United Way of Northwest Michigan (UWNWMI) is pleased to announce the creation of a new community program called United We Smile (UWS). UWS will provide specialized health programming with a focus on dental care for children, pregnant women, veterans, and those with developmental and cognitive disabilities. This new program will be located at 4075 Copper Ridge Drive in Traverse City, Michigan.
As an innovative program model, United We Smile will use local dentists and college level interns for its labor force. Predoctoral dental interns from the University of Michigan School of Dentistry will provide dental care while being supervised by local volunteer dentists from the Resort District Dental Society. Northwestern Michigan College’s Dental Assisting School interns will provide auxiliary support as well.
“United Way’s mission is to mobilize the caring power of our community and that’s just what we’re doing,” shared Seth Johnson, Executive Director of UWNWMI. “One of our key areas of focus includes supporting health programs, particularly for those in the underserved ALICE population, as they often fall through the cracks.” The ALICE population are those who are asset-limited, income-constrained, and employed. “We are pairing years of experience and expertise with new generations of passionate people to change our community long term,” continued Johnson. “We have the generosity of our community to thank for this coming to fruition.”
United We Smile (UWS) will be supported by Jennifer Kerns, UWNWMI Director of Health Initiatives. United We Smile plans to serve patients that struggle to find help elsewhere due to a variety of barriers. UWS will focus on dental care for children, pregnant women, veterans, and those with developmental and cognitive disabilities. “They are our community’s most underserved patients and we plan to change that,” shared Kerns. Studies show that poor oral health affects educational attainment, employability, financial stability, and overall health. That in turn also produces long-term consequences for someone’s individual earning potential. “Our community is losing a growing and essential proportion of our human capital,” added Kerns.
Jennifer Kerns can be reached at email@example.com.