Story by Kacie Frederick. Photos by Jan Osborn.
Dallas Doing Good has the privilege of partnering with Communities Foundation of Texas’ (CFT) North Texas Giving Day. Since 2009, NTx Giving Day has mobilized thousands of nonprofits that help the greater Texas community. The event has become the largest community giving day in the nation, which has been bolstered by the amazing donors. This year’s NTx Giving Day will be held on September 22, 2022. As we look forward to this event, Dallas Doing Good will highlight five dedicated donors who have contributed to NTx Giving Day over the years.
Dr. Amy and Andy Schoening have contributed to NTxGD for over 10 years. Due to their continuous support, Dental Health Arlington has thrived. Dental Health Arlington (DHA) is a registered nonprofit that serves the Arlington community by offering low-cost dental care. Dr. Schoening, a dental student graduate of Louisiana State University, got involved in DHA 25 years ago when she and her husband, Andy Schoening, first moved to Arlington. After being prompted by her Junior League group to find a nonprofit that spoke to her, Dr. Schoening founded DHA, serving as President and Vice President of DHA’s board over the years. Now, Dr. Schoening serves on DHA’s advisory board while operating her private practice, Amy Schoening DDS.
“If you’ve overcome tough times, like recovering from addiction, homelessness, or any other challenge, if your teeth are horrible, you can’t even consider going out into the world,” says Dr. Schoening. “You can’t consider finding a job or showing your face or mouth. Our smiles are a huge part of who we are. Many people who have overcome such hard challenges are just getting back on their feet. And what we see at the DHA, getting their teeth fixed, is at the top of their list [to restart their lives]. They want to smile too.”
However, unfortunately, the main clinic of the DHA is not entirely free due to the expensive dental care rates. Nonetheless, DHA offers that if you cannot afford to pay anything, your dental care is free. In 2018, DHA provided over 7,000 procedures valued at $1,122,401. Moreover, most DHA’s patients fall under a sliding scale of greatly reduced fees, only paying what they can afford. As DHA has a full-time staff and volunteers, the DHA relies on their fundraising days and NTxGD to provide more patients with free dental care.
“One of my favorite stories involving Amy happened a few years ago,” says Mr. Schoening. “She came home from working the [DHA] clinic one day, and a woman had come into the clinic with both of her front two teeth rotten black. And Amy fixed her teeth. Amy came home crying because the woman thanked Amy, saying, ‘You’ve given me my smile back. You’ve given me my life back.’ The woman couldn’t even put into words how happy she was.”
DHA additionally offers their SMILES (Sealing Molars Improves the Lives of Every Student) School Program. The SMILES Program volunteers go into Title 9 schools in the Arlington area, offering quick screenings to students. The dentists then send notes to the students’ parents with more information on preventative sealants. Then hygienists and assistants will return to the schools to give free sealants to any student whose parents sign their forms, taking as much time as it takes for each student to receive their wanted sealant.
“The SMILES Program also offers a lot of dental education,” says Mr. Schoening. “A dentist will give a presentation about proper brushing and pass out toothbrushes to the students. And for some of those kids, it’ll be their first toothbrush. Just how much need there is in Arlington is honestly surprising. Like those kids. There are a lot of kids like that in Arlington that are in need.”
NTxGD is important to both Dr. and Mr. Schoening because, to them, NTxGD gets the whole community together to give back. Through NTxGD, the Schoenings agree they can see their donations used. They argue that giving locally also allows you to volunteer and physically make a difference in your community.
“Mission work outside the country is important,” says Dr. Schoening. “But, it’s shocking to see the needs that are right in your backyard. The more you give locally, the more of a difference you can give at home.”
North Texas Giving Day is an 18-hour online giving event designed by the Communities Foundation of Texas. North Texas Giving Day was inspired to empower every person to give back to their community by supporting local non-profits. To donate to a local non-profit that fuels your passion, please visit: https://www.northtexasgivingday.org/search?orgScope=on.