Dr. Kenneth Parks receives 2023 LDA Humanitarian Award

Published 11:53 am Saturday, May 6, 2023

Local dental specialist Dr. Kenneth W. Parks is the recipient of the Louisiana Dental Association Humanitarian Award for 2023. He received the honor for his outstanding accomplishments in the field of Dentistry and on the Mission Field.

“I am going to have to give all the glory to God,” Parks said about being the recipient of one of the highest awards presented by the Association.

His church, St. Luke Simpson United Methodist Church, had a medical and children’s mission established when Dean Sawyer asked Parks to volunteer.

“I told him I didn’t want to be the only dentist. I made excuses,” Park admitted.

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After Dr. Dan Perry expressed interest in serving, Parks began to recruit more volunteers. For the last 10 years, starting in 2013, Dr. Parks has encouraged his dental colleagues in Southwest Louisiana, local hygienists, his own assistants and his lay church members to travel with him to minister to families in the remote Central Honduras village, Potrerillos.

“We are advanced compared to this community,” Parks said. “Some of these people don’t even have toothbrushes.”

The dental team collects supplies and funds from area dentists to use in a makeshift 5-chair clinic set up in a small church. Each year, the dental team sees 300-450 patients in a single week, extracts 500-700 teeth and the team has restored up to 100 teeth with resin fillings. There are a lot of needy people out there, Parks said, “and a lot of wonderful people in this community who give back. Everyone has resources and talents.”

Dr. Steven Latiolais and his wife Renee and Dr. Buzzy Leithead and his wife Katie have traveled and worked with Parks.

“We’ve seen his empathy and his compassion for families and children,” Dr. Latiolais said. “For years, he and his wife and members of his church have sponsored, on a monthly basis, children at the local Honduran School. He is a humble, driven, helpful and kind man dedicated to faith, family, friendships and future mission work.”

Latiolais said he is the perfect example of the gospel witness described in Acts 1:8: “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you; and ye shall be witnesses unto me in Jerusalem, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.”

Latiolais said that Potrerillos, Honduras is one of those uttermost locations.

Parks grew up in Lake Charles and graduated from Barbe High School in 1975. In 1979, he graduated from Louisiana Tech University Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Science in Zoology. In 1983, Parks received his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from LSU and returned to Lake Charles to set up a General Dentistry practice. Three years into that practice, he decided to further his education in Endodontics. In 1988, he moved back to Lake Charles and established the Lake Area Endodontics Practice, which is still thriving after 35 years. Parks recently turned over the reins to Dr. Cole Riley. He is semi-retired and works two days a week at the practice. He and his wife, Shawn, have been married 44 years.