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Burnsville church expands volunteer dental clinic to bring more healthy smiles to the community

Prince of Peace Lutheran Church's Mission Outpost branches out, so more people in need can get affordable, dignified treatment, on Communities that KARE.

BURNSVILLE, Minnesota — "It makes you feel like you've accomplished something in life." 

Sue Asbell's life is all about smiles, both as a dental hygienist and a volunteer at Mission Outpost's Dental Clinic at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church.

Yes, a dental clinic inside a house of worship. 

"Everything we do is connected to our faith," explained Eric Elton, director of outreach for Mission Outpost. The concept dates back more than a decade when a group of dentists in the congregation wanted to give back. 

"We gathered a bunch of people together and started talking about 'could we do this? Could we work together in the community and make this a reality?'" recalled Elton. 

The dental clinic first opened in 2014, but a new, expanded space opened last month. There's a waiting room and four dental rooms to serve people in need.

"The world out there is not exactly super easy right now," said Elton. "Our hope and prayer is that is what we're able to provide as a place where dignity can happen and that people are comfortable coming here." 

That's what drew Maria Banks to the clinic; she serves as its manager. "Just to see the need and being able to be a part of the solution, even if it's just getting rid of pain."

And the services are affordable. "They could have four teeth removed, they could have fillings done, they could have their teeth cleaned. No matter what it is, it only costs $20," said Elton.

It's only possible with partnerships with private dental offices, companies that provide equipment and supplies, the Salvation Army, foundations, and volunteers like Sue and Maria, who remind us it's about getting back to your passion. "It's not production-based; it's heart-based." 

Elton says Mission Outpost is trying to figure out how to add more shifts so that more guests can come through. The key is to get more volunteers to serve because Elton says the need is growing. 

Next for Mission Outpost, medical care. In March, they're partnering with a local outreach medical clinic to provide those services at the Prince of Peace facility. 

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