SURREY — A mobile dental clinic will hit streets here this fall in an effort to help the city’s most vulnerable people.
A pair of 38-foot RVs, both loaded with the latest dentistry equipment, are being cleaned and prepped for use in Surrey and surrounding areas as part of a City Dream Centre Society initiative.
“We’ll go to a school or a park, park it there, and the families in that area would be able to get free dental,” said Loretta Hibbs, the organization’s executive director.
“We have dentists lined up, and obviously we’re looking for more dentists and hygienists who want to volunteer their time for this program.”
The mobile clinics, each with three chairs, were bought by the society from a seller in Alberta, Hibbs said.
“They gave us a really great deal and they don’t run the program they used to there,” she explained. “The dental trucks were really not being used, so now they’re ours to use here. They’re being inspected, right, because we want to do this right. There are X-ray machines, all the equipment that you’d see in a dentist office, full service.”
Hibbs says the society aims to give people dignity, self-esteem and improved health with access to free dentistry.
“We work with a lot of people in recovery, with a lot of families that are among the most vulnerable in our community, and we noticed that a number of them, probably the hardest thing is getting dental,” Hibbs said. “Dental work costs a lot of money. We’ve dealt with a lot of single moms who have decided that instead of them getting their teeth done, they get their kids done, because dental costs so much.
“Something like this gives people self-esteem,” she added, “because when they smile and their teeth are black and rotting, they’re embarrassed. I’ve had women say they barely open their mouths because they’re embarrassed by what their teeth look like. We’re all about giving dignity, and this is part of giving dignity back to people.”
To start, one of the clinics will first be pressed into service in Surrey sometime this fall, followed by the other as needs arise, Hibbs said.
The society’s City Care Dental program will be overseen by Wendy and Ron Gaudet, who run Wave Dentistry in White Rock. Certain aspects of the new-to-Surrey program, such as registry, are still being finalized, Wendy Gaudet said.
“We’re honoured to be involved, and it’s all Loretta’s vision,” she noted. “Certainly we’re not new to this, because we’ve done dental outreach work overseas, as part of humanitarian efforts, but this is more in our backyard, of course.”
The society’s plan is to unveil their mobile clinics at a dinner event – a $125-a-ticket fundraiser – on Sept. 24 at a farm in Chilliwack.
“The trucks are like small airplanes that are going to fly in and do dentistry work,” Gaudet said. “It’s very high quality – really nice chairs, brand new equipment, computerization, everything.”
In March, City Dream Centre Society opened a new boutique thrift store in Surrey to help raise funds to build a City Dream Centre here. The store, called For the Love of Thrifting, is located at #106-19211 Fraser Hwy., on the Surrey-Langley border.
Ultimately, the organization dreams of opening a facility at 104 Avenue Centre, a 260,000-square-foot brick building built in 1998 and relegated as vacant pretty much ever since. The proposed facility is modelled on Los Angeles’ Dream Center, founded in 1994 as a volunteer-driven organization that “finds and fills the needs of over 80,000 individuals and families each month,” according to its website.
As for the mobile clinics, Gaudet said local dentists and other dental professionals can contact her to get involved in the initiative.
“This is all so new, and it’s still coming together,” she said. “If someone wants to help, they can just text my cellphone number (604-418-1664), and just say dentist or something, and I’ll follow up.”