Friday, November 16, 2007

Working together is key to improving lives in the Marshfield area

By Stacey Oelrich, Communications Director

In the past month, United Way staff members and Drive Chairs have given 46 presentations, attended two Thank You events to wrap up workplace campaigns, shopped at book fairs and jewelry sales and visited a costume contest and decorating contest. But United Way’s business isn’t fundraising and special events alone, even though it may be when you most frequently see the staff in the community at this time of year.

Throughout the year, volunteers from all walks of life and human service organizations assess the community’s needs to identify the most critical needs affecting residents. One of these emerging needs is dental care for low income individuals and families.

Our Partner Programs from each Impact Area—Community & Basic Needs, Families & Seniors and Youth Initiatives—have reported finding dental care they qualify for makes a significant impact in the lives of the clients they see. When someone is experiencing dental issues, it goes beyond just having a toothache. It can affect the rest of their health, happiness and work or school performance.

Marshfield Area United Way does more than just come into businesses for workplace campaigns. In order to start addressing the dental need, United Way is working with a community leader, The Dental Clinic of Marshfield, to seek a solution for providing dental care to individuals on medical assistance and BadgerCare.

There is no quick fix to this problem, and United Way staff and volunteers first needed to understand the true scope of dental needs in our area. The Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services reports there are an estimated 5,000 people on BadgerCare and medical assistance in Marshfield and the surrounding towns. In 2007, Ministry Dental Center, a United Way Partner Program, was able to serve 168 people, but still had more than 100 area residents on their waiting list.

In 2007, The Dental Clinic of Marshfield served 1800 patients on medical assistance or BadgerCare. To address the Marshfield area’s need, The Dental Clinic has coordinated an effort with Ministry Dental Center to reduce its waiting list of Marshfield area residents.

Ministry Dental Center sent a letter to area residents waiting for services, encouraging them to contact The Dental Clinic of Marshfield to see if they would qualify to receive care at its facility. This will allow qualified residents to receive services faster.

So when you see a United Way staff member or Drive Chair at a presentation or community special event, remember that United Way’s work goes beyond traditional campaign activities. It’s because of the extra efforts of businesses, like The Dental Clinic of Marshfield—outside of fundraising—that change happens. Your dollars are hard at work every day of the year, improving lives and building a strong community in the Marshfield area.

If you are interested in learning more about Marshfield Area United Way, volunteering or making a contribution, visit or call 384-9992.

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