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It was a bittersweet weekend for a Neligh dentist and his staff as they volunteered their time for Misson of Mercy, a program offering free dental work to the less fortunate.
Held in Grand Island at Fonner Park from Thursday until Sunday last week, Dr. Tim Brovont, Sheryl Baker, Amy Baker and Megan Pavlik gave their time.
“It makes me happy and also somewhat heartbroken at the same time when you hear their stories, how long they were in line, how far they drove, why they haven’t been able to get treatment, etc.,” Brovont said.
The Nebraska program provides care to the uninsured, the under-insured and anyone who otherwise has difficulty getting to a dentist. Care is provided on a first-come, first-serve basis for both children and adults, as long as there are no underlying medically compromising conditions that would prohibit them from receiving care.
Brovont first started volunteering with the program in Omaha before he was in dental school. He worked in sterilization then. While at the University of Oklahoma College, Brovont continued volunteering and has continued to give his time to the program.
Giving his time in this capacity is vey rewarding. Brovont said being able to help out those who are less fortunate and seeing the mass of volunteers willing to give up some of their time for a good cause keeps him volunteering year after year.
“It’s a good way to help others who are less fortunate and can’t afford treatment,” he said. “They are always in need of dentist and other volunteers due to the number of people they have that come to these.”
The Nebraska event provides free access to critical dental care while placing a high priority on patients suffering from dental infections or pain as well as provides basic dental education and awareness to patients.
Nebraska was the fourth state to hold a Mission of Mercy with the first even in North Platte in 2005.
This year more than 500 volunteers helped to provide services to 1,200-1,400 patients with $750,000 in free care.
“I was surprised by how fast time went by,” Brovont said. “We started treating patients, and really didn’t look up at the clock. Since there wasn’t a set scheduled that you were trying to stay on. In a sense, it was less stressful than normal office hours.”
Brovont, who plans to take over the Neligh office from Dr. Terry Jensen this fall, said he hopes to make Mission of Mercy an annual tradition for his staff. He’s also hopes to be part of the Hearts in Motion - Guatemala dental mission at some point.