February 12, 2016 (ST. PAUL, Minn.) – At its December 2015 board meeting, the Patterson Foundation elected to grant nearly $195,000 to nonprofit organizations in the oral health and animal health fields, raising its annual total giving to more than $980,000.
More than $365,000 of the donations made by the Foundation in 2015 were for scholarships awarded to dependents of Patterson Companies employees to pursue higher-ˇeducation degrees. The remaining donations were in the form of grants to nonprofit organizations dedicated to providing dental care to those in need and assistance dogs to individuals with disabilities.
Interfaith Dental Clinic in Nashville, Tenn., was awarded a $16,480 grant in December from the Foundation, and has received $85,000 from the Foundation since 2008. Interfaith’s mission is to restore, protect and improve the oral health of the uninsured and low-ˇincome residents of Middle Tennessee by providing access to affordable quality dental care, oral disease prevention services and oral health education. Since Interfaith’s founding in 1994, the dental clinic has grown from a part-ˇtime, two-ˇchair operation, to a comprehensive dental clinic with two state-ˇof-ˇthe-ˇart facilities, 36 team members and more than 300 clinical and community volunteers. Last fiscal year, the clinic provided more than 12,500 patient visits to the underserved.
Rhonda Switzer-ˇNadasdi, DMD, CEO, Interfaith Dental Clinic, said that the year-ˇover-ˇyear support of the Foundation has helped the clinic realize more long-ˇterm goals. “Consistent support gives Interfaith Dental Clinic the opportunity to implement strategies that can take longer than a year to come to fruition and that is a game-ˇchanger,” she said. Issues like improving access to care and building clinical team experience are examples that Switzer-ˇ Nadasdi cited as long-ˇterm projects that have benefited from continuous support from the Foundation and other organizations.
“One of our goals in 2016-ˇ2017 is to fully launch a new registered dental assistant training program operating within our two charity clinics,” Switzer-ˇNadasdi said. “The Patterson Foundation funding means we will have consistent senior-ˇlevel registered dental assistant staffing that will also mentor those bright young professionals in training. … With support we can count on to fund staffing, we can create a successful training program. The result will put us on a trajectory of a more sustainable future as the training program will not only enhance our potential workforce and volunteer pool, but will generate additional free training labor and tuition dollars to buy more care for those in need.”
Tennessee ranks 47th among states in oral health with limited access to care being the primary challenge. It is also one of six states that have no dental coverage for Medicaid enrollees who are 21 years or older. Michelle Mennicke, manager of the Patterson Foundation, said “Interfaith is truly making a difference in the lives of people in Tennessee who would otherwise go without dental care. The Foundation has been thrilled to watch Interfaith Dental Clinic’s growth over the years and we applaud the work of their dedicated volunteer dental professionals.”
For the complete list of grant recipients in 2015, visit pattersonfoundation.net/grant-recipients. For the complete list of 2015 scholarship recipients, visit pattersonfoundation.net/2015-scholarship-recipients.