Volunteers behind the Peace Arch Free Dental Clinic were given a big reason to smile this month – a $10,000 donation that will sustain the clinic’s operations for more than a year to come.
The contribution from Prime Time Living is “by far” the largest single donation to come the clinic’s way, and will go a long way to ease the road going forward, said clinic founder Ken Stones.
“It’s significant. It takes care of our expenses for a year-and-a-half,” Stones said. “It means I don’t have to scramble around looking for donors.
“They’re the sole funders for our clinic now.”
The clinic, located in the basement of Peace Arch Hospital’s Weatherby Pavilion, opened more than a decade ago with the support of local Rotary clubs and a two-fold mandate: to treat geriatric patients and provide outreach dental care for clients who lack the financial means to access it otherwise.
The outreach side became possible in 2009 with a $5,000 donation from the Semiahmoo Rotary Club (which repeated the donation 18 months later). Since then, the clinic has provided hundreds of patients – about 450 last year alone – with basic dental care, including pain relief, restorations, extractions and cleaning.
The patients are referred through Sources Community Resource Centre, which also manages all of the clinic’s finances.
Certified dental assistant Eloise Jacobs-Johnston said Friday the people she sees during the free clinic – where clients are treated on Mondays and Fridays – “rave” about how much they appreciate the service.
A core group of about eight dentists and hygienists – all volunteers – work four-hour shifts during clinic hours. Stones noted hygienists of three other dentists see patients at their respective private offices outside of those hours as an extension of the free clinic.
The need for more volunteer dentists is ever-present, Stones said, noting there is “always” a wait list of clients. The commitment, he added, is relatively minimal.
“Four hours every month or two is what we’re asking,” he said.
Prime Time Living partner Judy Freeman said the decision to sponsor the local clinic was an easy one. This is the third year the company has contributed to the effort, she said.
“It’s an incredible thing,” said Freeman, who joined Prime Time’s vice-president John Hitchcock in presenting the cheque Friday.
“It should be in all communities. To us, this just added to the community.”
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Retired dentist Ken Stones is no stranger to helping those who cannot afford dental care.
In addition to running the Peace Arch Free Dental clinic, he organizes two overseas dental outreach trips every year – work he began in 1994.
Last year, his Semiahmoo Dental Outreach team held clinics in Vietnam for the third time, and on the Philippine island of Siquijor for the fifth year in a row.
On each trip, hundreds of patients, the majority of them children, receive dental care.
This year, donations from the Semiahmoo and Peace Arch Rotary clubs – $4,500 each plus $1,000 from other donations – are funding the construction of a permanent dental clinic in Siquijor, which will be manned by visiting foreign dentists.
Next month, Stones and his team will head to Iquitos, Peru – the largest city in the world without road access. A return to Siquijor is set for November.