Founded in 2011, ORCCA Dental Society is based on the belief that all children and adolescents have the right to healthy oral care, and that effective oral care positively transforms the health and lives of children and adolescents.

Heather Burkett is the co-founder of ORCCA, and chair of the board.

“ORCCA stands for Oral Care for Children and Adolescents, so we help children from birth right up to 19 years of age. We are a non-profit. We’re designed to help children who’s family’s income is less than $40,000 a year.”

Located in a portable of Sidney Elementary School, donated by the Saanich School District, ORCCA sees about 400 patients a year, and performs more than one-thousand treatments.

“We need strong kids,” says Dr. Mitra Hashimi, a dentist and co-founder of ORCCA. “We need a strong people, and community, and that starts with childhood. In here, we’re trying to make a difference for kids that don’t have easy access to dental care.”

“We started in 2011, we opened officially in 2013” says Burkett. “We started initially with all volunteers, and what we found was in order to get consistency, we now do have a couple of our dentists, for instance, that we pay, basically half price on a locum. So they actually are volunteering half their time as well.”

Burkett is proud of the non-profit she and Hashimi created.

“It’s an amazing opportunity to work with some wonderful families, and wonderful community members who support us. It’s amazing how many diseases can come from lack of dental care. It’s well over 200, so it’s critically important. It’s all about trying to get the best possible service for our patients.”

On this day, the Thompson family has arrived for their ORCCA appointment.  Rich and his wife Wan are thrilled to have this service available for their children, Raphael and Kai.

“We love it! I mean, what a great service! We all understand that it’s difficult to find family dentists or family doctors, and ORCCA has enabled us to get fantastic work, which we wouldn’t be able to get anywhere else,” says Rich Thompson.

“They love it! And they keep asking ‘when’s my next appointment?” says Wan.

Now, the Victoria Foundation hopes to increase access to dental services for vulnerable residents of Greater Victoria with Six 4 Six – an initiative from Green Shield Canada.

$6 million dollars for six Canadian communities, with seven-hundred-thousand allocated to the Victoria Foundation.

“Green Shield Canada has chosen the Victoria Foundation as one of it’s national partners,” says Victoria Foundation CEO Sandra Richardson, “to bring together people to explore the needs or oral health in our community.

“Oral health is part of our well being. And if you look at populations where there are barriers — single moms with young children, people with disabilities, both physical and cognitive – if they require dental care, that takes some real expertise, and it’s very expensive. I don’t think we will have any problem filling this grant amount, because there is such a need in the community.”

The Victoria Foundation is accepting grant applications until August 5.

Veronica Cooper