By Kristine Hodsdon, RDH, BS
It may be a bad hair day for you. You may be standing in line at a gas station. Or you are feeling a little blue about gaining those dreaded few extra pounds, thinking, "This sucks." Think again and count your blessings. In the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita, many of our colleagues are displaced from their families, homes, and jobs.
Watching the relief efforts, or lack thereof, on television numbs the soul. Seeing all of the devastation and hearing about families who still wait to be united is heart wrenching. On the local news, relief workers returning to New Hampshire are sharing stories and images that I have never seen on Oprah or the national evening news. Most of the television coverage is only skimming the surface of the devastation and human tragedy.
I then have to answer questions from my nine-year-old. "Momma, why didn't soldiers like Mr. G. help them before the storm happened?" "Why can't he come home to help them now?" (Mr. G is a friend of the family who has been stationed in Iraq for a year. His name is Sergeant Major Christopher Gibbons, 1-172 FA RAOC.) These questions have more layers in their answers than an onion. Layers and answers that I don't fully understand myself.
It's been said that if you look for the negative in the world, your search will be confirmed again and again. And if you look for the positive in the world, that too will be affirmed.
After Katrina, more positive flowed from the dental and dental hygiene community than I could have ever imagined. You can begin to heal and read the emotional stories in this edition written by Ann-Marie DePalma and Jane Weiner about Katrina.
When you are feeling that the day has dealt you a bunch of lemons, think about our hygiene colleagues — Amy Nieves, Cheryl Thomas, Sherri Bush, Ann-Marie DePalma, Jodie Heimbach, and Anne Guignon — who have established a Hurricane Relief Fund whose total reaches over $11,000.
Our professional association has stepped up to serve as a resource for up-to-date information. Information ranging from concern about the health and well being of our friends and their families in the affected areas to questions about temporary licensure for dental hygienists who may be displaced. In an effort to facilitate communication among those affected by Hurricane Katrina and Rita, ADHA has expanded its hurricane communication plan to include a hurricane telephone hotline and a Hurricane Rita message board at www.adha.org.
Not only are professional organizations stepping up in the hurricane relief activities, but so are dental companies. The following companies are just a sampling of the generosity seen within our professional community:
• Discus Dental donated more than $27,000 in products, and more than $36,000 in cash donations
• SmartPractice has donated $32, 640
• Henry Schein reactivated its disaster relief hotline to support dental, medical and veterinary customers. In addition, the company dispatched its mobile dental clinic, Tomorrow's Dental Office Today!, to Waveland, Miss., to help provide dental care for residents in the area.
• Supermax Inc. has donated $80,000 worth of Aurelia gloves to the relief effort
• Tess Corporation donated over 50,000 toothbrushes and toothpastes to the victims of Hurricane Katrina
I also came across a Web link that listed Corporate Contributions (Cash), including Corporate Foundations, to Hurricane Disaster Relief. This provides an opportunity to acknowledge not only dental companies but also non-dental companies who have a conscience and care about the Gulf coast communities. fdncenter.org.
By now, many of the RDH eVillage readers have donated time or money to the relief efforts. But in case you have been forgetful, please take the time to look at our Monthly Link Section. This section will connect you to foundations and organizations that are helping evacuees.
As time passes on and we move into the holiday season, let's all keep the people from the Gulf coast in our thoughts and prayers. Though we can always get a new hairstyle or lose a few pounds, our friends affected by Katrina and Rita will not recover anytime soon.
Kristine A. Hodsdon RDH, BS
Director, RDH eVillage