GFWC Kearney Woman's Club Loves to See Kids Smile
Members of GFWC Kearney Woman’s Club in Kearney, Neb., love to see kids smile, and through a project to make those smiles as bright as possible, clubwomen have raised awareness and earned accolades with the largest project ever undertaken by their club.
In collaboration with OneWorld Community Health Centers and Ronald McDonald House Charities in Omaha, GFWC Kearney Woman’s Club sponsored and hosted the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile’s visit to Kearney July 9-13, 2007. The goal of the dental van’s visit was to provide free dental care to 60-65 underserved children, second grade through high school.
The project was a particular passion for club member Karen Sorenson, a licensed dentist whose passion is providing dental screenings and treatments to underserved children in the Kearney area. Along with club president Cindy Pickel, Karen helped coordinate the dental day project.
The club began by identifying children without dental care in surrounding communities, with a special focus on targeting Spanish-speaking children. In addition to providing much-needed dental care, the secondary goal of the project was to educate children and their parents on proper dental care, such as proper brushing, flossing, the effect of sugar on the teeth, etc. The club recruited dental hygiene students and instructors from Central Community College to assist with the week-long dental fair and to clean children’s teeth using a mobile dental operatory.
Seven local dentists, including Karen Sorenson, stepped forward to volunteer for the dental van. One of the new dental clinics in town offered the full use of their dental clinic and staff for an entire day.
To offset the cost of the project, Kearney Women’s Club applied for and received a $5,000 grant from Two Rivers Public Health Department.
The outcome of the project far exceeded expectations: More than 100 appointments were scheduled during the van’s visit. A pediatric dentist provided all day treatment in her clinic July 9 for the smallest of children (those under seven years of age). Another local dental clinic provided X-rays during the week when the van’s digital equipment was non-functional. Treatment on the van included cleaning, X-rays, sealants, extractions, fillings, and stainless steel crowns. Children from eight rural communities and Kearney were treated, two-thirds of them Spanish-speaking.
The dental treatments provided to children during this project were valued at $46,221. An additional $117,630 in-kind was provided by local dentists who also agreed to complete follow-up care for some of the more serious dental procedures performed during the week. This in-kind amount also included time and materials given by hygienists, hygiene students, dental clinics, space for the dental fair, and lodging for RMCM staff. Our club logged 2,622 volunteer hours planning and implementing this project.
In addition to the dental care provided, the project created a sense of community among local dental service providers, and raised awareness that the Kearney Woman’s Club is a thriving volunteer organization!