Alicia Cecil never imagined she would have the opportunity to give back to others the way she can today. When she helped establish the ministry God Smile a year ago, the mission was simple: to help recovering addicts get their smiles back by assisting them through the process of receiving dentures.
“I was at a meeting in 2019 making coffee and a guy approached me that was in recovery,” Cecil said. “He told me he had been thinking about doing a ministry to help people in recovery get dentures and asked if I wanted to help. A few months later he decided that it wasn’t for him. I had to decide if I wanted to step up and become the president or let it dissolve.”
God Smile, a ministry that assists men and women with the price of dentures while they are in recovery from drugs and alcohol, is led by a board of recovered addicts — including Cecil, who is three years sober.
While their work is targeted to assist locally, they have helped serve a few people from surrounding counties as well.
“We got the first pair of dentures in January of 2020,” Cecil said. “We helped 13 people get through last year. We hope to double that this year.”
Cecil was able to form a business relationship with local dentist Janet Rowland, who has partnered with God Smile to help fulfill their mission.
“The love she has for other people and for God has led Janet to become a huge part of God Smile ministry and we haven’t even had to reach out to another person because she’s been enough,” Cecil said. “She has been one of the best partners we could have imagined working beside us.”
The process to be approved for God Smile includes an interview process to find out who each person is, what their story entails, what they do to stay sober, and how they are proactive in their recovery.
“We want to make it affordable and help several people,” Cecil said. “All fundraising goes to those we help. In the beginning, we paid the full amount. Now, we could ask people if they can save up some money and pay half their teeth so we can help more people.”
Even with fundraising efforts slowed in 2020, Cecil said the community support has been amazing. They were still able to host a spaghetti dinner and a Halloween event, and they received support from a church in town.
“At the beginning of last year, we pictured having barbecues, raffles, picnics, selling T-shirts — but we didn’t get to do as much as we thought due to COVID,” Cecil said. “Now that spring is right around the corner, we hope to do some outdoor events soon.”
Beyond the specific work they do to help others, Cecil says she is thankful to have the opportunity to give back.
“I have a really rough background and today, I work at a treatment center,” she said. “I have seen so many people not only get sober but recreate relationships with families, get their first car, get a job, and then when they smile, there’s a huge light.”
After just one year in ministry, Cecil and her team said they have already seen many inspirational stories through the people they have helped.
“We have interviewed people who have practiced smiling without showing their teeth and now they don’t have to do that anymore. They have a brand new smile in their mouth,” Cecil said. “We met a woman who loved broccoli and hadn’t had it in years because she had no teeth. After she got dentures, she started to eat broccoli all the time again. You would never think that people are affected that much by their teeth, but they are.”
As far as her favorite part of God Smile, Cecil loves to see the transformation in the people she helps.
“They go from acting shy, hiding, and not wanting to reveal themselves to you to coming out so full of joy,” Cecil said.