A local charity has been bringing smiles to craniofacial faces for over 50 years

Since 1969, FACES: The National Craniofacial Association, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, has served children and adults throughout the Southeast and United States with severe craniofacial deformities resulting from birth, injury or illness.

And most important of all, there has never been a charge for any service provided by FACES. Their service objectives cover three distinct areas: customer journeys; public awareness and understanding; Information and support.

Customer trips

FACES provides financial assistance for expenses incurred when a client travels from home to a craniofacial medical center for surgery or an assessment. This assistance is provided on the basis of economic and medical need and includes transportation, accommodation and food. Government insurance and medical assistance programs help pay for surgeries, but rarely cover travel costs.

FACES does not choose doctors or medical centers for clients; this choice is made entirely by the family. FACES works with a client for as long as assistance is needed, as many clients require multiple surgeries over several years. FACES also supports a companion for each trip.

Public awareness and understanding

Increasing public awareness and understanding of our work and the plight of people with severe craniofacial conditions is key to the future of FACES and our clients. FACES has an ever-growing national speaker bureau of clients, client families and volunteers who speak to groups about the challenges and needs of people with craniofacial differences.

FACES Camp is a summer camp for children with facial differences that fosters independence, self-esteem, confidence and leadership by engaging socially with other children with similar medical issues.

Information and support network

FACES provides information about Craniofacial Centers and publishes a brochure that further details the scope of our organization. FACES provides referrals to other available resources and organizations, maintains up-to-date information on specific illnesses or birth defects, and helps connect families with other families who have a child with the same disorder.

By connecting these families, FACES empowers them to alleviate the emotional isolation that patients and their families often feel. By sharing information and providing support, FACES helps build a framework for clients and their families to cope.

FACES is working to help more families with financial assistance for medically necessary travel to craniofacial surgery centers across the United States.

FACES also hosts FACES Camp: a camp for children with facial differences. This is a traditional summer camp for children ages 6-17. They would like more children with facial differences from Tennessee, Georgia and Alabama to attend camp. They have 30 spots per year and only a few openings available and would like local kids to come to FACES Camp. Campers can invite a sibling or best friend to experience camp with them! It is only 45 minutes from Chattanooga. Their campers tell them it’s the BEST WEEK EVER!

FACES is able to reduce the cost of camp through grants from foundations, so the cost is reduced from $910 to $455 per camper. They offer scholarships to help with tuition of $455. Register at www.FACEScamp.org

Very often these children have not had the opportunity to be with a larger group of children who have similar medical conditions and experiences. They can make friends, get away from family for a week, and enjoy fun summer camp activities. The camp experience helps the camper gain independence, challenging themselves to try a new activity like horseback riding, canoeing or rock climbing.

Located on 170 acres of woodland, on Lookout Mountain in Cloudland, GA, the program features outdoor adventures, non-competitive sports, campfires, crafts, and an evening of skits and talent.

Another upcoming event is the Ride 4 Smiles Reunion and Festival, a free family event, to be held this Saturday, June 11 from noon to 3:00 p.m. at the Georgia Charity Bingo Hall off I-75 (exit 353) at 4031 Cloud. Springs Road at Gateway Mall (entrance is at the back of the mall).

Event organizers would like you to come to Ride 4 Smiles and learn more about what FACES. This is a great opportunity to meet four of the FACES families who will be attending the event. Spread the word about the festival.

If you can’t come to the event, but would like to support FACES, you can donate through their website www.faces-cranio.org

For more information, please contact FACES by phone at (423) 266-1632, by email at [email protected]or follow them on Facebook at @FACESTheNationalCraniofacialAssociation and Instagram at @facescraniofacialassociation

About Ethel Partin

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