Over the summer, for the first time ever, we brought one of our dental vans out to Community First! Village…and what started as a simple opportunity to provide dental care to their formerly homeless residents turned out to be so much more.
Our team arrived in June, excited and ready to get to work, but it seemed like forever before the first patient came to visit the vans. Many of Community First’s neighbors hadn’t visited a dentist in years and were uneasy about the whole process. Luckily, our team was up for the challenge and decided to venture out into the neighborhood and learn more about the residents who call Community First! home. Over the next few months, friendships formed, and more and more residents started visiting the vans – not just to have dental work done, but to visit, tell stories, and hang out with our team.
“We thought that people would want to come to us and see us… but we were totally wrong. Trust had to be built with the residents, and after spending many days walking around the premises and meeting the residents, we began to have luck with patients keeping their appointments and letting our staff treat them. After we began to talk to people and hear their stories and they found out that we were here to serve THEM, they started coming to the vans.”
– Dr. Ensy Atarod
At the end of the summer, our dental team decided to celebrate their new friendships with the neighbors at Community First! Almost 100 residents showed up for lunch, and so many stories were shared about the relationships that were formed, and how our team helped people to finally be able to smile, after years of hiding their teeth.
With school back in session, our vans are now back at elementary schools across Central Texas, but we’ll never forget our summer at Community First! and the incredible friendships we built while we were there.
This story was published as part of the October issue of St. David’s Foundation’s 411 newsletter. Click below to read the other stories in this issue.