Upon moving from Queens to Buffalo, one of the first things that I noticed was the willingness of Buffalonians to help; whether it was giving directions or restaurant recommendations, I was overwhelmed by their good nature. While this was a surprise to me, to locals, this mindset is just a fact of life. This past weekend at UB, Buffalo lived up to its name, “The City of Good Neighbors.”
“Give Kids a Smile Day” is an annual event at the dental school where the dental clinics close to everyone but children in the Greater Buffalo area. Dental school faculty, dentists in the community, and dental students provide care to children who might not otherwise have access to it. Those volunteering were given blue shirts for the event. It was almost laughable to see a 1:1 ratio between volunteers and patients; proving the willingness of Buffalonians to be of service is unmatched. Moreover, not only dentists offered their assistance; tables offering hearing tests, nutrition counseling, and even crafts for children to engage in were set up too. This interprofessional emphasis made it possible for children and parents to engage in a “one-stop-shopping” process where they could have their hearing tested while waiting for an orthodontic consultation. For many communities, which were bussed to the event, “Give Kids a Smile Day” is the only time that they might access these services.
At the nutritionists’ station, they prepared energy balls, turkey wraps, and bananas with Nutella in an effort to demonstrate healthy alternatives to junk food. They also allowed children to prepare their own healthy lunch boxes from a table of snacks. As a D1, I do not yet have the skillset to be useful in the clinics, but my summer job in the service industry suited me well! With other D1s, I served parents and children waiting for treatment, the food that the nutritionists had prepared. Many people were surprised to know that they could have such satisfying yet guilt free treats. Volunteering for “Give Kids a Smile Day” was heartwarming and I look forward to volunteering at more events and one day, when I might be of use in the clinic. Until then, you can find me eating Nutella in the waiting room!