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Virginia MOM celebrates 15th anniversary in Wise

September 01, 2014

By Stacie Crozier


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            <span class= MOM anniversary: VDA President Ted Sherwin, ADA President Charles H. Norman and VDA Foundation President Patrick Finnerty pause for a picture during the 15th annual Mission of Mercy project in Wise, Va. 
Dr. Terry Dickinson, VDA executive director and founder of the Mission of Mercy program, shares a smile with a patient in July at the Wise, Va., MOM.
Growing program: Dr. Terry Dickinson, VDA executive director and founder of the Mission of Mercy program, shares a smile with a patient in July at the Wise, Va., MOM. 
Wise, Virginia — In the city where it all began, the Virginia Dental Association Foundation and some 375 volunteer dental professionals, students and others marked the 15th anniversary of its Mission of Mercy project by providing nearly 1,300 patients with free dental care during a MOM July 18-20 at the Wise County Fairgrounds.

Dr. Terry Dickinson, Virginia Dental Association executive director, created the MOM project in 2000.

“I never imagined that what started out as a small, but passionate group of volunteers, working together in an empty airplane hangar over 2-1/2 days one hot July in 2000 would become a national model of charitable dental care,” Dr. Dickinson said. “It’s like seeing your children grow up and be successful in their own ways. I am so proud to be part of such great organizations like the VDA and the ADA and the profession of dentistry, which has brought so many blessings to my life. It only affirms to me the greatness of our profession and the many gifts we share to those most in need. In return, the gifts we receive from those we serve are immeasurable.”

The MOM project has grown to have a tremendous impact on those in need of dental care, not only in Virginia, but in more than half of states nationwide.

“When we began this journey almost 15 years ago, we had no idea of the long-term impact it would have,” said Patrick Finnerty, VDA Foundation president. “Since then, this organization has had the privilege of partnering with thousands of dentists and volunteers to provide over $35 million in free dental care to more than 55,000 patients and families across the Commonwealth. In fact, the MOM program is so successful that more than 25 other states have implemented similar models.”

Although it was rainy and chilly during most of the clinic, the volunteers still provided $1.4 million in free preventive, restorative and surgical care to 1,300 patients. ADA President Charles H. Norman and Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe also attended, and Gov. McAuliffe presented the VDA and VDAF with a proclamation honoring the program’s 15th anniversary.

“Having the president of the ADA working side by side with VDA members was both inspirational and an honor,” said Dr. Ted Sherwin, VDA president. “Also, to have Dr. Norman be part of the ceremony where the governor personally delivered a proclamation to the VDA in appreciation of 15 years of MOM was very exciting.

Dr. Sherwin credits the success of Virginia’s MOM in part to its dedicated volunteers. More than 20,000 volunteers have participated in 75 Virginia MOMs in the past 15 years.

“As each of the volunteers received their 15-year anniversary pins and T-shirts, under a tent hit hard with pouring rain and cold weather in southwest Virginia, we each knew what effort it has taken to do this for so many years,” Dr. Sherwin added. “Yet many of us keep coming back because of the way we see our patients transformed. It is spiritually gratifying in a way you cannot describe. Each of us, working together, share that special feeling and a bond you never forget.”

For more on the Virginia MOM program, visit vdaf.org.