This past weekend, I took my daughter to help volunteer for the Convoy of Hope event in San Jose. As one of the three planning committee members, I was so elated to see more than 30 dental team members show up to donate their time, skills and kindness. We had specialists, hygienists, new grads, students, foreign dentists, assistants, and community volunteers serving at the dental section of the event. Our team spoke 7 different languages and had translations for our guests of honor. Everyone was working tirelessly to provide the best possible care from what we can offer. We were in constant motion to keep the line moving.
Over 106 organizations stepped up to donate supplies and equipment for participants. With approximately 1000 volunteers from 50 different churches and the surrounding communities, 4000 attendees were given over 4500 bags of groceries, 7000 meals, 1600 pair of shoes, 300 family portraits taken by 8 photographers, 157 haircuts by 25 hairstylists, and so many more to ease the stress of the everyday life around the holidays. Hundreds of people were given counseling spiritually, professionally and emotionally. The event also provided professional help with writing resumes, applying for jobs and connecting people to the right resources.
Our dental team was able to screen for oral cancer, demonstrate proper home care instructions and apply silver diamine fluoride to over 200 attendees. We also gave away more than 300 bags of dental goodies of toothbrushes, full size toothpastes, rolls of floss, and proxybrushes. With everything happening so quickly, I didn’t get to fully take in the impact of this event. I saw the hundreds of grocery bags piled up on the tables, the pink group of people consulting and comforting people with (potential) breast cancer, the thousands of lunch bags, and I was still in work mode. It didn’t hit me until I saw the young boy in the video saying how his mom was in Mexico and they were left alone hungry. Yet he still had a smile on his face because a shoe company donated 1600 pair of shoes and he got a pair, along with his brother. I remember the father of 7 getting a dental screening for all of them because he was laid off. I helped him sign each one of his kids up. We split them into two groups next to each other to finish the family screening faster. There was a prosthodontist standing next to me in amazement as he watched the 6 kids walking in front of their parents so obediently. The 7th was in mom’s arms. Here is the link to the video from our local tv station: https://cbsloc.al/35moDgu
I see that every little action of kindness helps. Families were so happy just to get an extra bag of dental goods. A woman told me she had 2 sons and a husband who couldn’t make it to the event. She wanted a bag for each of them. I handed her 5 bags and she was so grateful. Another family came along but didn’t want the screening. However, they wanted the dental bags. I gave each a bag and they were so surprised. I reminded them we were there to help in any way possible. The grandparents ended up wanting a dental screening after all.
All in all, it was hard work because it was practically nonstop. The day started with just 35 degrees but the sun came out and burned my nose. My daughter stood in the front with me to register people and direct them to the appropriate chair to be screened. We exchanged paperwork with each volunteer and manage the line of attendees. She even explained to the registrants what they were consenting to and described what silver diamine fluoride was. I stood in astonishment because she listened to me and my colleague when we were lecturing about SDF to our peers before the event started. After the event was over, we helped to clean up. She passed out in the car on the way home. I was exhausted but beaming with pride as I looked at my sleeping daughter. She held her own at the event. Doctors were calling her over to translate for them. I hope she will continue to do charity work throughout her life and I don’t have to remind her about it.
5 portable dental chairs and units supplied by AG Neo dental company.
The Vietnam vet in wheelchair along with his friend, getting their check up. The funny stories they shared about their time in Vietnam were entertaining because they told part of the stories in Vietnamese. Even after decades of being in Vietnam, their Vietnamese was still pretty good.
Most of the dental team for Convoy of Hope 2019. Thank you for all you do.