A Message for Our NADG Family

A message for our NADG Family by Ken Cooper

Dear NADG Family:

This season of life will forever change us all. My heart is with all of you, especially as many of us are either working on the front lines or we are now temporarily furloughed and looking for answers that we can anchor to for hope and optimism.

I also want to take this moment to be both hopeful and optimistic, while offering a candid and transparent view of the overall situation.

Our future is uncertain and we are navigating unchartered waters. Each day I awaken and rush to my iPhone looking for good news to share, but unfortunately the news will get worse before it gets better. Now more than ever, we need to focus on the opportunity to support each other, be here for each other, and exemplify this movement to flatten the curve and be responsible loving neighbors. Now is a time to lean in wherever and however you can, and to help those around you. A simple note of thanks and a gesture of “I’m thinking of or praying for you” to a friend or neighbor or a simple sharing of gratitude at dinner with your family. It’s the little things that help lift the spirits of those around us. Please take moment and think about your role here, because we all play a part in getting through this together.

I would also like to take this time to thank our teammates that are continuing to work the front lines in the many locations that are open and serving our patients with essential and emergency dental needs in the communities we serve. I want each of you to know that we are with you, we are working hard to ensure you have the PPE you need, and we are here to make sure you feel supported and loved through this very difficult time. You are my personal heroes; your courage is awe-inspiring and a testament to our best in class philosophy of care. You exemplify our core values and our CARE IS cultural norms. Thank you for keeping our emergency rooms and primary physicians free from dental emergencies so they can treat the patients that are severely affected by this pandemic.

For those of us on furlough right now, home schooling our children, or caring for our elderly family and neighbors, I want each of you to know that we are here for you too. The NADG HR team has been working non-stop gathering information to assist each of you. More to come on this topic and please take a moment to check your emails for announcements when you have the time. We will continue to use email as our primary form of global communication through this crisis.

Lastly, I want to share a personal story with each of you in hopes to bring some level of human experience to the conversation.

Just shy of two years ago, I was faced with a complicated surgery that had a material mortality rate associated with it. In January 2018, I became very sick and my primary care team felt it was time to move to more aggressive measures to avoid future chances of recurrence. They encouraged me to proceed with surgery as my best option. I was very afraid. I was vulnerable and I was forced to turn my life over to both God’s grace and the hands of a surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic. For the first time in my adult life, I was facing my own mortality. I found myself worried about my wife, Melissa, and our kids, as well as the entire NADG organization. What if something goes wrong with my surgery and it is my time to leave this earth, will they all be ok? Who will walk with Bella and Sophia for their weddings? Who will be a father figure to Syrus and teach him to be a caring and compassionate man? Who will be there to support my older children, Keith, Hannah, and Claudia, as they step out into life as adults? And, lastly, who will handle the responsibilities that I handle at NADG if I’m gone? All of this and much more consumed me for weeks leading up to the surgery.

Well, here we are two years later, and I’m still here, NADG is thriving, and I still have the chance to hopefully walk with my beautiful girls on their wedding day, be an active and present father figure to Syrus, give my older children adult advice, and serve my family at NADG in whatever capacity I can. And I would be remiss not to mention, that it is truly my honor to serve each of you and this organization.

A few months after my surgery, I had some idle time on my hands during my recovery and I realized that because everything had happened so fast, I didn’t have time to prepare a message for my kids in the event of my unforeseen absence. I had left nothing for each of them to anchor to and remember me for. For the younger kids, I did not give clear direction of what I want them to stand for and what I want for them out of this beautiful and wonderful, breath taking, roller coaster ride of life.

So, with my trusty gu-lele (guitar meets ukulele) in hand, I wrote them all a song, with the intention of memorializing my hope and optimism for each of them as they move on in life, far away from this life at home with Mom and Dad. The basic themes of the song were encouraging them to let their heart shine brightly, find true love, and comfortably place their faith in God, while showing tolerance, patience, and kindness to those around them.

These are uncertain times and we are all feeling very vulnerable right now, much like I worried about two years ago around my surgery. I look back with hindsight now and realize that “this too shall pass” and we will come through this together. Arm in arm, as sisters and brothers, with love, compassion, patience and kindness as our constant North Stars. We will survive, we will thrive, we will shine, and we will serve others.

I hope you enjoy the video and the song. It is now equally intended for all of you, my work family, as it is for my children and immediate family.

May God bless and keep you all safe and healthy. Take care of yourself and your families.

With love and gratitude,