A Fulfilling Mission: Tzu Chi Volunteers Provide Low-Income Immigrant Communities With Free Dental Care

Fresno Mobile Clinic  |  May 17, 2019
Dental Care Tzu Chi
This is the second year Dr. Charles Moggia has participated in the free dental event. Photos by Andy Chiang

Author: Rachel Lin
Translated: Wei Qingjun
Edited: Adriana DiBenedetto

On April 20th – the day before Easter – dentists and volunteers from Cupertino and our Northern California Branch climbed aboard our Tzu Chi Dental Mobile Clinic with a new mission. Their destination: the Boys and Girls Clubs of the Peninsula in Menlo Park, where they would provide free dental care to the underserved.

The volunteer team being briefed on the process for rendering care. Photo by Andy Chiang

A Multi-Racial Volunteer Team

At 7 AM, volunteers arrived and began preparations. By 8:30, the dental clinic was ready to serve the community.

The majority of those served were individuals of Mexican descent who speak little English. It is with this in mind that Tzu Chi brought three translators in the team. Carmen Rivas, one of the translators, told us that he was invited to join in and help by his neighbor. And believing this outreach event to be a meaningful cause, Carmen readily agreed!

The Second Free Dental Clinic

This event marks the second free dental clinic held in Menlo Park this year. Thanks to Divier Wallace, who works at the Children’s Health Council – an organization devoted to children’s healthy development in families and schools – the free clinics were held successfully.

Wallace works for East Palo Alto, Menlo Park, and Redwood City communities. Upon witnessing Tzu Chi volunteers working to provide their services to the residents on multiple occasions, he reached out to volunteers, has built a strong relationship with Tzu Chi.

Registering for the free dental clinic.
Dental Outreach
A volunteer giving instructions for proper dental care.

Wallace also regards dental health education as a vital part of one’s overall health. This is why he vowed help, and invited Tzu Chi to this community to provide dental care for low-income Mexican families. He helped find the best possible location for the Mobile Dental Clinic, and even reached out by calling low-income families in the neighborhood to come in for a free dental check.

A Team Fulfilling a Mission

The retired dentist, Charles Moggia, was also at the outreach event for the second year. During an interview, he thanked those who had helped him. Even though he was retired, he was very happy to put his skills to good use, and help the community.

I enjoy helping people. Volunteering is a good way to spend time. It’s great that I can use my skills to help the community.

Dental Outreach
A volunteer teaches children how to brush their teeth.
Dental Outreach
A translator helping a patient overcome language barriers.

Proper dental health education is just as important as cleaning and fixing teeth. With the translator’s help, patients were able to talk to the doctors. Volunteers also brought pictures and models of fake teeth to teach children to brush their teeth.

Five-Star Feedback

Dental Mobil
Tzu Chi Dental Mobile brings dental care straight into the community.
Dental Outreach
A patient getting a dental check.

Tzu Chi’s Dental Mobile Clinic is well equipped for both teeth cleanings and repairs. Patients can also have their body temperature, blood pressure, height, and weight measured in the Mobile Clinic. Tzu Chi strives to provide the most helpful medical services to the community with the utmost attention, respect, and genuine care.

That day, 40 volunteers were able to provide dental care to 38 residents.

Because of the language barrier, Mexican immigrants who are in need seldom participate in such events, and simply endure their tooth pain. With the help of Wallace and the efforts of Tzu Chi volunteers, however, they were truly able to benefit from the opportunity to receive care. Indeed, the seeds of compassion and good health have been planted in this community, and we’ll strive to help them grow and flourish.