Pleasanton Weekly

News - September 9, 2011

Dental chair finds new life in Mexico

Sister-city group helps out friends in Tulancingo

by Dolores Fox Ciardelli

One dentist's discard is another's dream. Of course the dental chair sent by the Pleasanton-Tulancingo Sister Cities Association was completely refurbished before it started its long journey from Texas to Tulancingo, Mexico.

The idea was planted in April 2010 when the Pleasanton delegation was visiting Tulancingo.

"The Soroptimist Club of Tulancingo gave PTSCA President Alice Pryor a tour of their outreach facility," recalled Rita Galvin, who manages the Youth Exchange for the club and also coordinated the chair project. "At their facility, they provide free dental services to mostly single and abused women. They asked for assistance in linking up with a possible donor for a much-needed dental chair."

In May 2010, word was sent out to the membership, and Galvin located a nonprofit group called the Power of One Dental Project, which was started by Amador Valley High School student William Tom. He is the son of Pleasanton orthodontist Thomson Tom and dentist Linda Mori.

William Tom, 19, who is now studying dentistry at the University of the Pacific, so far has distributed 1,870 dental kits to people in need through his organization.

Tom placed an ad in the Alameda Dental Society Newsletter asking for the donation of a dental chair, and he also gave other dental supplies and a machine that sets fillings.

In December, Tom told Galvin that he had located a chair at Dental Planet in Wichita Falls, Texas, that was complete with high speed/low speed hookups, high vacuum hose, low vacuum hose and a chair light.

Jorge Victoria of the Pleasanton-Tulancingo Sister Cities Association volunteered to pick up the chair if it could be transported to Austin, where his daughter lives, and drive it to the Mexican border.

"Since the chair was coming from Texas, it was decided to ship the chair to Austin and ultimately to Laredo, Texas, rather than going through California," Galvin remembered. "The chair was being completely refurbished and was scheduled for delivery in March. Dental Planet donated the shipping costs for the chair delivery to Austin, to be stored there until Jorge would drive it to Laredo."

In April, Jorge Victoria personally drove the dental chair from Austin to the shipping warehouse in Laredo, Texas. From there the Soroptimist Club of Tulancingo was responsible for getting it home: The dental chair arrived in August.

This was not the first major contribution from Pleasanton to its sister city Tulancingo. Twenty-two years ago, the group coordinated the donation of a fire truck from the then-Pleasanton Fire Department. Walt Wood and Mike Parsons drove the truck to the Mexican border where Tulancingo firemen waited to drive it the rest of the way.

SIDEBAR:

Say 'hola'

The annual visit of the Tulancingo delegation from Pleasanton's sister city in Mexico takes place Sept. 20-26, and they will spend Thursday, Sept. 22, downtown, walking to the library, City Hall, and on a Ghost Walk sponsored by the Pleasanton Museum On Main. Members will be wearing their 2011 Visit polo shirts so will be identifiable. Anyone seeing them is encouraged to say hello and give them a warm welcome.

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