posted by Patrick Glancy on Wed, 11/24/2010 - 15:44
11/23/10 The Oregon Mission of Mercy event was held this November 22nd and 23rd. It provided free dental care on a first come, first served basis to anyone who showed up. There were around 1,200 volunteers that helped make this event possible. Volunteers ranging from dental specialists to hygienists, to students and community volunteers. Monday morning, we started at 5:30am. There were already an estimated 1,700 people waiting outside. The first man in line had arrived nearly 20 hours earlier - a homeless Iraq veteran from Seattle. The organizers, who have done this type of event in other states, projected we'd be able to work with 1,000 people per day. So, many people already in line were not able to get in. Offering 1,000 men, women and children free dental care is impressive. Seeing how many more people are still in need of help was overwhelming. I was able to be a part of this event for 10 hours on Monday. I walked patients from location to location. The need for care was evident - one man I talked with had not seen a dentist for over 20 years - since he had left the military. While patients sometimes expressed frustration with the waiting and the lines, (there were a lot of lines and waiting), every patient I spoke with expressed sincere, heart felt, gratitude when they were ready to leave. For the volunteers part, every volunteer I saw WANTED to be there, they were happy to be there and motivated to help. While they were issued numbers on arriving, to track progress and their place in line, that was the only thing the numbers were used for. Everyone was treated with equal, and mutual, kindness and respect. I witnessed this again and again. They are planning another Mission of Mercy event next year, and, I will be there.