Program provides dental care in exchange for community service

Organizations give back through ‘Pay it Forward’ program

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Organizations in Montgomery have found a way to give back to people in the community. They’re trading volunteer work for dental services.

This is all a part of the Pay It Forward Dental program, which offers free dental services to people without dental insurance. Now, Hands On River Region has adopted the program.

Hands On River Region and Gift of Life Foundation came together Wednesday for an orientation for Gift of Life participants to find out how they can get free routine dental work.

Here’s how it works, participants can volunteer throughout the community to earn credits. One hour of community service is equal to $25 of dental work, and the credits are stacked until a person reaches the credits needed for the dental work to be done. Gift of Life has been participating in this program for a little over a year, and officials say that it has been very beneficial to new mothers.

“Many of our moms have not even had things we take for granted like simple cleanings," says Gift of Life Foundation, Mobile Family Coach, Kathy Lightsey. "When you’re pregnant you have morning sickness. You’re tired. You may forget to floss and brush. There’s also something called pregnancy gingivitis that increases when this bacteria is in your mouth, it can get into your bloodstream via your gums and it can cause preterm births. So that’s why we feel this is a very important program.”

Four people from Gift of Life attended the orientation, and over 200 people have benefited from the Pay It Forward Dental program since it began in 2017.

Hope Inspired Ministries is also a partner with the Pay It Forward Dental program, and they hold orientation for their members every nine weeks.

The Alabama Department of Public Health has granted Hands On River Region $25,000 for the program,. Officials say that they hope to use that money to hire a full-time person to over see the progress of the program.

This is currently a pilot program and is limited to the organizations in the partnership.

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