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The Beaverton Wellness Center with Serena Cruz

Updated: Sep 26, 2019

Serena Cruz is the Executive Director of the Virginia Garcia Memorial Foundation. In this episode, she takes Dr. Stafford on a brief introductory tour of the Beaverton Wellness Center.

Topics discussed in this episode:

•All about the Beaverton Wellness center and the new building

•The Welcome Wall

•The Virginia Garcia story

•A look at a dental clinic suite

•How people can support Virginia Garcia

The next VG event in on Friday, September 27th from 5:30pm - 10pm. Tickets are available HERE!

To learn more about Virginia Garcia, please visit their website at

Listen🎧, Read📖, Watch📺! You can listen right here, or with a podcast app of your choice. You can also read the complete transcript below, or scroll to the bottom of this post for the video.

You can browse all previous episodes on Anchor and Youtube!


Dr. Stafford: Hi, it's Dr. Michelle Stafford here with our podcast Mixed Dentition. And today my special guest is Serena Cruz and she is the Executive Director of Virginia Garcia Memorial Foundation. Thank you for joining me today.

Serena: Thank you so much for having me, Dr. Stafford. It's really fun to be with you.

Dr. Stafford: Oh, thank you. So for our listeners, you should know we are doing a tour of the Beaverton Wellness Center, so if you tune into the video you can actually see us and tour around with us, so...

Serena: Welcome.

Dr. Stafford: All right Serena, please tell us about the Beaverton Wellness Center.

Serena: Sure. I'm really excited to share this with you, especially because you were a part of making this a reality. So this clinic is our largest clinic in Virginia Garcia's 17 clinic system. And the Beaverton Clinic, which was just across the street, was too small and too tight. And so we really needed a place where we could grow and better serve the community. This is also our most diverse community that we serve with over 50 languages being spoken at this clinic alone.

Dr. Stafford: I love that.

Serena: And so really wanting to reflect that, so when we go inside you'll see this big welcome wall with 18 different languages saying welcome and then also colors and an atmosphere that we really wanted to be just you're here, you deserve care, let us do that with you.

Dr. Stafford: Yes, I love that.

Serena: So-

Dr. Stafford: All right.

Serena: Come on in.

Dr. Stafford: Come on in. This is my favorite wall, by the way. I absolutely love this wall and I love seeing various languages. If you've come to World of Smiles, you know that I love seeing different languages. I love seeing... This is why I call my office what I do is to honor people from around the world. So...

Serena: Exactly and the images that you have of the world and places all around the world is really fantastic. So, I get your connection to this.

Dr. Stafford: Yeah, I love this.

Serena: So yes, you can see right here, all of the different languages. And again, this image as we're here in the lobby of just how we want people to feel connected to this space. We were founded when Virginia, a six-year-old died, because her family were migrant farm workers and she got a cut on her foot in California on her way to Oregon and her tragic death led a community response that was super powerful.

Dr. Stafford: Yes.

Serena: And so they started this clinic within weeks of her passing, the first clinic, out in Cornelius, and to grow from those humble beginnings in a three car garage to today, this clinic, which is over 36,000 square feet. And we'll give you a quick little tour around it-

Dr. Stafford: Pretty amazing.

Serena: really exciting. In this clinic we serve over 14,000 patients right now.

Dr. Stafford: Wow, that's great.

Serena: Well, let's show you some of what we do.

Dr. Stafford: All right.

Serena: One of the things you'll note, like your clinic, the setting of art-

Dr. Stafford: And the fish?

Serena: ... to really put people at ease and to make them feel comfortable.

Dr. Stafford: Yes and to have an area for kids-

Serena: Yes.

Dr. Stafford: To sit and play and kind of enjoy and sometimes wait, yes.

Serena: Exactly. Exactly. Let's go over here. So, like I said, Virginia was six years old and this is actually an image of Virginia and it took $7.7 million to be able to build out this space and to do that without any debt. And so we're super grateful to all of the donors, the major donors who contributed in this campaign. It would not be possible without them. And so we've done that in the image of Virginia with her story kind of woven in.

Dr. Stafford: Yeah, it's beautiful.

Serena: And then the dental clinic, and I know that this is near and dear to your heart.

Dr. Stafford: Yes, yes it is.

Serena: Dr. Stafford. Hello, how are you?

Speaker 3: Good.

Serena: Well, we're really excited to have this new dental clinic. It expands our dental clinics. We now have six dental clinics with this one.

