Last weekend, I had the honor and privilege of volunteering at my 100th National Dental Clinic through the Virginia Dental Association Foundation’s Missions of Mercy (MOM). In my 19 years of service with Henry Schein, I am thrilled to say that I have spent 17 of those years supporting the MOM clinics, which got their start right here in Virginia.
In July 2000, a single pop-up weekend clinic in an airport hangar started a snowball effect of humanitarian efforts in dentistry. Now, MOM Projects take place in 32 states across the country, and have become very dear to the hearts of many dental professionals in Virginia. The Virginia model for MOM also contributed to the formation of the America’s Dentists Care Foundation (ACDF) Missions of Mercy in 2008, and the ADCF has assisted 28 states by providing equipment for their MOM Projects.
In Virginia alone, MOM has provided $41 million in care for 61,000 patients, who often come from several states to seek dental care ranging from general dentistry procedures to specialty care, such as root canals or dentures. This weekend another 1,232 patients were served, adding a value of $1.3 million in care.
I am grateful to work for a company whose philosophy not only allows, but supports and encourages me to take part in these clinics. Supporting Missions of Mercy is a huge part of my life and contributes to my motivation at work. While the MOM Project provides a vital safety net for many of our neighbors, and it’s a first step to resolving the need for access to care for many Americans.
“Supporting Missions of Mercy is a huge part of my life and contributes to my motivation at work.”
My incredible wife, Karen, with my kids, Hannah and Joey, even come with me to support this event every year. So many life-long friendships are forged in MOM Projects and I look forward to them throughout the year, but Wise is special.
In Virginia, MOM was able to partner with Virginia Commonwealth University School of Dentistry to assist with logistics and treatment by a team of students led by peer coordinators. These weekends are a unique opportunity for students to gain leadership experience and bond with their classmates. They’re also a chance to find mentors among the already practicing dentists that come from all over the state to provide care.
This is where an example is set, every July, for dental professionals nationwide to address the gap in access to care for the underserved. For many of us, this is more like a family reunion than just a weekend of volunteer dentistry under tents on the Wise County Fairgrounds. Entire dental office teams come out and help their neighbors wherever they can – it’s truly a community-building event on many levels.
Missions of Mercy are also supported through dental supplies and equipment donations from Henry Schein Cares. This partnership inspires me to give continually and become better at what I do every day. We truly are changing lives, one smile at a time – not only for our patients, but the volunteers, too.
“This partnership inspires me to give continually and become better at what I do every day”
Of course, none of this would have been possible without the partnership and collaborative efforts between the Virginia Dental Association member dentists through the VDA Foundation, Virginia Commonwealth University School of Dentistry and last, but not least, the leadership of the Virginia Dental Association’s Executive Director and Missions of Mercy Founder, Dr. Terry Dickinson. He is our “Trail Boss,” my good friend, and a mentor to many. I am so proud to be a Team Schein Member and be a part of a culture where we firmly believe that together we can make a difference.
By Robbie Schureman, Henry Schein Dental