UM Dental School's Dr. Serio to be honored He's due Volunteer Action Award for work in Dominican Republic.

Dr. Francis G. Serio, an assistant professor of periodontics at the University of Maryland Dental School, was being honored today at a White House ceremony as a recipient of the President's Volunteer Action Award.

Serio and 18 other recipients were selected for the honor from more than 3,500 nominees.


Leading a team of UM dental students and alumni, Serio has provided dental care to about 13,000 poor citizens of the Dominican Republic during the past nine years. Often he and his crew have had to trudge up mountains with portable dental equipment and electric generators.

Serio said he could do even more work in the Caribbean nation if he had more volunteers for the project, which is funded by Catholic organizations, churches and individuals.


"We could be busy from now until forever," Serio said.

The major problem he has found is tooth decay among undernourished children.

"We do a lot of fillings and extractions," Serio said. "And we give out a lot of tooth brushes."

Serio launched the project in 1982, after deciding he wanted to see more of the world and, at the same time, start a useful pursuit. He contacted the Catholic Medical Mission Board, which put him in touch with missionaries in the Dominican Republic.

His work has been well received.

"The people are very gracious," he said of the country's impoverished campesinos. "People want to give us mangoes, carrots or even chickens. They are giving of their substance, not their excess. That is very touching."