At a recent meeting of the Rotary Club of Kihei Sunrise, President Patty Hemmen and Vocational Service Chairwoman Pat Coleman presented Maui dentist Sonia Gupta with the club's 2012-13 Individual Vocational Service Award.
Every year, the Rotary Club seeks to recognize an individual who demonstrates the qualities of ethical leadership to the local community.
The club's board of directors makes the selection from a list of candidates who have provided leadership in the Kihei community.
Patty Hemmen, president of the Rotary Club of Kihei Sunrise, and Vocational Service Chairwoman Pat Coleman present the Individual Vocational Service Award to Sonia Gupta.
Gupta was selected for providing the "seeds" of the Keiki Dental Project, which has been held for the past two years with all 1st-graders at Kihei and Kamalii elementary schools.
Gupta shared with the club the need for dental awareness with island keiki, and she and the members of the Rotary Club of Kihei Sunrise developed and implemented this unique program. At every Keiki Dental program, she dresses up as "Rainbow Brite" and works with Rotary members and students from the University of Hawaii Maui College Dental Assisting Program to provide hands-on practice in brushing and flossing with the children.
Gupta graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with an economics and biology degree and completed dental school at University of California San Francisco School of Dentistry.
She provides hospital-based dentistry for patients from Maui County at Maui Memorial Medical Center. She initiated the creation of the hospital dentistry program at MMMC in 2010 and is currently vice president of the Maui County Dental Society.
"I love my work and enjoy everyday that I can work with our local population," said Gupta. "But the preventative care that Kihei Sunrise Rotary provides for our keiki with the Keiki Dental Project has far more lasting effects than my work."