May 2019 Volume LIV Number 3


Who Really Makes it Happen

September 2015 Volume L Number 5

 There's a scene toward the end of "The Wizard of Oz" when Toto pulls back the curtain to a booth containing a man pulling the levers and pushing the buttons that created the wizard's awesome special effects. Once exposed, he implores Dorothy and company to "ignore that man behind the curtain," as he struggles to maintain the wizard's illusion of greatness.

During an August meeting in Chicago with the team of AAPD members who review hundreds of applications for Healthy Smiles, Healthy Children (HSHC) grants each year, I got to thinking about all of the people "behind the curtain" who make possible everything HSHC does.


Since 2010, we've issued more than $3.1 million in grants and commitments to 70 organizations in 26 states who have helped more than 290,000 kids get Dental Homes. And each of the people below pulled the buttons and pushed the levers that make it all happen:

Grant reviewers. HSHC receives approximately 300 grant applications every year and we have 24 dedicated volunteers who, in teams of two, review every application we receive. First, they review letters of inquiry (LOI) from around the country. Applicants whose LOIs pass muster are invited to submit full proposals and our grant reviewers review those-as many as 130 proposals. Those deemed worthy for funding are forwarded to our Grants and Programs Committee and then to our Board for acceptance or rejection.

It's a process that none of us take lightly. We are allocating the valuable assets that HSHC donors entrust to us so we can help children across the country receive the dental care they need.

Grantees. The people who apply for the grants are nothing short of remarkable. Grant writing is a competitive process (fewer than 10 percent of all applicants ultimately receive funding each year) and our applicants and grantees help identify for us emerging trends and needs each year. Applicants and grantees alike provide us with direction that we use each year to improve the application process that, in turn, improves our ability to identify and fund projects that show the greatest potential for helping children.

Pediatric dentists, residents, dental students, hygienists and assistants. HSHC grantees have an array of service delivery models featuring the spectrum of the dental team. Many of them are professionals volunteering their time to help children in need while demonstrating to dental students and pediatric dental residents the importance of "doing well by doing good." A common thread among all grantees are dental professionals who love their work. I'm grateful that compassion is hard-wired into pediatric dentists' DNA.

Donors. Yes, donors at every level are recognized by HSHC in all the ways common to most charitable enterprises. Yet, thousands are generous with their financial support each year who do so with recognition no greater than their names listed in our annual report. In my travels I hear from members all the time how they don't want to be fussed over. They just want to help kids. That desire to help is what fuels everything HSHC does.

Of course, we have our dedicated Board and Committee members, plus a staff that helps us every step of the way, but the nature of our jobs puts us in out front more often than the thousands who are the embodiment of our mission working quietly behind the scenes.

So, like the Wizard of Oz, these dedicated people comprise the collective passion and expertise that works "behind the curtain" on behalf of HSHC and the children served by our grantees. But, unlike the wizard, our people behind the curtain don't create an illusion of greatness-it is greatness ? 290,000 Dental Homes and counting.  

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