By Dale McGarrigle
Special to The Weekly
For nearly three decades, Dr. G.J. Farren and his College Avenue Dental Associates have been fixtures of Orono and the surrounding area.
Staff members say this sense of belonging is why community service has been a point of emphasis for this modern practice.
“It’s important for us to give back,” said Keri Ponte, the practice’s office manager. “We see so much need and know that many people can’t afford [dental care]. Also it’s great to have the team get together and plan something [such as community service]. It’s a wonderful feeling.”
Dr. Kristine Landry, who joined the practice as an associate dentist about a year ago, said that
community service is a natural for medical professionals. “We got into this business in the first place to help people,” she said.
Landry has quickly felt right at home there. A Rockland native, she did her undergraduate work at the University of Maine and now lives in Milford. Her parents are from the Bangor area, her sister lives in Bradley and she has relatives throughout the region.
“I love it here,” Landry said. “Dr. Farren is wonderful to work with and has been a great mentor to me. I couldn’t imagine being anyplace else. And it’s great being close to family.”
Farren has been the volunteer clinic supervisor at University College Bangor’s Hygiene School since 1981 and also volunteers for Give Kids a Smile and Donated Dental Services.
Ponte explained that dental-assisting students are trained and pre-dental students from the University of Maine job-shadow at the office at 379 College Ave. in Orono.
In February 2013, the practice held Preventative Dental Day, opening the office on a Saturday and offering free care to those who couldn’t afford to pay. Ponte said the practice is toying with the idea of holding another such event.
Also, last September, five team members, including Landry and Ponte, went on a dental mission to Jamaica, leaving Farren, a hygienist and an assistant to staff the office.
Working in a makeshift clinic with portable equipment in a community center, the College Avenue
team aided patients, who began lining up at 3 a.m. daily, with cleanings, fillings and extractions for two weeks. Farren underwrote much of the supplies, but team members paid for their own travel costs.
“It was nice to do that in a place where you see things that you don’t see here,” Landry said. “It was a good learning experience.”
Ponte said there’s interest in doing a similar mission sometime in the future, but since it means
substantially shutting down the practice, what form such a mission would take is still undecided.
“We’d like to find a mission closer to home,” Landry said. “There’s a lot of need here too.”
For information about College Avenue Dental Associates, call 866-5591 or visit