To say that Brian Homann knows about volunteerism is an understatement. He actually wrote the book on it.
Dr. Homann, a 2012 graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry, will be honored with the Chicago Dental Society Foundation’s Vision Award for outstanding volunteer achievement. He was nominated by his peers for work he did to establish the student-run dental clinic at Goldie’s Place, and his continued efforts to help dental students across the country replicate their success at increasing access to care.
The Vision Award will be presented Thursday, Feb. 20, at the 149th Midwinter Meeting.
“Dr. Homann is in the beginning of his career as a dentist and already has determined that helping to bring oral care to those underserved is part of the fabric of his professionalism. It is truly heartening to see that his dedication — including passing on his secrets — so that others can do the same,” said CDS Foundation chair Mary Hayes. “We are privileged to honor this leader for his Vision: he energetically shows the rest of us how it is to work effectively to improve all our patients’ oral health.
A 2012 graduate of the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry, Dr. Homann was a founding participant in the student-run dental clinic at Goldie’s Place for homeless Chicagoans; while there, he initiated a donation drive and created Goldie’s Place Denture Program.
As the clinic grew in scope of services and capacity, Dr. Homann created a manual for other dental students to follow as they created their own student-run dental clinics on campuses nationwide. Along with the manual came Dr. Homann’s mentorship, as he admits that there is no universal model for success.
Now a practicing dentist, Dr. Homann continues his involvement at Goldie’s Place. He works part-time in private practice and two days per week in a paid position at Goldie’s Place. This is the first time Goldie's Place has ever had a paid dentist on staff, funded by a grant.
He is also an adjunct assistant clinic professor at UIC, an unpaid position that allows him to work with current dental students in the student-run clinic on his days off. His current students have assumed his old role of mentor to other campuses across the country.
The Roscoe, IL, native thanked the CDS Foundation for honoring him with the Vision Award.
“I was at Goldie's Place when I heard. I was excited, I was surprised, I was blown away because I know what I've always done with my time, and it doesn't compare to what others have given,” he recalled. “But it made me excited to realize that the selection committee saw the importance of giving back early in our professional lives. It's not extra - it's part of being a dentist. Dentists have opportunities to do what only our profession can. With our education, we have the responsibility to help people in need.“
Are you familiar with Zealous Good? It’s a two-year-old, Chicago-based organization that connects donors with local non-profits to meet specific needs; they say they match non-profits with “the goods they need to do great.”
Redecorating your reception area? Zealous Good can help you find local groups that need the gently used furniture, and you get to select your preferred recipient. They help the donor and recipient communicate directly, and provide tax receipts when appropriate.
Zealous Good started as a pilot with four charities in 2011, and has since expanded to 330 organizations throughout Chicagoland. Director of Operations and Outreach Jesse Mavi estimates that 80 percent of their work is in the metro area. They’ve made 1,800 connections totaling $900,000 in donated goods – and counting.
Find them online or on Facebook and Twitter.
What started as a typical college course for his daughter inspired a labor of love in West Suburban Branch member David Schubert. His family’s interest in helping the residents of Baudin, Haiti, in 1996 has grown into a year-round effort to provide dental and medical services to the remote mountain community today.
Dr. Schubert’s oldest daughter, Vicky Krick, first learned about the Haitian culture through her coursework at Carthage College in Kenosha, WI. She spent a semester break in Baudin, refurbishing a school and teaching. The stories and emotions that Ms. Krick shared upon her return prompted Dr. Schubert to volunteer, too. He soon found himself on a plane to Haiti.
That first year, Dr. Schubert and other volunteers provided dental services out of a tiny, ill-equipped dispensary at a church. Volunteers used an old birthing chair, flashlights and a lot of gauze, as Baudin does not have electricity or running water.
Dr. Schubert said recently that he found need, faith and gratitude among his Haitian patients, and on the volunteers’ final day there the line of residents waiting to be seen was still 50 deep. He resolved to return.
Dr. Schubert enlisted his wife, Laura (a dental assistant), and brother Robert (a Joliet physician) so that future volunteer groups might offer medical care beyond dentistry.
Mrs. Schubert learned to speak Creole, which has been very helpful in communicating with the patients, maintaining relationships and understanding the local culture.
Ms. Krick continues her involvement with the Haitian community, too, through annual mission trips and a church-sponsored food program which ensures the secondary students get one healthy meal daily.
In 2005 Dr. Schubert built a small dental clinic in Baudin. The facility has five dental chairs, a generator, compressor, autoclave, X-ray, and other equipment to do light cured composite and amalgam fillings and a comprehensive set-up for oral surgery.
Dr. Schubert typically makes three trips to Haiti a year, accompanied by up to seven volunteers. An average trip is eight days and incorporates five clinic days, during which approximately 110 fillings, 35 cleanings and 400 extractions will be performed by two dentists, one hygienist and three other volunteers.
For more information about these trips or to make a donation, visit www.baudindentalmission.org or find them on Facebook.
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If you’re thinking about National Children’s Dental Health Month, you’re not alone. The Chicago Dental Society Foundation has plans, too, for the Healthy Kids Brush Up! program – and they need your help.
