CVHN celebrates 8 years of healthy, happy kids

Special to The Sun
CVHN recognized three award recipients at its Volunteer Appreciation and Birthday Celebration April 22. From left are Community Partner of the Year Alys Beach, represented by Todd Zauner, vice president of Resort Operations, and Kelli Siler, senior event manager; Volunteer of the Year Ronnie and Beverly Dowdy; and Provider of the Year, Dr. Carol Merkle, DMD.

Children’s Volunteer Health Network celebrated its eighth birthday on April 22 and hosted a Shrimp Boil at Grayt Grounds of Monet Monet to honor volunteers, providers and community partners who play a significant role in the organization’s success. Since inception in 2005, CVHN has helped more than 5,000 local children and facilitated more than 27,500 medical, dental, vision and mental health care procedures for kids who have limited or no access to the health care they need and deserve.

“When CVHN was just in the embryo stage of being, it was apparent that in order to grow this incredible organization it would take the very best minds, hearts and hands to transform a hope into a reality of serving our area's children. God provided the very best of all three; minds, hearts and hands,” said Tricia Carlisle-Northcutt, CVHN’s founder. “With the endless energy of our selfless providers, incredible staff, community partners and volunteers, we are able to continue and grow this vision. We, as a community, are so enriched to serve with such a wonderful group of loving people. It is with the deepest gratitude that we can call each of these groups family.”

CVHN recognized three award recipients at its Volunteer Appreciation and Birthday Celebration on April 22. Volunteer of the Year was presented to Ronnie and Beverly Dowdy, who volunteered at multiple CVHN events and helped on the Just for Grins Mobile Dental Clinic. Provider of the Year was presented to Dr. Carol Merkle, DMD, who has provided dental work and root canals for more than 200 local children since 2007. Community Partner of the Year was presented to Alys Beach for their enduring, generous support of CVHN.

“The people being recognized have demonstrated unbelievable selflessness and commitment in support of CVHN’s mission," said Zach Billingsley, CVHN executive director. "They have gone far above and beyond what was asked of them. Although they all serve in very different ways, they each share a genuine passion for helping our kids.  They would all tell you they do not want, need or expect this recognition, but they certainly deserve it. They have helped change the lives of our kids.”

Another reason to celebrate in April was the first anniversary of the opening of the CVHN Dental Clinic in Santa Rosa Beach. The Dental Clinic is a state-of-the-art, full-service dental clinic which provides dental care to children enrolled in the free and reduced lunch program in Okaloosa and Walton Counties at no cost to the families. The Dental Clinic also recently opened its doors to children who qualify for Medicaid.

“We are constantly looking to meet the needs of the children in the community by increasing their access to quality care," said Billingsley. "When we learned there were very few dentists accepting Medicaid in our area, we wanted to utilize our Dental Clinic to help fill that gap."

The CVHN Dental Clinic will be open throughout the summer.  Families with children needing dental assistance should call 850-622-3200, ext.106, to set an appointment.