Church's demand for money closes door on free dental fair
A planned community outreach fair by the University of Technology's dental health students, to teach residents about dental hygiene, reportedly ended up being cancelled after the church where the event was scheduled to be held, asked for monetary contributions toward its utilities.
The dental fair, which was scheduled to be held at the Farm Heights United Church in Montego Bay yesterday, ended up being relocated to another venue as a result.
Ajane Blake, president of the Jamaican Association of Dental Surgeons and Students, which was hosting the event, told WESTERN STAR that the church had suggested contributions from either the association or the patients.
"We planned an outreach at Farm Heights to take place this week. Normally, the venue would provide us with light and water, because it's a community outreach effort. However, they (church) decided they needed a contribution to the light and water, which we couldn't afford, so we had to change venues," said Blake.
"They wanted either a contribution from us, or they wanted us to charge each patient a fee. We explained that we are non-profit, and it is a community outreach effort where we try to help at least 1,000 people," Blake continued.
The WESTERN STAR understands that the church, which was once pastored by the late Governor General Sir Howard Cooke, suggested that a fee of $200 be charged to each patient to access the dental fair.
"I guess everybody has their financial constraints; but we really couldn't have paid them. We did a similar health fair last week in Falmouth, and the church there was accommodating without any user fees to the patients or us."
When contacted, pastor of the Farm Heights United Church, Maxine Jones, said her church body was investigating the incident.
"I cannot comment at this time until we close the loop in regards to additional investigations that we are doing regarding this situation. Before we say anything, we have to ensure the integrity of the church is upheld," said Jones.