Charity spotlight: Children’s Smile Center

Jackie Barger is in his 30th year working for non-profits, including the past five with the Children's Smile Center.
Jackie Barger is in his 31st year working for non-profits, including the past six with the Children’s Smile Center.

In sports, you hear of over-achieving athletes eager to run through a brick wall, so to speak, for their coaches.  You might have the same urge after listening to Jackie Barger of the Children’s Smile Center.

With a bounce in his step and passion for the non-profit dental clinic, Barger every day seeks out low-income families whose kids are on Medicaid and in need of dental care. In fact, he’s unafraid to stop by convenience stores and other businesses, and then hand out brochures and engage in a chat.

“My staff asked me, ‘So, you just walk up to complete strangers?’” Barger said with a laugh, and his answer is an empathic yes – for good reason. “One time, I was talking to a family and they were looking at the brochure. Going to the dentist wasn’t something they were used to. But one lady walked up (during the conversation) and said, ‘My kids go there. It’s awesome.’”

The Price Cutter Charity Championship presented by Dr Pepper, a PGA Web.com Tour event, is proud to have Children’s Smile Center on board again this year.

The PCCC has gifted almost $13 million to children’s charities in its 26-year history. And now here’s your chance again to aid the Children’s Smile Center, which covers six counties in southwest Missouri (Barry, Christian, Dade, Lawrence, Stone, Taney) and leans on four annual fundraisers – including the PCCC — to help meet its budget.

About Children’s Smile Center

ChildrensSmileCenter-patient

The non-profit last year covered more than 13,600 dental appointments for 6,200 children. That’s significant considering the percentage of children on Medicaid in the six counties serviced by the Children’s Smile Center.

This is where Barger inspires a so-called call to action and rallies the cause of the non-profit.

Barger, the non-profit’s executive director since 2010, rattled off some startling statistics, noting that 60 to 70 percent of kids in area small towns rely on Medicaid.

Unfortunately, only 10 percent of Missouri dentists accept Medicaid, and the Smile Center knows of only two private-practice dentists in the six-county area that fall into that category, Barger noted. The reason dentists don’t accept Medicaid is because of a low reimbursement rate.

“This is a non-profit that sees only kids and pregnant women on Medicaid, but that’s why the Price Cutter Charity Championship is so important to us,” Barger emphasized. “We’ve got to raise the money every year to make up the difference.”

The Children’s Smile Center conducts grant-writing and direct mailers seeking ways to supplement its $1.6 million annual budget.

The non-profit now has three locations in Ozark, Aurora and Branson West after initially opening in 2006 thanks to a $400,000 grant from the Missouri Foundation for Health. The grant was for a three-year start-up process. The center received further financial support from the community, local dental professionals, building contractors and suppliers.

Rogetta Prueitt, Joe Millsap and then Barger have served as executive directors. Barger has worked in non-profits for 31 years, most of them children’s non-profits.

In addition, the Children’s Smile Center has become a popular destination for local students of Ozarks Technical Community College, Vatterott College, Midwest Technical Institute and Everest College as they complete their academic programs in dental hygiene and dental assisting.

Students regularly rotate in and out of the center, and staff continues to provide advice and guidance to both students and the academic programs.

“We don’t charge any of our families to come in,” Barger said. “It’s very important for us to raise the funds, No. 1. And we don’t do events (strictly) for the money. We do them for the exposure, and the Price Cutter Charity Championship is a good opportunity to show what we’re doing. That provides a platform to tell our story.”

Here’s how to help:

RISING STARS, RAISING HOPES

BUSINESS SPONSORSHIPS: Businesses also can support the PCCC through various sponsorships, such as the daily newsletter, website or through several events such as a dozen Pro-Ams. Businesses also can donate a gift card with at least a $25 value in the name of your charity of choice to benefit them in the Golf Ball & Charity Auction presented by Copy Products, Inc. and University Plaza.

The Ultimate sponsorship means air-conditioned seating on the 18th green and a chance to win a Corvette Stingray.
The Ultimate sponsorship means air-conditioned seating on the 18th green and a chance to win a Corvette Stingray.

WIN A NEW TRUCK: The purchase of a $25 TLC Properties Charity Sweepstakes ticket can win one of 500 daily gift cards as well as grand prizes of $10,000 and a 2016 Ford F-150 XLT. It’s also good for a four-day tournament pass.

Win this truck or $10,000 in the TLC Properties Charity Sweepstakes, with a $25 buy-in.
Win this truck or $10,000 in the TLC Properties Charity Sweepstakes, with a $25 buy-in.

SEE THE FUTURE OF THE PGA TOUR: The PCCC is from Aug. 5-15, with the pros beginning play on Aug. 11 at Highland Springs Country Club. For tickets or other ways to assist, call the Price Cutter Charity Championship staff at 417-887-3400.

Dawie vander Walt shows his winners trophy after the final round of the Price Cutter Charity Championship at Highland Springs Country Club in Springfield on August 16, 2015.
Dawie vander Walt won the 2015 PCCC. (Photo courtesy of StidzMedia)

CHILDREN’S SMILE CENTER: The non-profit provides dental care for children from low-income families eligible for Medicaid in six southwest Missouri counties. To schedule an appointment or aid through the PCCC, call the center’s Ozark office at 417-582-5439. It also has offices in Aurora and Branson West.

