December 14, 2022

Free Dental Health Clinic Fills Need in U.S. Area

In southwest Michigan, volunteer event assists underserved community members, newcomers.

Debi Everhart, for Lake Union Herald
More than 50 church members and regular attendees served as volunteers during the free dentistry event provided by the Niles Adventist church in Michigan. [Photo: Lake Union Herald]

The Niles Westside Seventh-day Adventist Church hosted a free dental health clinic on November 6 to meet the needs in the local community in southwest Michigan, United States.

The event was open on a first-come, first-served basis. Attendees only needed to register and pass a basic vital signs test, and then they were offered a cleaning, filling, or extraction as recommended by the dental health team. With the assistance of the Michigan Conference of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, the event was made available to anyone who came onto the premises. 

Dentists offering their time included Richard Beckermeyer and Periza Zaninovic of Niles, as well as Bradley Randall of Paw Paw Family Dentistry. Coordinators of the event included Niles Westside pastor Alex Rybachek, personal ministries leader Tyler Willey, and community services leader Lorraine Thames.  

More than 50 church members and regular attendees served in roles such as hygienists and dental assistants, nurses, registration assistants, support people in the sterilization area, greeters, spiritual leaders offering pastoral care, attendants in the waiting area and parking lot, and teams for setup and tear-down. 

Further offerings at the event included massage sessions, a waiting area featuring health films and banners for NEWSTART (Nutrition, Exercise, Water, Sunshine, Temperance, Air, Rest, Trust), consultation with Hinman Counseling Services of Berrien Springs, spiritual and health-related literature, and brightly colored gift bags with fruit, water, granola bars, and health literature. 

Volunteer hygienists and dental assistants, nurses, registration assistants, support people in the sterilization area, greeters, spiritual leaders offering pastoral care, and attendants in the waiting area and parking lot made the free dentistry event a success. [Photo: Lake Union Herald]

One of the first local community members to be served said, “I’m so happy with this!” It had been a challenge for her to schedule a dentist appointment in the near future, so she said the event was “a blessing.”  

Someone from outside the community had been driving through Niles that morning and decided to check out the event. Pulling in, he questioned “what the hitch was” with free dental service, since “nothing in this life is free.” He was surprised with the fine service he received—for free.

When Beckermeyer was asked about what inspired his selfless service, he referred to a statement from Ellen G. White’s Steps to Christ: “Angels are ever engaged in working for the happiness of others. This is their joy. That which selfish hearts would regard as humiliating service, ministering to those who are wretched and in every way inferior in character and rank, is the work of sinless angels. The spirit of Christ’s self-sacrificing love is the spirit that pervades heaven and is the very essence of its bliss. This is the spirit that Christ’s followers will possess, the work that they will do” (p. 72). 

Of the people treated, 36 completed a short survey rating their experience in several areas (e.g., reception, instruction, performance, comfort) and gave high ratings. Among those who expressed personal appreciation were a mother and daughter who are new to the United States and haven’t yet been able to establish medical insurance or find new doctors. They declared the event to be “a blessing just at the right time.” 

While this health clinic required a lot of coordination and the help of many volunteers, Rybacheck said that it was well worth the effort. “The event we held today is something we want to continue doing to help our local community,” he said. “We pray it will be a ministry we can offer at least once a year. I greatly appreciate everyone’s contribution and hope the event brought great blessings to the people who received these free services. Our church was happy to provide it and looks forward to doing so again.” 

The original version of this story was posted by the Lake Union Herald.