Name: Tamera Davis
Business: Dr. Angie’s Dental Health Exchange
Location: South Bend, Indiana, U.S.
Industry: Healthcare, Wellness & Fitness
Reason for starting: I have a heart for helping those in need. With a background in dentistry, experience working in a nonprofit organization, and educational clinic setting, I witnessed the unmet dental health needs of the underprivileged on a regular basis. The community resources were very limited and many times I did not know how to help people, whom were usually in pain or were just trying to maintain the teeth they had. During this time, I had the privilege of listening to a speaker from Battle Creek, MI who started an organization to help uninsured, low-income patients get the dental care they needed in exchange for community service. I was hooked! I knew that I wanted to bring a program like this to my community!
How do you define success? Success is something that comes from within first. That feeling of peace that I did my best, that I am trusting and following God’s plan for my life, and I am serving others in a positive way. The results of this is success!
The ultimate goal is to help as many people as we can. We are working with local emergency departments (ED) to be a referral source for patients that come to the ED with tooth related pain and give them another options to take care of their dental problems. To do this, we need to increase and maintain funding, increase participation of our dentists, and create strong community support.
Biggest success: My biggest success to date is that I have now started 2 dental health programs that are still in operation, serving hundreds and hundreds of low-income patients annually.
What is your top challenge and how have you have addressed it? The top challenge was starting. I worked for a nonprofit organization, however, I never started one before. It is a daunting task. I had never even served on a board of directors before, and now I was the president of one! Whoa! Scary! I spent a lot of time researching and learning, put smart, experienced people around me, decided to get comfortable being uncomfortable, and did it scared.
I think growing up and having to overcome some difficult family situations, created perseverance and also a heart for those hurting and in need. That compassion of caring about people, wanting to help people, and wanting to do something bigger than myself fueled my desire to make an impact around me.
Then, during a period of 8 years, I lost 3 good friends, in their 30’s. One, the namesake of our program, Dr. Angie Murat. Dr. Angie was planning on starting this program with me. We had met and worked together at another startup program that was established to help the underprivileged. Then, she was diagnosed with cancer and passed away just months later. It had a huge impact on me and reminded me that life is short and to just act now. I had been thinking about starting Dr. Angie’s for a few years before I actually did.
Related: Friday Four
Who is your most important role model? I have had many role models along my journey. Mostly, it has been the women who I have worked with or worked for in the dental field. Nancy Yokom and Judy Daniels have been role models since the time I was a dental assisting and dental hygiene student. Then, they became colleagues, and finally came along side me to plan for Dr. Angie’s Dental Health Exchange. They were real women, with careers and raising children, and they were always well put-together, which was what I aspired to be.
Dr. Lynn Thomas was a role model in the way that he believed in me, before I believed in myself. I worked for him for 10 years, right out of school. I feel like I grew up at his office as I went through a lot in my personal life during that decade. He supported me when I went back to dental hygiene school and once had said, “you are not going to stop until you are a CEO one day.” He probably has no idea how that impacted my self-confidence, as I never even thought of myself as leader.
Edited by The Story Exchange