Charity spotlight: Chances of Stone County

Chances-logo.jpg

Life’s what you make it to be. Get dealt a challenge, turn it into a positive and there’s no telling how many others you can inspire.

Which makes parents whose children are developmentally disabled all the more impressive.

Take Jeremy Rouch. Because one of his daughters is autistic, the Ozarks man shifted gears in life and three years ago became president of CHANCES of Stone County.

Jeremy Rousch
Jeremy Rouch

It is a non-profit that helps those with developmental disabilities experience success, and creates fun for kids and adults who suffer from ASD (autism spectrum disorder), epilepsy, brain injury and Down’s syndrome.

Even better, your support of the Price Cutter Charity Championship presented by Dr. Pepper will assist CHANCES of Stone County again this year. Rouch and the CHANCES family are very appreciative. The PCCC has gifted almost $13 million to children’s charities in the past 26 years, including more than $900,000 last year alone.

“Each family has their challenges, developmental disabilities or not,” Rouch said. “I know there are families who have children who are not as high-functioning. Their difficulty is even more pronounced. They may be non-verbal or immobile. They have more difficulties than we do. The stories that come out of CHANCES really pull at your heart.”

About Chances of Stone County

Chances4.jpg

Rouch’s passion for Chances of Stone County is understandable. His daughter, Noah, is autistic, and her needs motivated Rouch to turn attention away from his initial college major.

“I went to (Missouri State University) for years pursuing a degree in physical therapy, and I loved it,” Rouch said. “But I said, ‘I’m concentrating in motor skills and I cannot help my daughter.’ I decided to make a change – and I’ve never been happier.”

Talk about a perfect fit.

CHANCES of Stone County formed in 2009 as a not-for-profit 501c-3 by visionaries Pete and Cathy Peterson and a group of supportive parents. CHANCES is an acronym for ‘Community Helping Able Neighborhood Citizens Experience Success’.

Many members participate in Special Olympics, A Sporting Chance, Champion Athletes and receive trips to Camp Barnabas – those are also among PCCC charities — while others have found employment training through the Barnabas Preparatory Program.

Autism is a focus of Jeremy and his wife, Jamie, and Noah’s sister Cale and brother Shane.

The family goes the extra step, too. You see, Rouch also owns the Lakeview Management Group, LLC; which is part of a work program for Stone and Taney counties residents with Developmental Disabilities, who clean and maintain nightly rental properties.

“With the rate of autism growing exponentially now, this is going to be the future workforce,” Rouch said, pointing out that the rate of autism is now 1 in 50. “People are going to have to interact with the developmentally disabled. People are going to have to learn both sides.”

Support of the PCCC has helped CHANCES meet its budget as well as send kids to Camp Barnabas, and pay for therapeutic riding services (Hippo therapy) for some Stone County children with Developmental Disabilities.

For Rouch and the CHANCES’ staff and board, the next task is gaining voter approval of the Stone County Disability Board on the Nov. 8, 2016 ballot.

If approved, it would allow county funding through a .10 per $100.00 tax levy (property tax) to reach Stone County residents with Developmental Disabilities.

If the Disability Board is passed, CHANCES will then become the provider of services in Stone County. The Disability Board will consist of nine members who will serve in three year staggered terms, and are appointed by the Stone County Commission. This will put Stone County on par with all of the neighboring counties.

“The activities we do, it brings the community together and allows families to be together,” Rouch said. “There’s a lot of information on a Google search but, unless you specifically can relate well, you’re likely drowning in a world of information. CHANCES brings those people together.”

Here’s how to help:

RISING STARS, RAISING HOPES

BUSINESS SPONSORSHIPS: Businesses also can support the PCCC through various sponsorships, such as the skyboxes on the 9th and 18th greens (with food badges), on-course signage and events such as a dozen Pro-Ams. Businesses also can donate a gift card with at least a $25 value in the name of your charity of choice to benefit them in the Golf Ball & Charity Auction presented by Copy Products, Inc. and University Plaza.

Imagine sitting in one of these covered-seating skyboxes on the 18th green.
Imagine sitting in one of these covered-seating skyboxes on the 18th green.

WIN A NEW TRUCK: The purchase of a $25 TLC Properties Charity Sweepstakes ticket can win one of 500 daily gift cards as well as grand prizes of $10,000 and a 2016 Ford F-150 XLT. It’s also good for a four-day tournament pass.

Win this truck or $10,000 in the TLC Properties Charity Sweepstakes, with a $25 buy-in.
Win this truck or $10,000 in the TLC Properties Charity Sweepstakes, with a $25 buy-in.

SEE THE FUTURE OF THE PGA TOUR: The PCCC is from Aug. 5-15, with the pros beginning play on Aug. 11 at Highland Springs Country Club. For tickets or other ways to assist, call the Price Cutter Charity Championship staff at 417-887-3400.

Dawie vander Walt shows his winners trophy after the final round of the Price Cutter Charity Championship at Highland Springs Country Club in Springfield on August 16, 2015.
Dawie vander Walt won the 2015 PCCC. (Photo courtesy of StidzMedia)

HE:P CHANCES of Stone County: To help the non-profit directly, call 417-569-0387.