Grateful To Be A DeW! – A Conversation With Kay Huff

In Inspiration by Daryl Sznyter

When I reached out to Kay Huff, Practice Management Coach and one powerhouse of a DeW, I planned to interview her about her passion for helping others and how she grew into the role model she has become for other women entering the dental profession. Yet as soon as she picked up the phone, the conversation took a different tone than I had originally planned – and if you know Kay, you know that’s not unusual. Kay Huff is always ready to offer a fresh perspective.

“You’re my first big call in the new house. Here I am, sitting in my new house in my big desk. No clutter,” she joked. But Kay wasn’t shy to point out that what some people consider clutter has invaluable worth to others.

Hurricane Harvey Touchdown

When Hurricane Harvey touched down on the Texas Gulf Coast on August 25th, it created a state of panic and devastation for over 6 million Texans. Beaumont resident Kay Huff, like many others in her area (about 85 miles outside of Houston), thought her own property would be untouched by the disaster. She remembers returning from a business trip that night and being evacuated in the travel trailer she used for family vacations.

She said as she watched the storm’s progression on TV, she began to realize she would never see the inside of her home again. But instead of throwing a pity party for herself, Kay immediately started thinking about recovery options.

“As soon as the airport reopened, I was back at work. I never felt sorry for myself because I felt so lucky to have what I have. My goal was to hurry up and get through it so I could help other people.”

Kay knew that before she could help others, she needed to help herself. So being the DeW that she is, Kay built a new house for herself in three months and then went on to help her mother and brother rebuild their lives as well. Well, technically the house wasn’t “new,” but it might as well have been. The building is actually an old farmhouse Kay’s husband Jerry purchased from his brother. The house has been in the family for over 100 years, originally belonging to Jerry’s grandpa. The first morning they were able to, Kay and her husband went to the lumber store and began to rebuild the house from the ground up, just like its previous owner had. In fact, when she removed the house’s wall structure, Kay found out that Jerry’s grandpa must’ve cut his own boards because they still had bark on them. For her, this made what she was doing even more special.

The significance of Kay and Jerry moving into the new house on Thanksgiving Day was not lost on her, either. For her, the love and support of family and friends and the kindness of her community proved more valuable than any material item.

“I lost everything except my suitcase, benco button, and benco blue shirt. And I was happy,” she said, astounded by the sheer number of people in the dental community that pulled together to help her.

Amongst those who reached out to Kay were Linda Miles, founder of Miles Global, who spoke in Kay’s place at a conference in Virginia and credited her with the money she made that night; Chuck Cohen of Benco Dental, who sent her a card knowing she collects them as keepsakes; Benco Service Technician Brian Dodge with Dodge Development, who donated a portion of the proceeds from a book sale to her recovery; Debra Engelhardt-Nash, Laura Jamison, and The Academy of Dental Management Consultants, who worked with Kay to host a silent auction at her church, Our Lady of the Assumption in Beaumont, where 16 people lost their homes; and Kay’s dear friends Corinne Birrell RDH and Elizabeth Toler, who opened a GoFundMe account on Kay’s behalf.

Kay wanted the biggest takeaway from our conversation to be how lucky we are to work with the people in our society.

“My dream was always to become a better speaker in life. Sometimes your vision must become clouded before you can make it even better,” she said with a smile in her voice.