Dental Access Days

Last weekend, July 24-25, was “Dental Access Days” for 150 uninsured, low income or homeless folks in Baltimore City. Held in the University of Maryland Dental Schools clinics, some $150,000 worth of free dental care was provided to these patients, including over 100 of which were members of Helping Up Mission’s Spiritual Recovery Program. After the event, Dr. Mary Lashley, Professor of Nursing at Towson University and member of the Helping Up Mission Board of Directors wrote:  

We are deeply indebted to Dr. Nancy Ward and Rev. Keith Daye for enabling our men to obtain this care and for insuring timely and seamless access and delivery to  dental services. Dr. Ward provided the leadership and oversight for over 100 volunteers who participated in the event which was held in the University of Maryland Dental School clinics, a state of the art facility equipped with the latest dental technology and recognized as the best in the nation and possibly the world (according to the School’s administration).  Dr. Ward also generously donated the services and facilities of her private office in Towson to enable over 80 residents to receive free dental x-rays prior to the event, so their dental care could be expedited when they arrived at Dental Access Days.

Rev. Keith Daye coordinated scheduling, transportation and meals for over 100 men, insuring that the men who participated arrived on time and that all their needs were addressed throughout the two day period.  Many of these men were in the dental chair for 6 to 8 hours at a time, and had multiple extractions, root canals, fillings, and other restorative dental work.  Moreover, Rev. Daye coordinated transportation and scheduling for the men to receive dental screenings and x-rays prior to the event to insure that complete records were available for the dentists upon their arrival and treatment could be carried out promptly and efficiently.  His organization, attention to detail, and leadership enabled the event to run seamlessly and efficiently and insured that the maximum number of residents could be served.

I was deeply moved by the outpouring of love and generosity that I observed during this two day event and by the joy experienced by both those who served and those who were served.  It was a privilege to be part of this experience, and I am still on a high from it.  I wanted to share it with you. 

I was especially touched at the beginning of each day, when the wonderful volunteer dentists and students would line up in the waiting room, charts in hand, patiently waiting to receive our men.  I thought to myself “what a switch, for the first time, the doctors are in line waiting for the patients!”  And then I thought about how great our God is, that when He blesses us, it is “pressed down, shaken together, and running over.”  Compassionate, expert care in a state of the art, world renown facility, completely free, and all for our beloved men.  I mean, is God good or what!

Of course, what Dr. Mary (as she is known around here) does not mention is her part in the whole event. She was the original prime mover for free health care to the men at Helping Up Mission almost 5 years ago and she continues to lead the way for funding and services to the men in our Program today. She is correct, though, about the wonderful efforts of Dr. Nancy Ward and Helping Up Mission staff member Keith Daye. And in spite of the pulled teeth (our inhouse highest was 15 – from two different men!) and sore mouths, there were smiles and gratitude from all the guys this week. They were truly appreciative – and can’t wait to get their new teeth! God really is good!!


Pastor Gary Byers

Spiritual Life Director