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Dental School alumni receive Points of Light award (11-19-99)

Ten graduates of the Dental School at The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio were honored at the White House recently for providing services to the indigent in the Arlington, Texas, area.

A volunteer-based group of dental professionals headed by Dental School graduate Gail Hollar, D.D.S., received the Presidentís Service Award of the Points of Light Foundation at a White House ceremony. The award honors outstanding volunteer groups that are effecting real change with innovative solutions to critical social issues.

The group, Dental Health for Arlington, provides free dental care to the indigent and oral health education programs throughout the Arlington area. This was one of 14 projects chosen from 3,500 nominees for the award.

The other volunteer dentists who earned their D.D.S. degrees at the Health Science Center are Raymond Barbre, Jim Gray, Ravi Doctor, Christopher Tran, Belinda Johnson, Dan Ferraro, David Cunningham, Juan Avila and Ed Watts, who serves as the paid staff dentist at the clinic.

Since 1993, almost 40,000 people have received about $3 million in care through Dental Health for Arlington. In 1993 Dr. Hollar organized Dental Health for Arlington in collaboration with Mission Arlington, an association of 70 churches in the Arlington area.

The oral health education programs are offered at local elementary schools in which 50 percent or more of the students receive free or reduced-cost lunches.

The dentists provide toothbrushes, oral screenings and application of sealants with parentsí permission. The clinic is open four days a week and is staffed by 150 volunteer dentists. In addition to preventive care, they offer restorations including crowns, dentures and root canals.

Since its beginnings in 1993, the number of clinics has expanded and other cities have requested help setting up similar programs.

Dr. Hollar said her experiences working in the barrio clinics of San Antonio as a student provided the inspiration for Dental Health for Arlington. "That was a very valuable experience for us students; thatís when I became aware that I wanted to help these people." Dr. Hollar has just sold her private practice so that she can devote herself full time to the project.

During her visit to Washington, D.C., Dr. Hollar spoke with congressmen and met with Dr. John Rosetti, director of the federal division of dental services. If her group can hook up with other volunteer-based programs, Dr. Hollar said, "Maybe we can have a system of consistent care and consistent funding."

Contact: Will Sansom or Jennifer Lorenzo