Three Things I Know To Be True…No Four
Posted on November 16, 2014
The experience of providing volunteer dental services in numerous foreign countries over the years with Health Teams International Canada, has clearly influenced the manner in which I choose actions for my daily life at home. It is reflected in the way I order my personal affairs, conduct my Prosthodontic Dental Practice, volunteer in my community and advocate for adequate dental healthcare for Canada’s poor and homeless.
The First thing I know to be true from serving in these third world settings, is that the experiences can inspire one to act with more compassion and determination to combat the dire hardships that also pervade local settings. While volunteering abroad may be a commendable and valued expression of acting on the Golden Rule, it is only a partial demonstration of a call to, “Do onto others that which you would have them do onto you.” It is as important to act locally as it is globally. Serving the homeless and poor of the inner-city gives us a privileged vantage point for being a force for good in a way that is distinct from the experience of serving those with desperate lives in developing nations.
As recent world crises highlight, more and more we are realizing that we all have similar basic needs and count on each other to survive. As such, it becomes our obligation to reduce human suffering and misery and to restore dignity and improve quality of life everywhere.
Consequently, the Second thing I know to be true is that the poor can often have much to teach us about our own human frailties and poverty of spirit as well as how in serving them we can better live out our life with a voice that is both authentic and consequential.
As such, we have structured our Dental Corporation to underscore this commitment to making a positive impact on the local community and abroad. We are organized to be a private practice with a social mission that works to facilitate access to dental care for those who are poor and disadvantaged, near and far. We do this through a Partnership Model of Social Enterprise between our Private Sector For-Profit Business and our Not-for-Profit Charitable entities. As Social Entrepreneurs we are trying to demonstrate in exemplary, practical terms how it is possible to combine seemingly unrelated ventures into a unit which becomes mutually beneficial. In our case, we have integrated four factions, namely (1) ourProsthodontic Specialty Practice expertise and functions with our commitments in; (2) leading the faith-based, volunteer-driven, no-cost Dental Program at the Ottawa Mission which serves the homeless community in the National Capital Region; (3) our efforts heading up the Portable Ottawa Dental Service (PODS) – a program that donates free dental care to pregnant single teens and new moms living below the poverty line through a network of volunteers that rotate through support centres with mobile dental resources; and (4) steering the work of Health Teams International Canada which dispatches short term Christian medical and dental teams to provide care in underdeveloped regions of the world.
We advance our corporate objectives through our local and international non-profit charities by sharing with them our private practice staffing functions, overhead expenses, back office administration, funding support and leadership elements. In this way, our social purpose remains central to our corporate objectives and operations. We attempt to leverage our private practice reputation, assets and relationships as a profit centre that actively engages on an operational level with the non-profit social enterprises we have created.
The partnership is a win-win proposition as it yields benefits to both our dental corporation and to our hosted non-profit organizations. For the former, this inter-connection permits us to feature legitimate cause-related marketing, establish a unique corporate branding within the dental community, enhance the image of dentistry as a caring profession and provides a targeted destination for our corporate philanthropy. It also illustrates the Third thing I know to be true, namely that it is possible to intentionally integrate personal faith convictions into a dental work environment with grace and truth.
For the latter, the non-profits gain ready access to a larger pool of potential professional dental volunteers, an expanding base of prospective fundraising donors, and a widening platform from which to inform others on the social determinants of dental health and access to care issues that burden the disadvantaged and underserved.
Fashioning my life and practice this way, illustrates the Fourth thing I know to be true, specifically that we cannot live for ourselves. We need to connect with others, be moved to embrace compassion and to help carry each others’ burdens.
These are the things I know to be true. There are, of course, others. But these are enough for me. Enough to do something that matters.
What are the three (no four) things you know to be true?