Providing solutions to the real, and most pressing, issues facing our community is not just something we say, it’s something we live everyday. It’s a part of who we are as an organization.
We don’t want to want to put a bandaid on a broken arm because the scratch is the first thing we see. We want to assess the entire situation and determine what the root cause of the injury is and the best course of action for a healthy, long-term outcome. It doesn’t mean we ignore the scratch, but setting the broken bone and providing the necessary adjustments along the way to ensure that all is healing as it should is more important to the overall health and recovery.
We do this in the community through a robust needs assessment. These needs assessments allow us to take a step back and see from a holistic view what people are struggling with. Then, we are able to use that information to take the appropriate steps to solve them.
Karis Dental Clinic is a prime example of the needs assessment to solution cycle. Just looking at the community, one would have thought that food or clothing would top the list as the community’s greatest need. A needs assessment conducted by United Way showed that adult dental care was in fact the #1 need in the community.
Moving forward with this knowledge in mind, United Way was able to bring community partners together to begin looking for a sustainable solution to this need. Initially, a partnership was developed between local dentists and the Bradley County Health Department, where extractions could be performed one day a month. While this was not the end goal, it was a suitable fix until other components could be put into motion.
Last year, Karis Dental Clinic opened its doors as our community’s first adult dental care clinic. Karis is a non-profit dental clinic that provides care for individuals who have no dental insurance and live at or below the poverty level. Their services provide everything from restorative to preventive dental care, with a focus on tooth pain relief and restoring adults to optimal dental health.
With only year of their doors being open, Karis has produced over 1 million dollars in dentistry for residents of Bradley County. They are a tangible solution to a problem facing our community. A solution to a problem we didn’t know the breadth of until we took a step back to listen and see.
Our local resource and referral line, 2-1-1, also provides real-time needs assessment data on a regular basis. Anyone in the community can call 2-1-1 for information on social service resources we have available in the area. The needs requested from these calls allow us to see what consistently show as the most sought after services. This data, compiled with the other surveys we administer throughout the year provide a robust holistic view of the community at-large.