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The Spirit of Giving

I wrote this memo from Columbus, Ohio, where I attended the American Dental Hygienists’ Association (ADHA) Annual Meeting with the team from Dimensions of Dental Hygiene.

I wrote this memo from Columbus, Ohio, where I attended the American Dental Hygienists’ Association (ADHA) Annual Meeting with the team from Dimensions of Dental Hygiene. The conference is filled with educational events, social activities—including a reception for the recipient of Dimensions’ The Esther Wilkins Lifetime Achievement Award, exhibits, networking, and numerous updates on the state of our profession. But there’s one event that has quickly become one of my favorite parts of the conference. It’s the Community Service Day that takes place the day before the official start of the meeting. And it’s the one activity that truly shows the kind spirit and giving nature of our colleagues.

Community Service Day is sponsored by ADHA’s Institute for Oral Health (IOH). The IOH is ADHA’s philanthropic arm that provides scholarships for dental hygienists to further their education and grants for those involved in community outreach programs. The IOH also sets aside this preconference day to give back to those who need assistance in the city where the conference takes place. Community Service Day was started approximately 12 years ago and encompasses many different efforts. For example, after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, the Community Service Day focused on relief operations there. Soup kitchens, homeless shelters, and women’s rescue missions have all benefitted from dental hygiene volunteers in the past. This year, we provided oral health education to individuals who are part of the Faith Mission in Columbus. As we arrived for orientation, the staff were overwhelmed at the outpouring of support we provided. Sixty dental hygienists volunteered that morning, and the staff proclaimed they had never had so many people willing to help at one time. As a result, we were divided into groups, with some of us working with homeless men, others assisting residents of the women’s shelter, and a final group organizing all the donations received. I took part in the latter. As you can imagine, the staff was elated to see how adept dental hygienists are at putting things in order: two rooms filled with clothing, toiletries, and household items were completely transformed by the time we left. We learned how much time is spent sorting donations into appropriate categories. FYI: When donating items to a shelter, don’t make up individual bags with numerous toiletries inside. The staff then needs to completely unpack all the items and separate them into bins according to product type (shampoo, toothpaste, soap, etc). While well intentioned, making “goody bags” creates more work for staff than donating items separately.

Betty Kabel, RDH, BS, chair of the Institute for Oral Health (IOH), and Jill Rethman, RDH, BA, editor in chief of Dimensions of Dental Hygiene, pack supplies as part of the IOH Community Service Day in Columbus, Ohio.

We left that day to “thank you” and “come back again” remarks from participants and Faith Mission staff. We also gained a better understanding and stronger appreciation for the support such facilities provide every day. I’d like to express my gratitude to Faith Mission and the hundreds of operations like it across the country. The spirit of giving is strong in them and makes life better for those who are in need.

Jill Rethman, RDH, BA
Editor in Chief

From Dimensions of Dental Hygiene. June 2018;16(6):10.

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