A simple mission drives the charitable arm of Benco Dental: The Benco Family Foundation is dedicated to improving the dental health and quality of life in its local communities and around the world.
Meredith Wall, Benco Family Foundation Administrator,explains the progress and forward motion of the Foundation and shares her insights.
“We started to center our focus around the dental world and helping local communities from a healthcare perspective. We’ve instituted a grant system, narrowed our focus and have a board of directors guiding us.”
Every year, Benco Dental donates five percent of profits to the Foundation to support innovative dental health solutions that improve oral health care as well as community programs that offer sustainable quality-of-life solutions. This year, the Benco Family Foundation (BFF) gave nearly $400,000 in monetary donations to over 100 charitable organizations and supported 5,000 associate matching gifts. The BFF donated over $135,000 worth of free product to support dental missions, clinics and organizations offering dental care to those in-need, including 380,000 Pro-Sys toothbrushes through our innovative ‘Buy-One-Give-One’ program.
Giving back is not only the job of the Foundation, but it’s part of being a Benco Dental Associate. Benco Associates donated a company record of nearly 3,000 hours to over 60 local charitable organizations in 2017. That’s lots of time walking and bowling to raise money, stocking food banks, playing games with senior citizens, and reading books in Head Start classrooms.
The Benco Family Foundation has been getting stronger and making a bigger impact every year since it was established in 2005 by Sally and Larry Cohen, Benco Chairman and Chief Customer Advocate. Check out its impact with Global Smiles, Head Start, Lessons in a Lunch Box and United Way.
The BFF supports Global Smiles efforts to bring first class surgical repair to patients in the developing world from South America to Africa, to the Middle East and India, who suffer from congenital facial deformities. The largest group served are children with cleft lips and palates. Global Smiles and their hundreds of medical and dental volunteers have been repairing smiles for over 30 years. And, they don’t just go into these countries, complete surgeries, leave, and move on to the next disadvantaged town or country. With the help of the Benco Family Foundation, Global Smiles professional medical and dental teams return, year after year, mission after mission, to make sure their patients, some as young as three months old, continue to receive the care they need through adulthood.
From around the world, to around the corner, the Benco Family Foundation serves communities.
“One of my first projects when I started here at Benco Dental in 2008 was with Head Start in Luzerne County. We met with them to see how we could help. Through their adoptive classroom program, Benco adopted two classrooms and sent some associates to volunteer for the day with the children.”
Head Start is a free national preschool program serving the educational and developmental needs of our nation’s most vulnerable young children. Since 1965, the program has served over 30 million underserved children, and the BFF and Benco Associates help support the program with toothbrushes, volunteer hours and an academic scholarship.
Wall continues, “We donate roughly 3,000 toothbrushes to Head Start each year for the children, and every day they brush their teeth at during school. Benco Associates also donate pajamas and other essential supplies.”
To ensure Head Start students continue their education beyond high school, The Benco Family Foundation annually gives an Alumni Scholarship to a former Luzerne County Head Start student. Students are selected and recognized by Head Start and receive a merit-based scholarship to help with college tuition.
Lessons in a Lunch Box
From pre-school to grade school, The Benco Family Foundation brings oral health care to underserved elementary school kids across the country through Lessons in a Lunch Box.
Created by The Children’s Oral Health Institute, Lessons in a Lunch Box is an engaging, hands-on oral health program designed specifically for underserved 2nd and 3rd graders with an educationally decorated bright orange lunch box and a carrot case holding all the dental health essentials: toothbrush, toothpaste, floss and even a mirror.
“Initially, we were just giving grants, but then we got more involved. We started inviting Benco associates to be part of the education team – helping kids explore all the facets of the educational lunch box while teaching them to floss then brush,” said Wall. “We have associates spearheading the program with local dentists and dental schools at underserved schools across the country.”
The program took a big leap this year with our Benco Family Foundation team bringing Lessons in a Lunch Box to all five elementary schools in Northeast Pennsylvania’s Wilkes-Barre school district in one day. The BFF put a toothbrush, toothpaste, floss and an awesome orange lunch box into the hands of every Wilkes-Barre public school 2nd and 3rd grader. Each child left knowing how and why to floss and brush daily, and thinking, “I could be a dentist someday!”
“We visited five different schools, engaged with 1,000 children and had more than 50 associates volunteer to assist in the program. Dental students from the University of Pennsylvania along with pre-dental students from Wilkes University taught with puppets and oversized toothbrushes. Even Lesson in a Lunch Box founder, Dr. Winifred Booker came from Baltimore!” said Wall.
Reaching deeper into communities
Reaching deeper into communities, the Benco Family Foundation supports United Way in the area of its home office, Pennsylvania, and wherever Benco Associates are located across the United States .
Although a national organization, United Way is community based, operating individually in every community it serves. This means that each United Way group maintains its own standards and goals specifically tailored to the community’s interests while staying true to its mission: to improve lives by mobilizing the caring power of communities around the world to advance the common good.
“Every fall Benco has a fundraising drive run by our Culture & People Department,” explained Wall. “Associates can choose to have a portion of their paychecks deducted as a donation. Every dollar they commit, the Benco Family Foundation matches. Last year we matched over $55,000. Our total donation to United Way was over $100,000,” she says proudly.
What makes the Benco Family Foundation’s charitable efforts different?
“At the Benco Family Foundation, we want to get to the heart of the matter. We really dig in … We ask, What’s the issue? What’s the solution? Is it sustainable? Is it impactful? How can the Benco Family Foundation offer support?” said Rebecca Binder, Benco Family Foundation Executive Director.
“And, we look for opportunities that will allow Benco associates to become involved. Benco employees are proud of the Benco Family Foundation and the work it does in our communities, near and far.”
Every day, the Benco Family Foundation reviews new opportunities to support community organizations in line with its overall mission of improving the dental health and quality of life in its local communities and around the world. The Benco Family Foundation looks to support solutions for oral health or community issues that are innovative, sustainable, measurable and impactful.
Learn more about the Benco Family Foundation and its grant application process: https://www.benco.com/about-us/benco-family-foundation/