The Importance of Community Engagement & Identifying Your “Why”: An Interview with Dr. Bryan Packard

Interested in engaging in your community? Don't know where to start? Dr. Bryan Packard of Precision Dental in Bowling Green, Kentucky lends some advice in this SmileMakers exclusive interview. Read how he's getting involved and how he found his "why".

Dr. Bryan Packard of Precision Dental
Bowling Green, Kentucky 

Q. Why do you think community engagement is important?
A. It's a special opportunity to have this kind of platform - to stand for something and be part of a movement for good. It's also a way to draw from your own experiences and invest your time in something you're passionate about.

Q. What are you passionate about?
A. Giving back to people has always been important to me, especially to those with special needs. When I was in 6th grade, my sister was born with Pallister-Killian syndrome. She needed round-the-clock care and me and my family had to learn how to take care of her. My best friend growing up also had a sister with special needs, and I saw, again, what it meant to be a family. Those experiences shaped who I am and where my priorities lie. They’re also a large part of the reason why I’m starting “20 for 20” in Bowling Green. For every 20 new patients at my practice, we’ll sponsor the monthly tuition ($20) of a special needs member of The HIVE — Habilitation, Information, Vocation, and Education. It’s an incredible organization that empowers special needs individuals to lead fulfilling, self-determined lives by providing support to make informed choices, build relationships, experience respect, and make contributions as fully participating citizens of Bowling Green.

Q. What has been the response from the community?
A. People want to be a part of something bigger than themselves. They act when they're inspired or moved. If it gives them purpose or gets them excited, they'll respond. But they have to see that you mean it. People can spot authenticity. They just want someone who is willing to help.

Q. Can you give us some advice on how to get involved?
A. Start with your "why". What drives you? Why are you doing this? Every giveback has to be something that means something to you. It's not a walk in the park. This isn't something you can sit back and relax on. But at the end of the day, you'll want to give yourself fully. Think about something other than dentistry where you really want to make an impact. It has to be something local and something that your small business can partner with without being swallowed. Choose something where you can have an immediate impact - where they could really use your help. It doesn't have to be big either. Start small. Do the little things for your community. Partner with local businesses where you'll have a mutual benefit.

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Q. How do you balance work, life and your commitment to the community?
A. Make sure to surround yourself with the right people, focus on what matters, and try not to overextend yourself. A lot of why I do this is for my family. I'm accountable to them. I want to make them proud and also inspire them to make a difference, too. That's how I want to be remembered. It's also important to let your passion guide you. If you're passionate about it, you can be replenished by it, and that makes it hard to burn out.

Q. You've been around the world. What's something you've noticed about working with the community?
A. Every place is different. Where you live and where you practice can play a huge role in the type of giveback you invest in. Bowling Green, for instance, is a big town. But everyone is very connected, and I feel right at home here. Some advice: Meet people first. Making those connections is the best way to understand how to help your community.

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