Even if one plans out a future, it is bound to take its own course eventually. Some people’s lives are nothing like what they had pictured in the past. Dr. Tammy Button is the executive director at Dunebrook, Inc. in Michigan City. As much as she loves her career, this was not the future she had planned.
Originally, Button intended to be a pediatric dentist. Button attended La Porte High School before receiving her undergraduate and master’s degrees at Ball State University. Five years later, she went to dental school at Indiana University School of Dentistry in Indianapolis.
“I spent about 15 years being a traditional dentist,” Button said. “I gravitated more towards the prevention of childhood tooth decay and how we could work to prevent it. That eventually led to me creating a small nonprofit that provided pregnancy and infant oral health education to expecting mothers in both English and Spanish.”
Through her work with the nonprofit organization Southshore Skipping Stones, Button became familiar with the work of Dunebrook and realized that she was meant to provide more than dental care for children in need.
“Oral health is part of overall health, and our overall health is related to the health and well-being of our family. You really can't point to just one thing and say that is health,” Button said. “The opportunity to collaborate with Dunebrook as a pediatric dentist was just wonderful.”
Starting out at Dunebrook, Button worked with a grant writer and the director of the Healthy Families program to create a pregnancy and infant oral health training program. After working in this program for a while, the executive director of Dunebrook retired, and Button applied for the position.
“This was a career path that could never be planned. It's the best thing that has ever come my way,” Button said.
Button is now the executive director of Dunebrook. Even though this career path was completely unplanned, it is clear that Button was meant to serve the community in this role. Ever since becoming a mother herself, she has understood the hardships and work it takes to raise a child and make sure that they are healthy.
“I would love everybody to just know that it's okay to ask for help as a parent. Nobody fully knows what they're doing,” Button said. “Knowing when you need help and being able to ask for it is the best thing that you can do. It's not just certain people who need help. We all need it.”
This is her mission at Dunebrook. Button is determined to provide assistance for as many families as she can, just as people in her life have for her.
“I've been extremely fortunate in my life to have support during those times,” Button said.
Outside of her day-to-day work, Button and her husband spend a lot of time with their now 4-year-old daughter doing various outdoor activities such as hiking and visiting the Indiana Dunes State Park. Button also finds any opportunity she can to practice her Spanish-speaking since it is in line with her work at Dunebrook as well as useful in everyday life.
“Don't ever limit yourself,” Button said. “If you would have told me a couple of years ago that I would be where I am right now, I couldn't have even conceptualized this plan. Be open to new things in your life.”
To learn more about Dunebrook and Dr. Tammy Button’s program, visit https://dunebrook.org/.