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VINA annually has a “downtime” of fundraising between the Gala and the Golf Classic, and we take that opportunity to challenge our donors to help us fill the gap. This is especially needed this year as we were forced to make the Spring Gala virtual and as a result, only netted about 50% of our goal for the event.

Usually, this letter is filled with statistics and a few testimonials about our patients in order to prompt you to give…not this time.

This time it is about one patient, Nate.

This young man was faced with the prospect of continued pain and mental anguish or having all his teeth pulled and living with dentures for the rest of his life. Can you imagine that, at 21 years old, losing all your teeth? That was when the local volunteer dentists of VINA stepped in and said, “There has to be a better path for this young man.”

Below you can read the full story about Nate. It is long, but only because even at 21, there’s a long story to tell. Here is the beauty of it, though…this story of pain to success has plenty of years to play out as Nate not only received a great gift but also has learned how to care for the gift, so it lasts a lifetime.


Nate is a 21-year-old patient who couldn’t afford dental care without insurance because he also takes care of his mom and sister. Nate had many decayed, chipped and abscessed teeth in addition to very crowded, shifting teeth. He hadn’t seen a dentist in a few years because it wasn’t affordable for his family growing up.


Nate would experience pain and sensitivity when eating and drinking, especially with hot or cold temperatures. He also felt the impact on his self-esteem, saying he would barely smile or try to hide his smile because he was self-conscious.


“I just saw all these crowded teeth and it didn't look good, so I felt bad about myself. And the constant pain made it hard to have good days.”


Nate came to VINA after Dr. Sam Daniels told him about the clinic. He started out with x-rays and a cleaning as his treatment plan was formed. Nate soon received nearly 10 extractions, two root canals and numerous fillings and crowns. Due to the crowding in his mouth and his young age, Nate received braces to fix this problem while saving his natural teeth.

“I’m so glad I got this done now because it would've gotten worse and maybe they wouldn’t have been able to save my teeth.”

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Just a day before his 21st birthday, Nate stated that his smile already looks and feels so much better. He has had his braces for two months and says he is no longer experiencing any pain aside from the typical, occasional soreness from braces. Nate says he is treated very well at the clinic and by the volunteers who donate services. He says “they’re happy and funny. They talk to me like I’m a real person, not just a patient.


Nate emphasizes that VINA has had both a mental and physical impact on his life, saying the biggest difference is his happiness. He described how he was constantly down on himself and self-conscious before getting his teeth taken care of, but now he is happy, cheerful and confident.


One of the things Nate says he's proud of is his home care. Since seeing the various dentists and specialists who treated him, Nate has learned how to take better care of his teeth in between appointments. Nate says “It was pretty hard making that transition from not really caring about my teeth to taking care of them. I’m proud that I am actually dedicated to it and don’t fall back into drinking pop or energy drinks.”


Nate says he wants to thank all the donors and volunteers who give both money and time to VINA because “it’s something big I thought I would never have done. It’s amazing, they do really great work and I’m really happy about it.

The point is: This type of story is only possible because you, the loyal supporters of VINA, continue to come through, so more and more stories like Nate’s can be written.


Jim Gilmore

Executive Director

You can give via cash, check or credit card.

Please make checks payable to VINA Community Dental Center

If mailing your donation, mail it to VINA at 400 E. Grand River Ave, Brighton, MI 48116.

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