NEW SMILE: East Texas nonprofit gives man with troubled past a fresh start

Special Reports

TYLER, Texas (KETK) – They say you’re never fully dressed without a smile, but past pool hall hustler Kenneth Leberta says smiling was not an option. He says he led a life of alcohol, bad decisions and no faith, that resulted in his teeth falling out.

“All my upper teeth were basically gone. Most of the bottom just had, you know, snaggle teeth,” Leberta said.

He was a pool hall hustler and relied on alcohol starting at a young age. The alcohol mixed with his getting hit in the face with different objects at rowdy bars caused the damage to his smile.

Leberta was on a dead-end path until he walked away from a few bad wrecks, which is a miracle he credits to divine intervention and God. It was then he knew he had to turn his life around.

“It kind of wakes you up to reality to realize, you know, there’s something I need to be doing instead of living like this.”

Kenneth Leberta

While serving time in an East Texas prison for his past wrongs, Leberta found Calvary Commission. The ministry that he describes as, “A place to go to focus on God to kind of shun the worldly aspects of living,” accepted the newly-saved man into their discipleship once he left prison.

Kenneth made parole in 2020. He had a place to live with Calvary, and a new found outlook on life, but he struggled with the reminder of his troubled past – his fractured grin.

“I knew I had to get something fixed with it. Just too ugly, you know. Your mouth is ugly,” Leberta said.

Dental work was too expensive. He was once quoted $35,000 for a new smile. He says the procedure was never an option in his past because, “When you’re an alcoholic, you don’t save up 35,000.”

After a few months with Calvary Commission, they introduced him to an East Texas nonprofit that would be the answer to his prayers. Bethesda Health Clinic serves low-income, working, or uninsured people in the area. They make sure these people can get the health care they need.

“We’re reaching a large number of people who are in great need of the services that are provided here at Bethesda,” Bethesda volunteer David Nichols said.

The clinic agreed to give Kenneth a new smile for only $250 as part of their mission to help others. Dr. David Nichols, a volunteer Nichols and one of the members who helped start the clinic, operated on Leberta. Now, the Texas man is smiling ear to ear.

“Getting your teeth fixed, it gives you back that confidence to smile. You can talk to someone directly without looking away”

Kenneth Leberta

He says he no longer has the embarrassment he once did when talking to people. This pain he carried around for years and the last reminder of his old life is gone.

Leberta has lived a sober life for 6 years now and feels free from his past. He has devoted his life to Christ, feels thankful to Calvary Commission and Bethesda Health Clinic for everything they have done for him, and greets everyone he meets with his new smile.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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