Dental office supports SANE program | PostIndependent.com

Dental office supports SANE program

Caitlin Causey
Post Independent Correspondent
Dr. Corey Johnson and 9th Judicial District Attorney Sherry Caloia.
Chelsea Self / Post Independent |

Next month, the dental office of Dr. Corey Johnson in Glenwood Springs is celebrating a year of charitable giving through its Brighter Smiles: Brighter Futures program.

“We started this program last year as a way to help make a bigger impact in the community,” said the office’s business manager Amber Wissing. “As a local business we were frequently solicited to contribute to silent auctions or make small donations — but after a while we started to wonder if there was a way we could create a bigger, more focused effort instead of just giving $25 here and there. Brighter Smiles: Brighter Futures was our solution to this.”

The program raises money via the dental office’s teeth whitening services, which include a $99 custom take-home tray system or an in-office laser procedure plus trays for $410. All profits benefit a new organization every quarter. To date, the program has awarded $2,500-$3,000 each to Project PACK, United Way of Battlement to the Bells and Kelsey’s Kids.

Starting Oct. 1, all funds raised through the end of 2016 will be donated to the Garfield County Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) program, which is expected to be re-launched by 9th Judicial District Attorney Sherry Caloia within the next few months. SANE, which assists local victims of sexual assault in the critical hours after a crime is committed, once operated in the county but fell through in 2012. Since then, victims have often needed to travel outside the county to be examined by a qualified nurse who can collect forensic evidence — making a traumatic experience even more difficult.

The Post Independent reported on Caloia’s efforts to revive the program in June, just as Wissing and her colleagues were searching for the next Brighter Smiles: Brighter Futures recipient. The article caught the attention of their predominantly female team.

“Eight out of nine of us here are women. We could not believe that this kind of service hasn’t been readily available to victims in our community for so long,” Wissing recalled. “We thought it would be awful to expect someone to get in the car after an assault, drive hours away, undergo an examination and questioning that could take even longer, and then have to travel back home.”

Many of the women who work at the dental office are also raising daughters, including Wissing, who has two of her own.

“As moms, this really hit a nerve with us,” she said. “Of course, not all victims of sexual assault are female, but the overwhelming majority are. These victims could be our friends, sisters, daughters, or even each other. In this valley, considering all the other services that are available, we thought the SANE program should be one of them.”

After the dental office team discussed the article and the SANE program, Wissing contacted Caloia, who was receptive to the idea of their efforts.

“SANE is still in the fundraising stage right now,” Wissing noted. “If Brighter Smiles: Brighter Futures has a great response this quarter, we could exceed the amount of funds we’ve given in the past.”

Wissing reported that the one male in the dental office, Dr. Corey Johnson himself, is fully on board with the initiative.

“Dr. Johnson was shocked to learn that this type of resource was not previously available here,” she said. “In a recent staff meeting we all sort of looked around at each other, and realized how proud we are to work with such a generous, giving office. At the end of the day it feels so rewarding to offer this kind of program to help the community.”


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