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Help Somebody Spotlight: Robbie Schureman, Volunteer, Virginia Dental Association Foundation

We are excited to share another Help Somebody Spotlight – Robbie Schureman!

The Help Somebody Hall of Fame is a platform to express gratitude for a person in the community who acts selflessly to improve the lives of others.  We want to share these stories in hope of inspiring more people in Greater Richmond to act with generosity.  There will be random drawing each quarter from those who are honored, and two honorees will select a nonprofit of their choice to receive $1000.  Read more about how to nominate someone here.

Robbie is a dedicated volunteer and Board Vice President at the Virginia Dental Association Foundation (VADF), but, as the person who nominated him (who asked to be anonymous) says, “Robbie is one of the most committed volunteers and advocates that the VDAF and its Mission of Mercy (MOM) program has ever had, always keeping his “MOM hat” on and an eye open for opportunities to further support the program. He is also one of the most down-to-earth, genuine folks you’ll ever meet!”

Read more about Robbies’s story and his impact in the community:

How does this Robbie demonstrate the spirit of the “Help Somebody Hall of Fame”?

Several times each year for the past 17 years, in the dark, pre-dawn hours of the day, Henry Schein Dental sales consultant Robbie Schureman can be found, hours away from home, helping set up a dental clinic to treat patients in need. The next couple of days are spent loading or unloading trucks, comforting nervous patients, holding babies while their parent receives treatment and more. It’s no hardship, he says. Short of spending time with his family and servicing his dental customers, volunteering for Missions of Mercy (MOM) – a program of the Virginia Dental Association Foundation launched in 2000 in Virginia by Dr. Terry Dickinson to help the underserved, underinsured or uninsured population – is the most fulfilling way Schureman knows to fill his time.

Robbie with VDA President, Dr. Terry Dickinson, celebrating his 100th MOM project.

Today, 26 states have adopted the Missions of Mercy model, in part thanks to America’s Dentists Care Foundation, a non-profit organization that coordinates and launches new Missions of Mercy programs. In Virginia, where Schureman lives and volunteers, the Virginia Dental Association Foundation (VDAF) coordinates the MOM program, providing and maintaining dental equipment – much of which is donated or purchased with grants from corporations, foundations and the government. The total operational cost of MOM is $300,000. In addition to fronting equipment costs, organizers must coordinate and feed the many volunteers, including volunteer dental students from the VCU School of Dentistry, as well as coordinate logistics and raise funds to continue the program. Over the past 17 years in Virginia alone, MOM has provided over $41 million in free dental services to 62,000 patients across 90 project sites. More than 25,000 volunteers have worked together to make this happen.

Robbie has participated in about five projects each year for 17 years. He sometimes needs to be on site as early as 4:30 a.m., and stays until evening. Most clinics are open for a day or day-and-a-half, so volunteers end up contributing as much as 2 ½ days of their time, not including their travel time, which can take as long as five or six hours to and from the site. But the service they provide is clearly valued. Patients have been known to come from as far as Florida to receive much-needed treatment and sometimes even come in days or a week early and sleep in tents or cars to increase their chances of receiving treatment.

ABOVE: A video of MOM in action – the program happens throughout the state of Virginia.

What is the impact of Robbie’s generosity? 

Because of volunteers like Robbie and so many others, the VDAF has been able to provide care to over 62,000 patients through the MOM program since 2000. This dental care is valued at over $42 million. In 2016, Robbie celebrated service at his 100th MOM clinic, having also assisted at events outside of Virginia over the years.

Governor Terry McAuliffe thanking Robbie for his service to VDAF.

Is there anything else you want to share Robbie?

In addition to his volunteer service to the MOM program, Robbie also serves as the Vice President on the Board of the VDAF, and is just as energized about volunteering as at the start. Once a year, he cooks a thank-you meal for about 200 volunteers. This fall, he drove six hours to Grundy, Va., where he helped set up the MOM event there, and then busied himself shopping for food and ingredients to prepare dinner for the other volunteers. In addition, every year, he and his family host a fundraiser dinner for MOM volunteers and friends. The VDAF is so fortunate to have passionate volunteers like Robbie – we couldn’t begin to have the impact on serving so many in need without him!

About the Help Somebody Hall of Fame:The Help Somebody Hall of Fame is a platform to express gratitude for a person in the community who acts selflessly to improve the lives of others.  We want to share these stories in hope of inspiring more people in Greater Richmond to act with generosity.  There will be random drawing each quarter from those who are honored, and two honorees will select a nonprofit of their choice to receive $1000.  Read more about how to nominate someone here

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