Mary Mellon: Honoring a Father’s Memory with the Gift of Dental Care

Mary Mellon at her volunteer job in AFC's pharmacyMy parents, both immigrants from different countries, came to the U.S., met, married, and had one child. Sharing many of the same dreams that other immigrants bring to this country, my parents strived to make a good life here for their small family.

They both died sooner than they should have because the medical care they needed was inaccessible to them. I lost my mother to complications of diabetes a week after my ninth birthday. I continued to grow up under the loving care of my father until I was a teenager. Most people don’t realize how serious dental problems can be—it’s just a toothache—but by the time the infection in my father’s mouth traveled to his brain, nothing could be done. His death could have been prevented simply with access to affordable dental care.

I’ve been part of the Arlington community since the 1960s. I’m originally from Pennsylvania, however, Arlington, with its engaged residents, active way of life, and community spirit was always where I wanted to be. I worked for over 30 years as a special education teacher in the Arlington Public School system. After I retired, I found my way to Arlington Free Clinic and have supported the work of AFC as both a pharmacy volunteer and a donor for the past 15 years. Needless to say, I was thrilled two years ago when the Clinic began offering dental services to its patients.

Because of my personal experience, I am committed to making dental services available to those who live in poverty. I have pledged a gift of $250,000 toward the growth and sustainability of AFC’s dental program. My dad taught me that you should try to leave this world a better place, and I think that this is the very best way I could honor his life and memory.


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