Manatee County to Receive 2024 Audrey Nelson Award

Manatee County to Receive 2024 Audrey Nelson Award
Posted on 01/12/2024
One of the recipients (second from right) of free dental care at Turning PointsMANATEE COUNTY, FL (January 12, 2024) – Manatee County will receive the 2024 Audrey Nelson Award from the National Community Development Association (NCDA) for its role in helping Turning Points provide free dental care to hundreds of citizens through Project Smile. The County will be recognized at the NCDA’s winter conference on Friday, February 2, 2024, in Washington, DC.

The Audrey Nelson Community Development Achievement Award is a prestigious national community development award that is presented by the National Community Development Association (NCDA), recognizing exemplary uses of the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program and the partnerships between local government and nonprofits to assist low- and moderate-income households.

Turning Points is the only dental clinic in Manatee County providing completely free dental assistance to people who have no or low income and no insurance and are between the ages of 18 and 64. The funding from Manatee County means uninsured low-income residents have access to high-quality free oral prosthetics which improve patients' ability to eat and chew, reduce pain and improve overall appearance.

“A regular dental office would have cost me thousands of dollars for this operation and dentures,” said Eugene after receiving his prosthetics. “That is money that we do not have. Now I have a bright smile, and I can greet people accordingly and sincerely."

Matthieu suffered for years with poor dental health and was missing several teeth. Plus, the remaining teeth that he had needed to be pulled out. Unable to afford the needed dental work, he came to Turning Points for help.

Through several visits, he received upper and lower prosthetics and a new smile. His wife cried along with him when they saw his new smile.

"I had a lot of dental work done. The team was great all the way around between the people at the front desk and the dentist. They are willing to help you as long as you're willing to help yourself,” said Matthieu.

Matthieu worked at a local grocery store and soon after receiving his prosthetics, he got that promotion to be out at the front counter facing the customers. He built up enough self-confidence to go after and land higher-paying employment with even better benefits. He is so proud and grateful that he can take better care of his family now.

Project Smile funding through Manatee County’s Community & Veterans Services has averaged $40,000-$60,000 a year since 2010. All told, 2,900 patients have been helped with over a half million dollars in aid through the Community Development Block Grant.

“We are honored to receive the 2024 Audrey Nelson Award for a project that has been bringing smiles to thousands of folks in our community,” said Manatee County District Two Commissioner Amanda Ballard. “It shows the continued commitment to improving the lives of all Manatee County citizens.”

“The CDBG partnership has allowed us to provide free oral prosthetics for over 2,900 uninsured neighbors," said Kathleen Cramer, Executive Director of Turning Points. "Our dental team is passionate and committed to changing lives, one smile at a time. We are honored to have their work recognized with this award."

On February 2, 2024, Tracie Adams, Deputy Director of Manatee County Community & Veteran’s Services will attend the NCDA conference to give a presentation on Project Smile and accept the award.