By Jennifer Meshanko for The Island Connection
A year ago, Dr. Steve Fred and his wife, Lisa, moved to Charleston to start a new chapter of semi-retired life. He hoped to open a part-time private dental practice, but he had several people suggest that he should volunteer with Our Lady of Mercy Community Outreach’s dental clinic.
Dr. Fred grew up in Atlanta, GA with two brothers. He and both of his brothers graduated from Emory University’s Dental School. Dr. Fred shared, “After graduating I served in the U.S. Public Health Service for two years treating American Indian children and four years as a clinician and researcher at National Institutes of Health (NIH) hospital in Bethesda, MD.” He then started his own private practice, which he ran until his successor took over a year ago.
Dr. Fred’s wife, Lisa, was also a dental professional and worked as a dental hygienist until 2013. Lisa followed her passion for beauty and skin care and opened Charleston Holistic Skincare. Dr. Fred and Lisa have four children and five grandchildren. They love water skiing and any other water-related activities, as well as volunteering their dental skills during mission trips.
“After moving to Charleston, I was pursuing my idea of a part time private practice, but every step I made toward that goal was met with the advice of volunteering with Our Lady of Mercy,” said Dr. Fred. It wasn’t until one Sunday during a Bible study discussion about volunteering that he finally decided to get involved.
“It has turned out to be a most enjoyable experience! Dental Director, Dr. John Howard and the sweet staff there create a very caring atmosphere and the very up to date treatment rooms and equipment make it a joy and a breeze to treat the patients.”
Dr. Fred makes a difference by not only creating dental treatment plans for patients but also getting to know them.
“I try to disarm them with a few words, some humor, or if appropriate, a feeble attempt at speaking Spanish with a smile and see where it leads,” says Dr. Fred. “More often than not, they open up and I’m able to get to know them just a little. I get to speak some words of encouragement into their lives. And, I am blessed when they share an encouraging word to me as well!”
Dr. Fred understands it is easy to talk yourself out of volunteering. He suggests, “If you are leaning towards volunteering, tell someone you are going to do it and to hold you accountable. Once you volunteer, you’ll be blessed more than the people you serve.”