department, food pantry both smiling
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[June 27, 2008]
Tim Woods, director of public
responsibility for Delta Dental of Illinois, walked through the
doors of the Logan County Health Department on Thursday with an oversized check.
The real one was still sizable by anyone's standards.
The check presented to the local health department was for $10,000.
Mark Hilliard, the department administrator, advised that these
funds will be used to supply toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss and
educational materials to the Logan County Food Pantry. These items
will then be given out to food bank clients.
This grant from Delta
had an interesting beginning.
Tara Hennessy, who has been unofficially designated with the
title of "Smiles Administrator" by health department staff, had
begun volunteering at the food pantry, where her father Bill Overton
was an active member. She began noticing that many of the clients
were in need of essential dental health care. "I looked at their
driver's licenses and saw their age and how many of them needed
dental care," she said.
Hennessy then began a drive asking local dentists and stores to
donate toothpaste and toothbrushes to the pantry.
Margie Harris, assistant administrator and director of nursing at
the health department, then helped write a grant request to Delta,
ending in the day's result of a sizable check ensuring the program's
Woods, the Delta representative, explained that his company
actively participates and is involved in promoting oral health care
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The need for oral hygiene and further education was agreed on by
all health department officials, including Hilliard; Harris; Mary
Southerlan, the department's registered dental hygienist; as well as
Kristin Lessen, director of the Healthy Communities Partnership at
Abraham Lincoln Memorial Hospital. Several parties noted that oral
health problems can lead to other serious health issues if not taken
care of properly and in a timely manner.
Overton, representing the Logan County Food Pantry at the check
presentation, offered that many times, failure to have proper dental
care is a result of finances. There was agreement that oral care is
one of the first things individuals put off when family expenses
become tight. Southerlan said it's especially true of adults.
Woods was asked if his job of traveling the state helping various
organizations with their needs was an enjoyable occupation. "It's a
great job," was his reply.
Delta Dental is by far the largest and most experienced dental
benefits carrier in the country, providing dental coverage to over
46 million people in 80,000 groups in all 50 states. Delta Dental of
Illinois is one of 39 independently operated member companies of the
Delta Dental Plans Association and has been in business for 39
[By MIKE FAK]