To ensure a healthy smile, a thorough dental cleaning is a safe bet. But Dr. Alexandra Khaimov wants to ensure her community also has a reason to smile. Until Nov. 3, children up to 18 years old can participate in the Maspeth dentist’s Good Deed essay contest for a chance to win a Kindle Fire.
Children are encouraged to write a short essay describing what good deed they did, why they did it and the result of their action. To enroll, visit DentistMaspethNY.com.
This is the second time for the essay contest, which last time included 80 participants. It is just one of the many good deeds Khaimov has been known to do herself. She has periodically set up charitable acts such as free dental days, Halloween candy buybacks and food drives to benefit pantries such as the one at Our Lady of Grace Roman Catholic Church in Howard Beach.
The contest aims to show children that good deeds are appreciated. For her, appreciation comes in the form of knowing that a person’s health benefits from her services, dental-related or not.
Consider her last event, a food drive, which overlapped with the current contest. She offered $50 off any dental service for a non-perishable food item. The idea for the event came from seeing an increase in patients’ reluctance to book a medical appointment in spite of being insured due to inability to pay copayments.
“I often hear, ‘I just want to do whatever the insurance covers and that’s it,” Khaimov said, but she finds that what is most useful for dental health is prevention.
She extended her outreach to the hunger issue in Queens because as she sees it, if people can’t afford to eat three meals a day, how can they see a dentist in the first place? Following Hurricane Sandy, hunger is more prevalent as emergency food providers reported a 20.8 percent increase in need of services such as food pantries and soup kitchens, as reported in a 2013 survey by the New York City Coalition Against Hunger.
Khaimov thus chose to donate to Our Lady of Grace’s Ministry of Care and Services, since the area was amongst those more direly affected by the hurricane. Longtime ministry volunteer Jeanie Ruvolo has seen this firsthand, noting that since Hurricane Sandy there have been around 100 more people she sees on a weekly basis, as many families are still struggling to rebuild their homes and afford basic goods even if they are employed.
The food pantry is open Monday, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., and can be reached at (718) 845-6635.
Some donations came from regular patients but many who donated were non-patients who did not even ask to sign up for the coupon. The boxes full of canned goods that sat out at the dentist’s reception desk spoke to Khaimov’s outreach efforts and growing reputation for providing charitable acts.
When Khaimov has her 20-minute lunch break for what can often be a 10-hour work day, she sits in her office, unpacking a brown bag she’s received from a local restaurant. Behind her on a shelf lies a pile of books entitled You Too Can Be Happy, a wellness guide given to all her first-time patients. Appropriately, a smiley sits on the cover, a reflection of what she ultimately seeks out from her patients.
“I’m not in my business for the money,” Khaimov said. “I’m in the business because I love my profession … I like to see people smile … I like to help people.”