Ben Massell Dental Clinic

David Zelby, now chief of staff at the Ben Massell Dental Clinic in Atlanta, is part of a legacy of volunteers at the Midtown facility.

Almost 30 years ago, he remembers, he took a ride with Irving Goldstein, his boss and one of the men most responsible for the clinic. The two drove down to the clinic building on 7th Street. “‘Dr. Goldstein said, ‘I’d like you to work here once a month,’” Zelby recalls. He’s done that ever since, upping his time to two days a month and now supervising a staff of 90 dentists.

The clinic, founded in 1911 and renamed in 1956 for Ben Massell, the famed Atlanta developer who championed the clinic and provided its current building, is part of Jewish Family and Career Services. It offers free or low-cost dental care to more than 6,000 patients a year. Staff and volunteers provide services including fillings, extractions, oral surgery, orthodontics and prosthetics.

With all that action, the 2,000-square-foot building has become incredibly crowded. So earlier this year, the clinic launched a $3.85 million capital campaign to raise money to purchase a 7,900-squre-foot building on 14th Street that will allow dentists to serve 30 percent more patients. It will also be handicap accessible. The new facility is set to open in 2008.

Zelby hopes the clinic’s new home, in addition to a partnership with Georgia Tech’s Dental Technology Center, will also help recruit more volunteers. “Low-cost dental care is terribly needed in Atlanta and Georgia,” he says. “We get people from all over the state. Many of them are working people who have never been able to have dental insurance. We also see people who have lost their jobs, battered women who are escaping abusive situations and refugees from parts of the world where there are civil wars and genocide.”

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