Volunteers made it happen

Published 9:10 pm Monday, March 2, 2015

They did not let several inches of snow on the ground. They were not frightened away by frigid temperatures. They refused to be deterred by icy roads or by anything else Mother Nature had thrown at them.

We are not talking here about the hundreds of people who turned out to King’s Fork Middle School in the blustery dawn hour on Saturday, hoping that an early spot in line would help assure them of receiving the dental work many of them so desperately needed.

No, in this case, we’re referring to the hundreds of volunteers — more than 500, actually — who worked together to make available the free dental care that those patients were seeking.

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The Virginia Dental Association Foundation’s Mission of Mercy clinic — in its second annual Suffolk appearance on Saturday — could never have happened without a battalion of people working to bring the event together.

For those on the receiving end of the free dental procedures, the dentists, hygienists and assistants who were working chair-side were the public face of the program and the ones they thanked for pulling, filling and cleaning their teeth.

But there were hundreds of others in the background, without whom the chair-side work never would have been possible. Even delivering and setting up the chairs and equipment was a volunteer effort, as were the administrative jobs that were necessary, the greeting crews, cleanup crews, break-down crews and others.

In fact, the Mission of Mercy dental clinic might be the most complex and labor-intensive philanthropic health care program ever to be undertaken in Suffolk. And everyone who participated did so out of a genuine concern for others, rather than for some financial incentive. That’s a remarkable and beautiful conclusion.