PORTRAITS OF HEALTH
Portraits of Health is a campaign inspired by the visions of hope we see at our mobile health clinics. Each Portrait of Health highlights someone who has benefited from our free dental, vision, and general medical care that they could not otherwise access.
Sherry Lester’s journey to having a beautiful smile started over a year ago. She first heard about Remote Area Medical from her daughter. “She mentioned to me about the free medical, dental, and vision services they offered at their clinics.”
On March 18, 2017, the day had finally come and the look on Sherry’s face was almost indescribable. Once the new teeth were put in her mouth, she gazed into a handheld mirror and said, “Oh my God! I can’t believe it!” The volunteer dentist working asked, “How long has it been since you saw that smile?” Sherry responded, with tears in her eyes, “Never,” and added, “I will never have to cover my mouth again.” The emotion in the building, and in that chair, was surreal. Someone’s life had been changed and the joy in Sherry’s heart was undeniable.
We caught up with Sherry two months later to see how things were going, “I feel very confident and walk taller.” She had just been at a job interview earlier in the day and felt positive vibes about the likelihood of getting it. Adding how much better her life has been since receiving her new teeth, “I speak and walk with confidence now, which changes everything.” Many of us may take the simple privilege of eating food for granted, but when you have little to no teeth it is not so simple. “I am chewing my food better now and definitely am swallowing smaller bites of food, which makes eating more enjoyable.”
How far do you drive to the doctor? 15 minutes? 30 minutes? How would you feel if your nearest doctor was one hour or more away? Unfortunately, for Sherry Dale who attended our Grundy, Virginia medical clinic in September, this is a sad reality. Every year, for the past 8 years, Sherry has traveled an hour from Lebanon, Virginia to get the care she and her family need.
Sherry confided, “I don’t know what we would do without Remote Area Medical because we rely on their work. It is part of our medical care. If we did not have it, we would not get care.”
Sherry has medical insurance but has trouble paying the $250 premiums and $10,000 deductible set by her insurance company. Due to this extremely high deductible, Sherry has accumulated unpaid medical bills, which has made it impossible for her to be seen by a doctor.
“At RAM, they treat you like a person instead of a number,” states Sherry, who also has attended our Wise, Virginia clinic. She took her children to have their teeth cleaned, and her son was able to utilize the vision area to obtain a vital pair of glasses.
When asked about the volunteers who sacrifice their time to help at each clinic, Sherry exclaimed, “God bless you and thank you so much. I mean that from the bottom of my heart!”
At our November, 2016 clinic in Bradenton, Florida we met a young man named Lencz Sully Ralph Laurent. Lencz moved to the United States in 2012 after an earthquake ravaged his home country of Haiti. The quake destroyed a building he was in. He had been trapped under rubble for two days when a United States Marine found him.
The marine who saved his life left an undeniable impression on Lencz. He aspires to one day become a marine. Lencz also has aspirations to give back to his community by becoming a fireman. “The marine who pulled me out and saved my life from the rubble was a firefighter.”
Lencz attends school at the host site of the Bradenton clinic, Manatee Technical College, and plans on graduating in March of 2017 with a degree in Collision Repair and Refinishing.
Many people have no idea how their actions can affect another person’s life. The marine who saved Lencz may not have a clue that he gave hope to this young man, not to mention a goal in life. Just as many RAM volunteers and generous donors may not realize how life-altering their generosity is for so many people.
Regarding volunteers, Lencz said, “Thank you for your service! You could be doing so many other things right now, but chose to be here.”