When you go to a Dental Depot, there are certain things you can expect: compassionate care, smiling faces and the charm of a 19th-century train station. But there’s something else you might not have realized you can count on – beautiful, maintained flowerbeds and landscaping. For Dr. Glenn Ashmore, founder and owner of Dental Depot, not having a beautiful place to work just isn’t an option.
“I’m big on our Dental Depots looking first class,” Dr. Glenn said. “I’m big on not going to work [somewhere] that looks unkempt. I don’t want to see weeds, trash or dead plants and bushes. So I’m big on that for my home and the Dental Depots, and for Oklahoma City.”
In an effort to give back to his hometown by improving the city’s curb appeal, Dr. Glenn sought out a like-minded organization and for almost 10 years now, Dental Depot has partnered with OKC Beautiful.
Founded in 1968 as a subcommittee for the Chamber of Commerce, OKC Beautiful originally started as a litter cleanup effort. Over the years, the program has expanded to include median beautification, and an increased focus on education.
The partnership blossomed and Oklahoma City has benefitted because of it. And as Dental Depot celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, our friends at OKC Beautiful are enjoying their golden anniversary. For 50 years they’ve been keeping Oklahoma City clean and beautiful and we want to wish them a happy anniversary and share just a few of the ways that Dental Depot and OKC Beautiful are making a difference.
#1: They Beautify with Medians
One of Dental Depot’s many medians with OKC Beautiful, situated right outside of Quail Springs Mall.
Perhaps the OKC Beautiful projects you’ve seen most often around the metro are the beautiful medians they create, of which Dental Depot is a major partner.
“I would say the medians are the most visible thing we do. They have the most visual impact, it’s what people most know us for,” said Kristen Milburn, program director for OKC Beautiful. “We’ve got more than 30 now. I think [Dental Depot] is our main supporter for that program, and they’ve got the big medians, too.”
The largest of Dental Depot’s many medians are located in front of Penn Square Mall, along Northwest Expressway.
“We couldn’t have changed the face in front of the mall without [Dr. Glenn and Dental Depot]. Before they put that in, it was just grass that had to be mowed by the city,” Kristen said. “It was a burden on the city’s resources. That’s a part of why we do what we do, to alleviate city resources and also to elevate the level of beautification.”
In fact, Kristen cites the project on Northwest Expressway for encouraging others to help beautify the area as well, spreading as far as Classen Circle and Nichols Hills. For the tens of thousands of visitors coming to the mall from outside Oklahoma City, that’s sometimes the only part of the city that they see, and maintaining those positive impressions is what it’s all about, Kristen said.
#2: They Organize Clean-Ups
LitterBlitz is an ongoing volunteer program that provides trash bags and gloves to people who want to help pick up litter throughout the Oklahoma City metro area. The program was established in 2001 as a partnership between OKC Beautiful, the City and Keep America Beautiful. Since April is Earth Month and Keep America Beautiful’s Great American Clean-Up, there’s no better time to get outside and make a difference.
“I would say the number one thing I’ve noticed in people’s behavior is that they see litter or an area that needs love, and they wait for somebody else to do it,” Kristen said. “A lot of times, you’re the one. We all have to play a role in doing it.”
#3: They Help Foster Community Engagement
Adopt-A-Park is a citywide program for those volunteers ready to take on a bigger project, which lets families and neighborhoods come together to keep our parks, medians and greenbelts in tip-top shape year-round. There is an interactive map on the OKC Beautiful website that lets you know what green spaces are available for adoption so you can make changes in areas that mean something to you.
Getting started can be as simple as having your children help pick up litter, or going to your neighborhood meeting or homeowners associations to organize a landscaping day. Each group is even recognized with a sign from OKC Beautiful that lets others know about your efforts.
#4: They Educate for a Better Future
Photo from OKC Beautiful. Darlin’ Daisy, Mother Earth and Larry the Litterbug.
The newest education program from OKC Beautiful is called OKC Harvest and focuses on giving back to schools and communities by organizing and supporting community vegetable gardens. The crops raised help supplement the meals that the schools provide. Since the program’s 2014 launch, OKC Harvest has placed gardens at 25 schools, the majority of which have 100% free and reduced meal participation.
In addition to providing extra nutrition for the students, the gardens also offer teachers an outdoor classroom.
“We know that there are lots of math and sciences lessons to be taught in the garden, but you can also take kids out there to write poetry or to learn letter sounds,” Kristen said. “We really want the garden to be another teaching tool and not to be a burden for the teachers, but to be an asset.”
OKC Beautiful’s original education program, Mother Earth, is a fun, free interactive play, similar to Dental Depot’s own Smiley O’Riley show. The program visits elementary schools in Oklahoma City to teach kids about the importance of recycling, and how littering and graffiti are harmful to their city. Mother Earth and Darlin’ Daisy help Larry the Litterbug make better choices to help respect and care for the planet. Since 1998, Mother Earth has reached almost100,000 Oklahoma City schoolchildren.
#5: Their Work Makes a Real Difference
“Our mission is really to improve the image and appearance of Oklahoma City, which on its face is a very simple statement,” Kristen said. “But I would say the ultimate goal is to change people’s behavior, to change the way they interact with the earth and give them the tools to do so.”
To get involved and start making a difference in Oklahoma City, visit OKC Beautiful’s website for more ideas and resources for getting started on cleaning up your neighborhoods.
You might consider making a donation if you want to continue to see Oklahoma City grow beautiful. Since OKC Beautiful is privately funded, it takes contributions from residents like you as well as donors like Dental Depot. If you can’t afford to make a contribution, OKC Beautiful suggests making OKC Beautiful your AmazonSmile charity option, a setting that donates a small portion of your Amazon purchases to the organization of your choice.
You’re not alone in helping keep Oklahoma City growing strong. Dr. Glenn and Dental Depot will remain committed to improving and strengthening the communities we are a part of for years to come.
Happy 50th Anniversary, OKC Beautiful! We know you’ll continue to change the landscape of our community for the better. And we can’t wait to see what you do next!