Make a Difference: Volunteer for COMOM

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COMOM volunteers make a difference in the lives of their patients.

The Colorado Mission of Mercy (COMOM) is Oct. 13-14 at the Colorado State Fairgrounds in Pueblo, Colo., and volunteer spots are still available. Your help and expertise are very much needed at this year’s clinic. It takes about 1,000 volunteers to make the clinic a success. Whether you’re a caring dental professional or a caring individual, many opportunities are available for you to help at COMOM. Register today! 

Who Can Volunteer

Clinical volunteer spots are available for dentists and every member of the dental team, including hygienists and dental assistants. Dentists work in triage; provide treatment in oral surgery, restorative, endodontics, prosthodontics, and pediatrics; and administer anesthetic. Nonclinical opportunities are available for community volunteers who can help with patient intake, interpreting for patients for whom English is a second language, food service, setting up and tearing down the clinic and much more.View a full list of volunteer opportunities and duties required for each category. 

About COMOM

COMOM provides quality dental services, at no cost, to individuals of all ages who cannot afford and access dental care; eliminating dental pain, promoting oral health, creating smiles, and providing oral health education.

From CDA Executive Director Greg Hill: Why You Should Volunteer

It’s no secret a powerful story moves people.

A story I’ve been telling for many years is the story of the mission of mercy. I am blessed to have stood in the falling snow in Garden City, Kan., 14 years ago, and again on the sweltering pavement of the Kansas Speedway that next summer and to have been a small part of the creation of the Kansas Mission of Mercy as a staff member at the Kansas Dental Association.

In my time volunteering with the Kansas Mission of Mercy, I saw over and over again the positive effect the clinic had on patients. One experience in particular stands out: Glenna Hoyt, a mother of two young girls who had accompanied her to our first clinic where she was having a set of dentures made. As her final adjustments were being made, Glenna told me her two daughters had never seen her smile before. I remember the tears pouring down their faces—and ours, too—as she looked at a handheld mirror and smiled for the first time in many years. 

Glenna Hoyt’s two daughters see her smile for the first time when she tries on the set of dentures she received at a mission of mercy to complete her smile.

I have told that story to countless civic organizations over the years as I try to explain the mission of mercy program. I believe stories like Glenna’s helped raise the profile of the Kansas Mission of Mercy by connecting with volunteers and helped spread the program across the country, including here in Colorado. I’ve spent a significant part of my career helping to organize mission of mercy programs and to energize and inspire volunteers to help or, as we called it in Kansas, “make a difference.”

When I came to my first COMOM in Henderson, I felt something was missing for me. Then I realized what was missing: I wasn’t a part of the COMOM experience. I simply showed up, took a few photos, talked to a view volunteers that I had gotten to know during my short time in Colorado and then I left. I didn’t raise a single dollar, recruit a single volunteer or tell as single story about COMOM. 

Today, I sit on the COMOM Board of Directors. While it’s still a role vastly different than I held in Kansas as the executive director of the Kansas Dental Charitable Foundation, it’s still one in which I believe I can make a difference by telling stories like Glenna’s. Her life changed because a dentist offered to volunteer his time and special talents. I’ve seen this story repeated thousands of times by dentists across Kansas and now across Colorado. Mission of mercy programs provide dentists the chance to make a real difference in the lives of fellow humans like Glenna and to give back to their communities and state. 

The powerful stories, though unique, are not uncommon. One mother of the bride arrived dressed for her daughter’s wedding when she received a set of dentures so she could feel confident smiling in her daughter’s wedding pictures. A young woman who had been a victim of domestic violence had her fractured teeth repaired by a caring COMOM dentist.

What I have heard time and time again is that the reward of volunteering at a mission of mercy is the feeling that you’ve received more than you have given and that just knowing you have made a difference is more valuable than the services you’ve provided as a dentist. If you’ve never volunteered for COMOM, I encourage you to register and be a part of the Pueblo COMOM experience in October. If you’ve volunteered before but haven’t signed up for this one, take a moment to reflect on that one patient who touched your heart and gave you that reward of knowing you’ve made a difference. 

Trust me, you’ll have a great story to tell when you do.