CDA Cares volunteers sought for San Mateo event

“One of the things that I love about being a dentist is working in a profession filled with compassionate and caring people,” Carliza Marcos, DDS, says. “This spring, we will have a unique opportunity to express our commitment to helping those less fortunate in our community.”

Marcos is chair of the San Mateo CDA Cares Local Arrangements Committee. CDA Cares will be held April 22-23 in San Mateo and the San Mateo Dental Society will host the event. With the help of volunteer dentists, hygienists, dental assistants and community volunteers, an estimated 2,000 people are expected to receive no-cost dental services.

“Individuals who come to these events face barriers to care that include lack of dental benefits, education and language access,” Marcos says, noting that residents in San Mateo and the surrounding area also must contend with a high cost of living — one that is well over the state average — which can also limit an individual’s access to care. Recent reports put the average monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the city at more than $2,300.

San Mateo sits at the northern tip of Silicon Valley, just west of the San Francisco Bay. Many individuals who work in the technology jobs that largely define the area have dental insurance, but others do not — including many of those in the vast workforce that helps support the tech industry.

“It may not seem to some people that San Mateo needs a dental event like this, but that is exactly why the event is needed here,” Marcos says, speaking of cooks, servers, gardeners, drivers, cleaners and others, some of whom hold two jobs and “cannot afford to lose a day of work or job interview because of a toothache.”

Marcos has practiced dentistry since 1992, upon her graduation from the University of the Pacific, Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry. Initially she worked in San Francisco and Milpitas, associating at her mother’s practices. Marcos and her brother eventually purchased the Milpitas practice in 2001. She currently practices at Marcos and Marcos DDS, which she and her brother run in San Carlos, and is the San Mateo County Dental Society trustee on the CDA board of trustees.

She also has a long history of volunteerism. Marcos is a founding board member of the Crystal Springs chapter of the Young Men’s Service League — a mother-son national organization that promotes leadership and philanthropy — and along with her son volunteers dozens of hours annually for county organizations.

As for what drew Marcos to volunteering for CDA Cares, she credits her relationship with the patients in her practice. She has participated in several CDA Cares events, beginning with the event in San Jose in spring of 2013, working primarily in restorative and anesthesia areas. “CDA Cares is a way for me to use my skills to give back to a profession and community that have been so good to me,” Marcos says, adding that she brought her staff to the event so they could “experience the feeling of giving back as well.”

Upon attending her first event as a volunteer in San Jose, Marcos learned what “an incredible undertaking each event is. It amazes me how the clinic is literally built and torn down in one day,” she says, adding that “it really does require an army of volunteers to make that happen.”

In planning the San Mateo event, Marcos says it has been important for her to “follow the lead of those who have done it before us. It’s OK to fine tune, but don’t reinvent the wheel!” With this in mind, she has made it a priority to take notes and learn about the logistical ups, downs and potential pitfalls from previous event organizers. She has reached out to past local chairs to “pick their brains for advice and guidance.”

The creation of a task force was the first step in Marcos’ organizational efforts. She invited not only dentists and dental leaders but several members of the public to join, including San Mateo Board of Supervisors District 1 Supervisor Dave Pine; Lee Michelson, CEO of the Sequoia Healthcare District; Rose Geronimo, a registered nurse who is also the clinic manager of cardiovascular health at Stanford Health Care; and construction business owners Chris and Suzy Rohlfes.

“I wanted to tap into leaders within our community, specifically those with fundraising experience and wide connections that would benefit CDA Cares,” Marcos says.

Volunteer recruitment ramped up in early January with the opening of event registration on the CDA Foundation website.

In addition to providing dental services at no charge to Californians who experience barriers to care, CDA Cares, the CDA Foundation's volunteer dental program, educates the public and policymakers about the importance of good oral health and the need for an adequately funded dental safety net, which includes a well-functioning Denti-Cal program. Dental volunteers help relieve pain and infection by offering extractions, fillings, limited root canals and cleanings. Dentists also provide temporary partial dentures. At the Stockton event in October 2016, volunteer dentists provided nearly $1.8 million in charitable dental services to 2,066 people.

“We all recognize that we need to encourage the community to rally behind us. And with the diverse group of members on our task force, I think we will accomplish that,” Marcos says. “I truly believe this event is the best thing we do — as dentists and as citizens of this community. And I can assure volunteers that they will go home exhausted, but truly fulfilled with a feeling of really making a difference!”

Volunteer dentists and dental professionals are needed in areas throughout the San Mateo clinic, including restorative, numbing, pediatric, triage and routing. Community volunteers are needed to assist with registration, setup, data entry, escorting patients, language translation and more.

Register for the event or learn more at cdafoundation.org/sanmateo.

Related Items

Join the growing number of dentists participating in Give Kids A Smile, the ADA Foundation’s annual volunteer initiative to provide dental screenings, treatment and education at no charge to underserved children. Resources are available on the ADA Foundation website.

Dentists and dental team members provided nearly $1.8 million in volunteer oral health care services to 2,066 people Oct. 15-16 at CDA Cares in Stockton. During the two-day event at the San Joaquin County Fairgrounds, they performed 14,178 dental procedures, including fillings, extractions, cleanings and oral health education.