Often times, one thinks that medical researchers and scientists are the ones changing the world with their new medical discoveries and technologies. Although that may be true, Pensacola’s own Dr. Ben Fishbein has made a mark in changing the world, starting in his own clinics in his own town. Fishbein Orthodontics has always been charitable with time and financial resources for many causes. However, Dr. Fishbein has found a way to do even more charitably by creating the Fishbein Foundation.
The Fisbein Foundation still assists many of the local causes that Dr. Fishbein has supported in the past but the foundation has a goal to do more to combat the enormously high statistics related to school-age bullying. Bullying is a nationwide epidemic that over 3.2 million students report being victims of each year. The Fishbein Foundation’s EmBraces campaign aims to facilitate that goal. Their anti-bullying initiative aims to build a network of young ambassadors that spread positivity and educate the importance of embracing others. Throughout the school year, EmBraces will award full orthodontic treatment to three chosen applicants who shared their story of overcoming a bullying-related struggle and made a positive impact for themselves or others. These students will receive treatment free of cost from Fishbein Orthodontics and become the start of a team of young do-gooders in the community that will go on to help their peers learn more about why it’s important for people to embrace each other. In 2018, six students began free treatment through the EmBraces initiative.
The Fishbein Foundation believes everyone should have access to quality orthodontic care and a beautiful healthy smile to be proud of. For these reasons, they have committed to providing $1M in free orthodontic card over the next 5 years to children, teens, and adults in the community. Aliza Ray, director of markeing for Fisbein Orthodontics stated, “Our business is making people smile. Not only by watching people gain confidence through their ortho journey but also by helping an abandoned puppy find a home, by giving a student the self-assurance to stand up to bullying and assisting with financial support for those in need is why we created the Fishbein Foundation – our non-profit organization that allows us to accomplish these things and more.”
Why were you led to start the Fishbein Foundation?
We kept hearing stories and getting letters about kids being bullied for their teeth or their smiles and we felt the need to step in and do what we could to help fix these horrible situations.
We were already heavily involved with the Pensacola Humane Society and other small charities, so we decided to consolidate our efforts into one meaningful Foundation.
What is the primary focus of the Foundation?
We love all the programs we work with, but our EmBraces campaign is the closest to our hearts. A few of our staff members overcame bullying as children themselves. The physical and emotional pain these kids go through is unprecedented. Our everyday job is to straighten teeth, and the best side effect of that is a more confident smile. So, we get to make a difference with what we do on a daily basis.
How is the Fishbein Foundation funded?
The Fishbein Foundation is funded 100% through its parent organization, Fishbein Orthodontics.
When was Fishbein Foundation started?
We officially started the Fishbein Foundation in 2017, but free treatment to kids in need has been provided since starting the practice in 2013.
How do students/patients know about EmBraces?
We support numerous schools across the panhandle as a Partner in Education, where we sponsor Student of the Month, sports, PTA events, carnivals and career days. They promote the EmBraces Campaign by mentioning it at events and handing out flyers.
We also publicize through our practice, social media, and local news sources.
How has EmBraces had an impact on the local community?
We have had the pleasure of giving free orthodontic treatment to so many kids in need. Once an EmBraces entry wins, they become a FishOrtho Anti-bullying Ambassador, and help us spread awareness at their schools and through our social media. We get updates about how treatment has not only changed their lives but the students around them as well.
How many patients/students have been helped/impacted?
We have pledged $1Million in smiles over 5 years, but after the first year, we are already on pace to do that in less than 4 years. We will help hundreds of children whose families may not be able to afford treatment otherwise.
Is there a specific success story you can share?
Our 1stgrand prize winner’s name is Kyra. Her story was one of the first we received and had the whole office in tears. A girl who once loved school was scared and had to switch schools multiple times because of bullies.
Receiving braces has changed her tune and her mom has told us that she is now more confident than ever and has stood up to her bullies and moved on, loving school again.
What is one thing you want readers to know about EmBraces?
Our main goal is to spread awareness. Bullying is an epidemic that we feel is only getting worse. We want students to know we support them and want their parents and teachers to be conscious of what could be going on when they aren’t looking.
How can someone get involved in the EmBraces program?
You can learn more or submit an essay or video on our website at FishOrtho.com/EmBraces.
What does the future of the Fishbein Foundation look like?
We want to solve as many problems as possible for as many people as possible. We will continue our efforts for as long as we can.