Dental clinic dream became a reality

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 2, 2013

George Bernard Shaw once said, “Some people see things as they are and ask why. Others dream things that never were and ask why not.” He would have loved being in Salisbury over the past weekend.
Three and a half years ago our daughter Christina, now in her final year of dental school at VCU, called and said, “Dad, why could Salisbury not host a Missions of Mercy dental clinic?”
Salisbury had never hosted a clinic before. Dr. Dave Mayberry and I began having lunch three years ago to begin asking “why not host a MOM clinic in Salisbury?” The dreams became a reality this past weekend, with more than 800 patients seen. As the community coordinator for the event, I want to offer a genuine “thank you” to those who chaired committees to join with us asking “why not?”
As we pursued this dream, I never heard the word “ no”’ from anyone.
Dr. Dave Mayberry managed the recruitment of 124 dentists, and 160 pre-dental students. He also recruited 312 professional volunteers: hygienists, dental assistants, nurses, nurse practitioners, EMTs, lab workers and other medical personnel. He worked with dental supply companies to acquire needed resources.
Krista Wooly and Kyna Grubb managed the fundraising. The state office said we needed to raise at least $50,000. On April 24, within a few hours of the Salisbury Post article about the upcoming clinic, we received a gift of $25,000 from an individual. We knew our dream was possible. The Robertson Foundation gave us $25,000. The Old North State Dental Association gave $20,000, and other donations totaled $77,000.
Rhodes Wooly and Carol Hallman managed the community volunteers, as we needed over 300. They directed the eight downtown churches working together to recruit volunteers from our churches. Two weeks before the clinic date, the state office asked us to stop taking volunteers because 351 had already registered; they had never had to stop volunteer sign-ups before. Over the weekend it was amazing to see the individuals from churches and across the community working together to meet human need. Everyone left their differences at home.
Vivian Ray, director of the culinary degree program at Livingstone College, managed the food needs for all the volunteers. Her students worked tirelessly to offer magnificent meals throughout the weekend. The state office told us they were going to reach out to Vivian for their upcoming clinics because the food was marvelous.
Eric Nianouris managed all the facility needs, and there were endless needs. He acquired more than 100 tables and chairs, secured needed generators for the weekend and was present to resolve any issues. Eric also secured officers from the Sherriff’s Office who were there from Thursday afternoon until Saturday afternoon.
Community Care Clinic and RHM were invaluable in doing pre-screenings before the clinic opened, allowing dentists to have patients Friday morning when we opened.
Dr. Bill Blaylock of the state MOM office offered tireless guidance from the initial phase of this dream until Saturday afternoon. We are grateful that he saw the potential in Salisbury to offer this much-needed service. Madison Smith, who is in charge of clinical operations, handled every question we had. As the last boxes were loaded on the trucks Saturday afternoon, she said it was the best MOM clinic with which she has worked.
We also offer much gratitude to President Brien Lewis, the faculty, and students of Catawba College for their gracious hospitality. Giving us the use of the Abernethy Physical Education Center was more than we ever dreamed, but we also believe this dream could have never become a reality without their facility.
Finally, I thank the ruling elders and staff of First Presbyterian Church who supported my part in helping this dream come true. I know I may have left out individuals, but please know how grateful I am to everyone who came together to make the dream of a MOM clinic in Salisbury come true. So thank you, Christina, for asking “Why not?”
Dr. Jim C. Dunkin was the community coordinator for the Salisbury Missions of Mercy clinic.