Dr. Stafford: Great.

Serena: Which is really great. And as you know, dental clinics are super expensive to put together.

Dr. Stafford: Yes, yes, they are.

Serena: And so we're really grateful to all of the support that made this one possible. Every single operatory was donated to us by DCI.

Dr. Stafford: Wonderful.

Serena: Yeah. So we'll get a chance to take a look at them.

Dr. Stafford: Yeah. All right.

Serena: Okay.

Dr. Stafford: Well I can see that you at least see some kids by this awesome toy wall.

Serena: Yes. It's also fashioned very much like yours so that you use the tokens.

Dr. Stafford: That's great.

Serena: To be able to get that.

Dr. Stafford: I like it.

Serena: So we have to learn from the amazing dentists like Dr. Stafford. So just a quick little peek into an operatory. It looks like a very typical operatory, but it's, obviously what's so exciting is that it is typical.

Dr. Stafford: Yes. Definitely.

Serena: It's definitely of the best standard.

Dr. Stafford: State of the art.

Serena: It is state of the art.

Dr. Stafford: It's just beautiful.

Serena: Really to be able to serve patients with everything they need. There are eight of these throughout this clinic. There are three dentists who serve this along with all of the support staff that make it possible and there are two quiet rooms and I'm sure you understand.

Dr. Stafford: Yes.

Serena: Sometimes you need that a little bit of, a little bit of quiet.

Dr. Stafford: Yeah.

Serena: But the kinds of things we see in here, real emergency level, dental work and also preventative, especially with kids.

Dr. Stafford: Yes, I love that.

Serena: You know it's really exciting. And then some of the really innovative work is taking place around families, so baby days and in multiple languages, really getting a chance to bring groups of families together and talk to them about what it means to eat healthy, to treat your teeth well, learn what it's like to visit a dentist so they're not afraid of a the dentist.

Dr. Stafford: Yeah, I love that.

Serena: I don't know why anyone like that, but apparently some people are.

Dr. Stafford: Some people are.

Serena: So really trying to do that in a culturally sensitive way.

Dr. Stafford: Yes.

Serena: Is one of the things we're really proud to do here.

Dr. Stafford: Yeah. So Serena, tell me, how can the community support Virginia Garcia and are there any upcoming events?

Serena: Well, as a matter of fact-

Dr. Stafford: Actually let's start [crosstalk 00:06:22].

Serena: There are, thank you for asking that question and thank you for all you do to support Virginia Garcia. We're so honored that you're on our board, so thank you.

Dr. Stafford: Thank you. It's my pleasure.

Serena: One of the best ways that folks can support us is to come out to one of our events. They get a chance to learn more about Virginia Garcia and connect with the people who support this great work.

Dr. Stafford: Yes.

Serena: And so the next event is Prospera, which is our gala. It's on September 27th at Sentinel downtown Portland. It'll be a ton of fun.

Dr. Stafford: It's going to be lots of fun.

Serena: It's going to be lots and lots of fun and tickets you can buy them online at

Dr. Stafford: Great.

Serena: And then you'll find links to the events pages and how to purchase tickets. There's also a donation button on that web page, so it's easy to click and give if you can't join us at the event. And also lots of ways to learn about what we do here at Virginia Garcia. All of the other clinics are highlighted and so there's a chance to see all of that work as well.

Dr. Stafford: Yes. I love that, yeah. And for any listeners out there that are in need, this is a great way to look at the website and find out what Virginia Garcia offers and how you can get the care you need. Especially if cost is an issue and finances are concern, then Virginia Garcia is here to help.

Serena: Absolutely. Thanks so much for saying that we don't turn away anyone for inability to pay.

Dr. Stafford: Yes.

Serena: Here at Virginia Garcia and 98% of the people we serve have low incomes. So, you know, the most vulnerable folks in our community, we are and should be their number one stop. And so we've also got phone numbers on that web page where people can call to make appointments and learn how to get that care.

Dr. Stafford: Great. Well, thank you.

Serena: Thank you.

Dr. Stafford: Well, thank you Serena for all that you do in the community and just on the board and making sure that Virginia Garcia continues to grow and I just love being a part of it. I feel honored to be part of the board and being able to support Virginia Garcia in any way that I can. So thank you listeners for being a part. Hopefully you've either tuned in and listened in and maybe you're now inspired to come take a walk with us to the clinic today as well, and watch the videos. So thank you everyone out there and remember fill the world with smiles.

Serena: Love it.



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