people like Dee achieve the smile they deserve, but often cannot afford.
"To tell someone like Dee that they need to come up with $17,000 is the same thing as telling they they need to come up with $17 million. It's an equally unattainable number. People need a reasonably-priced alternative that doesn't include dentistry; that's what we do at Brighter Image Lab. It's not just about changing smiles, it's literally changing lives."
Looking to improve the smiles of under-served people worldwide, New Life Smile has helped nearly 100 people to date. New Life Smile is actively seeking new applicants to help as well as new donors to help fund these new smiles. They are on the forefront of changing the world, one smile at a time.