The late Dr. Judith Buys was a longtime supporter of the YWCA of Peterborough-Haliburton and its programs for abused women. She had always wanted to assist in a hands-on way, using her skills as a dentist to repair a woman’s smile and restore her confidence.
Dr. James McGorman — Buys’ husband and fellow dentist — says she used to watch personal makeover programs on television and wish she could create one specifically for victims of domestic violence.
“A big part of what made a person feel better was their dental hygiene, their dental health, their dental look, and she felt a beautiful smile could open doors, could give people confidence and make a difference in their lives,” says McGorman.
Now, a group of her colleagues is launching the “Beyond First Impressions” program in association with the YWCA where victims of domestic violence will get free medical attention to repair facial and dental damage. The program was officially launched Monday but already it has been getting support in the community.
“To date, we have raised over $153,000 for the YWCA programs — they do provide to these women and children, and the response of the dental community has been fabulous — people coming forward offering to do the clinical work as well and also the financial support,” says Dr. Kathryn Moore, chair of the Beyond First Impressions committee.
There are similar programs running across the country but this is a first for the Peterborough area and it’s getting attention from outside the area.
“I actually got a phone call from a tearful woman who actually lived far away, who lives in an entirely different community. She had been married to a boxer and she was carrying with her, the damage he had done to her face and her teeth, and she said, ‘I’ve always dreamed of there being a program like this.’
“And as a result of the work that Kathryn and her team have done, I will be able to connect her with a dentist, an orthodontist in Toronto who I hope will be able to help her,’ says Lynn Zimmer, executive director of the YWCA of Peterborough-Haliburton.
Zimmer adds the number 1 reason for the loss of teeth in women over 25 is domestic violence. Anyone wanting to take part in the program should contact the YWCA at 705-743-3526.