Families struggling to cover costs of housing, food and medical insurance sometimes have little choice but to forgo a dental plan and when an emergency arises, it takes a toll on a tight budget.
Burbank is fortunate to have the nonprofit Kids’ Community Dental Clinic, which annually serves children through age 18 of lower income families in Burbank and surrounding communities at 400 W. Elmwood Ave.
Local dentists and dental professionals voluntarily visit 50 schools a year to provide education on brushing and flossing to more than 8,500 children as well as provide dental services to 1,200 within the clinic. Exams and cleanings are $20 a visit. Costs for extensive procedures are much less than regular dentists charge. Volunteer dentists are always needed.
Burbank has a large low-income community, said Dale Gorman, clinic executive director, and patients from low-income and uninsured families rarely receive regular dental care. Their visits to the clinic are usually driven by an emergency. In addition to providing low-cost dental services, the clinic’s dental professionals encourage young patients to start a regimen of preventable care.
To raise funds for the $30,000 annual budget, clinic supporters coordinated the “Casino Paradise” on Sept. 19 at Media Studios North. All proceeds go to operational expenses such as supplies, insurance and staffing of two full-time and two part-time positions.
Working on the committee were chair Karen Volpe and committee members Renee Johnson, Rene Benavides, Silvia Mancini, clinic Executive Director Dale Gorman, Ross Necessary, Patrick Flynn, Brad Recker, Elise Stearns-Niesen and Janice Lowers.
Close to 200 people perused about 60 silent auction items while enjoying passed hors d’oeuvres and drinks during the social hour while the Nesta steel drum band performed. Barbara Faulkner, a longtime clinic supporter and donor, won the most silent auction items, Benavides said.
Games offered were Black Jack, Roulette, Texas Hold ‘Em Poker and Bingo.
“It was a good time!” she said.
A committee member suggested using a new game called Fifty-two Card Pickup, seen at another fundraiser. Guests purchased playing cards from a deck at $50 each. Later that night, the cards were drawn from a jar. There were four very high-end prizes, including a GoPro camera.
Francesca Hoffman, a new volunteer hygienist and first-time fundraiser attendee, won the Sony 48″ Smart TV. Janice Lowers took home the GoPro Camera System and Andrea Albeno won the iWatch.
“The silent auction and Fifty-two Card Pick-up brought in just over $9,000 for the clinic,” Johnson said. “That was new for us. I don’t think we’ve ever made more than $6,000 on the silent auction. We’re waiting for the final total minus expenses.”
There were also more than 20 opportunity prizes.
Bob and LaVerne Cohen, also longtime supporters, brought a party of 10 to the event.
Dr. Peter Shimizu, one of the volunteer dentists, makes it a point every year to stop and thank all of the volunteer dentists and hygienists throughout the evening.
Louise Williams, site coordinator at Media Studios North, was helpful at keeping the event running smoothly, Johnson said. This was the second year of the event.
“I think everybody had a good time and we saw a lot of new faces, which was nice,” she added.