In September 2008, Juliana Panchura, DDS, Bend, Ore, started a program that allowed patients to reduce the cost of their pre-orthodontic dental work by volunteering in their community. For every hour of volunteer work completed by a patient, Panchura knocks $10 off of that patient’s bill. Patients who need dental work prior to having braces are able to reduce their bill by a maximum of 50% through volunteer hours.
Panchura’s program, Smile! Central Oregon, caught on in other practices after she shared her idea with the local dental society. As of January 2010, more than 3,500 hours of volunteer time have been donated to Deschutes County non-profit organizations by 67 patients and their families through the program. Patients and families decide which non-profit organization to help.
“They [young people] get to learn and do a job they have not done before. That gives them confidence in their learning abilities without the threat of being fired and failure,” Panchura told The Lund Report.
Panchura stresses that the experience puts young people in touch with people of all ages and walks of life, linking them with an endeavor that helps others, and arms them with resume-building experiences for future jobs and college.