All six Philanthropy Day award winners exemplify passion for helping their East Texas neighbors.
The East Texas State Fair was celebrated as the outstanding philanthropic organization. The outstanding corporation was Eastman Chemical Company. The Exxon-Mobil Foundation was awarded the outstanding foundation. Norman Shtofman received the outstanding volunteer fundraiser. This year's Isadore Roosth outstanding philanthropists are Bruce and Peaches Brookshire. And the extraordinary achievement award was bestowed on dentist, David Nichols.
What makes the extraordinary achievement award even more extraordinary is it's a philanthropy day award that's not given every year. Dr. Nichols is the first since 2000 to earn it. He's spent the last two years bringing his 25 years of medical missionary work back to East Texas.
Changing smiles is Dr. David Nichols life's work.
"I am glad to work for him. I am glad to be a part of it makes me feel good to be a part of everything he does," says Darla Carter, Dr. Nichols dental assistant.
Dr. Nichols staff knows well, he's a dentist with a mission in life far greater than what he can do in his Tyler office.
"I have been doing medical dental mission work for 25 years and I would come back here and people would say why do you go out of the United States to do dentistry and medicine, why don't you do it for the poor people here," says Dr. Nichols. "And that always plagued me."
So much so, Dr. Nichols found a way to use his dentistry to help thousands of East Texans who can't afford dental care. Two years ago the Texas Mission of Mercy, a three-day free clinic offering dental and eye care was born.
"Doing this project was very difficult, but the wonderful thing about it was it was in a community with people who want to help provide financial support, provide logistical support so we had the right combination here to make it happen," says Dr. Nichols.
Dr. Nichols is quick to point out his mission work abroad and at home wouldn't be possible without the support of his staff, family and some Texas doctors and dentists with a heart.
"Well, my dental staff here and my wife tell me I am going to slow down," says Dr. Nichols.