Western Washington Dentists Volunteer in San Antonio

May 12, 2015 | Earlene Wohlers

All her posterior teeth were rotted to the gum line. Jennifer, in her mid-20s, said she “had been a heroin addict," but she was trying to get her life back in order.

It is not easy to anesthetize someone having used hard drugs, but dentist Bob Wohlers was able to keep her numb long enough to remove the teeth in one quadrant. After the procedure, Jennifer expressed her gratitude. MiMi, Wohlers' assistant, was able to pray with Jennifer and her mother before they left and promised to continue to do so. Both Jennifer and her mom had tears of gratefulness.

Forty or more dentists and dental hygienists, including three volunteers from western Washington, served approximately 950 patients during the two and a half days of Your Best Pathway to Health in San Antonio, Texas. Each dentist brought his/her own instruments, anesthetics and supplies for the purpose of serving the underserved. The other departments did the same, giving away surgeries, eye glasses, haircuts, lab work and all sorts of medical care. A total of 6,193 patients were given more than $20,000,000 in services in two and a half days.

As Samuel Minagawa, a dentist, so aptly put it, “It was such a privilege to be able to interact with the people of San Antonio on such a personal level. As crazy as it was in the Alamodome, you could sense the presence of a sweet spirit and oneness of purpose among all the volunteers.”

The gratitude and smiles of patients leaving the dental area, free of pain or possessing a newly acquired smile, was reward enough for the long hours. Washington volunteers Minagawa, Wohlers and Wohlers' wife, Earlene, would do it again in a minute.

Your Best Pathway to Health's motto is “Christ’s methods alone.” It was an event that changed lives (volunteers included) in San Antonio, Texas. The city of Spokane, Wash., will be the next venue for this explosion of services, and volunteer registration is now open at pathwaytohealthvolunteer.org.