Dr. Steven and Karen Feldman had been married for about seven years when they drove down to Florida from Virginia in their Volkswagen van in 1973, searching for a new place to call home.
Dr. Feldman had served for a stretch in the United States Army as a periodontist in Vietnam during the war, and the couple was ready for a fresh start somewhere else. They first thought about setting up shop in Sarasota. The town was small at that time, but there were three other periodontists already in business there, so they set their sights further south.
In summer 1974, the couple opened their practice in Venice, and in the 45 years since, you could say that business has been good. Dr. Feldman has developed a loyal clientele, one which he and Karen feel thankful to have earned over time. So in 2015, that gratitude led them to start a Charitable Giving Campaign, in which they, along with their patients, make contributions to local charities.
Dr. Feldman was inspired to start the campaign in Venice after hearing about a dentist in another area who was doing something similar on a smaller scale.
“This community has been really good to us, and I just felt that it was time to give back,” he said. “Almost every person who comes in tells me that it’s a really good thing that we’re doing.”
Each new patient who comes into Dr. Feldman’s office is given a series of diagnostic tests, such as cat scans, photographs and x-rays, if they haven’t been sent in by a referring doctor. They then spend about an hour with Dr. Feldman going over all the interactive computer data and discussing a course of action. Those initial tests cost $525.
The way the Charitable Giving Campaign works is that instead of paying those fees to the doctor, the patient picks from one of six Venice charities and makes a $100 donation.
Karen said that then she and her husband match the $100 with their own money, making it a $200 donation.
“We have a huge acceptance rate for that, probably 90 percent,” she said. “The charities that we donate to are the Boys and Girls Club of Venice, (Johns Hopkins) All Children’s Hospital, Disabled Vets Local 101, Tidewell Hospice, Salvation Army and the Sierra Club of Florida.”
All of the six nonprofits have been thoroughly vetted by Karen and the practice’s small staff, and when patients make a $100 contribution, they are issued a receipt and a thank you note from the charity they chose to support. As of March, Dr. Feldman’s office has donated more than $215,000 through their program.
In fact, it has been so successful, that the couple is wondering why other businesses and medical practices don’t also implement it. Not only have area charities benefited from their patients’ generosity, but Dr. Feldman’s employees, who are more like family, are proud to be a part of something so positive.
He says that in his business, providing top-notch diagnostics is one of the most important aspects of what he does. But he and Karen have chosen to use that as a vehicle for charitable giving for two simple reasons: It’s what they wanted to do, and they are in a position to do so.
“Every time you go to church or synagogue, they tell you that if you want to get, you have to give, and it’s true,” he said. “I would really like to get the idea of this program out there. The thing about this is that while it may be a little frustrating for (business owners) to give up the initial fees, this is really about paying it forward. So when you do this, you do it with the idea of how you can provide to charities and help others have a better life.”
To learn more about Dr. Feldman’s Charitable Giving Campaign, go to https://drstevenfeldman.com/join-us-giving-back-to-the-community.
For more information, call 941-307-1723.