Last Tuesday, DALE GORMAN was all smiles as she received a check for $2,250 from BURBANK SUNRISE ROTARY. As Executive Director of KIDS COMMUNITY DENTAL CLINIC (KCDC), she knew this funding would help children whose dental health would otherwise fall through the cracks.
The parents of these children often work two or three part-time minimum wage jobs, with no benefits. Somehow, they make enough money to keep a roof over their heads. Most days, they keep their kids’ bellies filled. But they don’t make enough to get their kids’ cavities filled. Or to get their teeth straightened out.
On the other hand, they do make enough money to disqualify themselves from MediCal and other forms of medical and dental assistance that require their poverty to be dire rather than merely nerve wracking.
Fortunately, the world of the working poor in Burbank includes the KCDC. “We’re the safety net of the safety nets,” said Dale. “Hardly anyone else in Los Angeles County is helping low-income, uninsured kids.”
Last year, KCDC served over 14,000 such children. Services ranged from teaching basic dental hygiene to making extensive dental repairs. “Burbank’s really wonderful,” said Dale. “It has quite a number of dental specialists that are willing to help us.” KCDC also enables parents to adopt the modern-day best practice of “first tooth, first visit” to detect any dental problems from the very start, problems like chronic toothaches that can become serious barriers to learning in school.
But sometimes, what’s needed is far more basic. “Once or twice a year we meet kids who say we’ve given them their first toothbrush of their very own,” says Dale. That’s why passing out dental hygiene kits is an important part of what KCDC does.
And that’s why, at their meeting last Tuesday, BURBANK SUNRISE ROTARY donated $2,250 to KCDC for more kits. “Helping out Kids Community Dental Clinic was such a right thing to do,” said JANICE LOWERS, Community Service Chair for Burbank Sunrise Rotary. So she leveraged $250 in club funds nine-fold into a $2,250 donation, thanks to help from Rotary District 5280 and their Community Grants Program.
“In any given year, District 5280 and its clubs make donations to the Rotary Foundation,” explains Sunrise Rotarian LEE STACY, who also serves as the District’s Community Grants Chair. “Three years later 50% of those donations become available to the District’s 63 clubs for local community projects and vocational scholarships, as long as a club fills out an online application. The other 50% is used to fund large international projects. This year, there were 45 community grants available at $2,000 each. But only 40 clubs took advantage of this year’s opportunity.” Burbank Sunrise Rotary was one of them.
KCDC, which operates on a shoestring budget out of a bungalow next to McKinley Elementary School, understands the power of leveraging. Thanks to volunteers giving up evenings and weekends, and dentists donating their services, the value delivered to the Burbank community is many times KCDC’s $240,000 annual operating budget. “Let’s focus on just one of our activities,” says Dale. “Last year we visited 56 schools, screened over 8,500 kids and provided over $564,000 worth of dental treatment.”
KCDC also helps local high school students rack up community service hours in a very rewarding way. And would-be dentists and dental hygienists can get a serious look at the dental careers awaiting them.
Perhaps it’s no surprise that KCDC has experienced 50% growth in just five years. Or that local service clubs like Burbank Sunrise Rotary go the extra mile to support them.