Susanne Hutchings first became involved with Bethlehem Housing more than 10 years ago as a volunteer for our third party fashion show event.
Born and raised in the Niagara region, Susanne felt she wanted to become more involved within the community. With more than 30 years of experience in the dental industry, Susanne decided to give back to the community by providing services she was familiar with and passionate about.
There are a number of different barriers including financial, life skills, and transportation that can limit individual’s access to dental services. Through her previous involvement with Bethlehem Place, Susanne came up with the model for the program of on-site dental hygiene services.
“People can be overwhelmed by dental work so I enjoy serving them in a non-intimidating atmosphere,” said Susanne. It was important for her that people with lower income have easier access to dental services. “I also really enjoy creating lasting memories with the people I serve.”
Susanne began providing onsite dental health prevention and maintenance services to residents at Bethlehem Place. During this time she met a woman who was in urgent need of dentures but unable to afford them. She decided to walk alongside this woman to help her find the necessary dental resources
They eventually found funding from the United Way and the woman was provided with a new set of dentures. It was at this point that Susanne realized that affordable dental care was a barrier for low-income adults and she decided that more needed to be done.
Once Susanne brought the issues with dental care to the attention of the United Way St. Catharines and District, they began to brainstorm ideas together on how they could resolve them. This was the impetus for the Brushed Aside Dental Care Access Program, which provides loans to adults in need of dental treatment with repayment plans tailored to ability to pay.
Brushed Aside now accepts applications from eight different organizations across the Niagara region. In one year they provided $150,000 worth of dental programs and services to clients in need. Click here for more information about the Brushed Aside program.
Along with Bethlehem Housing Susanne also provides on-site dental hygiene services to several other organizations including Gillian’s Place, Niagara Regional Housing, March of Dimes, Westview Centre4 Women, and long-term care facilities in the region. She visits each location, including all three of Bethlehem’s housing units, once per month.
Susanne Hutchings is one of Bethlehem’s Housing Heroes! She continuously helps to improve the quality of life for our residents.