Dental hygiene department connects with community

Jefri Nazri

Staff Writer

Not only does Hudson Valley’s dental hygiene department run a fully operational dental clinic, recently it has reached out to the community in numerous ways, with a focus on the greater Troy area due to the college’s location.

The department’s efforts began at Joseph’s House and Shelter, Inc., a homeless shelter in downtown Troy. From the start of the Spring 2015 semester through the end of February, members of the dental hygiene program collected coats, hats, and mittens to donate to Joseph’s House. They had an outpouring of donations, including about 150 coats as well as hats, mittens, and scarves.

The department’s next endeavor was to provide battered, homeless women with feminine hygiene products, which it has been doing since early March. “The dental hygiene program has been making biweekly donations of toothbrushes, shampoo, and our main focus is tampons because the need is so high,” said Joelle Connor, senior dental hygiene student.

Several students and faculty members have visited Joseph’s House to prepare meals for the guests and teach oral self-care. The program’s first visit, in the fall, was led by Jennifer Walker and Jeffrey McMinn, hygiene instructors and lecturers, who headed a team of five senior students. The visit was funded in part by Hudson Valley campus minister Cylon George.

The program’s most recent visit was on Mar. 29, which was Palm Sunday, so in honor of the holiday, the all-student group cooked two hams, stuffing, and a potato dish from scratch. The funds to make the meal possible were all from student and faculty donations.

“Joseph’s House provides such amazing support to the local community in need that it was with great appreciation that I could volunteer at that site and interact with each individual there,” said Grace Coppola, a senior hygiene student who helped prepare the meal.

According to Connor, prior to this year there hadn’t been a large amount of student outreach within the dental hygiene program. In an email, Connor wrote, “I think one of the main reasons there has been lack of community outreach is because of the hygiene schedule. Every person in the program is kindhearted and truly cares for others, but our schedules are demanding and hectic.”

She added, “We are active in doing outreach in classroom settings, giving school-age children oral self-care and education on caries formation. So to say there is a lack would be incorrect, but with the added items (Joseph’s House, coats, etc.) we are going above and beyond as a department to make a huge difference.”

Connors said, “Our last outreach is on an international level. We will be collecting toothbrushes for underserved populations in Africa. If anyone would like to make a donation it can be dropped off at the Robert Hill Dental Clinic on the first floor of Fitzgibbons Hall,” she said. Donations of individually packed soft toothbrushes can be dropped off at the clinic between 9 a.m. and 12 noon any day of the week.

“I am glad to be the liaison and very proud of what we have been able to accomplish,” Connors said.

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