How you and your dental team can give back to your community and beyond
“Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.” — Muhammad Ali
Every year I enjoy the May “Do Good” section of Dentaltown because there are so many great stories of dental professionals sharing their time and talents to help others. The issue always reminds me of some of the things I do to give back to the community.
One event that I participate in every year is the Arizona Mission of Mercy. (You’ll see some great photos of this year’s event, taken by Associate Editor Kyle Patton, beginning on p. 70.) I encourage my entire team to take part in this event because there are so many ways to help. Over the years, I’ve signed up for many different stations—restorative, Cerec, dentures, and my favorite, oral surgery.
The clinical setup may be bare-bones, but the patients are so grateful that you soon forget anything you miss from the office. Each patient tells a story about their journey, and the magnitude of dental disease and pain that they endure on a daily basis is truly humbling. If you have limited time, I think this is the best way to spend your volunteer hours, because of the high value of services provided and the profound impact you can have on the people served.
Of course, not every dental professional wants to donate time out of the office to do more dentistry. Another great opportunity to volunteer is with an organization that feeds the poor. My practice has worked with Feed My Starving Children, a nonprofit that works with volunteers to bag balanced meals that can be transported all over the world. I love working with this organization because packing the meals is a cooperative experience. And with your dental team divided among different stations, a healthy dose of competition can add some fun. The additional benefit of an event like this is the ability to invite your team’s family members, including children above the age of 7. What a great way to teach young children the value of volunteering to serve the needs of others.
Another fun way to spread the spirit of charity with your team is taking part in an event that has a fundraising component, such as Pat’s Run in Tempe, Arizona. This 4.2-mile run (or walk) is held to honor the memory of Pat Tillman, a former member of the Arizona Cardinals who put his NFL career on hold to join the Army in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks; sadly, he was killed in the line of duty in April 2004. If your office team is active, an event like this can be a fun way to spend a day together getting some exercise in the name of a good cause.
There are endless opportunities to donate money to those in need, and some practices will choose a charity to focus their efforts on throughout the year. The most effective way I have seen offices do this is by setting a budget at the beginning of the year. There are also many organizations that work with the homeless and foster families by gathering personal care items.
These events and activities represent just a small portion of how you can do good through dentistry and beyond. I hope these ideas and this month’s issue will inspire you to expand the charitable activities in your practice for the sake of your community and your team.