Transformational Dental Care

Kristen Keogh, Host

McQuaid Mission Episode 10 Highlights

Over 11,000 Arizona residents are homeless.

Every other week we dedicate a full episode to the news, progress and innovations surrounding homelessness in Phoenix with our McQuaid Mission series. 

This week’s episode explores a regional collaborative to end homelessness and how dental care can transform communities. 

Read the highlights from Episode 10 of the McQuaid Mission below.

My mission and the mission of our team is to connect efforts across silos, systems and agencies in Maricopa county in order to improve service delivery and maximize effectiveness.

Regional Collaborative of Homelessness

Shana Ellis explains that the Action Nexus organization at Arizona State University has recently organized a Regional Collaborative of Homelessness (RCH). This organization comprises of nonprofits from across the county with different specialties and services.

The goal of the RCH is to create a holistic county-wide strategy to decrease the homeless population locally. The collaborative is still in the initial planning phase of their efforts. But, they plan to enter the “implementation” step of their strategy on June 10, and spend the summer coordinating so that they can launch their first action initiatives in the fall.

It’s not just putting a bandaid on it for the moment, it’s providing a clear path in a journey so that they can succeed.

Save the Family Success Story

For couple Claire and Kip, Save the Family became a literal family that was crucial to their transition out of homelessness. Claire recalls feeling loved and cared for in a way they hadn’t before by their caseworkers at the non-profit organization. Claire and Kip especially benefited from the “skills to pay the bills” finance and parenting classes.

“Anybody thinking about donating, they really have no idea how much is behind that dollar,” says Claire.


Local Leader to Leader Q&A

Q: Why is it that certain locations tend to attract more people experiencing homelessness than other locations?

A: It's very common for homelessness to exist in city centers. . . It's very common in cities for individuals to gather in those locations where they're looking for assistance or they're being discharged from a system, and people are generally seeking out help. And, they're also seeking out places where they feel safe. . .

Are you able to get a job with no front teeth? Absolutely not, (for access to) health, dignity and esteem and functioning in American society, one must have dental care.

A Brighter Way

Dr. Kris Volcheck, CEO & Founder of Brighter Way Institute brings free dental care to the homeless community in Arizona. He explains that aesthetics are the beginning of how dental care can transform the lives of people. 

According to Volcheck many homeless individuals struggle because they can’t maintain consistent care when they are suffering from a dental ailment. They may receive antibiotics from a center, but once those drugs are gone, the same problems usually come back. Volcheck says that aside from health and a standard quality of life, dental care is imperative to employment and a complete transition into American society. 

Brighter Way Institute is primarily staffed by volunteer dentists. Many are still training and gaining experience. Many have also never encountered homeless individuals on a personal level. Volcheck explains how the process of dental work transforms both the patient and the provider, which closes the loop of truly transforming a community. 

Homelessness Mythbusters

Myth: It's impossible to end homelessness, no matter what we do.

We can’t prevent every crisis. . . We can’t control every decision and the choices that each person makes. We can build a system. . . We can find the public will, to reduce the number of people who come into homelessness and increase the number of people we place in housing.

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