Providing free health care to improve lives. Serving those in need. Following in the footsteps of Jesus Christ. This was the essence of the second annual Dental/Vision Clinic and Health Expo in April in Glendale Heights, Ill., a suburb of Chicago.
Three Seventh-day Adventist (SDA) churches in the Chicago area teamed up with the Lake Union Conference and AMITA Health, the largest health system in Illinois, to provide free eye and dental care. The all-day expo, held at the Glendale Heights Sports Hub, also featured free health screenings, food and recipes, haircuts and health literature.
“It was fantastic event — we provided more than 200 dental and vision exams,” said Jason Goliath, M.D., member of the Lake Union Conference executive board, head elder at Hinsdale Filipino-American (Fil-Am) Church, and general surgeon at AMITA Health Adventist medical centers. “As Christians, we serve people. That’s how we change lives.”
Dr. Goliath, who helped launch the fair in 2018, said the Village of Glendale Heights invited the Hinsdale Fil-Am Church back after the success last year. This year, the church partnered with two smaller SDA churches in Glen Ellyn and La Grange, suburbs of Chicago. There were about 250 volunteers of all ages from several churches and AMITA Health. “It was a team effort. There is no way we could have sponsored this event without the support of so many volunteers.”
For the second year, Randy Griffin, D.D.S., director, Adventist Community Health, Lake Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists, brought their mobile dental and vision equipment. Faculty and students from Midwest University, Chicago College of Optometry, helped manage the optometry booth. Volunteer dentists and hygienists managed the dental clinic.
Funding for the Expo was made possible through Hinsdale Fil-Am Church, Lake Union Conference, Illinois Conference and AMITA Health.
Illinois-licensed professionals offered free mobile dental and vision services, including cleanings, fillings, extractions and eye exams. Glasses were offered for $10. Griffin will return to Chicago in four to five weeks to deliver the glasses.
AMITA Health community relations nurses provided free screenings for cholesterol and glucose levels, bone density and cardiac-risk assessments. Other volunteers performed screenings for blood pressure, height and weight, body-mass index, flexibility, muscular strength/conditioning, and computer health-age assessments with printed recommendations for improvements. The expo also offered a physical therapy booth, chair messages and chiropractic adjustments.
141 guests served (more than double last year’s number)
96 teeth cleanings
80 guests served
76 pairs of glasses will be made
Total value: $73,750
The weekend before the Expo, about 100 people from the three participating churches conducted a prayer walk through the community. About 20 different groups marched through Glendale Heights, passing out fliers and praying for each home. Before church members could ask the Village for permission to distribute fliers, a Village board member contacted the church and gave suggestions on blanketing fliers in neighborhoods that would benefit most. Afterwards, the volunteers congregated at the Glen Ellyn church for a meal and closing of the Sabbath.
Why sponsor a health fair? Goliath cited a passage by Ellen G. White, one of the founders of the SDA Church: “The health message is the right arm of the gospel.”
“The essence of that statement means that many people will be drawn to Christ through our health message,” Goliath said. “When we serve people and teach them our health principles, they will get a glimpse of Jesus Christ. Providing health care opens doors and opportunities to encourage individuals to want to learn more about Jesus Christ. One of the best methods of witnessing is through our health ministry."
As participants left the Expo, they could stop by the Creation Health and prayer table for a giveaway bag for goodies collected. Volunteers provided a health needs assessment to plan for next year and offered a prayer. CREATION Health is a faith-based lifestyle transformation program that is part of the SDA mission.
“It was an amazing day working alongside fellow believers from multiple churches, as well as AMITA Health community relations nurses and church members who work at AMITA Health,” said Heather Hoffman, regional director, Clinical Mission Integration, AMITA Health, who helped staff the CREATION Health booth.