By Sheryl Miles, AmeriCorps VISTA
In her white lab coat, the dentist on the playground may look like Doc McStuffins, but she’s not. St. Vincent de Paul would like to introduce our newest addition to our board of directors, Mrs. Tonda Drinkard Helton, DMD.
Tonda is a Louisville native who has spent some time living in Lexington, KY, where she received her bachelor’s degree in nutrition from the University of Kentucky as well as her doctorate degree in medical dentistry.
After graduating, Tonda decided to bring her skills and knowledge back home to Louisville, where she has given back through her dentistry work with youth, families, and adults. Tonda previously worked at Kool Smiles Dentistry from 2012- 2014, where her fellow employees and patients called her Doc McStuffins, after the popular cartoon character of a young, African-American female doctor.
She takes pride in being a role model for the youth and loves relating to them any way she can. Tonda currently works as a dentist for Park DuValle Community Health Center, where she provides dental resources to the local community.
Tonda attributes her passion for community engagement to her parents, who are her biggest influence. Tonda was raised in a two-parent household where her parents instilled the importance of high moral character, loving one’s self, and giving back to the community. Tonda tries to instill these same values in her own children as well as youth in the community, she says.
From a young age Tonda engaged in community service, and as she got older her passion for serving others only grew. She has volunteered for organizations including The Healing Place, where she provided dental care to those in need.
A huge sports fan, she loves attending UK events with her family and is proud to say that she “bleeds blue!” Tonda also enjoys traveling and loves to try local restaurants in Louisville. She is not ashamed to claim the term “foodie.”
Tonda is excited and honored to be on St. Vincent de Paul’s Board. As one of its first African-American women, she is aware of breaking barriers and says she hopes to be a voice not only for the African-American community but also for women, oppressed people, and young adults.
The first African-American on the Agriculture Student Council at UK, Tonda has a great interest in youth. During her time on the SVDP board she would like to bring more attention to the kids at the Family Success Center and in the surrounding neighborhoods.
She wants to encourage kids to live out their dreams and let them know that there is more to life than being a basketball player or the next big artists. She is also very interested in the Family Success Center’s Little Free Library (at right), which is a new project on campus. She would like to do a book drive for the kids to enhance reading and literacy.
Of course, given her profession as a dentist, Tonda also has a major emphasis on health and would like to work with our youth on campus in learning healthy living styles.
Thank you, Tonda! And welcome to our board!