One Dublin couple is working to get central Ohio children in the dentist's chair.

One Dublin couple is working to get central Ohio children in the dentist's chair.

Dentist Jim Homon founded KIDSmiles in 2008 and after recruiting volunteers is working towards a Bethel Road facility that will give central Ohio children dental services for $10 a visit.

The dentist that has practices in Powell and Delaware recruited his wife, Julie, as executive director of the nonprofit group that received its tax exempt status over the summer. Since then, Julie Homon said, they've been working hard to get funding and grants.

"We started with checking in the dental community to see if there is enough interest and it took a while to get tax exempt status," she said. "We have 200 volunteers signed up to date."

With volunteers to man a dental clinic, Homon said the next step is raising money to lease a space.

KIDSmiles recently received a grant of $3,000 from the Dublin Foundation. The group also held its first big fundraiser last week at the Lazy Chameleon in Powell.

"We need to raise about $300,000 to make (a rental) happen," Homon said. "Another interesting aspect that goes along with it is we've been talking to dental companies about donating materials and equipment. My husband came up with a concept to make it win-win. By giving us state-of-the-art equipment, they can use it as a sales tool for dentists They can use the clinic in the off-hours to demonstrate things and so forth. We can build a clinic that is not just hand-me-downs and used products. It can be a place someone can get high-quality health care with state-of-the-art equipment."

Once the money is raised and equipment is in place, the clinic will start with limited hours and then expand.

"We have different stages of goals. Initially it will be open one day per week," Homon said.

The goal is to increase clinic hours to five days a week and serve 10,000 children a year. With about 850 dental associates in the central Ohio area, the Homons believe it could happen.

"We've made it easy to volunteer. Everyone has a lot on their plate so if they want to volunteer a couple days a year we can make that work because there are so many (dentists)," she said. "Some have made it an in-service day for their staff. Some have signed up all their staff for one day. Some offices want to do it once a quarter."

Volunteers range from dentists and assistants to dental hygienists and front office staff.

Children in need of dental care will at first be sought through schools. Homon said the group will contact school nurses and counselors to find patients. But eventually contacts within other central Ohio organizations will be used.

"Central Ohio has a lot of good resources," she said.

While a clinic is in the work to brighten smiles, the group will also work towards educating children about dental health.

Homon said KIDSmiles is working with the Columbus Blue Jackets Foundation to take an educational program into the schools early next year.

For more information on KIDSmiles, look online at kidsmilesclinic.com.

jnoblit@thisweeknews.com

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