- October, 11, 2019
- Postd by : Admin
The Westminster Free Clinic in Thousand Oaks provided health services to more than 8,000 people last year. While thousands at the Janss Road location saw doctors, received immunizations and were provided counseling services and physical therapy, just 300 dental patients were treated.
Thousand Oaks High School student Paul Moon, a volunteer at the health practice, was frustrated that the clinic, which had limited dental equipment, was forced to give patients with rotting and lost teeth referrals for dental work they wouldn’t be able to afford.
“Something needed to change,” he said.
The 17-year-old solicited donations of equipment, ranging from dental chairs to an X-ray machine, and of time. Thanks to the generosity of some local dentists, the Westminster Free Clinic Healthy Teeth Healthy Smiles program will have its grand opening next week at the clinic’s secondary location at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Westlake Village.
The dentists expect to treat 500 patients in the upcoming year.
One dentist in particular accepted the call to action. Dr. Aaron Choroomi is an Agoura Hills native who’s run a dental practice there for the past decade. His practice manager, Pam Shad, said Choroomi has always provided free services to his low-income patients, from single mothers to senior citizens
When the 42-year-old father of two was approached to help with the clinic, Shad said Choroomi jumped at the chance to expand his probono services. Not only did he donate costly equipment to the fledgling dental clinic, he also became its director.
“He feels like the community has supported him all these years and he wants to give back,” Shad said. “People don’t realize how their dental health is related to issues like diabetes and heart disease.”
Lisa Safaeinili is the executive director of the Westminster Free Clinic. Despite the popular conception that Thousand Oaks is a wealthy suburb, she said, there’s a dire need for medical and dental care in the Conejo Valley’s lowincome population.
“Our nannies, cleaning ladies, gardeners and restaurants workers make our community comfortable for the rest of us,” she said. “We want to make sure they’re healthy, too.”
Safaeinili said the clinic has invested $30,000 in foundation funds and private donations to outfit the dental office.
“And we’re going to need more,” she said.
A GoFundMe page has been established to raise money for expanding the number and scope of treatments. The new clinic is also working on outreach to advertise its services to populations in need.
Safaeinili is seeking additional volunteer dental professionals, from dentists to hygienists, to staff the clinic. To make it easier for dentists to donate their services, the clinic is permitting dentists to treat clinic patients at their own private practices.
Teen volunteer Paul, a varsity tennis player at TOHS, is working with the clinic for his senior capstone project. With a 4.6 GPA and aspirations to attend Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he said he learned the importance of community service from his family.
Paul is the younger brother of Bernard Moon, a TOHS student who was killed in April 2016 when a science experiment he was working on exploded in his hands. The accidental death of the exceptional student rocked the Conejo Valley Unified School District, and more than 800 mourners attended the 18-yearold’s funeral.
With plans for a career in bioengineering and global health, Paul said his brother’s legacy still looms large over his life.
“Seeing him impact people, it’s the idea that when you die, you’re only remembered by the people you helped,” he said. “At the end of the day, I want to help people.”
The public is invited to the grand opening of the Westminister Free Clinic Healthy Teeth Healthy Smiles Program on Sat., Oct. 28 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 32111 Watergate Road in Westlake Village. The event will feature a moon bounce, a magic show, a costume contest and a raffle.
To donate to the dental clinic, visit www.gofundme.com/ HealthyTeethHealthSmiles. For every $25 donation, donors will receive a $50 gift certificate for any dental treatment at Dr. Choroomi’s practice, Agoura Dental.