Nervousness overwhelmed Patricia as she sat in the Community of Hope waiting room for her dental appointment. She had neglected her own smile to pay for her children’s braces out of pocket, and a traumatic experience at another dentist years ago brought back fears and anxiety. But that day, her fear of the dentist was not the only thing weighing on her mind and body. Just days earlier, on her 60th birthday, Patricia was out celebrating with a few friends and was struck in the leg by a bullet during a drive-by shooting.
Sitting in the waiting room, the combination of pain, fear, and exhaustion caught up with her, and she began to cry. “I was hurting. I was in so much pain. Then, the dental manager came over and asked what was the matter. My life has been better ever since.”
Community of Hope offers affordable, comfortable, and convenient dental services that go beyond the basic scope of care. The comprehensive services range from cleanings to root canal treatment and are provided regardless of a patient’s ability to pay. Patricia had an appointment with Dr. Thomas, whom she had never met before.“When I met Dr. Thomas, she was so gentle. I had a serious fear [of dentists], but I don’t anymore. She actually made [the experience] pleasant!”
Over the last 5 years, Patricia has seen Dr. Thomas and our dental team for significant dental care. “I have had a lot of work done. I needed x-rays, a root canal…I was even able to get dentures.”
Patricia raves about her dental care, but shares that the impact of Community of Hope’s collaborative, holistic care reaches far beyond access to medical services. “That day, the dental manager reached out to the emotional wellness department, who got me an appointment with a therapist, and that’s when I met Irene. At that time, I was in a very despondent place in my mind and my spirit....people love coming here because someone cares about them. Someone actually listens.”
Patricia overflows with gratitude for how consistent the care is.“I actually have an appointment coming up this month for my cleaning. Dr. Thomas is great at following up; she really makes you feel like you are her only client.”
With the support of behavioral health and her therapist, Patricia was able to stabilize her housing, obtained a job with Fed Ex, and started processing the trauma of losing a son to gun violence a few years prior. “Now I am healing. I am learning a lot of good things about myself and letting a lot of bad things go. I volunteer on the Bellevue Family Success Center Community Advisory Council. I am a walking Community of Hope advocate! I really don’t know where I would be without them.”
Community of Hope works to improve health and end family homelessness to make Washington D.C. more equitable through holistic family care that focuses on prevention, healing, and wellness. To learn more about how you can help provide hope through these critical services, please visit www.communityofhopedc.org/donate