'Like-minded' dentists meet, join forces at Mission of Mercy event
March 06, 2017
'Mission' mentor: Dr. Nora Regan, left, met Dr. Mark Humenik, right, in 2012 at a Mission of Mercy event in Wisconsin. Now, the two work together at Dr. Humenik's Northbrook, Illinois, dental office.
Having participated in 29 Mission of Mercy events since 2001, Dr. Mark Humenik said he can't count the number of underserved patients to whom he's donated dental care.
"It really is a special feeling when you get done and you see how grateful the people are," said Dr. Humenik, a member of the ADA Council on Advocacy for Access and Prevention.
Participating in the events has also helped Dr. Humenik make new friends and professional contacts, he said, but never more so than the Madison, Wisconsin, Mission of Mercy program he attended in 2012.
"My father-in-law was volunteering as the maintenance engineer — the trash detail — and he happened to be cleaning part of the clinic when he bumped in to Nora. She saw the Illinois name tag and they started talking," Dr. Humenik recalled.
"Nora" refers to Dr. Nora Regan, who at the time was finishing up her first year at the Marquette University School of Dentistry. A native of a Chicago suburb near Dr. Humenik's Northbrook, Illinois, office, Dr. Regan said she took note of the geographic information on her fellow volunteer's name tag.
"I saw the La Grange, Illinois, name tag so I just went up and starting talking to him," she said of Dr. Humenik's father-in-law. "He found out where I went to high school, and that is where his children and grandchildren went too."
Soon, Dr. Humenik and his wife, Mary Beth, joined the conversation. The group found other shared connections — Dr. Regan's dentist growing up is Dr. Humenik's good friend — and they exchanged contact information, spending the next few years keeping in touch, mostly through email.
"It was very meaningful," Dr. Regan said of the connection.
In the summer of 2016, the stars aligned and an associate position opened up in Dr. Humenik's dental office just months after Dr. Regan finished her residency program. Dr. Regan said she eagerly joined the team.
"It's a wonderful fit and I'm very happy I was offered the position," she said.
Dr. Humenik, who took the helm of his dental office after his dentist father retired years ago, said he has enjoyed serving as a mentor.
"All is going great," he said.
Dr. Humenik, who served on and is a past president of the foundation board of the America's Dentists Care Foundation, the group that oversees MOM events, said he's passionate about the volunteer work and bringing together like-minded people to serve the underserved.
Added Dr. Regan, "This isn't the main reason I volunteer, but it's a really nice way to meet other people who have the same values and the same intentions as you."
The pair is already planning to attend the next Mission of Mercy event scheduled for 2018 in the state's capital of Springfield.
For more information about Mission of Mercy or to find an event near you, visit ADCFmom.org