AARP New Mexico seeks volunteers to help staff the Second New Mexico Mission of Mercy, a special event that provides free dental care to low income individuals. While the first event took place in 2010 in Albuquerque, this year’s clinic will be held at the Las Cruces Convention Center in Las Cruces, March 2 and 3.
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At the Albuquerque event, AARP volunteers joined a total of 1,700 other volunteers to help patients navigate the cavernous space of the Manuel Lujan Building on the New Mexico State Fair grounds. In all, 2,201 people were served, 82 of them children. Some individuals lined up the night before braving cold temperatures to make sure they could get the free service. The dental community donated $1.3 million in service, completing 8,724 procedures.
“It was an amazing experience,” said Beth Velasquez, AARP New Mexico Associate State Directors Communications, who participated in the Albuquerque event. “The organizers had the building mapped out by service. There were areas for checking in and for doctors to determine whether you needed a cleaning or more extensive work, like a triage area. Each service had its own area within the building.”
“There were areas for teeth cleaning, child services, bridge work and even root canals. And volunteers guided each patient through the facility to whatever service they needed right up to check out so they would know where to go next and weren’t aimlessly wandering around. There were also areas set up to show people the proper way to brush and take care of their oral health,” Velasquez said.
“When you think about what all these individuals accomplished over a couple of days, it was really phenomenal,” she said.
“Now we’re hoping for a similar success in Las Cruces. We’re asking AARP members, and anyone interested, to join the Las Cruces Chapter in providing volunteer support for the New Mexico Mission of Mercy,” Velasquez said.
Find more information or to volunteer for the event, call the Las Cruces site coordinator at 575-644-3238. Volunteers are also being sought to help set up the site on March 1 and help tear it down on March 4.