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Grants at Work: How the Boys and Girls Club of Albany is Keeping Kids Healthy

Boys and Girls Club of Albany
A few of the young smiles that receive free dental care courtesy of the Boys and Girls Club of Albany

Boys and Girls Clubs around the country are best known for providing quality afterschool programming for kids and teens. These programs help youth succeed in school, stay healthy, learn important life skills, pursue interests in the arts and sports and explore vocational choices. In addition to their efforts geared toward shaping the emotional and mental development of children, many Boys and Girls Clubs go a step further, offering unique services that serve a specific need in their communities.

The Boys and Girls Club of Albany in Oregon has tackled a unique challenge in the region by caring for the medical needs of children at its dental clinic.

Opened in 2011, the clinic provides dental services to uninsured children at no cost, which has totaled to more than $700,000 in donated services in the last six years. While the national healthcare discussion has emphasized the importance of extending coverage to children, access to dental coverage has remained a challenge for many families in the Albany area.

The clinic uses contracted dental services and volunteer dentists, hygienists and assistants to deliver dental care to children in the community of Albany who need it the most and cannot otherwise access it. The Murdock Trust was proud to partner with BGCA to construct a new building to house programs and services for youth, including the dental clinic.

As many as 64 percent of children enter first grade with a cavity, which can be painful and cause distraction during the school day. When the physical needs of children are met, they can focus on emotional health and personal development and get the most out of BGCA’s other services and programs.

The siblings in this picture all get dental care at BGCA. The youngest was excited to get her teeth cleaned for the first time after watching her siblings over the years, and now, every time she visits, she asks to go first! We are grateful to BGCA for being the “dental home” to the families of Albany and for holistically meeting the needs of children.