Churches Provide Free Community Dental Care

By Debi Everhart -  November 29, 2023


Churches Provide Free Community Dental Care

Free dental care was provided to the southwest Michigan community starting early on Sunday morning, November 12, at the Niles Adventist school. 


A joint effort of the Buchanan, Edwardsburg, and Niles Westside Adventist churches, the dental services were made available on a first-come, first-served basis. Thus people seeking care were already gathering at the school at about 6:30 that morning, though the event had beenadvertised to begin at 8:30 a.m.

Dental cleanings, basic tooth restorations, and extractions were offered to attendees as recommended by the dental health team. Local volunteer dentists and hygienists performed professional services, including Richard Beckermeyer from Beyond Smiles in Niles, Kai Steele of KaiSteele Dentistry, and Sungmin Cho of Destiny Dental.

Nearly 80 patients were served by more than 40 volunteers. One unexpected volunteer was a man who had just visited the Niles Westside Church for the first time the previous day through his wife’s encouragement. He said that he found fulfillment in helping those in need and was happy to run back and forth between the registration area and the waiting room finding the next person to be served. By only ten o’clock in the morning, he was already calling for customer #60.

Among attendees who expressed appreciation for the event were a woman who came for a filling after receiving an invitation from her neighbor, a man who explained that his health had seemed to be perfect until he had retired without an adequate plan for care, and a returnee from last year who said that the dentist made the procedure “fun.” One woman who had recently learned that she needed about $6,000 of dental work which she couldn’t afford had been encouraged to attend the dental care event by her dentist.

Booths were set up to provide attendees with healthcare resources. These included massage sessions with a local therapist, materials from the Berrien County Cancer Service, consultations with Hinman Counseling Services of Berrien Springs, a display by Neighbor to Neighbor of Adventist Community Services, health films and banners for NEWSTART (Nutrition, Exercise, Water, Sunshine, Temperance, Air, Rest, Trust), spiritual and health-related literature, and brightly colored gift bags with edible items and health materials for attendees.

Tyler Willey, personal ministries leader at Niles Westside, said that “the ministry provided an opportunity for each volunteer and patient to remember the bigger sacrifice that Christ has made for us.” Indeed, those who witnessed the event sensed a desire to serve that goes beyond typical health events, and a couple of attendees expressed an interest in Bible studies as a result.