In the Community

Free Dental Care For Those In Need

The Hampton Roads Community Foundation and the United Way of South Hampton Roads have teamed up to improve access to free dental care for people who desperately need dental work but can't afford it. Recently the two funders awarded $50,000 in joint grants to help four southeastern Virginia nonprofits expand free dental services:

  • Beach Health Clinic, $4,000 to purchase an additional extension arm for a digital x-ray machine for its Virginia Beach free dental clinic. This will enable the clinic to have an two volunteer dentists working at the same time.
  • Chesapeake Care, $20,000 to enhance its Diabetes Initiative’s efforts to educate diabetes patients about reducing their risk for oral diseases. The grant will help pay for a part-time dental hygienist to help educate patients, teeth cleanings and fee waivers for dental treatment.
  • Hampton Roads Community Health Center, $20,000 to help adult patients at its Norfolk and Portsmouth centers receive free dental exams, x-rays, cleanings, fillings or emergency dental visits.
  • People in Need (PIN Ministry), $6,000 so the Mercy Dental program in Virginia Beach can provide homeless or poor adults free dental x-rays, evaluations, cleanings, fillings, crowns, extractions and dentures.

"This grant lets us help individuals who are uninsured and have not seen a dentist ever or in a very long time," says Barbara Willis, CEO of the Hampton Roads Community Health Center, which operates dental clinics in Norfolk and Portsmouth as well as a dental van. Not having regular dental care can lead to heart problems, emergency room visits and other problems.

In 2016 the Community Foundation and the United Way sought grant applications from nonprofits working with low-income dental patients. Both organizations had individually funded dental care in the past. Each funder provided $25,000 for the grants.

“This is the first time the Community Foundation and the United Way have joined forces with a single proposal request,” says Dr. Deborah M. DiCroce, president and CEO of the Hampton Roads Community Foundation. “We are leveraging the strengths of two long-standing organizations and modeling the power of collaboration to improve life for area individuals with tremendous dental needs and no resources to address them.”

“Many of us have never known what it is like to live with constant dental pain and to be embarrassed by not having teeth,” says Carol McCormack, United Way of South Hampton Roads president and CEO. She has seen clients at dental clinics come because “they couldn’t have the heart surgery or kidney transplants they needed until their dental problems were fixed."

“We are thrilled to work with the community foundation as partners tackling one of our community’s most significant needs,” McCormack says.

The Hampton Roads Community Foundation is the largest grant and scholarship provider in southeastern Virginia and supports causes ranging from arts and education to health and human services. The United Way is the largest private funder dedicated solely to human service needs in South Hampton Roads.

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