BEVERLY, Ky. – The song “The Great Adventure” by Steven Curtis Chapman perfectly describes the journey of Susan and Harry Brooks during the past five years. They blazed a new trail at United Methodist Red Bird Mission in the Appalachian area of eastern Kentucky, complete with abundant evidence of God’s amazing grace.
The first ever dental laboratory at Red Bird Mission became a reality in fall 2008, supplying dental patients of Red Bird clinic with prescribed dental appliances that were fiancially beyond their reach, as well as providing free laboratory fees in both dentures, crowns and bridges.
But the adventure didn’t stop there. It was Harry’s dream and intention to establish a program to train local residents in dental laboratory technology to give them a road to financial stability.
This spring, Harry, in conjunction with the Eastern Kentucky Consolidated Employment Program, graduated three local women with a new vocation and a bright future. All three have been placed in local jobs and have started their new vocation.
A second class will begin in the fall with six local participants already enrolled. Although more funds will be necessary to accommodate the additional students, Harry remains committed to creating skilled workers and unlimited hope in the economically depressed Appalachian area.
The Brooks’ original goal of building the dental lab at Red Bird, and supplying dentures and appliances for the less fortunate, has turned into a huge blessing. Harry has spent hours on the phone to dental manufacturers and supply companies asking for donations; sometimes traveling across the country to pick up the larger items. When a major dental industry publication wrote an article about the Brooks’ mission and their need for supplies and equipment, boxes and boxes of donations flooded Red Bird. Several dental manufacturers, some of whom had never heard of a project like this, have donated ongoing disposable supplies.
As the Brooks began to assemble the lab, it became evident that certain high-end equipment would need to be purchased. The couple didn’t know how God would accomplish this, but then one night Harry had a dream, and Dollars for Dentures was launched. Dollars for Dentures became an opportunity for the United Methodist community to participate in the great adventure. With the help of Pretty Lake Trinity UMC in Plymouth, the Brooks sent letters and collection boxes to a number of United Methodist churches throughout Indiana.
Their thought was that if each person in a congregation just placed one dollar into the box, it would make a huge difference in their ministry. Many people responded and the support was overwhelming. Because Harry and Susan do not yet have a mission advance number, the funds were sent directly to the central office of Red Bird Mission.
While Harry and Susan deeply appreciated all the support, many names slipped through the administrative cracks, leaving them with an incomplete list of donors. It is their desire to ensure that each donor receives a proper thank-you and a “Follow the Star” certificate of appreciation. They also wish to send updates to those contributors who would like to be kept informed of the progress of the Red Bird Mission Dental Laboratory and Harry’s vocational efforts. If you have contributed to “Dollars for Dentures” and have not heard from the Brooks, they would love to hear from you by mail or e-mail. God has blessed the extravagant generosity of the United Methodist family and there are many success stories to tell.
Susan told Together, “I would love to share the many God moments that have taken place as a direct result of the generous spirit of the United Methodist family. Our work continues to bless us every day in the form of changed lives and changed futures, and that’s a story worth telling.”
Donations are always needed and much appreciated. For those interested in becoming part of the Red Bird Dental Lab story, contributions can be sent to Red Bird Mission, 70 Queendale Center, Beverly, KY 40913 plainly marked c/o Dental Laboratory, or sent in care of Pretty Lake Trinity United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 266, Plymouth, IN 46563. For further information you may contact Harry and Susan at Brooks2313@aol.com or call 574-941-2313 anytime.
Graduates (from left) Shandra Harris, April Banks and Lori Bradford display their Certificates of Achievement for their successful studies in dental lab technology at Red Bird. Standing behind the women are Harry Brooks (left) and Dr. Lamar Keiser on the right, the dentist at the Red Bird Dental Clinic.