Keeping Students On Track Through Summer

 

 

The Benco Family Foundation is working with the United Way and Highlights to help kids keep up their studies with unique learning program tailored especially for pandemic times.

 

Health, safety, food security, shelter…the United Way seemed to cover it all in protecting the Wyoming Valley against the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic. But the group quickly realized one integral part of the community population was left out of the plan: students. As COVID-19 shuttered schools and forced teaching to move online, the United Way grew concerned about the quality of education and lack of guidance children received while at home.

So the United Way turned to the Benco Family Foundation.

 

While finishing school from home, many students can become distracted, making it difficult to advance to the next grade level. Together, the United Way and the Benco Family Foundation have created a Summer Learning Workbook initiative to help students stay on top of their studies during the summer months. Students spending time outside a school environment risk losing critical academic skills and knowledge in a “summer slide.”

 

Chuck Cohen, Benco Dental’s Managing Director, believes the initiative aligns with the company’s values and long-term commitment to community-driven projects. “We are dedicated to helping the local schools deliver an outstanding educational experience to students in spite of the challenges of the pandemic,” he said.

 

Developed by Highlights, the award-winning children’s educational publisher located in

Northeastern Pennsylvania, the workbooks allow students to complete activities on their own without the assistance of parents. Geared towards students in kindergarten through second grade, the books cover math and language arts activities. And getting young students on the path to reading is crucial to their future success: a national study by the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading showed one in six children who do not read proficiently by the third grade will not graduate from high school on time. The exercises in the workbook will not only help students improve their math skills over the summer, but also give kids the tools to achieve reading success by the third grade.

 

Although there is no dental or oral healthcare component to the workbooks, the Benco Family Foundation continues to be a decades-long supporter of the United Way. “We believe the work [the United Way] is doing to bring children from poverty to possibility is critical,” said Benco Family Foundation Executive Director Rebecca Binder. “The Benco Family Foundation has always supported children in our community with a variety of educational programs from dental health to general education.”

 

The workbook program will not only give students confidence, but provide a strong educational foundation for success as they move through grade school. However, getting workbooks in the hands of students in school districts with the highest levels of poverty is no easy feat and cannot be done alone. Providing over 7,000 workbooks throughout 13 school districts in the Wyoming Valley community will cost upwards of $70,000. The current $14,000 raised is not enough to give every student the tools needed to make it to the next grade level. To put donations into perspective, just $100 provides workbooks for 10 students and $10,000 will supply a large school district for the summer months. The summer workbook will help students who have limited access to technology and educational resources stay engaged with schoolwork and move them ahead for the upcoming school year.

 

According to the United Way, an estimated 11,535 children under the age of 18 in the Wyoming Valley are living below the poverty line. The pandemic has continuously revealed inequalities, specifically in regard to educational opportunities. “These are difficult times, the next generation of students can not afford to fall behind,” Binder said. “We need to give students access to the resources they need to succeed.”

 

To learn more or donate to the United Way’s 2020 Summer Learning Workbook Initiative, visit unitedwaywb.com.

Through United Way Nurse’s Pantry, Benco Family Foundation provides dental supplies to PA students

The Benco Family Foundation, the charitable division of the nation’s largest independently owned dental distributor Benco Dental, collaborated this school year with the United Way of Wyoming Valley to support its Nurse’s Pantry Program in Northeast Pennsylvania. Nurses in the Wilkes-Barre and Pittston area school districts received oral health kits to help support students’ dental hygiene.

“The nurse’s pantry is a simple concept but it is immediately impactful. Children will miss less school and they will do better.”

Bill Jones, president and CEO of the United Way of Wyoming Valley discussing the Nurse’s Pantry Program in a 2018 The Citizens’ Voice report.

In 2018, the United Way of Wyoming Valley was named the winner of a $25,000 grant from the Luzerne Foundation’s Millennium Circle Fund to expand a nurse’s pantry into more area schools, according to a report in The Citizens’ Voice. At that time the pantry expanded from five elementary schools in the Wilkes-Barre to 13 elementary schools in four other school districts: Hanover Area, Nanticoke, Pittston Area and Wyoming Valley West.

In the same article, Jones shared a few heartbreaking instances that demonstrated the need for the nurse’s pantry.

