Oklahoma Dental Foundation strives to help state citizens

Pictured from left are Program Chairperson Lion Heather Sumner, John Wilguess, and President Lion Duaine Janzen.
(Photo and information provided by Dean Craig, with excerpts from the bio of John Wilguess)

By DEAN CRAIG

Okmulgee Lions

Tuesday's Lions Club meeting was a slight departure from our regular programs, and was only advertised as the Oklahoma Dental Foundation, presented by John Wilguess from Oklahoma City.  Of course, this elicited "nice" grumblings from the gathering Lions, such as: "does he (meaning me as the program scheduler) think all we old folks need to learn about how to brush our dentures"; and, "I was prepared to endure what I thought would be a boring program, but I really enjoyed this program"--this is what I was told by a fellow Lion after the program, which proves that old adage--you can't always tell a book by its' cover.

As Executive Director of the Oklahoma Dental Foundation, Wilguess works to support the outreach, educational efforts and programming of the staff, develop the resources for building programs and assure the Board of Trustees continues to better the ODF to provide better oral health for all Oklahomans.

Prior to joining ODF, Wilguess was the Executive Director of Safe Kids Oklahoma.  He has been the owner of Alliance Resource Group, Inc., a consulting company specializing in not-for-profit fund development, board training, marketing and public relations.  He has worked with non-profits and political campaigns throughout Oklahoma and across the nation since 1986.  His prior employment also includes Vice-President for Civic Affairs at Oklahoma Christian University (he is a graduate of Oklahoma State University) and the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum where he was in charge of fund raising.  He is a deacon in his church and has been the Missions Ministry Director since 2009 with mission outreach efforts in 15 nations and a worldwide budget of nearly $2.5 million.  In fact, it was a mission trip to Guatemala that had life-changing effects.

Since 1959, the ODF has been at the forefront of charitable dentistry in the state, believing that good, regular dental care is vital to the over-all health of individuals, acknowledging the fact that Oklahomans, as a whole, practice poor dental care.  In fact, Puerto Rico practices better dental care than Oklahoma, attributable to three reasons: (1) geographical (rural) areas, (2) cost, (3) culture--never been to a dentist before.  The ODF has two 37-foot RV's that travel to various cities in the state, where they partner with churches/non-profits, and go directly where the need is.  Since 2015, the OU College of Dentistry has been volunteering with ODF, which has been a win-win situation for both.

The Oklahoma Mission of Mercy started in Tulsa but has expanded to Oklahoma City, Lawton, Enid, McAlester, and other cities.  February 2 and 3, 2018, in Durant, 400 dentists will plan to see 1,000 patients on Friday and 1,000 patients on Saturday, beginning at 4 a.m. each day.  The ODF has also been working with an OklahomaCity agency, No Borders, who work with victims of sex-trafficking in that area.  Wilguess said the major thing requested from these victims is a toothbrush.  How horrific!!  Folks, we're talking about Bible Belt America.  They have, however, been able to salvage some of the prostitutes, and some of the pimps through the dentistry outreach.

So, rather than suffering through a perceived boring program, the Lions were entertained with a very informative and interesting program.  And rather than leading a boring life, why don't you make it a point to attend one of our upcoming programs and help the Lions Club boost our community?  "WE SERVE".

 

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