Annette Sharkey (left) of the Kalamalka Rotary Club presents a cheque for $17

Annette Sharkey (left) of the Kalamalka Rotary Club presents a cheque for $17

It’s been a year of happy smiles

The community rallies around the Community Dental Access Centre

The Community Dental Access Centre celebrated its first anniversary with board members, staff, supporters and the community.

“I have watched the steering committee and the community move this from an idea to a reality in the past 11 years,” said Dr. Vic Lepp, retired dentist and president of the Community Dental Access Centre North Okanagan Society, as he welcomed everyone.

“We are excited that we have made it to our first-year anniversary. I have met some amazing people and we have been able to help more than 900 people of all ages with dental needs at an average cost of about 40 per cent less than they would have to pay. Our goal is to be able to continue operating and offer a larger discount for those who cannot pay even the discounted amount.”

Lepp is pleased that there have been UBC dental students working in the clinic and a newly graduated dentist is working as a resident to get experience. Several local dentists support the centre through volunteering their time.

Lepp thanked Laine Lowe for her work in establishing the centre.

“Her determination and drive, with the support of so many others, has made this happen,” he said.

Lowe presented Volunteer of the Year, volunteer hygienist Sue Lighthall, with a print in recognition of her contributions.

The centre serves people of all ages with urgent dental care, restorative care and preventive care, including hygiene. Clients pay as much as they can, according to centre criteria, with the rest covered by grants, fundraising and volunteer services. There is no government support for the centre and its services.

Kalamalka Rotary has been a supporter of the centre since it was in the planning stages and recently made a donation of $17,000 for digital X-ray sensors.

“The rates are highly discounted,” said Terri Jones, centre executive director. “People are so grateful for what we are doing here. Many of them have been in and out of emergency with pain and infection and doctors can only treat the symptoms. We treat the problem and get them out of the cycle of pain. When people come for help with urgent need, we try to help them through our Angel Fund. We were able to give more than $70,000 in free services in our first year.”

The centre also has a smoking cessation program, children’s programs, and is planning programs for schools.

MP Colin Mayes offered a toast to the continuing success of the Community Dental Access Centre. “We toast those who had the dream, those who made the dream a reality and those who continue the dream.”