By Connie Davis Bushey
News Editor, Baptist and Reflector
KINGSPORT — Jim Ramey is a busy cattle farmer here who also is disaster relief director of Sullivan Baptist Association, based here.
Recently he served a week in Savannah, Ga., leading a feeding unit operation for victims of Hurricane Matthew.
Before that he served with the Appalachian Miles for Smiles mobile dental clinic at Sullivan Baptist Church, Kingsport. Right after being a disaster relief volunteer in Savannah he drove the dental clinic to another church in Kingsport and the next day to Elkview, W.Va.
Ramey and several other Baptist disaster relief volunteers are very involved with the dental clinic ministry. It was the idea of Frank Waldo, one of the DR volunteers, though he had never seen one. He has heard of one for children operating on the west coast.
About 20,000 people in this area “have access to inadequate or no dental care,” said Waldo, a member of Blessed Hope Baptist Church, Kingsport.
A friend of both Waldo and Ramey who leads a non-profit entity providing medical and dental care in Kingsport approached some leaders here and soon community organizations, businessmen, and companies started giving money and equipment for the project.
So Waldo and Ramey started drawing the plans, with help, and building it. They were assisted by two other DR volunteers, Hugh Crawford and Bill Helton, and other friends who volunteered. Ramey, Crawford, and Helton are all members of Sullivan Baptist Church, Kingsport.
Another Baptist also is involved in AMFS — Joe Smitty, a retired physician who is a member of First Baptist Church, Church Hill. He accompanies AMFS with a separate mobile clinic.
Appalachian Miles for Smiles has been operating for seven months. The clinic either on its own or as a part of Remote Area Medical USA, a non-profit, has treated 700 patients at 13 sites, Ramey reported.
Though it operates under RAM for insurance purposes and another non-profit, it was built by Baptists and they transport it with the DR tractor of Sullivan Association. The DR volunteers also maintain the trailer.
AMFS has served at Sullivan Baptist and hopes to serve at other Baptist churches, said Ramey and Waldo. At Sullivan Baptist, Ramey, after getting everything set up, and Jeff Strong, pastor, witnessed to patients and distributed Bibles from an awning.
While in Elkview, W.Va., during an Oct. 22 clinic, Ramey said he talked to a man who came for treatment. The clinic was there with RAM to help the many needy residents, many of whom were victims of summer flooding.
The man, who was about the same age as Ramey, said he had never been to a dentist in his entire life.
“It was the most needy area I’ve ever seen,” said Ramey, who has developed a project through Sullivan Association to return at Christmas with presents for children there.