Imagine being 55 years old and never having seen a dentist before. For most of us, dental care is a way of life — but when Sharam* came to us at the dental clinic, he had never had his teeth cleaned in his entire life!
During his first visit, Sharam’s niece came with him to translate. But during his second visit, a deep cleaning which required anesthesia, he came alone. Thankfully, a new dental volunteer had just begun that day and was able to translate! Our new volunteer made it a point to be there at each of Sharam’s visits to translate — Sharam felt so cared for!
We were amazed that Sharam was able to cope with his pain. He had a bad absess on one tooth, but he never complained. He was so grateful and appreciative of the care we were able to give him. He also badly needed a root canal, and we were able to coordinate care with an endodontist who provided care in her private office. What a blessing to be able to help Sharam!
But as thrilled as we are for every patient like Sharam who finds care at Lahai Health, we know there are many others still struggling without the care they desperately need. Nothing grieves our hearts more than turning someone away because we don’t have enough resources to help!
And our dental resources have been limited. Though we care for as many people as we possibly can, we only are able to see about 200 patients per year — most of whom have been on a waiting list for 9-12 months. And there are so many others who need our help!
For 10 years, we have prayed for a dental clinic that could serve more people. And now, thanks to some amazing gifts and grants, that prayer is being answered. God is truly opening doors!
Opening doors, one by one . . .
During a strategic planning meeting in April, I asked a question I love to ask our major donors: “What health care needs do you wish we would address?” Without skipping a beat, one of our major supporters, the Verdant Health Commission, responded: “Our area needs a dental clinic for low-income people.”
I didn’t hesitate either: I asked Verdant if they would consider funding a dental director. You see, for 10 years we’ve dreamed of doing more on behalf of our neighbors who need dental care — but we were never able to gain funding for the leadership a clinic would require. Verdant said, “Yes, we’d consider that.” In a community where 1 in 3 people don’t have dental coverage, the Verdant team understands this need.
Interesting, I thought. God, are you up to something here? The answer would come a few months later. . .
That summer, Northwest Church approached me. They had purchased a new property and were moving to a new location in Lynnwood. As part of this move, they were specifically looking for ways they could be directly involved in providing health care in the community.
As they described the location, I realized they were describing my old gym! I was amazed — I had been in this building 2 or 3 times a week for years. I knew the space well, and I knew it was located right in the middle of Snohomish County’s poorest neighborhoods — directly on bus lines east, west, north and south.
I sensed God’s presence as I asked them: Would they be interested in providing space for a dental clinic on the second floor? They were enthusiastic!
Partners come on board . . .
In the months that followed, we have seen God open door after door after door! The Verdant Health Commission was our first partner, committing both funding for construction and for operations.
Leaders from the dental community stepped up to offer their expertise. And most recently, at our Road to Hope dinner, Employees Community Fund of Boeing Puget Sound awarded us $275,000 — which put us at 64% of the total budget needed!
Currently, we provide 200 patient visits a year. By year 3, our new dental clinic will be able to provide 3,500 patient visits per year. Think of what a difference that will make to our neighbors in need!
We truly covet your prayers and support as we move forward in faith. God has been so faithful and we know He will see us through!
(Click below to see timeline full-size!)