SIU alumni offer free dental care in Collinsville

Scott Wuerz
Scott Wuerz

Southern Illinois University School of Dental Medicine alumni Darryll Beard and Randall Markarian are co-chairs for the Illinois State Dental Society Foundation’s Mission of Mercy.

They will have a free dental clinic July 15-16 at the Gateway Convention Center in Collinsville.

They expect to treat approximately 2,000 patients from Illinois, Missouri, Indiana, Iowa and Kentucky, and provide more than $1 million in free dental care. This will be the fourth mission in Illinois.

Beard and Markarian are passionate about delivering this healthcare service, because so many don’t have access to dental care.

“These people have nowhere to turn and have significant unmet dental need,” Markarian said. “We provide a way for them to receive some dental care to get them on track.

“I am amazed at how appreciative these patients are at the care provided. Given the link between dental health and overall health, our hope is to get one person motivated enough to address their dental needs and have it positively impact their general health.”

Markarian finds the experience to be rewarding.

“I certainly have been surprised by how much patients are shocked by the level of care provided, and more importantly at the level of compassion shown,” Markarian said. “I have been fortunate to volunteer in the lab area where patients received ‘flippers’ (retainers with front teeth), and many left the area in tears of joy, because they had given up on being able to smile and show a full set of front teeth.

“I was completely unprepared for the level of happiness they exhibited. Many of us in the dental profession take for granted results like this as we see them regularly. We forget just how life changing it can be for someone that has forgone dental care for years or even decades.”

The free clinic costs approximately $120,000. Equipment and venue rental are the most expensive items in the budget. Donations from area churches, corporations, foundations, individuals and the dental community contribute the largest amount of funds.

“Volunteers outside of dentistry are extremely important to the clinic’s success,” Beard said. “Approximately 600 of the necessary 1,000 volunteers are people outside of dentistry. Patient escorts, nurses, pharmacists and emergency medical technicians are all needed. Their help is vital to the mission’s success.”

Beard has participated in the previous three missions in Bloomington, Grayslake and Peoria. “I recognized the need for such a clinic and lobbied to get a mission in our area,” he said. “I was quite happy when our area and venue were chosen for this mission.”

Lindewood has professional development course

Belleville’s Future Educators of America Club, along with the Lewis and Clark Reading Council, will have a professional development opportunity for educators on July 19.

Participants will earn three professional development credits for attending the event.

Presenter Deanna Dobbs will lead the session, “Introduction to Dyslexia & the Wilson Training Method.” Dobb, an educator for 18 years, has a bachelor’s degree in special education and a master’s degree in secondary education with an emphasis in reading. She is a Level I and II-certified Wilson instructor and also tutors privately.

Check-in on the day of the event begins at 8:30 a.m. in the Lindenwood Auditorium, 2600 W. Main St., Belleville.

Cost to attend is $15; however, the fee will be waived for students and current Lewis and Clark Reading Council members and for those who join the Lewis and Clark Reading Council the day of the event at check-in.

To register in advance, visit For more information, contact Associate Professor of Education Stephanie Yearian at 618-239-6096 or

SWIC to offer food safety program

Southwestern Illinois College Programs and Services for Older Persons is one of just eight senior centers nationwide selected by the National Institute of Senior Centers to deliver the organization’s “Food Safety 101” training program.

During the one-hour training session, older adults will learn about the basics of food safety and specific safe-handling practices for immuno-compromised individuals. Training is at 9 a.m. July 27 at PSOP, 201 N. Church St., Belleville. This event is free and open to the public.

Advanced reservations are preferred. To reserve your spot, contact Charla Morton at 618-234-4410, ext. 7095.