Something to smile about

Margie Steffens and Karen Hawke

Karen first discovered the University of Adelaide’s Community Outreach Dental Program in 2012 when she was a tenant at the Light Square Common Ground community housing complex. She and her young son were among the first patients of the service after Karen’s social worker recommended the newly launched program.

“My son and I accessed the Community Outreach Dental Program regularly for cleans and check-ups, and I was even referred for braces. I received a grant to help with this and was able to access a big discount on orthodontic treatment,” Karen said.

The Program, which celebrated its tenth year in 2021, has helped more than 1,500 people from disadvantaged backgrounds access much-needed dental treatment, free of charge.

“I wouldn’t have been able to have regular dental check ups if I had to pay privately.”

“The Program provided peace of mind, especially when my son needed emergency dental surgery to remove a tooth that had been knocked hard during a fall,” Karen said.

The Program’s dental clinic was established in 2011 with a one-off grant from the Department of Housing and Ageing. Generous partners, volunteers and donors have since covered all operating costs, with the continued success of the clinic relying heavily on fundraising.

“This dental service is lifechanging. It gives people confidence in themselves and something to smile about,” Karen said.

The determined young mother has since completed a PhD in Public Health and secured a rewarding research role working with women and children and Aboriginal communities at SAHMRI.

Whilst the Program has regular monthly donors who are passionate about social justice and improving the quality of life of marginalised and vulnerable people, more funds are needed to ensure the Program can continue to serve those who need it the most.

A message for our donor community

In its 11th year of service, our program continues to grow and provide dental care for people who have been impacted by global uncertainties and social inequity. Each day I see the difference simple acts of generosity make in these people’s lives. Your help is gratefully acknowledged in enabling us to improve the quality of life of our state’s most vulnerable individuals and communities.Margie Steffens OAM, Director, Community Outreach Dental Program
Tagged in impact of giving, philanthropy, Community Outreach Dental Program