Wineka column: Abramowskis give dental clinic a $25,000 jump start; Volunteers needed

  • Posted: Sunday, May 26, 2013 1:09 a.m.
Tom and Dottie Abramowski of Rockwell Farms donated $25,000 to the Missions of Mercy dental clinic.
Tom and Dottie Abramowski of Rockwell Farms donated $25,000 to the Missions of Mercy dental clinic.

SALISBURY — Dr. David Mayberry wondered if Tom Abramowski was pulling his leg — or since Mayberry’s a dentist, pulling his teeth.

A day after Mayberry and First Presbyterian Church Senior Pastor Dr. Jim Dunkin were quoted extensively in a Post story about the planning behind a Missions of Mercy dental clinic in Salisbury, Abramowski called Mayberry at his office.


“I have known Tom for over 25 years and sometimes have a difficult time telling if he’s serious,” Mayberry says.

Early into their conversation, Mayberry was convinced Abramowski was upset with him about volunteering at the Missions of Mercy clinics.

“Eventually, after trying unsuccessfully to defend myself, I gave up and said, ‘Tom, I don’t know what else to say,’ ” Mayberry recalls.

But Abramowski laughed, then asked questions about how the free Missions of Mercy clinics work. He also wanted to know how much money was needed for the Salisbury community to pull off a clinic, scheduled for Sept. 27 and 28 in Catawba College’s Goodman Gymnasium.

Mayberry gave him the estimate. He and Dunkin have set a goal of $48,000.

“Put me down for $25,000,” Abramowski said.

Mayberry’s heart was racing, and he asked whether Abramowski was serious. Abramowski, owner of Rockwell Farms, said he and his wife, Dottie, had discussed it and, yes, they were serious. They really wanted to help.

The Abramowskis support many good causes in the community, including the Good Shepherd Clinic, which provides once-a-week outpatient primary care for indigent adults on a first-come, first-served basis.

Abramowski told the Post the clinic often hears clients talking about their teeth “and just wanting to have the pain relieved.” The Abramowskis thought the two-day Missions of Mercy dental clinic addressed a real need.

“We can help a little bit further,” Tom Abramowski says.

Mayberry says he was stunned by the generous donation.

“Tom and Dottie’s contribution will go a long way toward funding this project and make it possible for hundreds of needy patients to receive dental care,” Mayberry says.

While the fundraising continues for the clinic, another order of business is signing up enough volunteers for the two-day affair.

The number needed: 400.

That’s a lot, until you figure out all the jobs involved in providing dental care for 800 to 1,000 people.

A joint statement from Rhodes Woolly, senior pastor at St. John’s Lutheran Church, and Carol Hallman, pastor at First United Church of Christ, says, “We will need people to help with registration, parking, greeters, setup, cleanup, Spanish-to-English translators, blood pressure screenings, food prep, runners and other tasks.

They emphasize one more thing:

“No training necessary.”

A large group of inner-city churches will be providing many of the volunteers. The churches supporting the clinic with manpower include First Presbyterian, St. John’s Lutheran, First Baptist, First United Methodist, St. Luke’s Episcopal, Soldiers Memorial, First United Church of Christ and The Refuge.

But volunteers from outside these churches also are welcome.

The volunteers also take in, of course, dentists, dental hygienists, laboratory technicians and dental students.

Along with the churches, the Community Care Clinic and Rowan Helping Ministries are participating in the overall effort.

Krista Woolly, executive director of the Community Care Clinic and one of the dental clinic’s fund-raising coordinators, says a Salisbury Missions of Mercy website has been set up at www.ncmom-salisbury.org.

She says people who want to volunteer should go to the website, where they will find a “community volunteers” tab and a PDF file to print, fill out and fax back in.

During the two-day clinic, some 60 dental stations will cover the Goodman Gymnasium floor. Members of the old North State Dental Society will be among the participants.

Missions of Mercy dental clinics have been an outreach program of the N.C. Dental Society since 2003.

In that time, the clinics have provided a total value of services of almost $20.7 million and have served 47,299 patients.

In 2012-2013 alone, the value of services has been $6,228,03, serving 10,026 patients.

Dunkin and Mayberry started planning three years ago to bring a Missions of Mercy dental clinic to Salisbury for the first time. The special, two-day clinic is meant to serve people at or below the 200 percent poverty rate.

Salisbury’s clinic will open its doors at 6 a.m. Sept. 27, when screening will begin. X-rays are taken of every patient, and the triage dentist will help in determining what dentists will try to accomplish with each person.

Treatment should start by 7 a.m.. Mayberry says the work might involve the filling of several cavities, the extraction of two to three teeth or extensive cleanings.

The clinic winds up its first day about 5 p.m. On Sept. 28, the second day, the clinic will shut down around 3 or 3:30 p.m.

Catawba College has been a big partner in making the clinic a reality, as are people such as the Abramowskis.

Mayberry says the couple are special people who help the community in many ways, some of which never become public knowledge.

“There is no way I can thank them enough for their generous donation,” Mayberry says.

Now, go pull some teeth.

Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263, or mwineka@salisburypost.com.

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