Dr. Frank Spear with Rosie, a patient in Guatemala. I have always been a big advocate of the philosophy that says you have to believe it before you see it. To me that is the essence of having an inspiring vision. That's what gives you the motivation to overcome even the biggest obstacles and get things done.

My greatest personal example is the campus here in Scottsdale, which was a reality in my mind long before it was a reality in the world. My belief in it was a driving force in making it real.

Having said that, there is nothing quite like the experience of seeing it after you have made it real. When the Spear campus opened and I saw the enthusiasm and the appreciation of the dentists who came through, it was like no other feeling. In that sense, seeing was believing. I finally had real results from real people to remind me of why we had invested so much energy into the project.

I saw a similar thing happen lately with many of our executive leaders and the Open Wide Foundation. My partner, Dr. Glen Wysel, and I were blessed to have tremendous partners who believed in us and our vision. They recognized what a great opportunity it was to provide essential dental care for people who need it most desperately, and they threw their weight behind it from the beginning. They believed in it before they saw it.

Then they saw it, and it was like no other feeling. Frank Spear, Gregg Kinzer, Bob Winter – all great early supporters of the Open Wide Foundation – eventually went down to Guatemala in person to help at the clinic and they all came back ecstatic about the experience. These are some of the top esthetic clinicians you will find anywhere and here they were doing basic dentistry in a modest clinic in a small village and loving every moment of it. You know that feeling you get when you do a particularly successful esthetic makeover case and the patient becomes emotional with gratitude, and the next time you see them you can see that seem to carry themselves differently? You know how good it feels to change someone's life. Multiply that feeling several times and you might begin to get a sense of what they felt when they were there in the Open Wide clinic.

But you can never really feel it until you do it. Some things you just have to experience for yourself to get a full understanding for its meaning. That's why even though I seldom use this space for making a direct appeal to readers, I am asking you now to consider volunteering your services to the Open Wide Foundation. Go to the Open Wide website, see what they are doing, and see what an incredible difference you can make by offering a few days of your professional expertise.

I guarantee it will be a life-changing experience for the people you help and for you too.


Commenter's Profile Image Benjamin Tubo
November 22nd, 2013
I was fortunate enough to be able to volunteer at the Open Wide clinic in Peronia in early August of 2012. At the time I was a third year dental student who had only expected to assist the providers, but was given the opportunity to provide treatment to the patients. It was truly an amazing experience that cannot be expressed in words. Not only did I learn a lot clinically, but I was truly helping people in need who were so grateful. Imtiaz hit the nail on the head when he said, “Some things you just have to experience for yourself to get a full understanding for its meaning”, and this is truly one of those things. I would highly recommend taking the time to volunteer at the Open Wide clinic, whether you’re a dental student or have been practicing for decades. The people who work at the clinic and those who attend it are wonderful people and you will not be disappointed or regret your decision to volunteer in any way, it is life changing, at least it was for me. I will be sure to volunteer again as soon as possible.
Commenter's Profile Image Imtiaz Manji
November 22nd, 2013
Thanks, Benjamin, for your generous help with the Foundation and for sharing that message!
Commenter's Profile Image Johanna Tesoniero
November 22nd, 2013
I have been to Guatemala now three times with Open Wide. This has been an amazing experience! I have committed one week a year and it has been truly exceptional to be able to donate my time with this community. I have been able to see the transformation that our presence has made in their every day lives. However, the part that I least expected, is how serving this community has affected me as a clinician. I enjoy just doing the dentistry. I return every time invigorated and energized. Can't wait to go back next year!
Commenter's Profile Image Imtiaz Manji
November 25th, 2013
That is so great to hear, Johanna. Your story is an example of exactly the kind of win-win experience I'm talking about.