Thursday and Friday April 29-30, 2010, were Dental Access Days at Helping Up Mission (you can read about them last year in my 7/31/09 blog) . This even is a major effort by dental professionals and others to provide dental care for homeless, low-income or uninsured folks in the state of Maryland. Of the 150 people who received free dental services at the University of Maryland Dental School in downtown Baltimore, over 100 of them were clients of Helping Up Mission!
Of course, an event like this does not happen in a vacuum and Dr. Mary Lashley and Dr. Nancy Ward were instrumental in creating this event and making it work. They recruited and coordinated over 150 volunteers to make the day’s activities happen. Both Dr. Ward and Dr. Ed Grace of the Dental School conducted preliminary dental screenings on our campus a couple of weeks ago in preparation of Dental Access Days and Dr Ward took hundreds of x-rays of our guys at her own private office to ensure immediate treatment upon arrival. Dr. Grace made his office available all day, both days, to facilitate the project. There is no doubt that our men received over $100,000 worth of dental care over this two day period.
Dr. Lashley (known as “Dr. Mary” around here) pointed out that every man at Helping Up Mission who desired dental care at this time was accommodated. She also noted the reason that we comprised over two-thirds of those served was our own HUM staff member Keith Daye. Keith 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 4 to 6 hours at a time, and had multiple extractions, root canals, fillings, and other restorative dental work. In addition, she noted that Keith 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.
And if that wasn’t enough (boy, is he going to be hard to live with around here for a while!), when a number of clients scheduled from other organizations failed to appear and dental chairs were sitting empty, Keith got another couple dozen of our guys down there to fill the slots. Dr. Ward was quoted as saying that the reason the other organizations did not meet expectations is that they didn’t have Rev. Keith Daye on their team! Way to go, Keith, and thanks from all the guys.
And on behalf of everybody at Helping Up Mission, I say thanks to all those who did their part to make these two days special. But I also want to say thank you to all those people who do things down here all the time – but never get talked about in my blog even once (but I know that you know that Jesus knows, and I know that you know that’s enough!).
One of the truly great joys of my job is to meet the wonderful folks who do so many great things for the men of Helping Up Mission every day. Thanks to all of you for all you do – and keep smiling!
Pastor Gary Byers
Spiritual Life Director