Monday, December 25, 2000

New dentures bring a smile

Needy benefit from others' generosity

By John Johnston
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Estella Wright proclaimed it “the best Christmas present I ever got.”

        On Thursday the 84-year-old Walnut Hills woman reclined in a chair as Judith Allen, a dentist for the Cincinnati Health Department, put the finishing touches on new dentures.

        “Would you like to see what you look like?” Dr. Allen said, handing her a mirror.

[photo] Estella Wright, 84, of Walnut Hills checks out her new dentures, which were provided through Wish List.
(Gary Landers photo)
| ZOOM |
        Then Ms. Wright ex pressed her gratitude and showed off her gift with one simple gesture: She smiled.

        “I love it,” she said.

        Ms. Wright had been featured in the Wish List, an annual project for the needy sponsored by the Enquirer and administered by United Way. So far, $145,489 has been received from 1,782 donors. At the same point last year, 1,659 people had donated $137,160.

        Ms. Wright, who often spends her days alone, re cently began visiting the Over-the-Rhine Center for Senior Adults. But with few teeth, she was embarrassed to smile or laugh, and couldn't communicate clearly.

        The remedy was a team effort: Dr. Allen, who donated her time; Dental Arts Laboratory in Florence, which donated labor and materials to make the dentures; and the Greater Cincinnati Oral Health Council, which arranges for free or discount dental care through its Options program for the needy.

How you can help needy Tristaters
        “I'm making a comeback!” Ms. Wright said. “I think I'm a pretty lady now. I look more like myself.”

        Others also received early Christmas presents through the Wish List.

        The family of James Ford, the 56-year-old Newport man who lost both legs in a 1991 auto accident, will benefit from the generosity of the Tourism Council of Greater Cincinnati and employees of the Northern Kentucky Convention and Visitors Bureau.

        Helen Ford, his wife and the mother of his five children, was given $824 in Meijer's gift certificates; transportation to the store; and seven passes to the Newport Aquarium.

        The presentation was made Thursday at the staff Christmas party at Embassy Suites in Covington, where Mrs. Ford works as a housekeeper.

        “She's a housekeeper in the hotel industry, and that's where most of our members are,” says Nancy Willhoite of the tourism council. “So many of us are dependent on the housekeepers of a hotel. We can get people here (to the Tristate), but so much of the quality of their experience here depends on the housekeepers,” she says.

        Previously, Mr. Ford had received a motorized wheelchair from an anonymous donor.

        After wishes are granted to those profiled in the newspaper, any money remaining is distributed to participating social-service agencies so other disadvantaged people can benefit.

       John Kiesewetter contributed to this report.


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