Georgetown Alumni Dentists Recognized for Humanitarian Work


Frank C. Andolino II, D.D.S. (D'86)

Frank C. Andolino

Frank Andolino II (D'86) almost didn't go into dentistry. He studied zoology as an undergraduate student and worked at both a racehorse farm and animal hospital in preparation to become a veterinarian. However, some of his work duties, including having to euthanize pets, left him feeling the need to change tack.

Studying head, neck, and maxillofacial surgery eventually led him to the field of orthodontic surgery, which he currently practices. He enjoys his work and his schedule as an orthodontist--seeing patients at four-to-six-week intervals--allows him the flexibility he always craved to pursue some of his personal passions, including travel, photography, and volunteerism.

As a young man who attended both Catholic grammar school and high school, Andolino learned the importance of service to others at an early age. As he got older, he became more involved in different sorts volunteer activities.

Andolino's extensive volunteer work has included much more than dental outreach. In addition to teaching community healthcare workers and dentists in countries such as Nepal, he has also worked with homeless youth, volunteered with the Special Olympics, built houses with Habitat for Humanity, and engaged in many more projects.

Despite his many charitable interests, it wasn't until a volunteer trip to Nepal that he was able to put his dental skills and experience to work helping people in need.

"When I was actually able to use the skill set that I had studied so hard over the years, it felt really great," he said. Andolino was able to lend his skills not only to extract teeth for people in desperate need of dental care, but also to teach local health care providers techniques that they could use to continue to help the community after he and his fellow volunteers had left. "We are not just providing a service but also teaching the community," he said.

"[Helping others] is being human, and that's what you should do if you can."

—Frank C. Andolino II, D.D.S. (D'86)

Helping other people feels natural for Andolino. "It's being human, and that's what you should do if you can," he said. "It's also a two-way street. They've taught me a lot too."

In 2004, he started a nonprofit called Kageno, which builds sustainable programs in Kenya and Rwanda to help community members develop skills, start new businesses, create jobs, invest in their environment, learn how to control the spread of infectious diseases such as HIV and AIDS, and ultimately live better, healthier lives. Kageno, which, in the Kenyan dialect of Dholuo means "a place of hope," hosts programs to build schools, health centers, and pharmacies, as well as sanitation and clean water systems. They also develop programs to help protect the fragile environments of more than 24,000 people.

Last year, he told the American Dental Association that he feels this type of work is his duty. "As a privileged American, it's my responsibility to help others," said Andolino. "If we all played a small part in helping those less fortunate, this planet would be a substantially more balanced and healthy place for everyone."

In October, in recognition of more than three decades of service, Andolino was honored with the 2016 American Dental Association Humanitarian Award.

"It almost feels weird to be honored for something that feels so good personally and for something that was a collaborative effort, especially because it feels like the right and obvious thing to do," he said.

Frank C. Andolino Frank C. Andolino Frank C. Andolino

Photos provided by Dr. Andolino.

Daniel T. O'Donnell, D.D.S. (D'80)

Daniel T. O'Donnell

After graduating from Allegheny College and earning a doctorate of surgery degree from Georgetown University School of Dentistry, Dan O'Donnell (D'80) began practicing dentistry at the age of 25 by providing free dental care at clinics in the Washington, D.C. area.

Service was a major part of O'Donnell's learning experience at Georgetown. He worked at several places in the D.C. area, including the S.O.M.E. Dental Clinic, D.C. General Hospital, and St. Elizabeths Hospital.

He thinks fondly on his time at Georgetown and recalls the faculty who trained him, particularly Gustav O. Kruger, D.D.S. (D'39, H'77), the first full-time chairman of the Oral Surgery Department and associate dean of the Georgetown University Dental School. "We called him god," laughed O'Donnell.

After graduating, he moved back to Pennsylvania to practice dentistry and, for many years, volunteered his services at the Water Street Rescue Mission Dental Clinic in Lancaster.

Years later, after a church service in Lancaster, he was approached by Steve Mentzer, the president and co-founder of Central American Relief Efforts (CARE), a local, volunteer-driven nonprofit dedicated to improving healthcare in Honduras. Mentzer, who currently serves as Pennsylvania State Representative, was starting a mission trip to Honduras and the group needed a dentist. O'Donnell decided to go, along with his two daughters. "They kind of signed me up," he recalled, amused.

He enjoyed the work so much that he ended up going on several mission trips. During these visits, O'Donnell explained, up to 300 people per day line up for treatment. He and his fellow volunteers perform extractions for children, then women, then men. They also have young people there who want to learn how to treat and stitch patients, since CARE works with high school groups, college groups, and professional groups to teach volunteers at the medical clinics in rural communities.

"When you go on these mission trips, there's such a need."

—Daniel T. O'Donnell, D.D.S. (D'80)

O'Donnell now serves as the secretary of CARE's board of directors, helping to raise funds for the organization. They began having golf tournaments and charity races, with proceeds going to benefit CARE's programs, which include founding self-sustaining pharmacies in areas with little-to-no access to affordable medicine, sending much-needed supplies to underfunded public hospitals and schools, and partnering with other U.S.-based nonprofits to provide additional services to high-need communities.

"The first year they raised $3,500," said O'Donnell, "Last year it was close to $35,000. The organization is now self-sustaining." This is an accomplishment in which he is quite proud to have had a role.

Last year, O'Donnell was recognized for his work with CARE with a citation from Rep. Menzter. "He truly exemplifies the best qualities of the human experience, and his spirit of giving and dedication has greatly enhanced the lives of others," Mentzer told Lancaster Online in August in reference to the citation.

For O'Donnell, there's not a question of how to balance his work with these volunteer efforts. "You make time and you get it done, because when you go on these mission trips, there's such a need."

O'Donnell recently celebrated his 36th year as a dentist and he plans to go on his next mission trip this month.

Daniel T. O'Donnell Daniel T. O'Donnell Daniel T. O'Donnell

Photos provided by Dr. O'Donnell.