This year’s Senior Living issue should actually be called Seniors Living. That’s because every article in this issue either focuses on or was written by someone over 65 — the magic age when AARP tracks you down.

But the interesting fact is that we didn’t plan the issue that way, it unfolded when we were looking for a subject that represented the senior living theme.

The usual approach is to look for the usual suspects as a subject. High on the list is finding someone whose life defies the stereotype of a senior citizen. Our recent list of potentials included a 90-some-year-old architect still on the job and a 100-year-old bowler. We were also on the lookout to find someone dealing with an age-related health situation and bring it to the public’s attention.

While we were thinking about the above, I also began to think about the stories waiting in our queue.

I had already prepared the spotlight on a new book by Judith Brodsky, the Princeton-based artist, professor, and author, who happens to be 88.

Veteran U.S. 1 writer Patricia Taylor had proposed a story on rain gardens a few months ago and recently submitted it. So that was ready.

I had already scheduled my first-person story on my recently acquired pastime that has generated a lot of questions from friends, family, and acquaintances: beekeeping.

And U.S. 1 contributor Tom Kelly had recently done an interview with an artist born the same year as me (1951), had retired from teaching several years ago, and is now building a fresh reputation with his bright and colorful takes on musicians and faces in the news.

Suddenly the articles configured together like a constellation that indicated that we didn’t have to look too far for something or someone to highlight. We’re doing it. But not as something special, it was just part of our everyday lives and that it seemed to be a sign of the times.

And while it is usually customary for a senior to make some comments regarding age, ability, and so on, that’s not going to happen because I, like the others mentioned, am too busy to think about it — as this issue shows.

To the Editor: KSF Helps Close the Health Equity Gap

We at the KinderSmile Community Oral Health Center in downtown Trenton were gratified to be able to finally have our first organization benefit, on November 11 at Trenton Hall. Our Stand Up for a Smile comedy event, with stand-out performances by Rodney Laney and Missy G Hall, was a big success, significantly benefiting our Trenton “Dental Home” on North Broad Street.

We are incredibly grateful for the support of our sponsors who made this night possible: The ARC Mercer, First Bank, LB Goodman. Fox Rothschild LLC, Stark & Stark Law Firm, Northfield Bank Foundation, Investors Bank, and Cindy Hollender.

The expansive new KinderSmile Community Oral Health Center (KSCOHC) opened for first patients in early October, 2020. The office provides access to care for Greater Trenton’s underserved children and adults; we have served more than 3,000 patients since the opening. This concept has already worked tremendously well, with thriving centers in Bloomfield (HQ) and Newark (Boys and Girls Club).

Working under the umbrella of KinderSmile Foundation, KSCOHC Trenton brings a comprehensive oral health center to what has been accurately described as a “dental desert.” KinderSmile was founded by Dr. Nicole McGrath Barnes (CEO), selected in October, 2020, as a Healthcare Hero by NJ Biz and as a Woman of Achievement by the Princeton Mercer Chamber of Commerce in June.

The need is urgent for a few different reasons, and the huge racial disparity in health care tops the list. Trenton Kids Count 2019 states that 34 percent of Trenton families are living below poverty level, 54 percent of Trenton children are Black/African American, 42 percent are Hispanic. Minority and low income children are less likely to see a dentist, but twice as likely to have severe tooth decay at a young age. Yet over 25 percent of children living in poverty have not visited a dentist in the past year.

Our Trenton office is already bridging the gap in access to oral healthcare for underserved youth and adults in Trenton. Medicaid/NJ FamilyCare insures 63 percent of Trenton’s children, yet prior to KSF’s expansion into Trenton, there was only one dental practice that accepted that form of insurance, with limited access to uninsured patients.

As of November, 2021, the percentage of uninsured we serve is approximately 60 percent, nearly double our pre-opening, heavily data-driven projections. Our very successful and one-of-a-kind Perinatal Health and Wellness program provides education, prevention, and treatment solely to uninsured expectant moms and their newborns, serving 225 in Bloomfield and a growing number here in Trenton.

We are proud to be part of the dedicated effort to make access to oral health care in the City of Trenton and beyond a reality. Quality oral health care and certainly overall health care should be an unquestioned human right.

To learn more about how KinderSmile is providing powerful, compassionate solutions to the health equity gap — and how you can support us — please visit www.kindersmile.org or to tour our new Dental Home, please call us at 973-744-7003.

Randall Kirkpatrick

Director of Development and Marketing, KinderSmile Community Oral Health Center

Trenton

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