Braydich Dental Presents $15K Donation to Mina’s Foster Closet
HUBBARD, Ohio – Nicole Tsarnas said her family had seen firsthand how hard it was to be a foster family.
“We had a little one named Mina several years ago,” said Tsarnas, president of Mina’s Foster Closet. “I think that was our first heartbreak with fostering. It was wonderful to see the reunification process, but it is also hard for families to take in a little one – or big one – and love them, and then take joy in seeing the reunification process.”
Tsarnas was handed a $15,000 check Thursday to help support foster families. The donation was part of this year’s Smiles for Charity fundraiser by Braydich Dental.
Dr. Rudy Braydich, president of Braydich Dental, said they are going on 20 years of the annual Smiles for Charity fundraiser.
“It’s been amazing, and we sponsored various children’s charities throughout the years, and this has been a very rewarding one this year,” he said.
After the Braydich Dental team seeked out and reviewed several local charities, they decided Mina’s Foster Closet would be the best recipient for the money this year. The decision was made in February.
Though a couple of animal charities have been selected over the years, Braydich said the focus has been mainly on children. Braydich and his brother were a product of a single-family home after losing his father when he was 15 years old.
“My mom had to raise five kids, get out [and] get a job,” he said. “We had tremendous family support, and through all of that were able to come though.”
After feeling that they have been “blessed greatly,” the brothers decided to help other children to ensure they have a good start as they did.
“What we do is give people the opportunity to have their teeth whitened for $100,” he said. “Usually, it’s about $300, so they get a tremendous savings that way, [and] that $100 goes ahead and is entirely donated to the charity that we pick.”
The whitening kits are bought and custom trays are made in-house. And the service isn’t just for patients of Braydich Dental.
“They could have a family dentist somewhere else, or not even have a dentist at all, and we are happy to do a pulmonary examination to make sure their teeth are OK for whitening,” Braydich said. “Then we will do the necessary compressions [and] molds to make the whitening products for them.”
Braydich said they regularly see a good turnout for this event.
“Normally we will get anywhere between 100 to 200 for the year,” he said. “This year we had almost that.”
Smiles for Charity raised more than $15,000 this year.
“You can usually count on from March 1 to the end of June, we’ll have a steady stream of patients coming in,” he said.
Although Braydich has been in dentistry for 45 years and plans to begin phasing out, he said the plan is to continue the annual fundraiser to impact the lives of children in the community.
“It’s always important to give to the community,” he said. “We need to support people who are not as fortunate as us, and all companies that I know that are profitable, if you can just give a small portion of our profits to help give someone a better start, I think that is very important.”
In their few years of operation, Tsarnas said the nonprofit has helped a couple thousand families with their foster care needs.
“We do anything and everything we can to support foster families and kinship families, and also the teens that are aging out in Ohio through the Bridges program,” she said.
Tsarnas said the foster care system is changing. They are now seeing more families that are kinship instead of just foster families.
“It is always best to keep kids in the least restrictive home, and so it is wonderful that we can place them with grandma, grandpa, aunts and uncles,” she said. “We also need to make sure we can support them through that process because that’s not necessarily something you sign up for. Foster families are prepared to take in a child, but grandma may get a call in the middle of the night saying, ‘Hey, we need you.'”
The money will be used for anything the families need, Tsarnas said. Currently, there is a focus on cribs, she said.
“We have a lot of little ones coming in to foster care and kinship care, and a crib is a big expense for a family to purchase at that point,” she said.
Other items will include strollers, car seats, baby gear and support for those aging out of foster care. For those aging out, Tsarnas said they like to help them purchase furniture and other basic essential items for their first apartments.
While donation of used items are important, Tsarnas said financial support is also necessary to purchase certain items like cribs and car seats that meet required safety standards.
“We started Mina’s in 2018,” she said. “We started really small in our home base, and then we opened up in North Lima.”
Tsarnas said it is now a central location for families from Mahoning, Trumbull and Columbiana counties to come out for services.
“We need foster families. We need families that are willing to support foster families, and there are a lot of ways that you could do that,” she said.
The organization accepts new or gently used clothes and baby gear. Tsarnas said they also need families who are willing to take classes and sign up to get a license to be a foster family.
“We have over 2,000 kids in the state of Ohio in foster care right now,” she said. “That number doesn’t seem to be going down anytime soon. It can be a lot for a family to do that.”
Tsarnas said they also work closely with the local county children services agencies, where case workers will reach out and make arrangements for items that they need.
“These kids are all of our kids,” she said. “There is a cycle going on right now in foster care. We have second- and third-generation foster kids in this area, and we need local businesses to step in and support us to help break that cycle.”
For more information on Mina’s Foster Closet, click HERE or call the nonprofit at 330 536 9098.
Pictured at top: Nicole Tsarnas, left, president of Mina’s Foster Closet, and Dr. Rudy Braydich, president of Braydich Dental.
Copyright 2023 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.