Volunteer Dental Outreach (VDO) for Haliburton County in Haliburton, Ontario, celebrated its tenth anniversary on May 19, commemorating the $3.1 million in free and urgent dentistry it has provided to 1,067 low-income area residents.
“We are so very proud of what everyone has accomplished through VDO,” said founders Bill and Lisa Kerr, who also are board president and director, respectively.
“It never occurred to us that it would be as successful as it is. What started as an idea to see a few patients in our off-time quickly turned into operating a standalone dental office that runs several days per week,” they said.
The Kerrs said that none of it would be possible without dedicated dental professionals who volunteer their time, the board of directors, and the people who show up annually to sponsor or play in the annual golf tournament fundraiser.
Also, the Kerrs highlighted VDO’s mentorship program with fourth-year dental students from the University of Toronto that has been beneficial for both soon to be graduates and the clinic’s patients.
“The greatest achievements of VDO would be consistently having caring and compassionate volunteers who not only agree to come look after patients but love coming to help people in need,” the Kerrs said.
The COVID-19 pandemic presented challenges, VDO said, as it had to retrofit the clinic and purchase safety devices to adhere to updated protocols from the province. Funding from the Haliburton County Development Corporation made these changes possible.
Also, VDO partnered with the Haliburton Kawartha Pine Ridge District Health Unit to launch the Ontario Seniors Dental Care Program for Haliburton County, which has enabled the team to double the number of patients they treat.
“I consider the VDO the most impactful charity that I have been lucky enough to be part of. I am so proud of what we have created for our community.” said VDO board chair Janis Parker, who has been involved with the organization since its first day.
“Although it takes a community, it also takes visionaries,” Parker said, praising the Kerrs.
Over the past decade, the VDO has offered 8,526 appointments with:
- 32 dentists
- 22 dental hygienists
- Two dental hygiene students
- 16 dental assistants
- One denturist
- One denturist student
- Six dental office administrators
- 97 University of Toronto fourth-year students
- Five pre-dent science students
- 13 board members
- 12 days dedicated to the Ontario Seniors Dental Care Program