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Dr. Brad Larsen is a dental practice management consultant in the Vancouver, WA and Portland, OR area.  Dr. Larsen had a private practice in Southwest Washington for thirty years.   In addition to consulting he works part time for a non-profit health care organization providing dental care for the disadvantaged.  He and his wife are parents of four grown sons and have six grandchildren.

Recently all four living former presidents of the United States were gathered to honor former President George H. W. Bush for his lifetime of service.  During his presidency, in a speech highlighting volunteerism, President Bush noted, “I have spoken of a thousand points of light, of all the community organizations that are spread like stars throughout the Nation, doing good. I will go to the people and the programs that are the brighter points of light, and I will ask every member of my government to become involved. The old ideas are new again because they are not old, they are timeless: duty, sacrifice, commitment, and a patriotism that finds its expression in taking part and pitching in.”

Former President Bush has distinguished himself through countless hours of service, freely given without expectations of reward or recognition.  Through that service, President Bush and a one-time political rival, President Bill Clinton have forged a friendship that has been mutually rewarding.  President Clinton spoke with genuine emotion as he spoke of his friend and the impact that he has had not only on him but the nation and the world.

As I watched the televised program, I remembered “one point of light” that impacted my life many years ago.  Over 35 years ago, my wife Cindy and I moved to Chicago as I began my freshman year of dental school. Not only was I about to embark on an adventure that would prepare me for a career that has been as fulfilling as it has been challenging, but Cindy was pregnant, so dental school was not the only challenge that we faced. Being somewhat naive, we had begun our family before we had secured health insurance. Fortunately for us there was a “point of light” in our future. A local obstetrician offered free prenatal care and delivery care to medical and dental students.

Over the past 35 years, that single act of generosity has had a profound effect on me both professionally and personally. I have appreciated the financial security that dentistry has provided my family. But just as my obstetrician friend taught me many years ago, the “dang good feelings” that I get when I give more than is required with no expectation of reward are priceless.  Martin Luther King, Jr., shared some valuable insight: “We are prone to judge success by the index of our salaries or the size of our automobiles, rather than by the quality of our service relationship to humanity.”

When I was in private practice, I looked forward each year to our free dental day. It was an amazing day. We published the event in the newspaper and the local radio station the day before the event. The phones would ring off the hook for a couple of hours as we filled the schedule. The day’s schedule was filled with patients who had needed care for months but were unable to afford treatment. It was an extremely busy day, the staff loved the opportunity to make a difference, and it just “felt dang good.” The last two and half years I have been working part time for a non-profit at a low income dental clinic.  While the services we provide are not the “high-end” type of services I did in private practice, the “dang good feelings” that I get now are frequent and rewarding.  I have been given the unique opportunity to share my professional expertise with my fellow men.  But no matter what our situation in life is, we have the opportunity to share our light.  Perhaps it is as simple as volunteering at a local hospital, school or food bank; or it may be a visiting a homebound friend.  President Bush’s example teaches us that we all have the opportunity to touch another life and in so doing share the light.

A big “Thank You” to my new friend, Brad, for his contribution today!