River City Ministry of Pulaski County
“It’s a blessing what they are doing here,” says a volunteer from a partner organization who accompanied a halfway house resident to the clinic for tooth extractions and dentures.
“Thank God for the blessing of people like this,” exclaims Rod, a Marine Corps veteran, referring to the friendly dental assistant who ushers him into one of the two brightly lit treatment rooms.
“The Delta Dental of Arkansas Foundation has been such a blessing,” according to Katherine (Kat) Burnett, RDA, DMRT, the clinic’s patient services coordinator.
“Without the [#communitygrant] they gave us, we couldn’t run the clinic as we do.”
A faith-based non-profit, River City Ministry of Pulaski County serves impoverished and uninsured Pulaski County residents, including unemployed veterans, the homeless and the formerly incarcerated.
It opened in 1989 as a neighborhood soup kitchen but has since expanded into a wrap-around service organization. A small paid staff and a large volunteer group of professionals, students and interns make food and clothing available, daytime shelter, housing referrals and counseling, as well as charitable medical, dental and vision services to those in need.
The dental clinic operates two days a week with two volunteer dentists. Although full mouth care is available, the most frequently performed dental treatments are tooth extractions followed by dentures. Many patients have badly decayed or missing teeth or suffer from painful abscesses and infections.
What’s more, their poor oral health tends to undermine their self-confidence and motivation to apply for jobs and permanent housing, Kat notes.
That’s why so many patients consider their restored smile a blessing. To make sure it stays that way, they also receive oral health kits and thorough flossing and brushing instructions.
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