Senior Project Turns Into Ongoing Charitable Dental Program Right Here in Ashland!

Thanks to the charitable organization, Medical Teams International, the Ashland Emergency Food Bank directed by Pam Marsh, and high school senior Ethan Jones (who happens to be my son), Ashland has a new program to provide free dental care for those with financial need.

When my son was contemplating what he should do for his senior project I mentioned that he could organize a free dental clinic here in Ashland.  Medical Teams International has a program that I had the privilege to be a part of in Brookings, Oregon: they drive a mobile dental clinic to communities in Southern Oregon to provide free dental care for those with financial need.  The mobile dental clinic currently serves several coastal communities as well as Grants Pass and Medford.  When I moved to Ashland I was surprised that this program wasn’t in place here. My son took the idea, turned it into his senior project and organized this ongoing service for our community.

Three things are required to make this service possible.  The first is the nonprofit organization Medical Teams International, the staff they provide and the mobile dental clinic.  Second is a host site. Ethan got the Ashland Emergency Food Bank on board to volunteer their space, time and skills in this capacity.  The last thing needed is a volunteer dentist and dental assistant.

This project made sense for my son to take on because he already had one of those pieces covered: a willing dentist and staff to volunteer! The other pieces took time, organization and communication to bring together. Needless to say, I was impressed and proud of my son to take this project on. There were so many logistics involved, details to work out, coordinating to do and volunteer recruiting- which is why I hadn’t done more to get this great program going myself.  I’m utterly grateful Ethan took on this project that helped so many people, and will help many people in the future!

On May 7 the mobile dental clinic was brought to the Ashland Emergency Food Bank for the first time. And as the case is for most first time events, it didn’t run perfectly. We had to move the van twice.  The newspaper ran an excellent article on Ethan and the dental clinic resulting in Ethan’s phone blowing up with phone calls from twice as many potential patients as could possibly be seen that day. But at the end of the day, Ethan’s senior project was able to provide over $7300 worth of dental services directly to those in our Ashland community.  If you’ve ever experienced dental pain or discomfort you can relate with the huge relief and outpouring of gratitude demonstrated by the patients that were served.  

The exciting part is that this is an ongoing program, benefiting our community for years to come.  Thanks to Pam and volunteers at the food bank, my wife Sarah who will be coordinating, and generous local dentists donating time. Ashland will begin with quarterly scheduled free dental clinics for those in need.  So far the list of dentists donating a day of dentistry along with myself are:

Brian Kitchell

Kai Reynolds

Ed Warr

Brandon White

The true unsung heroes of dentistry are the dental assistants; each dentist will bring a volunteer assistant from his office as well.  Thanks to Amanda, Micah, and Sharon, my amazing hygienist and assistants, for volunteering on the first Ashland dental day!

Looking forward, the program does have a need to fill.  The mobile dental clinic needs a specific outlet on the Emergency Food Bank building to run the electricity needed.  If you are a licensed electrician and would like to donate some time or you are not a licensed electrician and would like to donate some cash to help get said outlet installed, contact my wife, Sarah at Jones Family Dental or Pam at the Emergency Food Bank!  You will be helping a worthy cause.

Thanks Ethan for taking on this idea and turning it into a reality that has and will truly make a difference.

“.. vision just passes the time. Vision with action can change the world.” – Joel A.

Lastly, Congratulations to all the Ashland High School Seniors graduating in a few days.  We’ve got an inspiring group of kids leaving this great community and spreading their greatness into the world!