First Interstate Bank awards $25k grant to FAMILY Inc. for mobile unit

FAMILY Inc. was awarded a $25,000 grant from First Interstate Bank.

“The funding will help address poverty in our community by ensuring access to basic necessities through FAMILY’s Mobile Wellness Unit,” said FAMILY Executive Director Kimberly Kolakowski. “Access to healthcare can be a challenge for individuals facing poverty. In order for an individual to have the capacity to address the challenges in their life that have contributed to living in poverty, an individual must be physically and mentally well FAMILY’s Mobile Wellness Unit brings preventive health screenings to underserved individuals wherever they are and makes finding care more accessible.

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The grant will help FAMILY take its mobile wellness unit to four additional counties, she said. The organization expects a 10% increase in services for children and youth from rural areas and those who identify as Hispanic/Latino. FAMILY also expects to make “at least” 100 referrals to additional resources, services and support due to initial contacts through the mobile unit.

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The FAMILY’s Mobile Wellness Unit, housed in a converted motorhome, made its debut in late February 2021, during the organization’s Drive-Thru Dr. Seuss Literacy Celebration at the Charles E. Lakin Human Services Campus. Since the unit is equipped with a dental chair, the FAMILY can use it to conduct oral health screenings and provide fluoride treatments, as well as conduct hearing and vision screenings, lead tests, developmental assessments and nutritional assessments.

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The group’s staff felt it needed a mobile unit to continue running their I-Smile program during the pandemic.

“At the beginning of the pandemic, dental services were canceled everywhere, and then dental clinics slowly started to open,” Kolakowski said when FAMILY launched its mobile unit. “We do almost 3,000 oral cleanings in schools every year.”

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With the mobile unit, dental hygienists did not have to go to schools to perform screenings and cleanings.

Fortunately, FAMILY was able to draw on several sources to fund the unit, including the Healthy Tomorrows Partnership for Children Program, Delta Dental of Iowa Foundation, State Farm Neighborhood Assist Program and the Southwest Iowa COVID-19 Response Fund.

First Interstate also chose to donate items from their coats/winter clothing to the FAMILY and delivered them on December 22nd.

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