by Jeffrey B. Dalin, DDS, FACDE, FAGD, FICD
For more on this topic, go to www.dentaleconomics.com and search using the following key words: Dr. Roy Hammond, Frances Hammond, humanitarian, give back, Dr. Jeff Dalin.
Dr. Dalin: Dr. Hammond, let me say that I was excited when DE Editor Dr. Joe Blaes asked me to interview you for this edition of the Dalin Exchange. The more I read about what you are doing, the more I want to learn. As one of the founders of the Give Kids A Smile program here in St. Louis, we have provided approximately $2 million worth of dental care to more than 6,500 children in 13 clinics. Each February, millions of children across the country and around the world receive dental care on the American Dental Association's National Give Kids A Smile Day. So, I am a proponent of "giving back." I think you and your wife are a great example for dentists who want to "give back" to those in need. To start, would you give our readers a glimpse of your dental career?
Dr. Hammond: First, Jeff, I think the Give Kids A Smile program is absolutely terrific. I am well aware of the program. To me, the special thing about Give Kids A Smile is it makes the opportunity to "give back" so accessible and so simple that we all can participate.
I entered private practice in 1967 by opening an office in Provo, Utah. I continued in that practice until December 2004. Let me emphasize that the efforts put into that practice were always family oriented. My wife of 48 years, Frances, and I have always been partners in many successful endeavors. This includes my dental practice, Smiles for Hope Foundation, and Learning Curves Dental Adventure Tours. My son, who with his partner now owns the practice, and my daughter, a hygienist, still work as part of the dental team there. One other daughter worked as my dental assistant. It has always been a highlight of my dental practice to work with family members.
Dr. Dalin: Although you retired approximately four years ago, it did not appear that you were going to slow down and head to Arizona or Florida. Instead, I understand that you did some missionary work for your church.
Dr. Hammond: My wife and I never had it in our plans to slow down when we retired. We call it our "making the turn to the back nine." For many years, we have been planning the projects we are currently involved in. While still busy in our dental practice, we decided how we wanted to live our lives and spend our time once we were no longer driving to the "office" each morning.
Two weeks after leaving the private practice in the hands of my son, Chris, Frances and I moved to the island of Molokai (Hawaii) where we spent 18 months serving a full-time mission for the Mormon Church. We were not involved in dentistry, but we served the island people through marriage and family counseling, addiction recovery projects, and developing leadership skills in their personal and public lives. It was an extremely rewarding experience for us.
Dr. Dalin: From this experience, I understand that you decided to start the Smiles for Hope Foundation. Would you tell us about the organization?
Dr. Hammond: Frances and I have been extensively involved in dental humanitarian efforts in developing countries, traveling two to three times a year with our family and/or dental team since the late 1980s. At that time, we made trips throughout the world as members of existing organizations that had invited us to establish the dental component for their respective groups.
Two years before leaving private practice, we formed the Smiles for Hope Foundation. We now lead groups of 30 to 35 dentists, along with their dental teams and family members, on expeditions four to five times annually. We participate with other organizations in the countries where we serve. These organizations act as our hosts and government liaisons. These groups are respected and recognized by the local governments in their respective countries. This helps us to be efficient and effective in our dentistry projects from the get-go.
The response by dentists who desire to serve as humanitarian volunteers is amazing! Our expeditions are booked through September 2009. At this point, our expeditions are filled by members of the Crown Council, which is well known for its "Smiles for Life" humanitarian projects. These projects have raised more than $25 million.
Dr. Dalin: I respect and applaud the work that you and others do. Many of my colleagues in the Give Kids A Smile program in St. Louis have traveled extensively to deliver dental care to those who lack access to care. There still are plenty of problems to take care of here in the United States. I know this was a motivating factor in the formation of Give Kids A Smile.
Dr. Hammond: I agree that Give Kids A Smile provides a great way for dentists and their teams to "give back." It is simple, straightforward, and a way to serve without the complications of travel, generators, passports, custom difficulties, and culture/language problems. Everyone can participate.
We have found great meaning and joy in serving children who have no other hope, but have great need, in these countries around the world. We enjoy the challenges of no organized system, no government help, and overcoming difficulties encountered with travel, language, and cultural diversity. This kind of experience also gives volunteers the opportunity to view their world and the reality of global needs through their "new" eyes. We think that both types of opportunities provide a blessing to those in our profession.
Dr. Dalin: But you did not stop with the development of Smiles for Hope Foundation. I understand you have started another organization called Learning Curves Dental Adventure Tours. Please tell us more.
Dr. Hammond: Nearly 10 years ago (again as part of our plan for our "back nine"), Frances and I had an idea to start an organization that would combine two activities we love. These are dental continuing education and Harley Davidson motorcycle touring.
The result of this idea is Learning Curves Dental Adventure Tours. Six times each year, we host dentists and their wives (or other passengers) and give them the opportunity to see many of our magnificent national parks, scenic byways, and picturesque communities from the saddle of a Harley Davidson.
In addition, they get to experience CE from several of dentistry's top-rated speakers who happen to enjoy motorcycle riding, too. We travel throughout the United States, as well as enjoy the best of international motorcycle riding.
This area of the "back nine" of our lives also has brought us great satisfaction and immense pleasure. We have made new friends, renewed old friendships, and networked throughout our riding experiences with Learning Curves. The "frosting on the cake" is that the revenue generated from this organization is donated to the Smiles for Hope Foundation to further additional projects around the world.
Dr. Dalin: Frances and you are certainly excellent role models for our profession. I hope readers will be inspired by what you have shared and will make volunteerism an integral part of their lives. Is there anything else you would like to talk about today?
Dr. Hammond: Jeff, as I think about that question, I think I will close with one bit of advice. My hope is that, from this discussion, DE readers will understand it is very important to make a plan — well in advance — of what you would like your life to be after private practice, and begin now to put things in place that will help make this possible.
As for Frances and me, we wanted to stay involved with the profession and the people in dentistry. We love, and have great gratitude for, the profession that treated us so well. Therefore our plan, purposefully, has taken us in a direction that fits our vision for the "back nine" that we established quite some time ago.
Dr. Roy Hammond graduated from University of Washington Dental School 1967 while Frances received a BS degree from Brigham Young University in 1963 with a degree in elementary education. Roy and Frances then committed themselves to a successful cosmetic practice in Provo, Utah, for the next 43 years. They retired in December 2004. The couple founded Smiles for Hope Foundation to provide humanitarian dental services throughout the world. In addition, they formed Learning Curves Dental Adventure Tours, which allows them to continue their involvement with dentistry and CE along with their passion for motorcycle riding. The Hammonds have four children (three who are in dentistry) and 13 grandchildren.
Jeffrey B. Dalin, DDS, FACD, FAGD, FICD, practices general dentistry in St. Louis. He is the editor of St. Louis Dentistry magazine, and spokesman and critical-issue-response-team chairman for the Greater St. Louis Dental Society. Dr. Dalin is a cofounder of the Give Kids A Smile program. Contact him at [email protected].