Two-day dental mission brought many smiles

The Eastern Shore Mission of Mercy, known as MOM, was a two-day dental mission which took place last month at the Wicomico Youth & Civic Center.

Dental Mug

Mission of Mercy offers free dental services to adult patients, and includes extractions, fillings and cleanings. Those served are primarily from the Eastern Shore and Delaware, but there is no exclusion based on where a patient resides.

Dental health has a huge impact on one’s overall health and these events are designed to help individuals to start regaining their oral health.

What an incredible event. This recent mission even exceeded the accomplishments of our first MOM in 2013, when more than $1.1 million in donated care was provided.

The event brought together approximately 1,200 volunteers and served approximately 1,200 patients.

I am aware of the countless hours of planning and fundraising which began more than a year before the event, but it never ceases to amaze me how the event comes together and runs so smoothly.

It is after events like this that I reflect. What made this event so special for me?

As a dentist in a solo practice, I do not get an opportunity to work with other dentists.  I loved the camaraderie working with dentists, hygienists, and assistants from all parts of the state and Delaware.

Everyone was at their best and enjoyed being a part of something bigger than the office from which they came.

Seeing so many members of my church, neighbors, and patients working tirelessly to assist in so many roles, with smiles on their faces, warmed my heart and lifted my spirits when the days were getting long.

Most importantly, the smiles on the faces of those we served spoke volumes.

THIS is why I entered the dental profession 40 years ago – to help people.

I know that I do this every day at work, so why volunteer? Why do any of us volunteer?

I can only answer for myself. We all have special gifts – some of us have honed these gifts over years allowing us to provide certain services, but all of us have the gifts of love, compassion, and empathy.

Should we choose to acknowledge and use these gifts in serving our community, we “sign up” and share those gifts.

I remember my first dental mission service in 1991 in the Dominican Republic with a group from the University of Maryland Dental School. Although we worked lengthy hours I returned feeling as though the Dominican people had given me much more than I had given them.  One cannot describe or put a value on this feeling, but it was life changing.

At this MOM, seeing colleagues work tireless hours in leadership roles on a mission team, inspires you to want to be a part of the team and get caught up in the event to do your part.  It’s infectious.

I want to thank the organizers, donors, community volunteers, my dental colleagues, the eye specialists who fitted so many with glasses, and ALL the patients for making the 2015 Eastern Shore Mission of Mercy a huge success.

When so much of the news coverage these days brings out the worst of humankind, it is important to recognize events that bring out the best of humanity.

The 2015 MOM did just that.

The needs of so many are so great whether they be in Nepal, Baltimore or Salisbury. When the opportunity arises for us to help and serve, I hope that we all tap into our special gifts, step up to the plate and heed the call.

Dr. Debra Welsh, a board-certified periodontist, has been in practice in the Salisbury area for the past 20 years.


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