Samir Ridha, dental director at The Free Medical Clinic of Greater Cleveland, is well aware of the monetary value of the 11,000 free dental services he and his team provide every year. But for people suffering and struggling to decide between visiting the dentist to fix an aching tooth or paying a utility bill, the real value transcends the dollar figure.
“Helping someone find relief in the darkest moment is absolutely priceless,” he says.
Volunteers—including the 215 dentists, hygienists, technicians and students who donate their time and talent—are essential, he says, not just to the dental department, but to the operation of the clinic as a whole as it provides free health care to more than 10,000 patients per year, including preventive, acute and chronic medical, dental, behavioral health and HIV services. The university and clinic enjoy a rich partnership that extends back more than two decades, involving Case Western Reserve volunteers in nearly every aspect of care the clinic provides—from relationships with the dental and medical schools and the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences to the thousands of hours volunteered by students and staff outside of specific curricula.
Ridha volunteered before joining the clinic full time, so he knows the rewards and challenges first hand. As director, he’s made acknowledging the enormous contributions of his volunteers a top priority—from his annual volunteer appreciation day to the wall of fame he’s set up inside the clinic to organizing media events to recognize the group of people he refers to as the “Cleveland Idols.”
Ridha sees the impact of their work everyday, both in how their dedication keeps the clinic running—and expanding its services—and in the relieved smiles restored across Greater Cleveland.
For more information on how Case Western Reserve students, staff and faculty are involved in the community, click here.
Posted by: Emily Mayock, February 14, 2011 07:52 AM | News Topics:
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