“Last year, a young boy missed four days of school because he split his pants. It was the only pair of pants he owned. Another child and his sibling had a more serious issue: head lice …. The kids ( who missed 10 consecutive days of school) still had lice because the family could not afford the medicated shampoo the school nurse instructed them to get. Think about the lives of those children for those two weeks and all the schooling that was missed all over $18.” 

Bill Jones, president and CEO of the United Way of Wyoming Valley said in 2018 report in The Citizens’ Voice.

In 2019, the Benco Family Foundation donated 300 toothbrushes, toothpaste and floss to each of the five Wilkes-Barre elementary school nurse’s pantries and 300 kits to one elementary school in Pittston, according to Rebecca Binder, the Foundation’s Executive Director.

Supplies are given out at the nurses discretion to children and families in need of dental supplies. 

Altogether, the donation will benefit over 5,000 students, according to the United Way of Wyoming Valley.

A screenshot from the United Way’s annual Nurse’s Pantry campaign video shows the care that nurses provide young students. Local schools will have dental supplies for students who need them most, courtesy of Benco Dental and the United Way of Wyoming Valley.

“Access to dental items is important because poor dental hygiene in a child can lead to tooth decay, which can progress into other medical issues. If a young child is in pain due to a dental issue, it’s difficult for them to focus and learn in school, which can lead them to fall behind in class and becoming discouraged because they aren’t doing well.”

Kathy Bozinski, Director of Marketing and Communications at the United Way of Wyoming Valley

If not reminded about the importance of oral health, children can neglect healthy habits like brushing after every meal and flossing once per day. Donated kits provide an essential benefit to Luzerne County’s 34,679 low-income families whose children may not have consistent access to dental hygiene.

The donation aims to curb the effects of tooth decay, a disease that on a national level affects 20 percent of children aged 5 to 11 years old, and 13 percent of children aged 12 to 19 years of age, according to the Center for Disease Control.

“The items provided by Benco Dental to United Way of Wyoming Valley’s Nurse’s Pantry will have a great impact on the dental health of students and hopefully, keep them on track for learning success.”

Kathy Bozinski, Director of Marketing and Communications at the United Way of Wyoming Valley

Bozinski confirmed the Luzerne County schools that received oral health kit donations from the Benco Family Foundation:

Wilkes-Barre Area School District ⁠— Kistler Elementary; Dan Flood Elementary; Leo E. Solomon-Plains Elementary; Heights M.L. Murray Elementary.

Pittston Area School District ⁠— Martin F. Quinn Primary Center; Pittston Area Intermediate Center; Pittston Area Middle School.

The Benco Family Foundation, in partnership with the United Way of Wyoming Valley, is dedicated to improving the dental health and quality of life in its local communities, regionally, and around the world.

How is the Benco Family Foundation helping regionally?

Learn more about how the Benco Family Foundation supports changing lives with its Buy One, Give One Program here.

Utah dentist and family dedicate 10 months to giving back in Guatemala

Dr. Cameron Quayle couldn’t find a nonprofit group whose vision for dental missions aligned with his. So he started one himself.

After completing his first humanitarian mission to Guatemala a decade ago, Dr. Quayle was startled by the deprivation he’d witnessed—and was determined to go back.

“I knew I couldn’t change much of what they lacked, but I could improve their oral health and dental education,” says Dr. Quayle, who practices at Mountain View Pediatric Dentistry, with two locations near Salt Lake City.

Politely rebuffed by a number of nonprofit groups he approached—he wished to undertake longer missions than they could accommodate, he says—he decided to found his own organization, Mason Gives, in 2017. (The name is a nod to Mason the Moose, his practice’s mascot; Mountain View Pediatric’s web address is themoosedentist.com.)

Dr. Cameron Quayle couldn’t find a nonprofit group whose vision for dental missions aligned with his. So he started ONE HIMSELF.
MISSION CONTROL: Dr. Quayle and his family in Guatemala. His wife Mandee, 38, daughters: Kate, 14 and Charly, 11 and sons: Jack, 9 and Cannon, 5 joined him on a 10-month trip.

