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In late 1999, Dr. Kris Volcheck, CEO of Brighter Way Institute, started preparations for the state’s only dental clinic for the homeless. This was a solution to the problem he had found while working at the Central Arizona Shelter Services for the devastating effects homelessness can have on an individual’s oral health.
Working in collaboration with the Arizona State Office of Oral Health and the Maricopa County Healthcare for the Homeless Clinic, the CASS Dental Clinic opened to its first patient on Jan 1, 2001. In the first year, 20 volunteer dentists, 15 hygienists, and 20 dental labs provided service in the two-chair dental trailer.
Four years later, Dr. Volcheck completed the design, secured funding, and oversaw relocation of the clinic to an eight-chair facility located on the Human Services Campus in downtown Phoenix. It is presently one of the largest volunteer-driven dental clinics in the nation, providing comprehensive dental care to homeless veterans, adults and children. There are many hundreds of volunteers and dental students now working at the clinic to serve the oral health needs of the homeless community.
On March 1, 2007 the CASS Dental Program for Homeless Children on the Human Services Campus was opening. The Children’s program utilized the same successful model of dental volunteers and students providing treatment to the homeless children.
In June of 2010, with funding form the Bruce and Halle Foundation, the Murphy Kids Dental Clinic was launched. The clinic served 2,200 impoverished children in the Murphy elementary school district.
On July 1st, 2014, The Bob and Renee Parsons Foundation funded the opening of the Parsons Center for Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics at the site of the Murphy Kids Dental Clinic. The Bob and Renee Parsons Foundation has continued to support the efforts to treat these uninsured children. The Center provides comprehensive care to over 15,000 impoverished, mostly Hispanic children each year.
On March 4th, 2016, in collaboration with Canyon State Academy, the Canyon State Academy Dental Center for Foster Children was opened.
On July 1st, 2016, Brighter Way Institute was formed. This new non-profit, with Dr. Volcheck as CEO, took the 3 clinics that formerly belongs to CASS, and formed an organization that would continue to focus on treating the oral health needs of our underserved communities.
At this time, the Brighter Way Institute is comprised of the Brighter Way Dental Center for Veterans and the Homeless (formerly CASS Dental Clinic), the Parsons Center for Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics, and the Canyon State Academy Dental Center for Foster Children.