It is now Monday morning, August 22nd. I’m sore, my feet ache, my knees are stiff and my back plain hurts. Yes, this is a typical Monday morning for me, but today the discomfort is from a different source. The last three days I worked the R.A.M. Dental Clinic at Malcolm X College.
I signed up to work because Tom Sullivan and Keith Suchy asked, period. I’ve known the Boys for over 30 years and consider them friends. We don’t go out to dinner together. We don’t go on vacation together, but have worked together on dental projects forever. We have a dental bond. I felt they have earned the right to ask for my help and if I’m able to do it I would.
Don’t give me any props. I sold my practice 10 weeks ago and have been lying on the couch ever since. My wife said a few weeks ago, “Get off the couch and do something already.” (I cleaned it up for publication purposes.) I had the time so I helped.
There is a story about two elderly Jewish gentleman who go to Temple every Friday night: Goldberg, who is very religious, and Schwartz, who is less religious. Someone once asked Goldberg why he went to Temple every Friday night. He replied, “To talk to God.” Then the person asked Schwartz why he went every Friday night. He said, "To talk to Goldberg.”
Everyone at Malcolm X had their own reason for giving up part or all of their weekend. Mine was to see and talk to my dental friends. I got to reconnect with former classmates, former students, and friends I hadn’t seen in months and years. I’m also grateful I was able to make new friends. I worked side by side and across from dentists I had not met before, but after 8, 9 and even 10 hours together we became friends. I was surrounded by a room full of the most talented dentists around. I was proud and privileged to be part of such a group.
I extracted a bunch of teeth on a bunch of patients who would still be in pain if I was still on the couch. If I didn’t do it, it wouldn’t have been done. I received numerous heartfelt thanks and a handful of hugs (I don’t like to hug).
There was a chance to be on TV. The TV crew set up right by me, looked at me through the lens, and proceeded to set up two chairs down from me. They filmed a pretty young dentist and her pretty young dental assistant and they were featured on the news. If you attend one of these events, there is a chance you might be on the news. To be on the safe side, don’t work next to me. (Ed. note: Watch the ABC 7 news coverage online.)
I missed a lot of my dental colleagues these past few days. I know all of you give to many charities both of your time and money. I know in my heart dentists are some of the most generous and compassionate people. Next time you have an opportunity to do something like this, try and come out for a few hours. Talk with me. We will fix some teeth, extract some teeth and have some fun. For those of you who don’t know me, I would like to meet you. Let’s work side by side for a few hours and get to know each other. Let’s have some fun while doing some good. Isn’t that what it’s all about?
Loyola Class of 1980
Sullivan-Suchy Volunteer Class of 2011
Editor's Note: If you're looking for ways to volunteer your time, visit the Volunteer section of our website where we have a list of organizations looking for dental volunteers. You can also find out when the next volunteer event is.