Tucson dental family honored at Catholic Charities USA's 2007 National Volunteers of the Year Award

Left to right:  Rev. Larry Snyder, President of CCUSA, Dr. Nick Mooberry, Dr. Phil Mooberry, Janet Pape, chair of CCUSA's Board of Trustees
Left to right: Rev. Larry Snyder, President of CCUSA, Dr. Nick Mooberry, Dr. Phil Mooberry, Janet Pape, chair of CCUSA's Board of Trustees


Cincinnati-Catholic Charities USA's 2007 National Volunteers of the Year -- a Tucson family of three generations of dentists -- were honored last week at an award ceremony during the organization's annual gathering in Cincinnati.

Sam Marascalco, DDS, his son-in-law Phil Mooberry, DDS, and grandson Nick Mooberry, DDS, volunteer at Catholic Community Services of Southern Arizona's St. Elizabeth's Clinic. Known affectionately as St. E's, the clinic provides thousands of uninsured adults and children with low-cost dental care. Last year, St. E's volunteer dentists conducted 7,313 dental visits with patients, completing fillings, dentures, partials, cleanings, and emergency exams. Both Dr. Phil and Dr. Nick were on hand in Cincinnati to accept the award.

"With too many people in our country unable to get access to crucial health and dental care, these three remarkable dentists are using their special skills to provide an invaluable service to some of their most vulnerable neighbors," said Rev. Larry Snyder, president of Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA). "The Catholic Charities family is grateful for their dedication to their community and the Catholic Charities mission."

These three generations of dentists treat between 12 and 15 patients each month at the clinic. They also treat some of the more complex patients in their own offices. All patients of St. E's are accepted on a sliding fee scale or scholarship for dental care. Dr. Sam, Dr. Phil, and Dr. Nick's volunteer care helps keep the cost of care affordable and increases the clinic's ability to provide scholarships for the truly indigent.

In Tucson the need for affordable dental care is great, where there are three times as many people without dental than medical insurance. In addition, very few dentists or dental clinics in the community provide low-cost or sliding scale dental care like St. E's, which has a three-month waiting list for new dental patients. Most of the patients, especially the children, who come to St. E's have never been to a dentist before, or in
many of the adult cases, it has been between 10 and 20 years since their last visit. As a result, the patients' problems are very acute.

Seeing the need in the community to provide vital dental care to low-income families, Dr. Sam helped to found the clinic over 40 years ago and has been volunteering there ever since. About 20 years later, Dr. Phil married Dr.Sam's daughter and joined St. E's as a volunteer dentist. And just this past summer, Dr. Nick joined St. Elizabeth's volunteer team.

"Volunteering at St. E's is how this family gives back to the community.  St. E's is part of 'their family' and they all believe that providing their dental skills is a unique way to help others in the community," said Nancy Johnson, executive director for St. Elizabeth's. "They are here consistently and always ready to help with a special project, advocacy efforts, a letter of support, etc."

Their work for the clinic does not stop at dental care. This family also provides the leadership for the St. E's annual golf tournament each May, which raises more than $60,000 each year for dental equipment and supplies.  In addition, they work with various dental foundations and community groups to advocate for contributions. They also write letters of support and collaborate on clinic grants.

Dr. Sam, who has now retired from his dental practice, started the family tradition of recruiting other dentist and hygienists to volunteer at the St. E's. Today, as president of the clinic's dental advisory board, Dr. Phil has carried that on that tradition of recruiting volunteers and ensuring that the dental clinic continues its mission. Dr. Phil is now also working on mentoring his son, Dr. Nick, who he started volunteering last August after
graduation from dental school.

The trio was honored at Catholic Charities USA's Annual Gathering on Sept. 15 in Cincinnati, OH. Catholic Charities USA's National Volunteer of the Year Award recognizes the invaluable contributions volunteers make to the Catholic Charities network. Collectively, local Catholic Charities agencies rely on more than 263,000 volunteers each year to serve more than seven million people of all faiths and diverse needs.

"We are so pleased that Catholic Charities USA has selected Dr. Sam Marascalco and Drs. Phil and Nick Mooberry to be recognized with its National Volunteer of the Year Award," said Peg Harmon, CEO of Catholic Community Services of Southern Arizona. "CCS has been triply blessed by this family's involvement and commitment to St. Elizabeth's Clinic. We congratulate and thank them along with all of the volunteers who give so generously of themselves and make our work possible."

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