PITTSFIELD -- For the first time in nearly a year, Michael Buffi cracked a smile on Tuesday -- while sitting in the dentist's chair.
Buffi, a Lanesborough resident, is a roofer by trade.
"The roof on this building, he did it for me," said Dr. Natalya Yantovsky. She had the repairs done when she moved her dental practice from Elm Street to East Street in Pittsfield, and she said her business keeps growing.
But on Dec. 14 of last year, Buffi injured his back on a job, and has been out work since.
"It changed my whole world," he said. "My whole world's upside-down now."
In addition to taking a financial hit, his overall health has since declined. Dr. Yantovsky noticed that Buffi had lost a lot of weight, had been in a lot of physical pain and was in great need of dental work.
While surfing the Internet, Yantovsky said she, her husband and lab technician Sergey Yantovsky came across a movement called, "Giving Tuesday," a now-global philanthropic movement developed last year in response to the post-Thanksgiving retail holidays known as Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday.
When she realized that Buffi had an appointment on Dec. 3, Giving Tuesday, she knew she wanted to help Buffi, the guy who helped her business get ahead, get into better health.
"He's had a tough year, and you know money's tight everywhere," Yantovsky said.
The dentist took dental impressions to begin working on some prosthodontics for Buffi, who tested his first prototype on Tuesday.
"She's awesome for doing this for me," he said, "I just haven't been able to smile."
Yantovsky said she's done free dental work for clients before, "but to have this be a thing, this Giving Tuesday, it's something new. It's cool, and I think anyone can help another person.
"Whoever thought of it, I think it's a pretty nice idea and I hope it catches on with other people and businesses," she said.
There is a website -- givingtuesday.org -- which says New York's 92nd Street "Y" was "the catalyst and incubator' for Giving Tuesday. "#GivingTuesday" is the trademarked way of expressing the movement, whose official partners now range from the United Nations Foundation to Bill and Melinda Gates.
In Berkshire County, many nonprofits -- Norman Rockwell Museum, Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival, the Gladys Allen Brigham Community Center, Berkshire Museum, the American Red Cross, and others -- used Giving Tuesday as a vehicle to garner both financial and volunteer support for their institutions through email and social media campaigns.
Guidelines on the Giving Tuesday website encourage a range of ways individuals, nonprofits, businesses, families and students can participate in Giving Tuesday.
Whatever way people choose to help, Yantovsky says, "only good can come out of it."
"People giving to and helping other people," said Buffi, "that's what life is all about."
To reach Jenn Smith:
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