We recently held a clinic July 16 – 17 in Columbia, Tennessee at Whitthorne Middle School. We caught up with volunteer Melissa Boyd, who is a faculty member in the dental hygiene department of Chattanooga State Community College.
In fact, she volunteered at RAM clinics when she was a student at Chattanooga State. Students of the college have been volunteering at RAM clinics since 2008. “Our students come and they volunteer their services for dental cleanings. They can also do anesthesia,” Melissa said. The clinic atmosphere allows the students to get extra practice at administering injections for the upcoming fall semester.
Melissa also pointed out that numerous students come to clinics and volunteer their time during the summer months for other reasons like obtaining volunteer hours and helping out in the community. “They all want to give back and they all really enjoy helping at RAM, and it’s very fulfilling for them.”
Melissa grew up in a rural area where many people had to have dentures at a very early age, and she knows how important preventive care can be to someone’s overall health, as well as dental health. “If we could get in there and give some preventative services to this community we can help avoid eventual and total tooth loss.” She also feels that spreading the word and educating people in these rural areas, who are so underserved, would help to combat dental issues at an early age.
If someone were to ask her about volunteering, she would say, “Remember why they got into dentistry. Many of us have a passion and we want to give back.” She went on to say that, when it comes to the current state of health care in the country, a lot of America is underserved.
She pointed out that while many children are able to be seen due to their health care, many parents must sacrifice their own health care to make sure their children are taken care of. This is especially prominent in the low to working middle class.
“Many of the mothers and fathers are the ones we see at these clinics by the hundreds. It’s either put food on the table and a roof over their head, or get dental care.”
She wanted us to know that she was very thankful for what RAM does and the love they put into this. “People are now getting dentures, which is huge.”
Hopefully, health care in America will get better and we will have less people depending on RAM to fulfill their needs. Until then, we will go where we are needed to help prevent pain and alleviate suffering.