This campaign puts toothbrushes, toothpaste and volunteer dentists in local classrooms to encourage better oral hygiene habits among students. Nearly 200 schools will receive more than 56,000 toothbrushes next month — paid for in part by donations from our CDS members and other friends of the CDS Foundation.
Help us extend the program through your donation today. Your $15 gift will provide a whole classroom with toothbrushes, toothpaste, and educational materials to make them meaningful.
Please donate now. And share the link on your Facebook Page and Twitter feed to further our fundraising efforts.
(The fundraising page also has buttons in the upper right hand corner to help you share the page via email to your friends and associates or on your Pinterest page, but we don't want to be greedy...)
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Here’s what some of the volunteers were saying at the 2012 Illinois Mission of Mercy:
“This is my opportunity to give back to our communities. I really enjoyed participating in the 2010 Mission of Mercy; many of the patients I worked with were so thankful and so happy. And I knew that in this economy there would be more work to do this weekend.
“One of the patients I worked with today was a woman in her 50s from St. Louis. She’s been unemployed for three years, and she’s staying in a homeless shelter this weekend so that she can come here to get a root canal and glasses. She said it was worth it for her to make the trip.
“I believe that helping other people is priceless; we can not put a value on it. The ways that strangers are helping each other here is driving home that humanity is not dead and there is still good in this world.”
-Denise Hale, dentist
“We had a long day of set up Thursday, but I was still excited to get over here Friday and open the doors. It was a good tired.
“We came back at about 9:30 p.m. Thursday and talked to some of the patients who were already in line. That was a real boost to the spirit to talk with them, and it made it that much more exciting to open the doors this morning.
“There is so much need in our state, and nowhere for patients to go. This is but a Band-Aid on the system, but we’re bringing it to the people who need it, and I love being a part of that. I talked to a patient this morning who had extractions and fillings and got a partial for her four front teeth, and she was thrilled. She said her birthday is coming up in August, and she’s really going to celebrate it.”
State co-chair for the 2012 Illinois Mission of Mercy
“We’ve got 16 chairs and 100 volunteers in the hygiene area this weekend. We’re seeing lots of adults with special needs and middle-income adults who are suddenly without jobs or insurance, and we’re really promoting getting back in line for extra care that they need while they’re here.
“We’re seeing a lot of families, and we’re able to educate the moms while they’re here. We had one little girl here who has never eaten an apple because her teeth hurt too much. And we saw a woman without front teeth come in for a cleaning, and she was crying when the dentist said we’d be able to get her a flipper today. She said, ‘Now I can go look for a job.’
“I hope one day we’re out of a job. My motto is that we save the world one tooth at a time.”
-Tami Wanless, hygienist
“I think the message to legislators is that our profession cares about giving back. We’ve got the entire dental family working together here today, as well as a public/private partnership teaming up with the professional organizations. It’s a tremendous model for other entities in our state to follow.
“I think when you look at the whole event lawmakers will see that oral health is part of overall health, and that’s why these groups are coming together here. There are a lot of adults who need help and are getting it here; what will they do next?
“I’ve been working on a complicated third molar extraction, as well as a situation where we were getting some teeth out and an immediate denture in. It’s for a young man; it will really change his life, and it would have been quite costly in a private setting.”
-David Miller, dentist
Chief, Division of Oral Health, Illinois Department of Public Health
“We’re all out here because giving is contagious. We all do it in our offices all the time, but when we get together to do it, there’s a spontaneous, combustible explosion, and it’s awesome.
“People are so pleased with the streamlined expediency of their experience. They’re getting comprehensive care and they’re not being treated any differently than any of our other patients.”
-David Fulton Jr., dentist
“More and more people are needing more work done now that Medicaid is being cut back. I’m really enjoying the benefits of having physicians here on site to address some of the other issues we’re hearing about and dispense the medications the patients needs. To be able to go just a few more steps and have some of your other needs met — I think more and more of our dental patients are taking advantage of that.”
-Mary Starsiak, dentist
“Part of being a dentist is service. Sometimes the goal isn’t monetary, but just to help your fellow man. With the current state of jobs and insurance and Medicaid, this is the only care some patients can get.
This year, having the whole medical team here with us in one place, we can get so much more done to try and be preventive.”
-Richard Holba, dentist
“There’s lots of work that all builds to these two days. But it makes it worth it when you see people finally coming in the doors, some of whom have been camping out overnight get the care they need. Dentistry is a generous service profession, and it’s exciting to work this weekend with other medical professionals on site.
“People are desperate. There is lots of dental need in our communities, and things are getting worse. The patients who are coming through here are surprised at how much we can do for them and that it’s all free.
“Patients can walk out and find that we’ve given them a smile or a new lease on life — it can be a turning point for many of these patients. I want them all to leave with hope.”
-Brad Barnes, dentist
Clinical Chair for the 2012 Illinois Mission of Mercy
“Patients have some really poignant stories, and as soon as you hear them you know why you’re here. We’re all giving up and sacrificing something to be here, but it felt really good to open the doors this morning. This can be life-saving and changing for the patients on the receiving end.”
-Jay Landers, Executive Director
Illinois State Dental Society Foundation
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