Stories From Smaller Nonprofits: Ben Massell Dental Clinic


 As 2011 comes to a close, some people may sigh with relief and then smile with the thought of a new year beginning. If your dental care has been neglected those smiles may be few and far between. However, there is a unique Atlanta nonprofit that is giving smiles back.

Today's Diva Marketing's Shine A Spotlight on smaller nonprofits goes out to the Ben Massell Dental Clinic. Although, it's parent nonprofit organization, JF&CS, might not be considered "small", BMDC is a stand alone entity with it's own staff and budget .. so in our book it counts as a smaller npo.

The Ben Massell Dental Clinic is the only resource for comprehensive, quality dental care available at no cost to Atlanta's neediest population. The clinic provides the most advanced dental care available to thousands of patients each year.

Its 140 volunteer dentists dedicate their time and expertise every month to people who otherwise would not have access to the services it offers. In 2012, the clinic will celebrate its 100 year anniversary. Jf&cs sam massell sign

The BMDC, part of Jewish Family & Career Services of Atlanta, provides people with basic care not only for their mouths but for their overall health – from general health screenings to counseling. Its dentists come from a variety of backgrounds and faiths, as well as all the major dental specialties, including endodontics, periodontics, orthodontics, dentures  and oral surgery. In the last fiscal year, they provided nearly $2.5 million worth of procedures that restored smiles and literally saved lives.

Joseph L. Smith, LMSW, the social services program manager at the BMDC, is our story teller. He graciously takes us behind the scenes and shares his experiences of what it's like to work at the Ben Massell Dental Clinic.

A graduate of the University of New Orleans with a bachelor’s degree in sociology and psychology, Joseph was part of the wave of residents forced to leave the city by Hurricane Katrina. He knows what it’s like falling on hard times and then being picked up by the generosity of others. 

After receiving a master’s degree from Clark Atlanta University in social work with an emphasis on mental health, Joseph joined the BMDC staff in June 2007. He is responsible for connecting the clinic’s patients to social services in the community and facilitates mental health testing, support groups and psychoeducational sessions at the clinic.

Rachel Simons, JF&CS Program Manager, asked Joseph what inspires him and this is what he told her.

Joesph Smith_BMSC ManagerJoesph L. Smith - As the social worker at the Ben Massell Dental Clinic, my job is to help connect patients with sometimes life-saving resources.

Over the past five years, I have had the opportunity to help thousands of patients, but their perseverance and fortitude in the face of economic, mental health, health and other adversities have helped me the most. They constantly remind me of the power of the human spirit. 

I admire each and every one of the clinic’s patients. One of the patients who I admire the most is fighting the battle of her life -- stage four cancer. This patient faced eviction, hunger, cancer and the six to 12 months her doctor gave her to live.  We were able to connect her with food, resources to improve her life circumstances and a counselor to whom she could talk to help her through her tough situation. 

It is now a year later and she is in remission.

This patient’s life-altering experience has truly changed my life. It has caused me to look deeper inside of myself for the fortitude to continue to fight and advocate for the clinic’s patients.

I am generally a happy person, but she has taught me the true value in smiling in the face of adversity, never giving up hope and living each day to its complete fullest. Patients like her are the reason why I love being a social worker at the Ben Massell Dental Clinic.

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More From Ben Massell Dental Clinic

Website JF&CS 

Read More Smaller Nonprofits Stories

Bloggy disclaimer (and brargging rights!): I was honored to be highlighted by the JF&CS as a volunteer of the month


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What a great story. It's encouraging to think that there are still people in the world like Joseph Smith and his colleagues. They're doing much more than fixing teeth - they're helping to better lives.

Posted by: alanc230 on Jan 18, 2012 1:31:29 PM

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