A group from the area went to Conway late last month and volunteered for two days in the most recent Arkansas Mission of Mercy effort.
The group included students from the Tyson-Logan County Career Center, Paris School Superintendent Dr. Wayne Fawcett, his wife Laura who teaches health science courses at the career center and two dentists from Paris, Dr. Tom Spivey and Dr. Nick Dollar.
Founded by the Arkansas State Dental Association in 2006, Arkansas Mission of Mercy, or ArMOM, provides free dental care for all ages regardless of income. Since its inception, ArMOM has treated over 18,000 people. Each year, the two-day event is held in a different part of the state and, to date, has provided over $9.5 million of free dental care. The Arkansas Mission of Mercy has no eligibility or income requirements and treats patients on a first-come, first-served basis. The doors open at 6 a.m. each day but people often line up before then.
Fawcett said that some people stayed outside the event over night to be able to get inside early on the first day.
“There were tons of volunteers there,” Wayne Fawcett said last week. “Volunteers come from all over the state. They saw nearly 2,000 people this year. The event moves from area to area each year. Next year, the event will take place in Springdale.”
Laura Fawcett, who has volunteered at the event before, said the students from her health science classes got hands-on experience at the two-day event.
“A couple of the students got to work first hand with a dentist,” Laura Fawcett said. “The dentist was explaining things to them as they worked and they got to see the reality of what is taught in classes. For some of them, it was a rude awakening.”
Fawcett said she also got to interact with patients and in some cases had a positive response.
“I was able to convince two of the patients to go back to school and continue their education,” Laura Fawcett said. “That was great.”
Fawcett said the career center students who went arrived a day early to help set up.
“It’s a big operation,” Laura Fawcett said. “Two of the student who went will be back in class next year and they want to go back next year. I would have been able to take more students, but the event took place the week of prom. I’ve got a lot of people who want to go next year.”
The two-day event saw over $1 million worth of free dental care given to people and 1,051 volunteers participated.
The career center students who went were Steven Broadbent, Harley Hines, Anthony Demato, Jenna Lowrey and Tyler Garrision.