They started gathering as early as Wednesday night and worked into the wee hours of Thursday morning.
Though signs on utility poles instructed, "on-street parking for residence only," the quiet road was solid bumper-to-bumper steel, like they were tailgating for a sporting event, with coolers and backpacks, books and lawn furniture — those without dental insurance, but with aches, pains and needs of one kind or another were camped out at the Newman Springs Dental Care office, in the Lincroft section of Middletown.
Marking the The 5th annual “Dentistry From The Heart” day, a program started by Dr. Vince Monticciolo in Florida in 2001, , a privately owned dental practice offered free care to the less fortunate members of the community, which these days includes many more neighbors than you might imagine.
By 9 a.m., enough patients to last the full day of free care had already come, signed up and begun camping out in the parking lot and on the lawn. Registration began at 7 a.m., but within two hours, staff and volunteers could only add newcomers to a "maybe" list.
"By the end of the day we're all pretty tired," Dr. Mitchel L. Friedman D.D.S., Holmdel resident and owner of the practice, said, "but it's worth it ... to see all of those smiles and to get all of those hugs."
Friedman and his partner Dr. Joseph Ting, also of Holmdel, and the staff at got involved with "Dentistry From The Heart" four years ago, when Friedman was challenged by his friend, the program's creator, Monticciolo. He accepted the call and joined dentists in 48 states who participate.
Last year over $44,569 of free dental care was provided to 119 patients. This year Friedman's office, along with the help of volunteers from other area offices and facilities, was expecting to care for 150 people.
Patch correspondent Steve Rogers was on hand to capture, on video, glimpses of the day and the stories of those in need.