PINEHURST – When he awakened from his fairy dust-induced doze, Bottom, a character from Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” shared “a most rare vision” with his friends.
Later this month, members of the FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital Auxiliary will share their own “most rare vision” – comprehensive dental care for children whose families couldn’t otherwise afford it – during their “A Midsummer Night’s Dream Garden Party.”
To be held Saturday, July 25, at the Country Club of North Carolina, the FirstHealth Dental Care fundraiser will combine a midsummer evening and a relaxed garden setting with good music and good food in hopes that party-goers will open their hearts – and their wallets – to the program’s support. Thanks to lead sponsors Drs. Monroe & Monroe, DDS; Steven M. Van Scoyoc, DDS, M.S.; Pinehurst Radiology; and Dr. John Oettinger of Sandhills Dental Rehabilitation Center, the event promises to be a fun-filled evening featuring the local band House Call.
Auxiliary President Sarah Ellman promises something very different from the longtime Auxiliary Ball tradition of black tie and fancy dress in a formal setting.
“It will be really focused on new and different ways of showing what we are doing with FirstHealth Dental Care and spending time with Dr. Harrell,” she says.
“Dr. Harrell” is Sharon Nicholson Harrell, DDS, MPH, FAGD, director of FirstHealth Dental Care, who has spent the better part of the past two decades promoting and providing dental care for underserved children in Moore, Hoke and Montgomery counties. She and her staff have quietly chipped away at the problem – with numbers even now estimated at around 26,000 – since 1998, but diminishing private and governmental funding sources, recession-driven job loss and growing need have made the effort stubbornly challenging.
“With the recession and job market, the number of kids on Medicaid continues to increase,” Dr. Harrell says.
The Auxiliary’s ultimate goal is an endowment that would support the operating costs of FirstHealth Dental Care in perpetuity. According to Ellman, an endowment would change a lot about the way the program operates, especially for Dr. Harrell.
“An endowment would change the way Dr. Harrell spends her time,” Ellman says. “She’s up late at night writing grants and researching funding sources. She needs to be focused on her work, which is the gift she gives.”
Previous Auxiliary assistance helped FirstHealth Dental Care acquire a digital X-ray system at a time when the technology was so new that, according to Dr. Harrell, it put the program “on the cutting-edge.” Aside from its continuing use in Dental Care clinics in Southern Pines, Raeford and Troy, the portable system has also been transported to Moore Regional Hospital to aid with complex procedures requiring general anesthesia.
During “Help Captain Fluoride Save a Smile” events of the past three years, Auxiliary members, volunteers from the Dental Care staff and others have at various times stationed themselves outside the high-volume shopping areas of Walmart, Lowe’s Foods and Harris Teeter to collect donations of toothbrushes, toothpaste, mouthwash and other items. This year’s “Captain Fluoride” collected almost $7,500 worth of items to be distributed to clinic patients for their personal use.
This assistance and annual grant disbursements of varying amounts have contributed to Dr. Harrell’s characterization of Auxiliary help as “our life blood.”
“They’ve always been so supportive of what we’re doing and what we ask,” she says. “They’re always on board with what we do for the kids.”
WHAT: “A Midsummer Night’s Dream Garden Party” hosted by the FirstHealth Moore Regional Hospital Auxiliary
WHERE: Country Club of North Carolina
WHEN: Saturday, July 25, 6 p.m.
WHY: To support the work of FirstHealth Dental Care. To reserve tickets at $100 each, call (910) 695-7504 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dr. Sharon Nicholson Harrell (at left) works with a young patient at the FirstHealth Dental Care clinic in Southern Pines, the largest and busiest of the three Dental Care clinics. Other clinics are located in Raeford and Troy.