Northeast Delta Dental Supports America’s Promise of Equal Access to Justice

Northeast Delta Dental’s mission is to advance the oral health and overall wellness of our customers and the general public in part through our philanthropic initiatives.

Earlier this month, we were the Presenting Sponsor of the NH Campaign for Legal Services’ first Run/Walk for Justice 5k, supporting New Hampshire Legal Assistance and 603 Legal Aid. I was honored to speak at the event and would like to share with you more about why Northeast Delta Dental supports legal aid.

I joked at the race that all I knew about court, I learned from television, where I got the impression that everyone who needs a lawyer is given one. But that’s only true for some criminal cases, and leaves thousands of people on their own for civil matters.

Legal aid attorneys and paralegals provide advice to people who face the imminent threat of homelessness; they represent victims of human trafficking and domestic abuse; they ensure that people seeking justice have a voice in all arenas where decisions are made that affect their lives and their families’ safety.

New Hampshire Legal Assistance and 603 Legal Aid have been key resources for Granite Staters in crisis over the last 18 months, as the pandemic and economic crisis washed over our communities.

This commitment to justice is not new. New Hampshire Legal Assistance is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Over those decades, they have fought and won many major cases, including one that changed oral health care for children in low-income families.

This was the kind of work that can really only happen when a team of legal aid attorneys and paralegals are well-rooted in their community.

NHLA attorneys and paralegals heard from clients and from colleagues at other agencies that families who used Medicaid for dental coverage were finding it impossible to secure dental care. The rates the program paid to dentists were so low that few dental providers were willing to see Medicaid patients. 

Years of intense litigation and trial preparation – interspersed with equally intense settlement discussions and mediation – produced a 36-page consent decree, approved in January 2004. The consent decree led to a wholesale reform of the state’s Medicaid pediatric dental benefits, and reset the standard for beginning children’s regular dental care at age one, rather than age three.

This work was not easy, or quick. It received little public adulation at the time, but this change has provided children in low-income households with critically important dental care and related services valued well over $10 million per year.

The children who have benefitted from these increased dental services have something big to smile about — especially those first children who are now entering the workforce.

As an employer, we at Northeast Delta Dental understand that when employees do not have access to legal assistance, their attendance and work performance is directly impacted.

When employees are upset or stressed over personal legal issues such as divorce, domestic violence or an imminent threat of homelessness from an eviction, this takes a toll not only on the employee and his or her family, but on the company as a whole.

New Hampshire’s business community has benefitted for 50 years from the skills, persistence and compassion that typify NHLA staff. Every day, they and the staff at their partner 603 Legal Aid receive more calls for help than they can meet.

We in the business community owe it to them, to our employees, and to the people of New Hampshire, to support the fundamental American promise of equal access to justice.

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NHTI Offers Virtual Four-part Mindfulness Series

Practicing mindfulness helps my Northeast Delta Dental colleagues and me cope with stress and increase our productivity, so I’m happy to share the news that a portion of the funds we gave to the Community College System of New Hampshire to support its events will be devoted to Mindfulness in Society: Rebuilding for a Better Future, a four-part virtual speakers’ series offered by NHTI, Concord’s Community College. 

This series invites participants to learn how mindfulness can help us address life’s challenges, particularly those we have experienced during the last year and a half.

The full series is $50; each session is $15. The sessions run from 5–6:30 p.m.  All money raised will support NHTI students through its food pantry and emergency fund. The topics include:

·       The Role of Mindfulness in Transforming Communities on October 11 by Sara Flitner and Scott Rogers.

·       Mindfulness: Meeting the Existential Challenges of the 21st Century on October 18 by Jamie Bristow.

·       Befriending Breath: The Subtle Neuroscience of Breath Awareness on October 25 by Norman Farb.

For more details on speakers and topics, and to sign up, visit NHTI.edu/mindfulness. We continue to offer professional mindfulness training to our colleagues. Read my 2020 blog post on professional mindfulness. For a deeper  exploration of this topic, consider reading Mindfulness: A Better Me, A Better You; A Better World, a book I coauthored with Annabel Beerel, PhD, a mindfulness expert, available at: Mindfulness: A Better Me; A Better You; A Better World | Gibson’s Bookstore (gibsonsbookstore.com)

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Supporting the Development of Healthy Eating Habits

Though funding oral health programs is our most mission-sensitive giving, we often find other ways to help our communities. Since oral health is essential to general health, we particularly appreciate opportunities to help programs contributing to overall health and wellness. Recently we were able to again help The Chase Home, in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, by investing $2,500 in its food program.

The Chase Home has an interesting history. It was founded in 1877 as an orphanage for children under 14. No longer an orphanage, in the 1960s, it became a treatment level residential program for youth. During its long history, services have expanded to include the families of the children and youth it works with and the broader community.

The Food Program supports the participates in its successful residential treatment program by making it possible for the staff providing therapeutic, clinical, and vocational support to teach them and their families about making healthy eating choices. The food purchased in supermarkets and at local farms supplements the produce grown in The Chase Home garden.

