Free Dental Care and Haircuts for the Homeless in LA

National Headquarters  |  March 14, 2016

Winter can be hard to survive if you live on the street, so charity organizations around the US work together to provide food, shelter, showers and other essential services to the homeless. In Los Angeles, Tzu Chi’s Western Region Chapter routinely offers free dental care and haircuts at this time.

On a cold night with the temperature dipping below 10 ‘C, Tzu Chi’s Mobile Dental Clinic was waiting as people were brought by bus to the shelter where volunteer dentists from TIMA (Tzu Chi International Medical Association) were offering their service that evening.

The dental care provided by Tzu Chi’s volunteer Dentists on Wheels makes a huge difference for thousands of underprivileged people in Los Angeles County, and was most appreciated on this night as well.

For one lady who couldn’t afford treatment for a decaying tooth that was causing severe pain, the care she received would finally bring her relief.

Another patient, a homeless man whose dentures were so damaged that he couldn’t eat properly for a year, finally got them fixed at no cost. But being able to eat is not the only thing he regained: His confidence was another.

Having teeth again can be a life changer, as it was for Gary, another man who got dentures from Tzu Chi some time ago.

For the homeless who struggle to find a place to sleep and food to eat, attending to their appearance can be a luxury that’s out of reach. The free haircuts that Tzu Chi volunteers offered were truly welcome and left most feeling renewed.

While people were getting haircuts, volunteers also took the opportunity to share information about Tzu Chi’s work around the world, and the wisdom of Dharma Master Cheng Yen.

Staff from CVS, a chain pharmacy in the local community, also arrived after their shift to hand out first-aid kits to the homeless.

Volunteers from TIMA are grateful that they could assist the homeless in Los Angeles this winter season, and are ready to be there for the next one as well.
During the 2015 – 2016 winter season, 29 dentists, 58 dental assistants, and 70 volunteers were part of this outreach program, which was offered at 6 shelters in the Los Angeles area. In total, 149 dental patients were attended to, and 314 dental services and 192 haircuts were provided.

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