Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Loving our Community Partners: Interfaith Dental Clinic

Since the earliest days of Magdalene, we have relied on the generosity and love of our Nashville neighbors to help spread our message. Coming off the streets, escaping prostitution and homelessness, our women have many needs. From medical and psychiatric to legal and financial, these needs are met by an integral support system of community partners committed to the wellness of our residents and graduates. Ever thankful for the aid they give us, we want to highlight the role of our amazing community partners in proving that love heals.

Interfaith Dental Clinic, one of our most valued partners, helps us to fulfill the women’s need for oral healthcare. You might not think of dental hygiene when envisioning the recovery process, but Executive Director, Dr. Rhonda Switzer-Nadasdi and her staff, believe it is an essential part of the journey. With the motto: “A smile changes everything,” Interfaith Dental hopes to bring superior oral healthcare to the working poor and income-insecure seniors of Middle Tennessee.

We recently popped in to visit our friends at Interfaith Dental and they were very kind to give us a full tour. Pictured from left to right - Deb Markland, Thistle Farms, Education & Outreach; Dr. Rhonda Switzer-Nadasdi, Exec. Director of Interfaith Dental Clinic; Ashlyn King & Laura Herrod, Thistle Farms interns; Keri Seay, Magdalene's Assistant Program Director and pictured on the far right, one of Interfaith's beloved volunteer dentists.

In 1994, Dr. Tom Underwood, with the help of the Nashville Dental Society and the Outreach Commission of West End United Methodist Church, set out to bring their ministry to the people of Middle Tennessee. They began in a church basement and worked their way to a beautiful clinic on Patterson Street with state-of-the-art equipment.

Dr. Switzer-Nadasdi was called to work for this mission by Dr. Underwood’s own example. “His passion for the cause, and the obstacles he faced starting it but succeeded anyway, made me believe I could make an impact.” She states that her favorite part of the job is witnessing the private moment of a patient smiling at themselves in the mirror on their way out when they think no one is watching.

Speaking of their partnership with Magdalene, Dr. Switzer-Nadasdi claims, “physical healing is a big part of the women’s journey. Sound oral health can be a major step towards overall improved health. In their psychological journey, their mouths often reveal a past of struggle they are trying to put behind them. Through our partnership we can give a new healthy smile that shines with promise and wholeness.”

Magdalene and Interfaith Dental Clinic are working together to spread a message of love, healing and peace. In the words of Mother Teresa, “Peace begins with a smile.”

Story by Ashlyn King
Thistle Farms Intern