Volunteer Spotlight: Howard Rappoport, DDS
Howard Rappoport, DDS, knew dentistry was his calling by the time he was eight years old. His family dentist, Dr. Eisenberg, made the career look like a wonderful way to work with and help people. Besides, it was an interesting application of Rappoport’s artistic inclination that included a love for drawing and model making. Little did he know that this childhood aspiration would one day lead him to a fulfilling journey as a volunteer dentist and mentor at Zufall Health.
After earning his doctor of dental surgery degree from Temple University and serving in the U.S. Army Dental Corps, Rappoport established a successful dental practice in Lake Hiawatha, New Jersey, focusing on full mouth rehabilitation and cosmetics over a 40-year period.
Upon retirement, Rappoport, encouraged by his late wife Eileen, found a new calling in volunteer service with Zufall. Though initially unfamiliar with the health center, the couple was deeply moved by its mission. After connecting with then-Chief Dental Officer Sam Wakim, DMD, MPH, Rappoport began providing routine dental care to underserved populations in Dover once a week, a duty he found incredibly satisfying.
“Zufall cares for an underserved population, many of whom came to America to escape unlivable conditions and to seek opportunities for full, safe, and rewarding lives. Here, our dental and other health care professionals provide the first step toward that dream,” Rappoport says.
In 2016, Rappoport helped Wakim establish a new initiative for the health center—a dental residency. This clinical training program offers recent dental school graduates the opportunity to learn and gain hands-on experience as they begin their careers.
Now serving as Dental Residency Director and Head of Faculty, Rappoport has moved from being a Zufall provider to educational leader. He oversees three residents annually, guiding them through the intricacies of the dental profession.
Among his most rewarding experiences in this new leadership role has been witnessing the professional growth of individuals like Katerina Danchenko, DDS, who transitioned from a resident to a Zufall dentist, and Paola Rodriguez, DMD, one of the program’s first residents, who now serves as a volunteer mentor for current residents in their root canal treatments training.
Rappoport reflects: “Being part of Zufall’s dental department has changed my life. While I’m not directly treating patients anymore, I’m now guiding the next generation of dental providers in building the confidence and competence needed to best serve patients like ours.”
Above: Howard Rappoport, DDS, observes dental Uliana Alonso, DMD, with a patient during her residency.