CAMDEN — Not only can you get a good meal at the Cathedral Kitchen (CK), but you can also make arrangements to have professional quality dental work done in the newly-opened dental clinic.
On May 10 a ribbon cutting ceremony launched the clinic that offers free dental care supplied by Project Smiles for Camden residents, including guests of the Cathedral Kitchen, culinary arts students, and referrals from other human services agencies in the city.
Colleen Rini, public information director, said when the facility moved into its new building at 1514 Federal Street in 2008, health and dental care were to be included in the facility along with enhanced cooking and dining facilities.
“A medical suite was to be part of the extended program in the building,” she said, “which would include Project Smiles and Project HOPE for medical screenings and referrals.”
Project Smiles, Rini explained, is an organization of dentists, hygienists, and dental assistants who will offer their services twice a week for any impoverished resident in Camden, noting that the volunteers have worked in New Orleans, Nicaragua, and Mexico, among other places.
“You don’t have to just eat at the Kitchen to qualify for services,” Rini said. She pointed out that the clinic was outfitted with equipment donated by such suppliers as Patterson Dental Supply and Belmont.
The clinic will provide cleaning, extractions, and scalings with two local dental labs offering discount fees as part of a denture fund to construct dentures for clinic patients.
Although the clinic and the Kitchen are not part of the Diocese of Camden, Rini pointed out that the building the CK now calls home was partially funded with a $250,000 grant from the diocese. “This was done to encourage other funders to take part,” Rini said.
The food is donated from various sources such as Capital Grill, Red Lobster, and Classic Cake. FEMA provides a grant for food.
“We essentially buy the protein,” Rini said. “Everything else is donated.”
Although fast food chains don’t provide food, McDonald’s, as an example, will hire the CK’s culinary arts graduates. Rini said 20 from the third class of graduates are being hired by McD’s this year. The Culinary Arts Training Program was launched in 2009.
Besides Projects Smiles, Project HOPE, and culinary arts, the South Jersey Eye Center will bring its mobile van to the CK once a month for free eye exams and will provide free eyeglasses, South Jersey Legal Services provides legal advice twice a month, the homeless are given space for showers and to do laundry, and for haircuts and even massages.
For more information about the Cathedral Kitchen, contact Rini at 964-6771, extension 104.