By Reesha Brown
At age 19, Iraj Jabbary left his native city of Bam, Iran with only $1,300 to his name to start a new life in America and pursue his lifelong dream of becoming a dentist.
“In the beginning, it was scary,” Jabbary said.
It’s been 37 years since he moved to the United States. In that time, Jabbary, DDS, has established himself as a dentist and community servant as owner of several ABC Dental locations and sponsor of various Pasadena ISD Education Foundation fundraisers.
On January 17, the Pasadena ISD community will gather to celebrate Dr. Jabbary’s accomplishments when he is honored as Pasadena ISD’s 2016 Distinguished Citizen of the Year.
Life in Iran
Born to a businessman and stay-at-home mother, his family was comprised of 13 members who lived in a small city with a population of only 70,000.
When he was growing up, his family did not have a lot of money.
Unable to afford dental treatment, at age 8, Dr. Jabbary suffered from a severe toothache. This was a pivotal time in his life, as his pain fueled his passion for the dental profession.
“I was constantly taking over-the-counter pain medication and it didn’t help much,” Dr. Jabbary said. “I went from place to place and no one could do anything for me.”
Despite the hardships his family faced financially, Dr. Jabbary’s late father and staunch supporter, used the resources they had to help others in need.
“When it came to money, we didn’t have much, but my father always taught us that we have to give back,” Dr. Jabbary said.
His father taught him two essential values to live by: always give back to the community and the importance of a quality education. Dr. Jabbary held these values dear and used them to pursue opportunities of a better life in America.
The Land of Opportunity
Dr. Jabbary was determined to make his father proud. He worked two jobs as a bus boy and valet to pay for school and continued working through college. Five years after moving to the U.S., he attended Texas Southern University. In 1995, he graduated from the University of Texas Dental Branch in Houston and obtained a dental license two years later.
Dr. Jabbary’s dream of becoming a dentist came true in 1997, when he bought ABC Dental in Cleveland, Texas. His reputation for meeting the needs of patients helped the business flourish, and now serves families at several offices in the Houston area.
Recognizing a need for increased access to dental services, Dr. Jabbary transferred ABC’s corporate office to Pasadena, and built two new dental clinics on Strawberry Road. As a result, the Pasadena offices have helped create jobs and generate taxes for the city.
For these reasons, the Cities of Houston, Pasadena, Cleveland and Rosenberg have recognized ABC Dental with proclamations and certificates of appreciation.
For Dr. Jabbary, helping people is at the forefront of being a dentist.
Since he first aligned with the Pasadena community and its school district in 2004, Dr. Jabbary has made a positive impact in the lives of many.
He has worked continuously with PISD’s Special Programs Department to provide complimentary access to dental care, scholarships, school supplies and wellness resources for students in the area.
“As long as I can remember, my father would say, ‘We may not have money to eat, but I will make sure you have your books, notebooks and your pens,’” he said.
He reflected on one of his most meaningful projects, entitled, “Smiles on Wheels.” The program was held annually in December and provided thousands of Pasadena ISD students in need with bicycles over the course of a few years.
“On the day of the giveaway, I was crying inside all day because every child looked like that was the first gift they had ever received,” Dr. Jabbary said.
This was a familiar feeling for Dr. Jabbary. It reminded him of the first bike he received as a teenager in Iran.
“I still remember how good it felt when I received my bike,” Dr. Jabbary said. “I used to sleep next to the bike because I didn’t want anyone to touch it. In the morning, I would make sure I cleaned it. My oldest brother gave it to me. I wanted these students to have that same feeling.”
ABC Dental is a Major Sponsor for Pasadena ISD Education Foundation fundraisers. Through the business, he continuously gives at the top level as a Major Sponsor for the McDonald’s Texas Invitational Basketball Tournament and hosts tables for the district’s Shining Stars Gala as a Platinum Sponsor.
“It goes back to who I was and how I was raised,” Dr. Jabbary said.
“Even though we did not have any money, my parents still raised us to believe that money is not what makes you happy. If you do the right thing, respect people, that’s what is important. If your body is healthy and your mind is at peace, you have pretty much everything you need.”
The modest and humbled dentist is honored to be named Pasadena ISD’s Distinguished Citizen of the Year.
“It always makes me happy to give to people,” Dr. Jabbary said. “I don’t ever expect anything in return. I just want my father to be happy with me, my mind to be at peace and to touch as many lives as I can.”