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ViewPoint: The emerging Generation 'G'

Many of you reading this column are classified as baby boomers. If not, you are probably associated with Generation X or Generation Y or Z or whatever follows in the alphabet.

But there is a new generation growing in our country during the last few years, and it has been fueled by the economic downturn and the events leading up to it. This time the generation is not defined by date of birth. It has been fashioned by examples of corporate greed, investment fraud and scams, CEO bonuses and trips to the French Riviera, and short-changing the employees and clients.

Generation G stands for GENEROSITY. It is the antithesis of greed. It is all about giving rather than getting. A good site to visit to learn more about this new frame of mind is www.TrendWatching.com. This site states that the current state of affairs in our country has people longing more than ever for institutions that truly care.

Generosity as a universal concept has been enhanced by some of the richest and most famous people in the world. Bill Gates gave a huge part of his Microsoft fortune to a foundation aiding African children and he was soon joined in this venture by Warren Buffett. Oprah Winfrey had her "Big Give" programs where she gave cars and other items to large groups of people. On the corporate level, Kraft Foods set up warming stations around the busy streets in Chicago where people can hang out to avoid the harsh winter winds. More people are performing random acts of kindness today by paying another person's parking meter, turnpike toll or bill at Starbucks.

The good news about the concept of giving is that those who give shall receive, in like measure. The Good Book affirms that, as do most all spiritually oriented documents and self-help books. The "bad" news is that you have to give out of a desire to serve because you really care for people and not just to look good and promote your own agenda.

People can intuitively feel when people really care for them and when they are just doing something altruistic so they will ultimately benefit. Contributing money to a far away orphanage or recycling pop cans in the office doesn't cut it. It must be a project that people can see and feel that you have your heart in it.

So what does this trend mean for dentistry? I think we have quite a few outreaches that show our caring and giving. The Ohio Dental Association Options program, the Bethlehem project, the ADA Give Kids A Smile and free treatment follow-up have shown that dentistry truly cares. The ODA Today magazine had a feature on the Toledo Dental Society raising $53,000 through Miles For Smiles to benefit the local underserved dental patients. An orthodontist in Arkansas developed a program called Smile For a Lifetime where 6 to 12 children a year get free orthodontic treatment based on poverty and need.

The benefits of joining Generation G are numerous. First of all, we who are blessed to be in the dental profession know that giving back is necessary and the right thing to do. Secondly, we know that we will have a satisfactory feeling knowing we are part of the solution to aiding others in need, rather than a part of the problem by ignoring the situation.

A very important benefit is that if we reach out to those underserved, the federal and state governments will not step in to create a level of nondentists to fill the void. And when people see how you are caring and giving to others, including your staff and patients, they will look favorably on your practice as a place that will take good care of them as well.

With all the social networking through Web sites, blogs, Facebook and Twitter, it makes sense to have the message about your practice be one of heartfelt giving. We can all benefit by joining Generation G.

Dr. Bernard is the editor of the Stark County Dental Society Bulletin (Ohio). His comments, reprinted here with permission, originally appeared in the July/August issue of that publication.