Skye Cossio - Howard Hand in Hand

Skye Cossio, Howard Hand in Hand

For most families, the holiday season is a joyful, magical time filled with gifts from Santa, trips to see family and friends, and so much more. For others, the holidays take on a new feeling when families are dealing with sick spouses, aging parents or coping children. This is where Howard Hand in Hand at St. Joseph’s/Candler steps in – not just during the holidays, but year-round. In partnership with SJ/C, Howard Hand in Hand provides support, education and guidance to children and teens with a family member facing a life-threatening disease. Free of cost, this program helps children cope with and process their thoughts and feelings – often fear, sadness, anger, confusion – about how life has changed for them and their families because of an illness or disease.

Enter Skye Cossio. Skye is the social worker spearheading the Howard Hand in Hand support program. She’s taking Hand in Hand to new levels by growing the program through technological advancements and by facilitating support systems between children of the program. She now has extended capabilities to counsel children through a new video chat service. When the child is missing their ill mom at dinner because she isn’t at the table, or when dad has to tuck them into bed instead of mom, Skye can be there digitally to talk them through it. Skye also created a portal for peer support where she can facilitate connections between children in similar situations, but different geographical locations. She continues to work on programs and resources to grow the program as the pool of families in need increases year over year.

We caught up with Skye and asked her to share some stories of the families she’s been working with recently. Here’s what she had to say:

I am working with four new families this holiday season through the Howard Hand in Hand program. All of these families have mothers who are ill and fathers who are fortunately present in their lives to help take care of the children. These children range anywhere from 2 to 13 years old. Let me try and set the stage for you – while mom focuses on her treatment and road to recovery, dad is resuming his role as a father and husband; he is gaining his wife’s duties as mother and caretaker; and he is now in charge of all the inevitable needs of children ranging from a young toddler to an emerging teenager. In between all of the cooking, cleaning and chauffeuring, dad is also now in charge of shopping for the holidays – he is swamped and clueless. He is also in constant thought of: “What if my wife doesn’t make it? What if this is our new normal? What would life be like without her?”

It isn’t uncommon for me to step in and help not only the children cope with their parent’s illness, but also the spouse. I started by asking dad, “What do your kids want for the holidays this year?” Dad pondered and found himself stumped. With so much on his mind and his plate, I wasn’t surprised! I worked with dad to investigate – look through their rooms, tell me their interests and let me know if anything comes up in conversations. In the midst of his wife’s treatment, one dad received a note home from his tween’s gym teacher saying she suggested his daughter get a sports bra. Dad doesn’t know how to shop for those things! I made sure I was there to support him and to talk through how to take on these motherly duties, some of which may be a little uncomfortable, but need to be addressed now to prepare for the “what ifs” of their situation.

I am proud and so excited to say that the nurses of St. Joseph’s/Candler have rallied together to bring Christmas to these four families – four families who may or may not have Christmas all together again. The nurses have graciously bought gifts for the 2- to 13-year-old children who see Christmas as the only light this holiday season. We will try our best to make this light as bright as we can! We plan to dress in our holiday best (or tackiest!) and deliver the gifts to these families. At the end of the day, it isn’t even about the physical gifts, but facilitating togetherness and a festive atmosphere in an otherwise dark and challenging time.

I am also working with a military family who has a 6- and 2-year-old. They were assigned to the Savannah area, and soon after moving here, mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. Similar to the four families I just told you about, dad had to resume the mom role. For this family, I provided my typical counseling to the children and also pulled in outsourced support services to help dad as well. The oldest child was not yet registered for the daycare lottery, so I worked with a local support service that helped us find not only a daycare, but a daycare that had mom and dad’s blessing. One of the children also developed a speech impediment because mom didn’t have enough energy to converse with the child during her treatment. I again sourced a support service to find the child a local speech therapist. For the holidays, I found a local photographer who is donating her services to take professional photos of the family. I am also working with a local author that is donating her time to help mom write letters for her children to open at milestones in their lives, just in case she can’t be there physically to celebrate with them.

Another amazing thing we were able to do for this family was to send them on an all-inclusive paid trip to anywhere in the country through a partnership with the Jack and Jill Foundation. The foundation graciously provided a two-day, three-night vacation for four where the family would stay in the nicest suite, dine at the best table in the restaurant and not have to worry about cancer or expenses. This trip will be something the entire family will fondly look back on and cherish for the rest of their lives.
It brings me great joy to bring some sort of “normal” to these children and families during such a heart wrenching and challenging time in their lives, and I can only continue to do so through the generous donations to the Howard Hand in Hand program. To date, I’ve been able to counsel over 77 children and work with over 157 families.

To learn more about Howard Hand in Hand, or to donate, please visit Howard Hand in Hand on

Spotlight: Dr. Sharnn Shepheard

Statesboro community – please join us in welcoming Dr. Sharnn Shepheard to your local Howard Family Dental office located on Northside Drive! Dr. Shepheard is a Georgia native and joins Howard Family Dental as a seasoned provider with over 28 years of clinical experience and an extensive background in research and education.

Dentistry was a childhood dream of Dr. Shepheard. He was inspired to become a dentist by his neighbor, Dr. Hutto, whom he genuinely admired. Dr. Shepheard considers dentistry his passion, not his job, and seeks to improve patients’ quality of life and enhance their self-esteem through the restoration, rehabilitation and preservation of their smile. In his free time, Dr. Shepheard enjoys golfing, reading and spending quality time with his wife, Alison.

Dr. Shepheard is a graduate of Morris Brown College/Atlanta University Center, where he majored in biology. He went on to earn his doctorate from Howard University, College of Dentistry. He completed his general practice residency at Harlem Hospital Center in New York, an affiliate of Columbia University. Dr. Shepheard also served as a Post-Doctoral Fellow with the National Institute of Dental Research of the National Institutes of Health, where he was published and awarded a National Research Service Award.


