PDT Staff Writer
People began lining up early for the Free Day of Dentistry. Not early in the morning Saturday, but 8 p.m. Friday, at the office of Dr. Tracy Murray, 1010 Gallia Street in Portsmouth.
“We have a couple that was here at 8 p.m., and then a lot of them came at 4 o’clock this morning,” Dr. Murray’s wife Rhonda Murray said, shortly after 9 a.m. “And we’ve got a whole line out there. Everyone’s cooperating, they’re happy to be here. Our family is all here but two - we have two other children who couldn’t make it - we’re cooking on the grill for the patients, and we’re having a good day.”
The Free Day of Dentistry is a local non-profit event with a simple mission - making people smile. Founded in 2007, Free Day of Dentistry was created to aid those in need, including the growing population of under-insured Americans.
“Dr. Murray and I just want to give back to the community,” Rhonda Murray said. “There’s a lot of people in our area who do not have dental insurance, and we just want to give them the opportunity to take advantage of this day for the free cleanings, extractions and fillings.”
“We have provided dentistry for over 500 patients, and we have done almost $200,000 worth of free dentistry for the last five years,” Rhonda Murray said.
One of the situations that arises on the Free Day of Dentistry is that some people who have not seen a dentist in years, show up and are somewhat embarrassed. Rhonda says that is not a concern for the employees at Dr. Murray’s office.
“We don’t judge,” Rhonda Murray said. “We are just here to help you, and we don’t ever judge you. We just want you to come down, and we just want you to have a clean, healthy smile.”
Joining Murray in taking care of patients were Dr. Hal Jeter, Dr. Andrew Mullendore, Murray’s staff of 15 people, included in a group of approximately 25 volunteers who came together to make the day possible.
“We’ve got so many donations from our area businesses, our area restaurants are feeding us,” Rhonda said. “They’ve all chipped in. They’re bringing pizzas, dips and salsa, submarine sandwiches. They’re feeding us to provide this day.”
“Now more than ever, I know there’s a person out there that needs my services, but have no means to afford them - whether they’re out of a job, or just don’t have dental insurance,” Dr. Tracy Murray said. “This Free Day of Dentistry event is my way of giving back to the community, and being there for the people who are in need of dental work.”
The lines continued to come, from the parking lot, to the reception office, to the check-in desk, to the dentist. They were all greeted with two things - great dental care and a smile.
“We do it every year,” Rhonda Murray said. “And we’ll just continue to do it.”
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking news, follow Frank on Twitter @FrankLewisPDT.