10th Anniversary of Sources Volunteer Dental Clinic
The Sources Volunteer Dental Clinic celebrates its 10th Anniversary this October!
Located in the Peace Arch Hospital in White Rock, the one-chair unit in ‘the little clinic that could’ has helped approximately 3,000 people regain their smile and dental health.
The Dental Clinic was originally established in 1998 to look after geriatric patients in long-term care. It wasn’t until 2009 that the community outreach initiative was incorporated, and SOURCES (then Peace Arch Community Services) took on its administration.
Dr. Ken Stones kickstarted the community outreach arm 11 years ago, which eventually became known as the Sources Volunteer Dental Clinic. He was volunteering at a non-profit-run dental clinic in Abbotsford one day when it struck him there was a suitable space in his community hospital.
“I realized that the PAH dental clinic was available two to three days per week, and thought, why not make use of that time to help people in the community who struggle to afford or access dental care?”
It took a year to pull everything together, and once it was ready, the “Free Clinic” opened to community members with barriers to dental care. The first patient was treated in October 2009, Dr. Stones recalls, as he himself was one of the first volunteer dentists.
It hasn’t been a journey without challenge. A serious time-commitment to fund-raising activities was required to keep the clinic operational.
“We have had to cease certain services, and came close to shutting down at one point,” Dr. Stones said. “Without adequate funding or volunteer dentists, we would have had to stop operating.”
How often clients can be booked in for appointments also depends on the schedules of volunteer dentists who make themselves available.
“Right now, we’re lucky if it’s twice a week, though we can access the clinic three times a week,” Dr. Stones said. “Currently, we have a core group of about eight volunteer dentists, but that number has fluctuated to as low as four. Ideally, we would have 20 regular volunteers who might do a shift (4 hours) once every two months. Six times a year is all we ask.”
Thankfully, there is community support, most recently in the form of two key grants. One was from the provincial government and allowed the Volunteer Clinic to upgrade their older equipment which dated back to 1998! The other was a 3-year grant in May of 2018 from the PAH Foundation which secures operations of our Clinic during that time.
However, Dr. Stones hopes to see it run well into the future, so the search for funding – as well as volunteer dentists – continues. Though this has been one of his passion projects, after 50 years of professional dentistry, he is feeling ready to pass on the torch. He hopes more dentists will consider donating their time and skills to this most rewarding work.
“Once, I had a patient who used to always hide their mouth – but, now, after coming here, they’re smiling all the time. Sometimes people are so touched they are in tears. For some, this means now being able to apply for a job, because they’ve regained their smile. Volunteering here, getting people treated and looked after, is very fulfilling work.”
Thank you to the generous funders who have supported the Volunteer Dental Clinic over the last decade! We are able to take away pain and give people back their smiles because of you.
Special acknowledgments to:
Peace Arch Hospital Foundation
Judy Freeman and John Hitchcock
Semiahmoo Rotary Club
The Block Family Foundation
Other Foundations and White Rock Rotary Clubs