While operating a successful dental practice and working with the University of Florida dental residency program as an associate professor, Dr. Iris Torres Rivera volunteers countless hours serving her community and mentoring others.
For almost 20 years, Coral Gables dentist Dr. Torres has been the heart and soul of the May Van Sickle Children Dental Clinic, a facility that provides more than $150,000 in free dental care annually to children in need. Torres has served as the club’s Dental Clinic director on and off, mostly on, for all that time overseeing the hiring of staff, maintaining the clinic and even organizing parties for the disadvantaged children the clinic serves.
She has danced and built scenery with her husband of 35 years, Ralph, in the Cabaret shows the club produces to benefit the Dental Clinic. In fact, the couple’s two grown children, David and Daniel, also volunteered many hours for the clinic’s fundraisers learning the importance of giving back from their parents.
As for background, Torres’ arrival in South Florida came after first moving as a baby from her birthplace, Salinas, PR, to New Jersey. With a degree in hand from Temple University in Philadelphia, she pursued her dream of becoming a dentist at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.
Her first job as a dentist was working for the Public Health Corps, a federal program serving indigent population. It was that job that brought her to Miami in 1983. In 1992 she started in private practice and three years later opened her own dental office in Coral Gables.
Over the years in South Florida, Torres has made a name for herself professionally as past president of the Greater Miami Dental Society and board member of the South Florida District Dental Association. Dedicated to training and mentoring new dentists, in the past Torres also has been involved in the Robert Morgan dental assistants program as well as the Lindsay Hopkins dental program. She participates in the Riviera Dental Study Club, a professional group that organizes lectures and learning opportunities, and also is a member of The Miami-Dade Dental Society.
For her community service comes in many forms. In fact, participants of SMARTRIDE, the 165-mile bike ride to raise funds for AIDS, are familiar with Torres. She is one of the Coral Gables Woman’s Club members who has helped man water stations over the years for this event dressed in costumes and traveling miles cover two different stops.
Whether it is supporting a charity walk, collecting food, toys and toiletries for those in need or simply helping her fellow club members with outreach efforts, Dr. Torres is a person one can always count on to pitch in and make a difference.