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Reaching Community through Give Kids A Smile

February 1, 2012

Community. I have been a part of the Michigan community for over two years now, and I am still amazed by how many opportunities are available here. If you want to do anything, more likely than not, you can find people willing to help and the resources to do it. This year, as the Co-Coordinator for Give Kids A Smile (GKAS), I have been blown away by the generosity of people wanting to help kids get the dental care they so desperately need.

Before I go much further, I need to get something off my chest- I have an addiction; a website addiction. I love designing, altering, and sharing them. As the Co-Coordinator for GKAS, one of my goals for this year’s event is to help more kids than ever before. We created a two-pronged advertising campaign involving a website and flyers to hopefully achieve this goal of mine. Cory Cody, a web application developer here at the dental school, along with his boss Dan Bruell, helped me create the GKAS website from scratch. If you’re curious, you can check it out at umgivekidsasmile.org.

The dental school’s Clinic Office Manger, Nancy Von Hofe, helped me create a concise flyer for GKAS, and then used her contacts within the local community to spread the word. Ricky Lugo, a D4, translated our flyer into Spanish to get the word out to even more people. Receptionists at the dental school then helped answer telephone calls from people in the community who had questions about GKAS.

At our GKAS event, we will emphasize ways people can prevent dental disease from occurring. Dental hygiene students have stepped up and are organizing patient education demonstrations for people the day of GKAS. Plus, the Michigan Dental Association Foundation has donated 100 toothbrush kits for patients to take home with them. Inside each kit is a bookmark which has useful tips about good oral hygiene. The Michigan Dental Association Foundation has also created a fund to help patients with unmet dental needs receive dental care in the future.

Dr. Lesch, and the Washtenaw District Dental Society, have been long-time supporters of our GKAS event. They help make our advertising campaign a reality and their members (along with all of our volunteers) have offered to give up their Saturday in order to give a service to the community that only the dental profession can provide.

Of course, this list would not be complete without talking about Dr. Stefanac and my Co-Coordinator, Crystal Ammori. Dr. Stefanac is, in my opinion, the type of faculty member every professor should strive to be. He is knowledgeable, humorous, patient, prompt, and incredibly helpful.  Crystal Ammori, who has been my “Dental Mama” ever since D1 year because she has always looked out for me, has done an amazing job creating contacts, carrying out meetings with the dental school’s administration, providing invaluable feedback, and countless other tasks as my fellow Co-Coordinator.

I feel like I’ve just received an Oscar and am desperately trying to remember all of those who have done so much to help; like Jerry Mastey, Dr. Percherski, the front desk receptionists, and my friends in the Radiology department! I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to organize this year’s GKAS event, which truly has been a community effort.

Scott Michels is a D3 student and one of the driving forces behind Give Kids a Smile, an annual event here at the School of Dentistry.  For past news stories about Give Kids a Smile, see http://umdental.wordpress.com/2011/02/09/volunteering-at-give-kids-a-smile/ (and notice Scott!).  For more information, email Scott at srmichel@umich.edu.

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