Lois Chambers doesn’t smile much anymore.
Not because she isn’t happy. She’s just embarrassed.
Most of her teeth have either been pulled or have fallen out. And she can’t afford to buy dentures.
“I look in the mirror and I don’t even see me anymore,” she said, using her hands to shield her mouth before wiping away tears. “It’s so hard.”
Chambers, 65, who has worked as a cook at Goodwill Industries South Florida for nearly 20 years and helps support her daughter, granddaughter and great grandson, is forced to find ways to cope.
She can no longer eat what she cooks. Pork chops. Barbecue ribs.
She hides in the kitchen. She purées her food. She has learned to smile with her mouth closed.
“I’ve lost all my confidence.”
That’s why her co-workers nominated her for the Miami Herald’s Wish Book, which shares stories of those in need during the holiday season. They are hoping she can get dental help to ease her physical and emotional pain and gain a new set of teeth.
“What we want is to give her her smile back,” said Rosemary Mullins, the operations manager for Goodwill. “She is such a hardworking woman.”