There’s something about 40
By Jennifer Parraga, BA’93
For Dr. John Pate, BSc’72, DDS’76, there is something special about the number 40. It’s not that it’s his favourite number, but for some reason he tends to do the extraordinary in years associated with it.
This past year, 2017, stands as an exceptional example, as Dr. Pate celebrated his 40th anniversary in practice.
What transpired during the twelve months of the year touched the lives of hundreds of individuals and enriched the culture of his practice.
It began with a staff meeting with Dr. Pate’s team, and discussion about what they could do to commemorate their four decades of dental care in the Guelph community. They decided that they would complete 40 acts of kindness, and planned them out with contributions from the entire staff.
“We’ve always been involved with our community,” Dr. Pate said. “But this was different, and it was a brilliant idea. I could see the enthusiasm grow among the team as each new idea was brought forward.”
Dr. Pate gave his team free rein to determine all the acts but one. He wanted to choose what the final act would be, and he was determined to have the number 40 as part of it.
Meanwhile, his team began reaching out to the broader community. They went to the Tim Horton's and purchased coffee for everyone who was in the coffee shop, and they bought muffins and donuts for the members of the firehouse situated around the corner from the practice. They made a special dinner for one of their patients who was undergoing chemo therapy, bought big boxes of freezies and delivered them to a day care located close by, completed the Heart and Stroke Big Bike Ride, and hosted a movie day for 300 children – to name just a few.
Dr. Pate admits that the entire experience was like having 40 extra days of Christmas, because it’s always so much more fun watching a gift being opened than it is to receive one. “The giver is the one who receives the bigger gift,” he said.
In addition, he could feel himself and see his team becoming more engaged with the community. The opportunity to engage with the community is just one of the reasons why Dr. Pate enjoys being a dentist.
“As a dentist, one of the most important things you do is provide service to your community,” he said. “You build relationships, you get involved, and you engage with your patients, their families and people who live and work around you. The stronger the connection you have to your community, the better a dentist you will be.”
As time passed, Dr. Pate realized he still hadn’t come up with the final act. Drawing upon his past philanthropic experiences with the local hospitals, Dr. Pate wondered about making a significant donation to a cause that was important to him.
He decided that a donation of $40,000 to his alma mater would be the perfect final act. On September 12, the official anniversary date of his practice, he presented the cheque to Schulich Medicine & Dentistry representatives. The funds were directed to the School’s new Simulation Laboratory, which is used primarily by students in their pre-clinical years.
Dr. Pate has fond memories of his time at Western University and appreciates the outstanding professors from whom he learned. Making a donation was the perfect way to celebrate 40 outstanding years.