The Chase Home also provides a home-based program offering services to at-risk youth. Another program focuses on teaching life skills needed for older youth to transition from living at The Chase Home or with their parents in distressed circumstances to living independently. It also provides much-needed group and individual substance abuse counseling to youth and families in Portsmouth and a dozen or so towns in eastern Rockingham County.

To learn more about The Chase Home’s program to address food insecurity and teach good nutrition, visit its blog at Fighting Food Insecurity | The Chase Home | At-Risk Youth Services

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Northeast Delta Dental Races to the Top of Vermont

A race distance of 4.3 miles; an elevation gain of 2,564 ft.- This is what sets apart the Northeast Delta Dental Race to the Top of Vermont a.k.a. “The Hardest Race Anyone Can Do.” Every year, during the month of August, several hundred  hikers, bikers, and runners from across the U.S. and Canada converge at Mt. Mansfield; Vermont’s highest peak. 

The 14th Annual Race To The Top Of Vermont was a bit different; additional pandemic safety protocols were implemented to protect participants and the integrity of the event. Numbers were down from years prior. However, Race Director, Greg Maino was still extremely excited to be able to welcome 600+ runners, hikers and bikers to the big event. Start waves allowed 80-90 participants to more safely begin their journeys up the mountain in 15 minute intervals. It may have been wet but spirits weren’t dampened! Enjoy highlights from the race here and here.  

According to Maino- “The Race To The Top Of Vermont provides critical support for Catamount Trail Association in addition to the Vermont Head Start Association and we feel very fortunate to be able to partner with Northeast Delta Dental. Their support as title sponsor really amplifies the impact of this event, helping to not only ensure a great experience on race day, but also generating benefits that ripple through the greater community all year long.” 

At Northeast Delta Dental, community is an essential part of our mission—not just touching communities and offering high quality oral health services, but creating community and by fostering deep partnerships with the people who make that part of our vision a reality. That’s why we are incredibly thankful for the continued support of The Catamount Trail Association, a passionate group of backcountry skiers and outdoor enthusiasts working to expand access to Vermont’s backcountry, and Champlain Valley Head Start, a Vermont program that promotes the health, safety and well-being of children, and maintains strong collaborative partnerships to meet the changing needs of children, families and communities. 

All proceeds of the race are donated to both organizations to sustain local communities and provide youth with the oral healthcare they need. If you haven’t already, please enjoy a short video overview of the race for yourself by clicking here.

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Rethinking Marketing Assumptions to Create New Markets

I recently discovered a book by co-directors of the INSEAD Blue Ocean Strategy Institute in Fontainebleau, France, W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne. Kim and Mauborgne were named the #1 Management Thinkers in the World in 2019. Blue Ocean Shift: Beyond Competing—Proven Steps to Inspire Confidence and Seize New Growth follows their Blue Ocean Strategy, one of the bestselling business books of the century.

Published in 2017, among the reasons I feel this book is particularly valuable now, is that our experiences with COVID-19 force many of us to question previously held market assumptions while challenged to preserve our visions as businesses or nonprofits. One way this is currently manifesting itself is in the decisions that many of us face relating to whether to return our workforce intact to our buildings or continue all to work from home, or move to a hybrid model. The implications of these and other decisions impact how we continue to build a cohesive and effective team while fulfilling our missions. Blue Ocean Shift gives us a lens through which to  contemplate whether or not to possibly shift away from, long-held marketing assumptions.

The authors characterize red oceans as “full of sharks,” with “cutthroat markets and bloody competition” compared to “blue oceans, or new markets devoid of competition.” They give many examples, drawn from 30 years of researching business, nonprofit, and government sectors, of organizations that created markets. Rather than competing in existing competition-saturated markets, these blue ocean sailors take another tact by first rejecting widely held, fundamental assumptions.

Among the many examples they give of a successful blue ocean shift particularly resonates with me–both because I have preschool grandchildren and I’m passionate about early childhood education. Children in 150 countries worldwide benefit from their television exposure to Sesame Street, with loveable characters that include Big Bird, Elmo, Bert and Ernie and other Muppets. These engaging characters teach preschoolers their colors, shapes, and alphabets in ways that are fun and imaginative. Sesame Street doesn’t replace any other sources of preschool education; instead, they complement them.

Kim and Mauborgne provide steps to achieving a blue ocean shift in ways that bring along your people and build their confidence in the process. Some of the steps in the process include choosing the right place to start, constructing the right team, uncovering hidden pain points, and discovering an ocean of noncustomers—all of which lead to reconstructing market boundaries and finalizing and launching the blue ocean move.Blue Ocean Strategy and Blue Ocean Shift teaching materials have been adopted by over 2,800 universities in over 100 countries across the globe, which makes me believe that there is something here to offer us. Let me know what you think! For more information on Blue Ocean Strategy and Blue Ocean Shift, please click here.

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