Leslie's Story: Springboarding to Self-Sufficiency with a Smile

With few exceptions, individuals navigating a crisis face several challenges at once. Working with its partners, Trident United Way (TUW) invests in comprehensive approaches designed to address challenges on multiple fronts. At the heart of this work is an understanding of the interconectivity between education, financial stability and health, and how challenges in one area affect a person's ability to succeed in others. 

Leslie's journey with East Cooper Community Outreach (ECCO) is one example of the coordinated approach TUW and its partners use to address complex challenges. A widowed mother of three whose husband passed away from the same disease her two eldest children face, Leslie struggled to stay employed while caring for her family's health. Originally requesting ECCO's help with clothing and bill assistance, Leslie also attended a MoneySmart workshop, but it was a visit to ECCO's dental clinic in 2015 that most dramatically changed her life.

Like many struggling to care for ill family members, Leslie did not make her own care a top priority. Unfortunately, eight teeth extractions later, she felt insecure about her appearance and knew it impeded her ability to secure stable employment. Thanks to the clinic, she received partial dentures, boosting her confidence and helping to springboard her to financial stability with a new job.

"These dentures are, without a doubt, the best present I've ever gotten," Leslie said. "You won't believe the difference they've made in my life!"

ECCO is among a network of TUW partners collaborating to provide individuals like Leslie with tools to achieve greater stability and health for their families. TUW also facilitates ongoing partner improvement through collaborative best practices and data sharing. 

"It's been helpful to see what other nonprofits are doing to provide opportunities for individuals and improve the community overall," ECCO Director of Health Services Meredith Johnson said. "Bringing us together helps us know what each other's challenges are and how we can work better together."

ECCO was able to see 2,708 patients in its dental and health clinics during FY 2015-2016, thanks in part to a grant provided by Trident United Way.