MaryLynn Nael was presented the award by the Ontario Dental Hygienists' Association (ODHA) last month. The award recognizes her outstanding contributions to the profession of dental hygiene, specifically for her volunteer efforts to improve access to oral health care for vulnerable residents in her community.
Since 2009, Ms Nael has been a volunteer for the Street Health program, offered through the Windsor Essex Community Health Centre (WECHC). The program provides support and resources to the homeless and to those at risk of homelessness. Her involvement with Street Health began by supervising placements for St. Clair College dental hygiene students.
As Street Health expanded, she was instrumental in developing the dental program, providing oral care assessments and treatment for clients, encouraging dental hygienists to get involved and recruiting a dentist. Several hundred residents have received oral care services through the community program.
For her work on Project Smile, which raises funds to provide dentures to those unable to afford them, Ms Nael received the ODHA Community Service Award in 2012. She continues to volunteer on Project Smile, a partnership between the Windsor-Essex Dental Hygienists' Society and WECHC.
Her colleagues and co-workers describe her as a dedicated volunteer, an inspiration to others, and a leader and pioneer for the dental hygiene profession.
A long-time member of ODHA, Ms Nael served a two-year term on the Board of Directors and was the ODHA representative for the City of Windsor Oral Health Committee. In addition to her volunteer work, she practices dental hygiene in Wheatley.
Founded in 1963, the ODHA advocates for the profession and provides leadership for a diverse and growing membership. Dental hygiene is among the largest of the regulated health-care professions in the province. In Ontario all dental hygienists are registered with the College of Dental Hygienists of Ontario, which regulates the profession to ensure the public receives safe and comprehensive oral care.