Oral Health Coalition Joins Interfaith Community Services
In November, the Bennington Oral Health Coalition (BOHC) voted to join Greater Bennington Interfaith Community Services (GBICS). BOHC arose from the Dental Subcommittee of the Poverty Workgroup initiated in 2012. The Vermont Department of Health has data that show that Bennington citizens have nearly the worst dental decay in the state. The Coalition, comprised of a number of volunteers and a part time coordinator, has worked to improve the oral health of the community. The Coalition believes that community water fluoridation is the cornerstone of improving our oral health, and has been active presenting educational programs in over 80 area classrooms, reopening a dental chair at MAUMS, screening more than 600 MAUMS students for decay, and starting in-school toothbrushing programs in elementary schools.
GBICS began in the 1970s when it received donations to the Food and Fuel Fund and distributed them to the needy. In 2008, it began to provide support to the Bennington Free Clinic, which continues to operate from the First Baptist Church. The Clinic provides primary care to uninsured patients, runs the Ladies First program, the SBIRT program (Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment,) an evidence-based practice used to identify, reduce and prevent abuse and dependence on alcohol and illicit drugs; it also navigates with Vermont Health Connect. In 2011 GBICS opened the Kitchen Cupboard in Bennington.
Charlie Gingo, chairman of the GBICS Board of Trustees, noted that the BOHC fits well with the mission of GBICS, which has become the umbrella under which a number of important community organizations can thrive. Volunteers for all of these enterprises are always needed. Call 447-3700 if you wish to help.