Th Championing The Cause 01

Championing the cause of giving back: Patterson reaches out in many ways

Nov. 1, 2008
Patterson Dental’s commitment to serving the dental industry with the highest–quality products and best possible service spans over 130 years.

Patterson Dental’s commitment to serving the dental industry with the highest–quality products and best possible service spans over 130 years. But just as evident is a deeply engrained culture of giving back to the community. In the dental arena, this outreach has extended to nonprofit organizations resolute in the mission to serve the underserved, which include the following (and many more):

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  • Christina’s Smile Children’s Dental Clinic (pictured right and above) delivers quality comprehensive charitable dental care to children in need through mobile dental care facilities. As with the NFDH, Patterson’s support has taken many forms: employee volunteers, Foundation grants, even proceeds from Patterson’s annual Golf Classic, which is a Patterson Leadership Summit event where business partners join Patterson managers to benefit Christina’s Smile.
  • National Foundation of Dentistry for the Handicapped (NFDH) provides dental treatment and preventive services annually to more than 10,000 needy disabled, elderly, and medically compromised individuals through a national network involving thousands of volunteer dentists and laboratories. Patterson’s support ranges from Foundation grants (described below), to representatives selling DentaCheques (product value book instrumental in raising funds), to Patterson’s president and CEO, James W. Wiltz, serving on the board of NFDH.
  • Oral Health America works in partnership with selected local communities to expand school–based prevention programs and improve the oral health and well–being of uninsured children and families who do not receive routine dental care (Smiles Across America program). Give Kids a Smile offers educational materials, screenings, and where possible, free dental care such as cleanings, fluoride treatments, fillings, and some intensive care. Give Kids a Smile also serves as one of the many local causes supported by Patterson branch locations across the U.S. Community efforts include significant employee volunteerism such as equipment installation and maintenance at Mission of Mercy projects, and outreach that includes various volunteer projects aimed at people who can’t afford dental care. Other community–focused organizations include Apple Tree Dental, whose focus is to improve the oral health of Minnesotans with dental access needs, such as nursing home residents, as well as various free dental clinics and product donations, where appropriate.
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Patterson Dental President Scott Anderson (left), who serves on the National Children’s Oral Health Foundation’s Board, said, “We have the great privilege to support the incredibly benevolent efforts of so many organizations in providing basic dental services so badly needed, as well as assisting the efforts of countless volunteers to deliver quality dental care for the underserved.”

The Patterson Foundation

In 2003, Peter L. Frechette, Patterson chairman and chief executive officer at the time, initiated formation of the Patterson Foundation. Frechette (now Board chairman), along with Wiltz and other current and former company executives, wanted to give back to the community. The Patterson Foundation was created with a truly rare and special quality: It operates similar to a corporate foundation, yet all funding is derived solely from individuals.

A year later, this commitment to giving back took on another – actually two – dimensions. To reflect the company’s expansion with the acquisition of veterinary and rehabilitation supply businesses, the company’s name changed from Patterson Dental Company to Patterson Companies, Inc. As the company grew, so did the scope of the Foundation’s mission: “To provide resources to programs and nonprofit organizations that make a distinct contribution to enhance the quality of life and create social and economic value in communities.” With estimated annual grant–making of $700,000, the Foundation’s resources are now focused in the areas of oral health, animal health, and occupational and physical rehabilitation, predominantly in health and human services programs that concentrate on the needs of economically disadvantaged youth with special needs, and educational programs.

Recently the Patterson Foundation, in conjunction with Patterson Dental, provided lead sponsorship to help create the National Museum of Dentistry’s (NMD) newest traveling education exhibit, Your Spitting Image – What your mouth says about you, which begins touring the country in 2009. Patterson has been a longtime supporter of the NMD and its efforts to educate the public about the importance of good oral health. Frechette served on the NMD Board of Visitors from 2001 to 2005. Vice President of Technical Service Rich Kochmann began serving on the Board in 2006. Other organizations with missions that align with the Foundation’s include The Children’s Dental Center of Greater Los Angeles, and the Special Olympics Special Smiles program, which use hundreds of volunteer dentists to conduct dental screenings and hygiene instruction, and to provide preventive supplies to developmentally disabled people at Special Olympic events. “We care deeply about helping those in real need,” Wiltz said. “The Patterson Foundation presents an effective way to channel resources to programs serving these people.”

In addition, the Foundation gives back to employees by awarding up to 25 postsecondary educational scholarships for dependents of Patterson Companies employees.

Currently, criteria for awarding grants are being further defined. For information on the Patterson Foundation or grant application materials, please call (651) 686–1929 or e–mail [email protected].