For years, long-time Dallas County Dental Society member Mark Denny, DDS invested time and effort into international dental mission work. After each mission trip, he returned and told stories of his volunteer work in Romania or the Amazon at Richardson East Rotary Club meetings. “After a few years of coming back and telling these stories, I and a few others thought, why aren’t we doing this here?”
Dr. Denny grew up in Richardson. He’s a product of the Richardson Independent School District, and he practices in Richardson. “I live ten blocks from where I grew up!” Dr. Denny said. “It made sense to give back to my community in the same way.”
About seven years ago, Dr. Denny along with Doug Crosby, DDS began to start an effort to offer dental services to Richardson children in need. “It takes more than a dentist and more than a ministry to do something like this,” said Dr. Denny. “We partner with the Rotary and the Richardson Independent School District (RISD), which is key. RISD nurses refer kids to us who can’t get Medicaid and don‘t have access to dental care. Can you imagine? There are some kids just sitting there in class with swollen faces because they have no way to get to the doctor. There are some children whose parents are not citizens, so they don’t qualify for Medicaid. These kids need help.”
To spearhead the effort, The Network of Community Ministries in Richardson donated a building for a medical clinic. Through donations and contributions, the effort Dr. Denny started has grown into a fully functioning dental clinic that provides emergency care for the RISD.
Dr. Denny, Dr. Crosby, and a network of other doctors including Dr. Denny‘s daughter, Sarah Robinson, DDS and her husband, Sam Robinson, DDS, an oral surgeon, staff the clinic on Monday and Wednesday nights during the school year. They also see cases on an emergency basis.
“Our long-term goal is to use this model to help other cities open similar clinics for those in need,” said Dr. Denny. “The combination of medical professionals and Rotary, an established ministry, working together with a school district is a great model we’d like to spread to other cities. Rotary will be a great way to spread the word and network to get that done.”
“I remember the first case I had through our volunteer clinic,” said Dr. Denny. “It really solidified that we had a purpose and that we were doing the right thing. A single mom with three kids, who had no financial means, brought in her child, referred from the school. He fell on the playground and broke off a front tooth. She had no way to pay to fix that. We were able to bond that tooth and fix the kid’s smile. The kid was excited, and the mom was happy. It made it very clear to us that our service was needed in the community.”