Dentists, Henry Schein employee give man second chance

Matt Scott was at the Henry Schein Dental offices in Chatsworth when the landlord for the building barged in and told the staff that he was acting on all the issues that had been brought to his attention, such as skateboarders. As he was leaving, he also said, "Don't worry, I have also called the police on the homeless guy who is sleeping out back and he is going to be arrested and his dog taken to the pound." 

This last statement bothered Scott as nobody at Henry Schein Dental had expressed concern about the homeless guy as he never bothered anyone. He dropped what he was doing and headed outside. His initial thought was to make sure that if they were going to arrest the man that the dog wouldn't be taken to the pound.

"I had never met the guy, I was initially just trying to save his dog," said Scott, who works in the Equipment Sales and Office Design department of Henry Schein Dental. "I was worried they would just put the dog down, so I walked out there to see what was going on."

When Scott went out back, the police were in the process of loading the man's vehicle onto a flatbed truck to impound it. Scott asked for permission to talk to Timmy and the police allowed it so he walked over and introduced himself and asked if there was some way he could help. Timmy broke down saying, "They are taking my home and all my stuff. They are taking everything I have." 

Scott interceded and asked the police if there was any way he could help Timmy drive away to avoid everything being taken. But the registration on Timmy's vehicle was expired so there was no legal way for him to drive it and it had to be impounded. Additionally, Timmy didn't have the money to pay for insurance so it was uninsured.

Rather than just walking back into the office for the day, Scott loaded Timmy and his dog, which is deaf and blind, into his personal vehicle and took Timmy to the DMV and waited with him for several hours to resolve the registration, and he personally paid the registration and back fees. Scott then called his insurance and paid cash for three months of insurance on the vehicle so it would be legal. In all, it was a three-day process to get the vehicle out, pay the fines and registration.

Timmy had once held a very respectable job as a high-pressure welder. But after the tragic death of his father, he quit the union and found a job as a day laborer. The low pay from that job, mixed with the trauma that stemmed from his father's death, left him homeless in 2007. Since 2012, he has been living out of his vehicle, and for the last 18 months, he's been living behind the Henry Schein Dental warehouse.

After Scott helped Timmy get his vehicle registered and successfully kept his dog out of the pound, he asked if he may need any dental care. Timmy said he did as most of his teeth were down to the gum line. Scott knew he would be volunteering at CDA Cares in Ventura and invited Timmy to come with him. CDA Cares is a volunteer dental program hosted by the CDA Foundation that provides dental services at no charge to Californians who experience barriers to care. CDA Cares also 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. CDA Cares dental volunteers help relieve pain and infection by offering extractions, fillings, cleanings, root canals, oral health education and a limited number of dentures and temporary partial dentures.

When Timmy arrived with Scott at the Ventura County Fairgrounds during the April CDA Cares event, CDA Foundation Chair Jean Creasey, DDS, screened him. Creasey noticed he had several infected teeth. Timmy was nervous, but Creasey assured him that the dentists providing treatment at the event were very caring and that he would be in good hands. She was touched by the kindness of the Henry Schein representative who was accompanying Timmy through the process, not realizing at the time what a true friend Scott had already been to Timmy. Timmy ended up in the oral surgery chair of George Maranon, DDS, who comforted him as well. Eventually, Timmy had all of his remaining upper teeth extracted by Maranon, who practices about 60 miles south of the Ventura County Fairgrounds in Encino.

"He was very grateful," Maranon said.

After hearing Timmy's story, Maranon knew he needed to do more for Timmy than extract his teeth. He later contacted the San Fernando Valley Dental Foundation's "Smiles From the Heart" program. The foundation connected Timmy with a dentist in that area, Michael Seastrom, DDS, who is going to provide him with an upper denture. Helping people like Timmy at CDA Cares, and any patient who is in pain, is why Maranon became a dentist. When he was an undergraduate in college and unsure of what he wanted to do, he saw a message board asking for volunteers to help in a USC/UCLA mobile dental clinic treating children in the San Joaquin Valley. He traveled to Hanford to find about 100 children lined up, all in pain from dental infection.

"We opened up a dental clinic there and at the end saw children leave happy because they had come in pain and left pain free. The same feeling of joy I had then is how I feel every time I go to CDA Cares events," said Maranon, who has volunteered in all but one of the nine CDA Cares events since 2012. "But it's not just about the pain, it is also about changing the way people feel about themselves."

Maranon hopes that Timmy's new teeth, combined with the generous support of Scott, help him get back on a path of employment.

"For Timmy to walk into an interview with the teeth he had, it would be difficult for him to get a job. Having a nice, full set of teeth makes you much more employable," Maranon said.

Creasey complimented the generosity of the dentists who have helped Timmy, as well as Scott.

"Many companies have slogans that proclaim a culture of altruism but indeed, give only lip service to their slogans. Matt Scott's actions spoke volumes on the 'culture of caring' that truly exists within the Henry Schein family," Creasey said. "Surely, this is the culture Mr. Stanley Bergman envisioned when he established the Henry Schein Cares Foundation and the slogan to 'help health happen.' Matt did just that, and in a very tangible way."

Scott said he is excited to see what the next step in Timmy's life is going to be and is currently trying to help find him work.

"I can't wait to see his new smile. I think this will help him get back on his feet," Scott said. "It's amazing to see how many people at CDA Cares come together to help others. The patients at the clinic were well taken care of and happy with their treatment. I can't wait to volunteer again."

Maranon reminds dentists that if they volunteer at CDA Cares, there are countless stories just like this one to be a part of.

"At every single clinic, you will come across patients like Timmy. There are many people who are in the same situation and need help," Maranon said. "Once you participate in your first CDA Cares event, you can't wait to do another. It is the best thing you can do as a dentist. The fulfillment you receive from helping others is indescribable."

CDA Cares Ventura delivered $1.5 million in charitable dental services to 1,884 people. During the two-day event, dentists and dental professionals provided 11,583 dental procedures.

The next CDA Cares clinic will take place at the San Joaquin County Fairgrounds on Oct. 15 and 16. For more information, visit cdafoundation.org/stockton.