Dental clinic drums up funding

MIDDLEBURY — Organizers of a new Addison County Dental Center that will serve low-income clients shared some good news and some bad news on Monday.
The good news is boosters have reached a $25,000 local fund-raising mark that will trigger a grant of another $5,000 through the United Way of Addison County, money that will help make the center a reality.
The bad news is a dentist whom organizers had selected to operate the dental center in Middlebury’s Battell Block said he will not take the job after all. The dentist had planned to relocate from Massachusetts with his family, but elected not to take on the risk of the move and a new business venture given the current economic climate, according to Cheryl Mitchell of the nonprofit group Addison County Dental Care Inc.
“We have reopened the search process,” Mitchell said.
This means that the dental center — once slated for a Nov. 1 opening — will likely not be ready for clients until early next year, Mitchell said.
But organizers remain optimistic and happy with the progress made to date. Addison County Dental Care and its supporters have already raised $450,000 toward the effort, a financial package that includes more than $340,000 in state and federal grants and $110,000 through local donations and other sources. Much of that money has been used to buy the vast array of equipment needed for the dental clinic, to be housed in the former Bank North space next to Carol’s Hungry Mind Café in the Battell Block.
Since the equipment is being purchased through the nonprofit venture, the dentist will be expected to serve a large volume of Medicaid and under-insured clients. The center will also serve privately insured patients.
Organizers have another $60,000 left to raise. Mitchell is hopeful that half of that amount will be forthcoming from foundation grants. That will leave another $30,000 to be raised locally.
“We are confident we will raise (the remaining $30,000),” Mitchell said.
Vermont First Lady Dorothy Douglas, a longtime dental health professional, is honorary chairwoman of the center fund-raising effort.
As for potential dentists, Mitchell said “We definitely have some prospects.”
People seeking more information on the clinic should call Addison County Dental Care Inc. board member Peg Martin at 388-7697.
“The cause is right and well-needed, and we will get there,” Martin said.

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