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Profiles in Giving

Volunteer Spotlight: Dr. Robert Amato, D80

About him

Dr. Robert Amato, D80, an inveterate volunteer, served for a year as president of the Tufts School of Dental Medicine's (TUSDM) alumni association, after a decade-long stint as a member of the board of directors. He served as co-chair of his 10th, 15th, 20th, and 25th class reunions, with his efforts focused on fundraising.

For the past 27 years, Amato, who completed a residency in endodontics at TUSDM in 1983, has also served as an instructor at the dental school. For a day and a half each week, he tears himself away from his specialty practice-a practice he loves because of "the work, the patients, and [my] partners"-and shares his knowledge as a clinical professor of endodontics.

How he makes a difference

Amato considers himself a pretty accomplished golfer, but he wasn't at all troubled when his team lost in the TUSDM's 26th Annual Golf and Tennis Tournament this past fall. In fact, he was celebrating. A 10-year co-chair for the event, he had volunteered his time organizing it and rounding up participants. The Boston native was pleased with the result: The tournament raised more than $15,000 for the TUSDM Student Loan Fund. And he didn't stop to celebrate for long. Instead, he turned back to his ongoing efforts to raise money from his residency classmates for the naming of a treatment room in TUSDM's new endodontic clinic.

Why he gives

"I believe that anything I can do to help make my profession and my school better benefits everybody," he says. "It's important to me to support Tufts in any way possible." He considers himself fortunate to have had three role models in volunteering, Dr. Van Zissi, Dr. Thomas Winkler, and the late Dr. Cyril Gaum. These members of the Tufts Dental community had each also shared their time as Tufts instructors, and in turn inspired Amato with their passion for helping others.

One of his goals is to spread that inspiration, to show both his former classmates and a new generation of dentists how satisfying volunteering can be. "I like to remind everyone about the connection between being social and volunteering," he says. "To put it simply, giving back to a place you love can be just plain fun."