Every now and then, LMT has the opportunity to shine a light on those who go the extra mile to bring sunshine into someone else's life. In this issue, we get to do it three times. Click the links below to read about Technicians on a Mission—three groups of people in different sections of our country—who donated their time, energy and expertise to those in need.
For us, hearing these stories was a gift: the topic of charity wasn't coverage we planned for this month. It just happened. We were given stories that were meant for us to tell. We've told such stories before and will always feel they are among those that mark our finest coverage. Yet the number of people who need help supersedes the number of volunteers, seemingly no matter how many volunteers there are!
For example, there are over 3,200 volunteer dental laboratories that do pro-bono cases for Donated Dental Services (DDS)! That represents almost a third of our community!** Contributing services through DDS is a quieter kind of donation. It largely goes unsung: you get a case from a volunteer dentist and you volunteer your time and materials to build a smile. The patient gets the case but you never see the smile. Yet you do it all the same because you know it's the right thing to do.
The stories in this issue are up close and personal. At the recent Connecticut Mission of Mercy event, over 2,000 people waited in line—outside, on a brisk winter day—for dental care. Inside, the Western Connecticut State University gymnasium was packed with row upon row of dentists and staff members hunched over dental chairs, working non-stop as patient after patient filled the seats.
The sole dental laboratory volunteer for this mission was Murray Kaizer Dental Laboratory. When I showed up early Saturday morning, Owner Jerry Kaizer told me, "We come away from this experience exhausted and enriched. It's amazing what this does for our team spirit and morale. This is really what it's all about—a condensed version of daily work with a major twist: the technicians see the fruits of their labor—they can listen and learn from the patients, hear their concerns; it's a real high. It's a hub of energy and transformation."
And so it goes that in giving without expecting, they receive. It wasn't their priority or their plan. It just happened. I like the way Lab Owner Terry Fohey explains how it happened for him: "[At first], our charitable efforts and business efforts were interwoven . . . [but] as I've matured as a business owner and learned from and been inspired by others in my life, I've come to realize that an important part of being successful is having a positive influence on your local community." Yeah.
** Our timing seems to be in sync on this topic: I also just received a letter from George Obst, a founding partner and former owner of Dental Services Group, who continues to volunteer on behalf of DDS. The organization, he says, is gearing up to launch a new campaign to stimulate more industry participation. To volunteer, go to nfdh.org/about-us or call Dental Lifeline Network (formerly the National Foundation of Dentistry for the Handicapped) that incorporates DDS as well as two other programs at 888-471-6344.
Technicians On a Mission