Harvey. Irma. Maria.
As part of one of the most violent hurricane seasons in modern history, these three storms tore their way across the Caribbean and Gulf Coast, decimating island paradise and U.S. metropolis alike. As the victims of these behemoth storms look over the splintered wood and flooded streets, they wonder: who will help us? When will help arrive?
All across America, dentists are stepping up to answer, fulfilling their role as community leaders, philanthropists and healthcare professionals. Here are some of the remarkable actions dentists and dental organizations are taking to assist the victims of these natural disasters:
Fort Meyers Dentist Leaves Hurricane-Damaged Practice to Rescue Family in Puerto Rico
For most people, making repairs and cleaning up flood damage would be first on the list after a major storm. Not for Florida dentist Ricardo Bocanegra, who flew to Puerto Rico shortly after Maria had passed. On his first trip, he brought a planeload of supplies to the ravaged territory, and when it became apparent that aid would be very slow in coming, Dr. Bocanegra returned to transport his mother to safety in the United States. The Bocanegras’s commitment to the greater Puerto Rican community is longstanding; his wife, Claribel, founded the Hispanic American Doctors Association of Southwest Florida.
MCNA Dental Donates Thousands to Harvey Victims
CEO Dr. Jeffery Feingold announced recently that his organization, MCNA Dental, is donating $500,000 to the Rebuild Texas Fund, as well as a significant number of dental care kits to aid those who have been displaced from their homes. At a press conference, Dr. Feingold stated, “We are Texans and we are committed to helping our communities during this time of crisis and contributing to the long-term rebuilding efforts.” This is a matter near-and-dear to the hearts of those at the San Antonio-based company, which was narrowly spared Harvey’s effects.
Other dental organizations, including Dental 365 and the Renaissance Family Foundation, have also donated significant sums toward Texas recovery.
Toothbrush Manufacturers Conspire to Send Toothbrushes to Harvey Victims
Vital Plastics, Inc. in Baldwin, Wisconsin, is a first-step manufacturer of toothbrushes, but needed a partner further along the manufacturing chain to successfully get donated toothbrushes to their destination. Tess Oral Health came forward and offered to add the bristles to the toothbrushes at cost. Soon, 45,000 toothbrushes were on their way to hurricane Harvey victims. "One of our core values focuses on sharing our success with our customers, community and our employees," the business development manager for Vital Plastics said. "In this case, a group questioned how we could help the hurricane relief effort. We figured evacuees would be more concerned for their safety and valuables and forget simple items like toothbrushes."
These actions, and others like them, are a reminder of the role dentists play in their communities, but also a call to action. While politicians may debate funding and foreign aid, all of us have an opportunity to do tangible good right now. From a multi-thousand dollar donation, to simply sending some spare hygiene supplies, any help is better than none for the people affected. After all, what is more evocative of civilization and safety than the comforting familiarity of a toothbrush?
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