The Benco Family Foundation was the first outside group to donate; companies including KaVo Kerr, Ultradent and 3M, among others, followed suit, enabling Dr. Quayle to embark on a 10-month trip to Guatemala in 2018-19. He and his fellow travelers were able to comprehensively treat more than 1,000 patients in that time.

Read about the high points and the challenges in his recent interview with Incisal Edge magazine.

What motivated the Quayle family to give back?

The desire to live intentionally guides his family, says Dr. Quayle.

“We wanted to do something different, to share our talents for something more than just higher production and more money.  We wanted to make a difference in the world.  What initially was the scariest thing we have ever done turned out to be the greatest thing we have ever done.”

His advice: 
“Go for it!  If you have a dream or a passion you are putting aside, ask yourself why you aren’t pursuing it.  Pursuing our passions make us come alive.”

Shoutout to 4 who inspire
Dr. Cameron Quayle

  1. Glen Dean, DDS. “He was the dentist who initially invited me to Guatemala to volunteer nearly 10 years ago.  Since then he has mentored me, answered hundreds of my questions and helped by letting us borrow some of his equipment in Guatemala.”
  2. Greg and Lucy Jensen. “They moved to Guatemala from the U.S. nearly eight years ago with their four young boys.  Since then they started Cultiva International, a non-profit that teaches local, indigenous people to grow their own vegetables and improve their nutrtion.” 
  3. Gaby Munoz.  “Gaby is the director of an organization by the name of Faith Seeds. … They work with the extreme poor. These families live on $4 to $5 per day.  She has faced enormous challenges and yet still shows up every day to serve these families.  She is Guatemalan serving her fellow Guatemalans.” 

How can you help?

To help support Dr. Cameron Quayle and Mason Gives through donations or other means, please visit masongives.com.

Dr. Cameron Quayle cares for a dental patient in Guatemala as his children observe.

Be inspired by this PA dentist who is helping to provide a ‘lifeline’

Susan lives alone in Pennsylvania and enjoys spending time with her two grandchildren whenever she can. Unfortunately, Susan (shown above) suffers from several challenging health problems, including degenerative disc disease, spinal stenosis, scoliosis, joint swelling, chronic pain, and mental health issues.

The former certified nursing assistant and medical assistant is no longer work, due to her health, and relies on a modest Social Security Disability benefit to make ends meet.

When her dental health deteriorated—only nine remaining teeth and some decayed—she was not sure where to turn. Susan’s existing partial dentures no longer fit correctly and caused pain and sores in her mouth. She could not afford the treatment needed to address her dental problems. It seemed she had nowhere to turn for help.

Finding a ‘dental lifeline’

Susan was referred to the Dental Lifeline Network and its Donated Dental Services (DDS) program. There she was linked with several generous volunteers, including Benco customer and Donated Dental Services volunteer Dr. Arnold Pfannenstiel.

How did Dr. Pfannenstiel (shown above) change Susan’s life? He extracted teeth, donated root canal treatments and crowns, an implant supported upper partial denture, and a full lower denture.

“Volunteering as a dentist with DDS is very rewarding. Giving back to the community, helping people who otherwise would neglect their dental care—puts a smile on your face as well as the patients face!”

Dr. Arnold Pfannenstiel, Dental Lifeline Network • Pennsylvania Donated Dental Services Volunteer.

Earlier this year, Dental Lifeline Network hosted it third annual Every Smile Counts Day, and during the campaign raised more than $165,000 for its efforts. Among the dental suppliers and manufacturers who contributed was the Benco Family Foundation, with a commitment of $24,616.00.

“We cherish our longstanding relationship with Benco Family Foundation as you have played a significant role in our ability to provide comprehensive dentistry to the most vulnerable citizens,” said Matt Yeingst, Dental Lifeline Network, VP Development.

Want to help?

Labs and dentists are invited to volunteer with the Dental Lifeline Network’s flagship program Donated Dental Services (DDS) to change a life in their community. Gain details about volunteering.

Donor partners are needed to support comprehensive care for those who need it most. Learn how to offer financial support.

Learn more about Dental Lifeline Network

A 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, founded in 1974, DLN nationally provides access to dental care and education for people who cannot afford it and:

  • have a permanent disability or
  • who are elderly: age 65 or older or
  • who are medically fragile