Fish for Teeth: bounded together for sake of a healthy, happy smile | Guest column

By Matt Marinkovich, Fish for Teeth, president, board of directors

On Friday, Jan. 24, Fish for Teeth kicked off its third year of providing dental care for those who cannot afford it, and cooked up over 300 fish tacos to help support the effort.

Dental care is provided by local volunteer dental professionals on the Medical Teams International mobile dental van, a 40-foot two-chair tooth-fixing behemoth, which comes to San Juan Island every January, May, and October.

The January 24-25 clinic helped 32 people for more than $14,600 in dental services. There are no income requirements limiting those who receive services, but prospective patients must assure they have no discretionary income, and no other means of paying for dental care. Thus far, the Fish for Teeth screening team is confident they are servicing only those who truly need assistance.

Fish for Teeth operates from a 100 percent volunteer effort; teeth wouldn’t be fixed without support from the dental community, and every dental office on San Juan Island has either helped already or pledged their support for future clinics.

Special thanks go to dentists Michael Horn, Bo Turnage, and Michelle Reynolds; and dental staff Tami Doenges, Kris Phillips, Lori Miller, Barbara Foster, Erin Quinn, Susie Steenkolk, and Julie Knight for providing their dental expertise this last clinic.

A big thanks also goes to those who schedule and coordinate the clinics: Margaret Johnson, Liz Pillow, Joanne Runyan, Nancy Best, and Michal Horn; and to the Mullis Community Senior Center for providing the site for the van and a space for patients to check in and wait for their appointments. Thank you also to Ellen Broyles, the “Tooth-Fairy,” who drives the van to our island and facilitates the whole undertaking, and to the U.W. Labs for providing a room at a great rate for Ellen to stay in while she was here.

Fish for Teeth’s primary fundraising effort is selling fish tacos. Team Taco has a great time making tacos, and they deserve a big thank you for their efforts: Mary Ellen Courtney, Tina Fisher and Bruce Robinson, Mary Grove, Alexis Hauck, Jean Griffin, Kerwin Johnson, Sharon Lannan, Matt and Maureen Marinkovich, Pauline Mulligan, Meichelle Roberts, and Jocelyn Roberts. Sophia Marinkovich and Samantha Hopkins carried signs to advertise the tacos.

A huge thank you goes to Donny Galt and all the staff at Friday Harbor Ace Hardware for providing space in their parking lot, and helping in countless ways throughout the event. Thanks also to Cynthia Burke of Cynthia’s, Of Course catering for use of her kitchen to prepare the ingredients.

If you wish to help out with Fish for Teeth’s community effort, donate, or want more information about our programs, go to fishforteeth.com.  Applications for dental care are available at the SJC Health Department, the SJI Family Resource Center, or on the website.


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