Serving At-Risk and Homeless in Oklahoma City for Nearly 100 Years



For nearly 100 years, Neighborhood Services Organization (NSO) has served the at-risk and homeless of the Oklahoma City community. Founded in 1920 by Methodist women, the organization’s original focus was on one specific neighborhood in south Oklahoma City. The founders sought to make a positive difference in the lives of impoverished, post-WWI families in the Riverside neighborhood where many immigrant families lived.

Housing & Skills to Transform Lives
Over the past 97 years, NSO has greatly increased its reach and scope. The program now provides housing solutions and teaches skills to transform the lives of thousands throughout the Oklahoma
City area. Programs include:

  • Transitional housing for those who need help gaining independence, such as women escaping domestic violence and homeless young men who have aged out of foster care
  • Permanent, supportive housing for homeless adults with mental illness who would otherwise be living on the streets
  • Rental assistance programs to help prevent families from becoming homeless
  • A women, infants and children (WIC) clinic that provides supplemental nutrition and education to women who are pregnant and children up to age five
  • A low-cost, general dental clinic to the uninsured

NSO also has a new dental clinic offering affordable, general dental care to the low-income and uninsured. Up until 2011, NSO and the dental clinic had been housed in a building that was more than 90 years old. Although the old building presented challenges, NSO did not have immediate plans to move.

But in 2011, the building began having structural problems. An inspection determined the building was no longer safe and had to be condemned. NSO had two weeks to be out of the building which presented incredible challenges.

Burkhart Service Techs Moved Equipment in Two Weeks
When it came to the dental clinic, Burkhart Dental’s service technicians stepped up and were able to get the equipment out of the old, multi-story building and operating in a temporary facility in just two weeks. Laura Gutierrez, the dental clinic manager, said that moving the clinic to a temporary facility in that short time would have been impossible without the help of the Burkhart team.

NSO Raises $3.1 Million in Capital Campaign
But the temporary dental clinic was just that—a temporary clinic. NSO needed a permanent home for all its programs. In 2011, for the first time in its history, the organization began its first capital campaign to raise an ambitious $3.1 million. After four years of fundraising and hundreds of donations, NSO was able to reach its goal. Now the old building could be torn down and a new, state-of-the-art facility built in its place to house administrative offices, conference rooms and the dental clinic.

Burkhart Staff Helps with Design and Equipment Options
Burkhart Equipment Specialist, Russ Cornelius, was instrumental in helping design the new dental clinic. Russ worked alongside the architect to fine-tune the details of the space and walked the staff through all their equipment options. The fact that Burkhart offers equipment from many manufacturers was very appealing to NSO staff and enabled them to strike the perfect balance of quality, aesthetics, and efficiency.

Before the new clinic opened, NSO purchased a dental chair and delivery unit from Pelton & Crane that the staff was very happy with. So the plan was to fill the new clinic with operatories with the same chairs and delivery units.burkhart-209

A-dec and Midmark  Cabinetry Fit NSO’s Needs
For cabinetry, A-dec had the configuration with its 12 o’clock and side cabinets that best fit NSO’s needs. LED lights from A-dec and a versatile monitor mount from ICW rounded out the rooms. Midmark Artizan cabinets were custom-designed for the sterilization area.burkhart-213burkhart-222

Gendex X-Ray Technology Provides High-Quality Diagnostic Care
The lab at NSO is bigger than most in-office labs and was furnished with Midmark Integra lab cabinetry and a Handler fume hood. To provide high-quality diagnostic care, NSO chose the Gendex GXDP 300 and Expert DC for its x-ray technology.burkhart-211

Durability and Efficiency
Improves Patient Satisfaction
After moving in, staff members wondered how they ever got along without such beautiful and functional equipment. Several mentioned that durability and efficiency have made great improvements to their workflow and to patient satisfaction. Dental Clinic Manager Laura Gutierrez says that the look, feel and quality of the clinic gives patients confidence they are receiving the best care available regardless of their financial situation. She adds that as donors tour the facility, they frequently comment the clinic is much nicer than anticipated.

Quality of Facility Increases Referrals
The quality and central location of the facility has increased referrals from other organizations such as the City Rescue Mission and drug and alcohol rehabilitation facilities. NSO’s ability to partner with other organizations has increased due to its new facility, resulting in more patients receiving the quality care they need.burkhart-203

Invaluable Dental Director
Serves for 25+ Years
An invaluable part of the NSO dental clinic is Dental Director Alan McDonald, DDS. Dr. McDonald has dedicated a good portion of his career to NSO. Nobody knows exactly how long Dr. McDonald has been there because he started before any human resource records were kept, but he has served for more than 25 years.

Burkhart Account Manager Another Key to Success
Burkhart’s account manager in Oklahoma City, Chris Luksa, is another important piece to the success of NSO’s dental clinic. According to Laura, in her 14 years at NSO, Chris has been the only dental representative who consistently goes “above and beyond.” Before Chris, she didn’t even know who her rep was. Now she says, “He is always there to help and has been so good to us.” She appreciates that he is always looking for potential donations for NSO. He has even helped facilitate in-kind donations from his other Burkhart customers.

NSO Touches 72,000 Lives in 2015
Stacey Ninness has served as NSO’s president and CEO for eleven years. She has led the organization through challenging and rewarding times. Under her leadership, NSO is reaching more patients. In 2015, NSO touched the lives of over 72,000 individuals through its many programs.

NSO Succeeding One Person at a Time
One dental clinic patient in particular is ecstatic about the care at the clinic. “Do you know what it feels like not to have a smile? When the majority of your teeth are missing, especially in the front, you have no smile. Thanks to Dr. McDonald and his staff, I now have a smile—a beautiful, natural smile. And I have the self-esteem that goes along with it.”

Neighborhood Service Organization’s mission is to transform lives and encourage independence through safe, healthy homes, dental care and nutrition. It is succeeding at this mission one person at a time.

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