Thanks to the generosity of Pam Paden and Children’s Dental Village in south Tempe, countless children whose families have struggled to afford dental care now have healthier and happier looking smiles.
In early 2009, Paden, a Chandler resident who works at the pediatric practice as a hygienist, celebrated her 30th anniversary with the clinic. She was approached by the owners of the clinic and told that as a way to celebrate her three decades of hard work and dedication, she could select a non-profit organization of her choice, and the dental office would donate $15,000 to that organization in her honor.
The only caveat, Paden said, was that the non-profit organization must help children in some way. Paden said she decided right away which group she wanted to help.
“I knew that I wanted the money to go to San Marcos Dental Clinic,” she said, adding that the non-profit clinic, which serves low-income children, is tied to Chandler Regional Medical Center. According to the hospital’s website, the clinic’s official name is CHW East Valley Children’s Dental Clinic, and it is housed inside San Marcos Elementary School in Chandler.
“The opportunity came up, and I have friends who are dental hygienists who work there at the clinic, and they both have had to dig for funds in order to continue doing their services. It seemed like a really good place to have the money go.”
Paden said the tradition of rewarding long-time employees in such a manner began in 2007 as the brainchild of the owners of Children’s Dental Village. It was named the Legacy Fund, and the owners decided that earmarking it for a substantial donation would represent a more meaningful, longer lasting gift for the employee than a fancy lunch or bouquet of flowers.
“Our office has always been out there making sure that kids don’t suffer,” she said.
“When I celebrated my 30-year anniversary of partnership with CDV I met with Dr. (Alan) Longfellow and Dr. (Mercedes) Padilla to propose that we establish a fund to honor employees who celebrate their 30-year employment anniversary—a rarity in organizations these days,” said Joyce Anne Longfellow of Children’s Dental Village.
“I was the first recipient of this amazing legacy. I chose to build a house in a farm in Kenya, Africa. The farm produces revenue for many Kenyan Children Foundation projects.”
Although Paden said she thought Dr. Longfellow chose a great project for her money, she hoped to keep her Legacy Fund money within the local community.
Paden said the donated funds were quickly used up at San Marcos Dental Clinic. But Paden said CDV has not stopped offering assistance to the patients of the clinic. For example, if a child arrives there for emergency treatment and is unable to pay for it, CDV will take over the care for the child.
“Fifteen thousand was the targeted amount, but it’s easily been double that with all of the treatments we have done,” she said.
“I feel like since it’s called a Legacy Fund, it should live on, and it has.”
Paden said it has been extremely gratifying to know that children can receive the dental care they so desperately need.
“It feels so good that it helped them,” she said.