Barbara Jones, the Epitome of Dedication

June 30, 2023

Barbara Jones, the Epitome of Dedication

For more than 100 years, the Ben Massell Dental Clinic (BMDC) has been changing lives. The clinic provides comprehensive, quality dental care available at no cost to those who cannot afford it, and serves as one of the most advanced dental training centers in the country for those entering dental careers.

It’s no small task to recruit and retain a rotating team of volunteer dentists, manage a team of staff members, and work with an evolving roster of clients. It takes a special person to wear so many hats, and Barbara Jones has been doing it with warmth and grace for the last 47 years.

In recognition of her hard work and dedication to the Clinic, Barbara was awarded JF&CS’ highest staff honor at this year’s Annual Meeting: The Stacy G. Fialkow Staff Development & Appreciation Award. She shared insights into her career, her motivations, and the outlook she brings to work and life.

Barbara’s Journey

Barbara started with the Clinic as a Dental Assistant, right after graduation. She worked several years under the supervision of Blanche Howard, and when Mrs. Howard retired in 1992, Barbara became the supervisor. As the scale of the clinic has grown over the years, so has her role, which is now the Practice Manager.

Her level of longevity and dedication is unusual nowadays, and when we asked Barbara why she is happy at BMDC, she responded that it is “because of what we do. You reach out and help those who are less fortunate, remembering that a turn of events could put you in the same situation.”

“I love it,” she added. “I love changing lives, helping people, and also helping people become gainfully employed (by restoring their smiles). It’s like being paid to be a missionary.”

There is a family environment to BMDC that you feel immediately upon entering the building. Barbara recalls a story about BMDC Dental Assistant Lynn. “She worked here 7 years ago and had the opportunity to go into the private dental sector. She called me last year and said ‘I want to come back home. What you taught me, the professionalism you showed me and the way you took me under your wing... it made me the assistant I am today. I want to come home (to the Clinic) and work.’”

While there is no “typical” day at the Clinic (and Barbara chuckled when we asked), it is clear that she is deeply versatile. She knows every aspect of the clinic and can fill in wherever she is needed on a given day. She maintains a cheerful disposition through it all.

Many people in the position of managing a dental practice might approach things as a teacher, but it becomes quickly apparent that Barbara approaches her team and her work with the curious eye of a student.

“I’ve learned over the years to respect everyone wherever they are. It’s so important to be versatile and receptive of diverse cultures and backgrounds-at the end of the day, people are people, and everyone has a different story. In the years I’ve been supervising people, I’ve learned how to work with different personalities; if you have 6 staff members, that’s 6 different ways to relay a message. It’s all about the personality of the individual.”

“People ultimately just want to be heard,” adds Barbara. “They want to know that you hear them, and that you care.”

When asked about the award, the grandmother and football fan (Go Falcons!) credits those around her. “You’re only as good as the people around you-you can’t pour from an empty cup,” she said. “All of this is because of the folks who surround me-the volunteers, the staff, nothing happens if we don’t do it together.”

Barbara's whiteboard

The Ben Massell Dental Clinic is currently looking for additional volunteer dentists and hygienists. If you know a dental professional who can spare one morning a month for the Clinic, please let Barbara Jones know!