The new director of the Northwest Colorado Dental Coalition already has left a good impression.
Clarissa “Claire” Dilldine first began as the Dental Coalition director about several weeks ago, replacing Janet Pearcey, who left the organization at the end of 2013.
Originally from Craig, Dilldine said she remembered being enamored of the position as a teenager.
“I’ve always loved what the Dental Coalition does, and I’ve always believed in it,” she said. “I moved back here in November, so it worked out perfect for me.”
In terms of experience, Dilldine recently worked with a nonprofit group providing relief to refugees from East Africa, Burma and other parts of the world who had relocated to Colorado’s Front Range. Her work included teaching English and hygiene.
She also holds a bachelor’s degree in human services from University of Northern Colorado, but what she feels really qualifies her for the job is a passion for the kind of work done by the Dental Coalition.
“I like the public health side of it, and I don’t think people realize how much (dental care) can affect your overall health,” she said. “I’m looking forward to educating the community, getting some more programs out there, working with the grants and getting more money for us so we can expand and make our existing services better.”
NWCDC started off as a collection of dental professionals in 1997 and then started an official clinic in 2005. The coalition offers preventative, restorative and surgical dentistry to Moffat, Routt, Rio Blanco, Jackson and Grand Counties, with offices in Craig and Steamboat Springs.
The Dental Coalition’s Craig clinic at 485 Yampa Ave. includes on-site dental professionals as well as office staff.
“The staff here is really great, they’re amazing people, they have amazing hearts, and they wouldn’t be here if they didn’t,” Dilldine said.
Hygienist Lyndi Smith said she thinks Dilldine’s hiring was a good investment for the future of the Dental Coalition.
“I think she’ll bring her youth to helping us get our name out there more online,” Smith said. “The technology she’s looking at bringing in will definitely help improve what we’re doing already.”
Joel Sheridan, president of NWCDC’s board, agreed he expects Dilldine to be able to do a great deal for the community, especially those in the greatest need of dental care, in the job.
“She’s enthusiastic, she’s got a lot of good ideas, she’s got experience working with those in underserved communities, and she won’t shy away from however difficult a task she encounters,” he said.
Among the upcoming projects for Dilldine and the rest of the Dental Coalition is working with the Celebrate Children Festival, which promotes good health and wellbeing in young kids.
Also on the docket is spreading the message about which residents are eligible for the Dental Coalition’s sliding scale services.
“People think we’re just for kids, but it’s all ages,” Dilldine said.
Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or abockelman@CraigDailyPress.com.