Several years ago, a dentist in our congregation saw a need to help provide dental services to the men and women in The Foundry, a program for those battling drug addiction and substance abuse. This need led to the beginnings of the Foundry Dental Clinic. With the help and support of Asbury members and our Missions In Action Committee, a dental clinic was built and furnished to be a low cost provider to not only Foundry residents but also the community.
So many of us have been financially blessed to think nothing about going to the dentist to have our teeth cleaned, or to get a cavity filled. For many here in Birmingham going to a dentist is an expense that they just cannot afford. I have volunteered in the front office at the dental clinic two days a month for the past three years. We have grown from being open 2 days a week with 1 to 2 dentists to being open 5 days a week with 8 to 10 dentists working and providing services to all of God’s children.
Many of the dental assistants who work at the clinic are women who are in the Foundry Program. The dental clinic not only provides wonderful dental care it also provides training for these women to have an opportunity for employment after graduating from the program.
As a volunteer, I have been touched by the community as well as Foundry patients. They are so appreciative of the services the dental clinic provides. I also have seen God at work in the Foundry residents who work at the clinic. I have seen these ladies grow in confidence with their job training. I have also witnessed the love and support of the volunteers and staff for each of the patients who walk in our doors.
The Foundry Dental Clinic is always looking for additional volunteers. If you are interested you may contact me or Cindy Burell.
Pat Connor, member, Asbury UMC
I began volunteering at the Foundry Dental Clinic when it first opened 4 years ago. When asked to help, I told Dr. McCracken that I didn’t think that was where God wanted me, but that I would help him get it organized and find some volunteers. Little did I know that God had a plan for me. From the first day, I loved our clinic, our patients, and our dental assistants going through recovery at The Foundry. I began to run the front desk with no prior dental office experience, and loved every minute of it. When we moved into our current location, I recruited some friends from Asbury to volunteer with me. During the past four years, our clinic has experienced tremendous growth and is now open 5 days a week with 8-10 dentists. We have hired an office manager to run the front desk, but we still rely heavily on our volunteers at the front desk. As volunteers, we greet our patients, input their information, and take their charts to the back. As a non-profit, we keep our overhead as low as possible so that we can provide extremely affordable dental care. These volunteers are vital to running the clinic. And the blessings that we receive while volunteering are amazing. I always pray that I can bless someone while there, and I always come home praising God for the ways He has blessed me!
As much as I love serving the poor at the dental clinic, my heart is especially with our dental assistants who are going through recovery — and those who have graduated and are rebuilding their lives. I love the opportunity that I have to minister to these ladies on a regular basis. Most of these ladies do not have role models in their families. God has put on my heart a need for mentors for these ladies, which I hope to have in place in the next couple of months. We have found that there is a great need for our dental assistants to develop life skills as they regain custody of their children, move into their own apartments, learn to manage money, etc. In the very near future, there should be another opportunity for service at Foundry Dental in addition to our office volunteers. If you are interested in learning more about the volunteer opportunities at Foundry Dental Center, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I promise you will be blessed!!
Cindy Burell, Member, Asbury UMC
Imagine working hard at your job, but with kids at home to clothe, a heater to repair, and bills to pay; there is simply no money left at the end of the month, not even for food. We call that the “working poor.” Imagine also being miserable with a tooth ache that keeps you up all night, or a broken tooth in the front that keeps you from smiling and getting a better job. Paying regular fees at a dental office is simply impossible. So you suffer with it, and pray for it to get better. Now imagine that there is a place you can go to get help! This place is called the Foundry Dental Center, and thanks to our partnership with Asbury, and God’s blessing, we are able to truly love our neighbors by providing low-cost dental care to the working poor, recovering drug addicts, and homeless. Last year, we gave away over $4 million in donated dental service, and had over 7,500 patient visits! From our small start in an vacant dental clinic to our new, state-of-the-art 12-chair facility, the Asbury family has helped make this possible, with contributions of time and resources from dozens of Asbury volunteers, and the critical financial support of Missions in Action.
When a patient walks through the door at the Foundry Dental Center, he is likely greeted by a volunteer from Asbury working the front desk. The lights and electricity are working because Asburian Jason Robb spent countless weekends and evenings putting in wiring. The door is there because my Sunday School class at Asbury spent a day framing up the exterior walls, and Asburian Alan Weeks had all the supplies ready for us to get to work. The walls are painted because another Asbury Sunday School class spent two Saturdays doing that. We have a building at all due to the willingness of people to believe in us enough to co-sign a bank loan for a brand new non-profit that didn’t even have a bank account! The list of volunteers continues as you walk into a treatment room. The dental assistants setting up the room are being mentored through tough spots in life by Cindy Burrell and her team of Asbury volunteers. The instruments come from cabinets built by Asburians Bob Sullentrop and Bill Ayers. You can see outside through the nice windows put in by Asburian Boyd Martin, and decorated by donated window treatments!
All together, the clinic is a wonderful patchwork of kindness and charity. Everyone brings their gifts, small and large, and God stitches them together into a tapestry of outreach that brings glory to His name and comfort to His children. I am pleased to be a part of such an effort, and thankful for the Asbury commitment to giving and outreach that has characterized this church since its beginning. If God is leading you to help, we welcome your prayers, gifts, and service. Right now, God seems to be leading us to develop more mentoring for our staff; many of them are recovering from addictions and past life struggles. Or, if you are a dental professional, we definitely have a room ready for you! There is nothing like the feeling of helping someone out of pain who has nowhere else to go. It is a blessing for everyone involved! Thanks to the Asbury family for making that possible.
Dr. Michael McCracken, member, Asbury UMC