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Creating opportunities for healthy smiles

Throughout the United Way of Story County (UWSC) LIVE UNITED campaign, this column will highlight different programs in each of the three community impact areas of education, income and health to give readers an idea of the work being done locally.

By investing in the impact area of health, UWSC supports programs which create affordable and accessible essential services for healthy lives. For example, mental health care, substance abuse counseling and home health assistance are just some of the projects that United Way investments are focused on. UWSC invests 18.6 percent of the community impact budget in the health “bucket.”

Another important aspect of UWSC’s work in the area of health is access to dental care. The Story County Dental Clinic was created to fulfill the dental needs of low-income families by providing affordable dental care to many adults and children who have Medicaid or no dental insurance. The clinic offers a wide range of dental services to patients of all ages, some of who have never been to the dentist before or who have painful teeth. While many patients reach the clinic in an emergency situation - needing an extraction, crown or filling - the dentists also encourage routine visits for exams and cleanings.

Dr. Jean Kim is the staff dentist, and with an average 30 appointments every day, the Story County Dental Clinic utilizes volunteer dentists who give their time to help people in need of dental care. And many front desk volunteers are utilized for clerical tasks as well.

While volunteers help make the clinic possible, it’s also essential to remember that funding is necessary to keep the doors open. As a United Way of Story County-funded program, the dental clinic realizes first-hand the importance of donations to the LIVE UNITED campaign. A $365 donation would provide three families of four people with a teeth cleaning. A $12 donation would provide one dental x-ray for someone at the clinic. Every amount is important to help make more healthy smiles!

(Sara Wilson is marketing director for United Way of Story County, a strategic leader in building county-wide partnerships to identify needs and to develop, support and evaluate effective human services, especially in the areas of education, income and health, for our diverse community.)

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