Published May 13, 2020
Traditionally, at this time of year, the St. David’s Foundation Dental Program would be heads down offering free dental screenings, sealants, and acute care to students at high-needs elementary schools within Central Texas school districts. And as the school year ends, the nine fully equipped mobile dental clinics would pivot to begin safety net clinic visits to for adults and families with dental needs during the hot summer months.
However, that all changed with the novel coronavirus outbreak and forced school districts to close. Committed to providing services to our community, the St. David’s Foundation Dental Program pivoted quickly, problem-solving to ensure essential oral health education and care was provided as planned – just in a different format.
The team immediately assessed donation opportunities, and worked to redistribute essential dental products, desperately needed personal protective equipment (PPE) and other in-demand hygiene materials to a wide range of organizations across Central Texas. This included providing more than 5,500 adult and child-sized toothbrushes, 10,500 toothpastes and 20,000 oral health kits – including a toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss and a timer for proper brushing technique – to organizations such as The SAFE Alliance, the Ending Community Homelessness Coalition (ECHO), the City of Austin, Dell Medical School, various school districts, the Housing Authority for the City of Austin (HACA) and the Central Texas Food Bank.
In addition to distributing dental health products, the St. David’s Foundation Dental Program staff joined ongoing projects and efforts to donate their time and expertise to the community including:
- The formation of the “Sew Sweet” Dental Sewing Club, where a group of dental staff organized to sew approximately 350-400 masks for clinics, relief networks and patients in Central Texas.
- A “We’ll Help You Smile While You are Home for a While” webinar, which shared reminders of proper oral hygiene habits to practice while at home with school districts, grant partners and learning centers throughout the area.
- Participation in AGE’s Pen Pal Program, where a group of dental staff will communicate with residents within the organization during the month of May.
The St. David’s Foundation’s Dental Program efforts are one of many responses by the Foundation to provide community support during the COVID-19 pandemic including a $10 million COVID-19 Recovery Fund, which was established in April 2020. The fund will provide grants supporting both the immediate and intermediate needs of nonprofits working on the front lines to provide emergency assistance to those in Central Texas’ most vulnerable communities during the pandemic.
St. David’s Foundation will continue to work alongside our partners to ensure resources are shared with Central Texans in need during these unprecedented times. Please use the following links to learn more about the St. David’s Foundation Dental Program or other COVID-19 related initiatives and programming.