Make an appointment with Dr. Shepheard today!
Portrait of a young girl showing thumbs up while in the dentist

Keeping Your Family Safer with DentaPure

Since 1980, Howard Family Dental’s priority has been the health of you and your family. So as soon as we heard reports of children getting sick from the water at dental offices, we began working on a solution. As of today, we are proud to announce that the Dental Unit Waterlines at every Howard Family Dental office in Georgia and South Carolina, including our Kid’s Dentistree and Oral & Facial Surgery Group locations, are being treated with DentaPure® Cartridges.

Why treat waterlines with DentaPure®?

Last year in Georgia, nine children were hospitalized with Mycobacterium abscessus infections after undergoing pulpotomies (root canals) at a common clinic. An investigation found that the outbreak was caused by contaminated water that introduced the bacterium during irrigation and drilling. We decided that it was in the best interest of our patients’ health to not only revisit our waterline cleaning procedures, but also seek a long-term solution. DentaPure is a safe, reliable and effective EPA-approved cartridge that attaches to dental waterlines to prevent biofilm buildup in Dental Unit Waterlines (DUWL’s). When untreated, or improperly maintained, the water flowing through these contaminated DUWL’s and out through the air/water syringe or high-speed handpieces can carry pieces of biofilm that have broken off the waterline wall — potentially harming your patients, your staff and your practice’s reputation. Learn more by watching the video below.

National Children’s Dental Health Month

What better way to celebrate National Children’s Dental Health Month than ensuring the health and safety of your children? If you have any additional questions about DentaPure or improving your child’s dental health, feel free to ask any of our team members at your next visit! For more children’s dental health tips and tricks, check out our #NCDHM blog post here.

Successful 2016 Free Dental Day!

THANK YOU to everyone who volunteered their materials, services and time to help make our 2016 Free Dental Day a huge success! We were able to serve over 220 people this year.

We are so thankful to serve this wonderful community 8 years in a row and it would not be possible without our volunteers!

girls on the run 5k 2016 logo

Girls on the Run 5K Celebration Run


Join us Saturday, November 12

Girls on the Run is an organization in Coastal Georgia that inspires girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates running. Howard Family Dental is prooud to be a sponsor of this weekend’s Girls on the Run 5K Celebration Run to raise money for programs that inspire young women to achieve their goals.

Time: 8:30 AM
Venue: Bryan Square, Hutchinson Island, Savannah, GA
Location: Savannah, GA

Online registration for the 5K Celebration Run is now closed. To register for the event, go to Fleet Feet on Nov. 11 from 10:00-6:00 OR on race morning at 7:00am at Bryan Square on Hutchinson Island. For complete details about the 5K Celebration run, click here.

5K Celebration Run Flyer

Message from Girls on the Run’s Executive Director

We were able to reach 565 girls during this fall season, our largest number of girls ever.  We anticipate a large crowd on Saturday, November 12th for our fall 5K, beginning in Bryan Square which is located between The Westin and the International Trade Center.  The run begins at 8:30 AM from Bryan Square and will continue through Hutchinson Island and onto the back nine of the Club at the Harbor.   There is plenty of free parking at the International Trade Center. We will be having lots of fun before the start in our games area, having our hair painted, using the hula hoops, writing notes of gratitude and, of course, dancing to the tunes.  We hope you will join us for much of the morning. We plan to have a table and two chairs in the vendor area for you as in the past.

We are also looking for volunteers to help that morning, so please spread the word to your family, friends and co-workers!  Volunteers may also sign up on our website.  We need nearly 100 volunteers to make sure this run is safe and successful for our community.

Help spread the word — Free Dental Day is November 18th!

We are proud to offer our annual Free Dental Day, held on November 18th, 2016. Our staff and dentists at Howard Family Dental will provide one free service for both children and adults; choose a cleaning, filling or extraction. The event is first come, first served and is limited to the first 250 people. Learn more.

Over the last few years, the event has grown and includes many community organizations. America’s Second Harvest of Coastal Georgia and Target Distribution brings food for individuals and families that are suffering with food insecurity. Help a Child Smile, a mobile dentistry program for children in Georgia, brings a bus fully equipped with dental chairs, hygiene supplies, an x-ray machine and technician. Strickland’s Funeral Home and Calvary Assembly of God generously allow parking and many local restaurants offer food donations for their volunteers.
Numbers will be handed out the day of the event, beginning at 6:30 am. The event is held at our Pooler location:

91 Brighton Woods Drive

Pooler, GA 31322


Welcoming Dr. Dunham!

We are pleased to announce that Dr. Roderick Dunham has joined the practice at our Statesboro location, in addition to Dr. Michael Whirt. Dr. Roderick Dunham is originally from Lexington, Kentucky. He earned a bachelor’s degree in Biology at the University of Louisville. He went on to graduate from the University of Louisville, School of Dentistry.

Dr. Dunham enjoys spending time with family and building model cars. He is married to wife, Peyton and has three daughters and one son.
Dr. Dunham is trained with an emphasis on restorative dentistry. He takes a holistic approach to dentistry and considers his patient’s entire health condition. He loves interacting with patients and building lasting relationships. His skills include; general dentistry, crowns & bridges, dentures, root canals, periodontal therapy, teeth whitening, and extractions. His first day seeing patients will be Monday, September 12th.

Howard Family Dental – Statesboro is located at 1076 Northside Drive East, Statesboro, GA 30458. For more information or to make an appointment with Dr. Roderick Dunham or Dr. Michael Whirt, call (912) 225-4400 or Request an Appointment.


Call (912)-629-9000
to make an appointment

Online appointments are unavailable at this time.

Please call one of our offices to make an appointment.