Firstenburg Foundation donates $1.5M to Dental Hygiene
In June 2012, Bill and Jeanne Firstenburg appeared before hundreds of graduates bedecked in their gowns and caps during Clark’s 76th commencement ceremony and announced that the Firstenburg Foundation was donating $1.5 million to the college’s Dental Hygiene program.
The Sleep Country Amphitheater in Ridgefield, Wash., erupted in applause and cheers.
Addressing the class of 2012, Bill Firstenburg talked about his family’s commitment to the community and encouraged graduates to give their time, talents and treasures.
“My mother and father loved this community. They also believed strongly in the power of education. Clark College trains our workforce. Clark College educates our leaders. Clark College changes lives.
“Everyone who is graduating tonight has benefited from the support that Clark receives from its alumni and donors. You may never know their names, but they support Clark College because they believe in you. In the years to come—and as you are able—we hope you will pay it forward. We hope that you will turn your belief into action by supporting tomorrow’s students,” he said.
The Firstenburg gift has provided the resources for Clark to increase the number of patient chairs in its teaching clinic by six, thereby providing more opportunities for student enrollment. Historically, the Dental Hygiene program has had a waiting list for its 24 slots each academic year. Thanks to the gift, there are now 30 available openings.
Additionally, paperless charting technology and an advanced radiology suite will be added to the facility, allowing students to be workforce ready upon graduation. The expansion also allows for compliance with federal patient privacy and confidentially requirements.
Clark’s Dental Hygiene Clinic provides education and access to oral health care to residents who otherwise would not have regular care. The clinic fills 3,200 appointments for 2,000 patients annually. Clark’s students serve the community by participating in oral health programs in area schools and caring for patients at the Free Clinic of Southwest Washington, Clark County Skills Center, and Share, a Vancouver-based homeless service. Additionally, students and instructors team up with the Clark County Dental Society each year for Children’s Dental Health Day to provide hundreds of children with free care.