An Interview with dental volunteer Howard Sauer

Volunteers are a vital component here at HealthFinders Collaborative. Howard Sauer, an 84 year old retired dentist in Faribault, has recently begun volunteering as a dental assistant. Dr. Sauer graduated from University of Minnesota dental school in 1956. After two years of serving in the Navy as a dental officer, he moved to Faribault where he practiced dentistry for 64 years. During retirement, Sauer continues to be committed to using his dental skills for the benefit of the community which prompted his recent decision to volunteer with HealthFinders’ growing dental program.

Howard Sauer

(Photo by Mycah Schrader)

By volunteering at HealthFinders, Sauer is truly helping provide much needed assistance in our efforts to ensure that families of Rice County have access to dental care.
Dr. Sauer is particularly passionate about the work that is done at HealthFinders. During a recent volunteer shift he explained, “there are a lot of people lacking funds to get the medical care they need. In my experience, when insurance companies give money it’s never enough.”

He appreciates HealthFinders’ efforts to serve those that could not otherwise afford dental care. After decades in the dental field, Sauer has found that there is not only a barrier to healthcare in terms of funding, but it is especially difficult to get treatment for people who can’t speak English. Volunteering at HealthFinders is particularly important to him because HealthFinders  “welcomes everyone regardless of their financial situation and has interpreters to make the healthcare accessible to everyone.”

He enjoys being in an environment where he can help address these issues which have been prevalent throughout his career. As he explained,

“if you’re 84 and you’re still alive, you’ve got to do something and there is a real need for dental and medical professionals both in terms of time and funds. So, I am just happy to make whatever contribution I can.”

Dr. Sauer’s favourite aspect of volunteering for HealthFinders is working with patients that “are very kind and thankful to be seen.” Throughout his shift he repeatedly exclaimed, “I can’t get over how nice all of these patients are!” Sauer praised his volunteer work as a great way to get out of the house, meet people and contribute time to a particularly meaningful cause. Drawing on his positive volunteering experiences, he encouraged other medical professionals to also donate their time and skills to non-profits such as HealthFinders Collaborative.

Volunteers, whether they are college students or people in their eighties, are the backbone of HealthFinders Collaborative. HealthFinders could not provide the services it has without valued volunteers. HealthFinders volunteers serve as medical and dental providers, language interpreters, nurses and receptionists. If you would like to know more about volunteering for HealthFinders Collaborative please visit our website at healthfindersmn.org/volunteer/.