Sometimes the only payment Dr. David Uhrik gets for his services at Westside Dental is a smile, hug or a handshake -- and that's more than OK with him.
Uhrik is among the 2 percent of health care providers in the United States who participate with medical assistance, he said.
He provides dental care to the underprivileged and poor in York City at little to no cost.
And, thanks to his coworkers' nomination, this year he is being honored as one of nine local individuals -- and one dog -- chosen as the 2012 American Red Cross Heroes of York and Adams Counties.
Being recognized as the Community Impact hero is humbling, said Uhrik, who has been at Westside Dental at 970 Loucks Road for eight years.
"We just go to work every day and do our job, but to be recognized for creating access to care for those who have little or few options and to be a part of that social safety net in York, I was very honored," said Uhrik, 53.
Being raised by a single mom and experiencing some shame from being less affluent as a child gave Uhrik some of his inspiration to help others who have less.
His mother told him that if he found a job he loved he would never have to work a day in his life, and Uhrik says he has found the folksy adage to be true.
"I walk into the room and say, 'How can I help you?' and their eyes light up," he said. "You can be paid with cash or personal joy, and I get a lot of personal joy with helping those who are less affluent."
Uhrik offers a scholarship program to York City youth through which he provides them with a free teeth whitening and an electric toothbrush upon graduating from high school.
One third of students drop out of high school in York City, said Uhrik. He came up with the program as an incentive and with the hope that providing students with a brighter smile would enhance their self-worth.
"If they can have a better self image it is very possible they can have a better job and a better life," said Uhrik.
Uhrik and the other winners of the 10th annual awards will be honored an awards breakfast on Thursday, Nov. 15 at the Holiday Inn Holidome.
Nine other individuals have been chosen for the 2012 American Red Cross Heroes of York and Adams Counties after being nominated by members of the community for their acts of heroism.
"The Heroes event reminds us that on any given day, at any given place, a situation can occur that requires ordinary people to perform extraordinary acts," said Michael Hay, event chair. "In many cases a key part of preparing for that moment involves the work of the Red Cross and the lifesaving skills that are taught every day by Red Cross staff and volunteers."
The winners include Jon Ritz, of Spring Grove, for the Youth Good Samaritan award. Ritz volunteers as a youth committee member in his borough, taking minutes for the meetings and updating the borough website. He serves as a Civil Air Patrol Squadron and won Cadet of the Year for 2011.
The animal hero is Hunter, a dog owned by Barry and Vicki Baker of Dover. Hunter can sense when his owner, Barry, a Vietnam war veteran, is experiencing anxiety and calms him down even waking him up from nightmares he senses Barry having. Hunter helps Barry to get through crowds and likes to sit under his chair to protect him.
Jenna Rembecki, a registered nurse at Hanover Hospital, is the medical hero and is being recognized for providing lifesaving CPR to a child who was drowning in a pool at Codorus State Park. Rembecki stayed with the child until medics arrived, and they told her the child would not have survived without her providing CPR.
Law enforcement officers being recognized are Officers Donald Hoshauer and Curtis Hempfing. The men worked together to rescue a dog from a burning house in Red Lion. When the officers kicked in the door it woke the sleeping residents up as well, so they could escape without harm.
The military honoree is Seven Valleys native Collin Goldsmith, who is stationed in California with the Marines. Goldsmith used his body to shield a fellow Marine from a grenade explosion during his last deployment, and was the first Lance Corporal to receive the Bronze Star since Vietnam.
Officer Brian Eastman of the York City Police Department is being honored for rescuing a man from a vehicle accident while off duty. The driver did not want to leave the smoking vehicle at first, but Eastman was able to talk to him and move him to safety.
Susan Neuland of Spring Grove was chosen for the Good Neighbor Award. When Neuland, who is a restaurant manager at a Rutter's in Carlisle, was told a patron had collapsed in the restroom, she moved the patron to a clear space to provide CPR until help arrived saving the man's life.
Karrie Holt of Seven Valleys is the aquatics hero. A lifeguard with the YMCA, Holt was on duty when someone experienced a seizure while in the pool, and she provided CPR to revive the person.
Tickets for the awards breakfast on Thursday, Nov. 15 are $25 each or $1,000 for a corporate table of five, and can be ordered by calling 771-3553 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org before Friday. Proceeds benefit the American Red Cross.
-- Reach Chelsea Shank at 505-5432 or email@example.com