Trinity Dental Clinic, 1127 E. Lamar Alexander Parkway, has served the needs of indigent residents in Blount County for two years. To celebrate, Chilhowee Club members are making plans to raise funds for the facility during a gala event on May 9 at the Royal Oaks Events Facility. The Spring Blossom Dinner will begin at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, May 9, and carry a $60 ticket price.
Joanne Smith, a nurse with Baptist Nursing Fellowship, is a volunteer dental assistant for the clinic. The center was set up for people who aren’t able to access dental care any other way, the volunteer said.
“We do cleanings, and we pull teeth,” she said. “We do have arrangements with another dentist who does fillings. That’s an area we hope to expand. We’ve been doing cleanings for a year and hope to expand.”
Another area where the clinic is helping residents is in routing people to smoking cessations class at the Blount County Health Department. “When people come who want to quit, we tell them who to contact,” she said.
Smith said the facility also serves as a training field for students interested in dental careers. Students can volunteer at the clinic for experience and one school, the Dental Learning Center, uses the facility to give students real world experience.
Another activity volunteers and supporters with the clinic do is speaking engagements, health fairs and civic organizations. “Anybody who will listen to us, we want to get our program in the community. It helps them know what resources are available,” she said.
Smith said Trinity is a faith-based organization. “We feel people’s mental and spiritual health care are important as their teeth,” she said.
Smith said often the volunteers at Trinity are the only people listening or consoling the clients who walk in the door. “Our clients are people who have a lot of problems. Sometimes we’re the only sounding board. We pray for our patients. I make no apologies,” she said.
Smith said often individuals who hear about or even use the clinic became strong supporters of it. One volunteer got a job and she and her husband decided to donate her entire salary to Trinity Dental Clinic. “It blows my mind, she said.
Most of the contributions come from those who volunteer their time. “They get hooked on the program and really believe it. People see the good work we’re doing and listen to the patients’ appreciation.”
Gifts and support for the ministry come in all sizes, Smith said. Small churches that don’t have a lot to give, give supplies the clinic needs and larger churches often make the clinic part of their missionary support.
Smith said United Way and Blount Memorial Hospital have been two of many supporters for the clinic. “Blount Memorial Hospital has been our biggest contributor,” she said. “ There are so many individuals, churches, businesses and school groups that really help us.”
The clinic needs even more support now from the community as they hope to expand services and the days and hours of operation at the clinic. “We need community support. We really want to make this clinic an important part of health care of Blount County,” Smith said. “We’re doing the best we can and need help to expand service. Right now we do a quick fix. To expand services we need more volunteers. If we get more money and volunteers we can be open more days of the week.”
Smith said whenever she gets discouraged with the program, she has a strategy for dealing with it. “I have to remember this is not our program. It’s God’s program. He always comes through,” she said.
Spring Blossom Dinner is scheduled for 6 p.m. May 9 at the Royal Oaks Events Facility with proceeds going to the clinic.
Music and fund-raising are on the agenda, and participants can enjoy a cash bar and cocktail hour on the center’s terrace followed by a gourmet dinner and an evening of musical entertainment by Amanda Ingram and Robert Ergenbright.
Ingram is a Maryville-native who has sung nationally and abroad and has a messo-soprano voice. She has sung with the Chicago Opera Theater, the Sarasota Opera and the Orchestra di Guiseppe Verdi in Milan.
Ergenbright is a bass baritone and has performed under the baton of Leonard Bernstein at the opening of the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. and with opera companies in St. Paul, Boston, Ithaca and Knoxville.
In addition to the entertainment, two chefs will cook for the evening and there will be live Celtic music during dinner.
Tickets are $60. They can be purchased from any Chilhowee Club member. For information call Diane at 856-3626 or Ellie at 865-982-4263 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.