SHIRLEY, New York- Her smile has become her signature but up until a couple months ago, Denise Marino, was living with decaying dentures. “I lost my teeth when I was around 30 years old and got my first set of dentures [then]," Marino said. "They were just worn down, it was like having a plate in my mouth with nothing on it." The 75-year-old has been living far under the poverty line for decades, with nowhere to turn for help. “I couldn’t afford to live," she remembered. "I was miserable."
But then her granddaughter told her about a special program for people just like her, called Senior Dreams Come True. “There are so many people out there who have needs that are simple and we want to help them,” Melissa Negrin-Wiener explained. Melissa Negrin-Wiener helped launch it with her Long Island firm, Genser Dubow Genser & Cona, which specializes in elder law and estate planning. “In order to be eligible for a wish, the person has to be over 65 and for a single individual their income must be under $1,500 a month and for a couple, under $2,000 a month," she said.
The organization just asks potential wish recipients to write a paragraph about his or her life. They also look for people involved in the community, people like Denise. “They're my guardian angels," Marino said. "They’ve done so much for me and I’m trying to get the word out there so they can help other people." Senior Dreams not only helped fix her teeth but also her car. “The problem was the catalytic converter and the muffler," she described.
She’s now able to get around town, confidently. And after years of feeling stuck, Denise is now ready to take on the world. “The group of attorneys that have this program, it's fantastic, I can’t say enough about it,” Marino smiled.
If you or someone you know is interested in getting help, you can request an application here.
Produced by: Kim Pestalozzi