by Ashlee De Wit
LANSING, Ill. (December 3, 2017) — Dr. Gene Keessen has been a dentist for more than 50 years—and even though he officially retired 12 years ago, he hasn’t yet set down his tools for good. He now offers his services, free of charge, to local residents in need, through the New Hope Dental Clinic at New Hope Church in Lansing.
It was about eight years ago that Rev. Ildefonso Torres—the church’s pastor at the time—asked Keessen if he would consider starting a clinic to treat those in Lansing who couldn’t afford dental services. Keessen had spent the final 20 years of his practice working with his wife, Janice, a nurse, so the two of them decided to run the clinic together.
They got a dental unit and a few items, and they set up shop in the church that Keessen has been attending his entire life. And since then, the Keessens have been offering complimentary teeth cleaning and medical exams to Lansing residents in need. They accept men, women, and children; they will provide school exams and complete school forms for students.
There are no set requirements or proof of financial hardship required to get an appointment at the dental clinic; it’s built on the honor system. The church offers this service as a ministry: “We want to be a light,” Keessen said.
The current pastor, Dan Roels, fully supports the ministry—he is available during dental clinic hours for any patients in need of services beyond teeth cleaning.
“I get a chance to sit with them, to pray with them,” Roels said. Not everyone wants that—and that’s OK too. But for those who are hurting, “it’s a chance to love people well, with no strings attached,” he said.
“This is for our church to give a helping hand in the Lansing community,” Keessen said. “We just want to be a loving church.”
“I’m not doing this because I like cleaning teeth!” he laughed. “It’s only for the glory of God. I think we’ve helped a lot of people.”
The church and dental clinic are located at 3642 Lake Street in Lansing, and the clinic is open on Tuesdays, by appointment only. For more information or to make an appointment for dental services, call New Hope at 708-474-7717.