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Doing Right

Loving Thy Neighbor

By Ainsley Rogers

Life happens fast these days. So fast, in fact, that noticing something seems only to happen if we’re paying really close attention. Our modern conveniences, designed to improve our lives, can sometimes impede our ability to realize when others are in need. Setting aside a little time to help someone—a fellow shopper overburdened with packages or a lost stranger in need of directions—essentially keeps us grounded in an age-old principle: love thy neighbor.

Rooted in that tenet is a wonderful story—the story of how Children’s Volunteer Health Network began. Like most uplifting stories, it started with someone in need and another who noticed and took action instead of being blind to or, even worse, passively observing the problem and not doing anything at all.

When Tricia Carlisle-Northcutt, a South Walton, Florida, resident and owner of Right Brain Strategies, LLC, noticed a sweet, young boy being bullied because of his severely crooked teeth, she hoped someone would help him. “Monster Mouth,” as young Tyler was called, had great leadership potential but was instead aggressive and disruptive, behavioral by-products of the ridicule from his peers. As a volunteer at Point Washington Baptist Church’s after-school outreach program, Tricia watched week after week as the problem grew worse, always hoping someone would step in to help the young boy’s condition. Then it dawned on Tricia: she was that someone.

View of Navy Pier Featuring Lake Michigan And The Centennial Ferris Wheel

 

After three quick phone calls to other church members, the faith-based Children’s Volunteer Health Network (CVHN) was born. The concept was simple: if doctors and dentists donated their services and volunteers donated their time to take children to appointments, children like this young boy might otherwise have the opportunity for health services that poverty or harsh financial circumstances prevented. After the founding members contacted a dentist enthusiastic to donate his services, Tyler had a mouth full of braces and, years later, a renewed outlook on life, thanks to a community that cared for him.

CVHN now offers medical assistance to K–12 children of Okaloosa and Walton counties currently on the free or reduced-price lunch program; the children are referred to CVHN by an adult, often the school nurse. The network provides a discount prescription drug card and access to healthcare services, the mobile dental clinic, and the new CVHN Dental Clinic, located across from CVHN headquarters on Highway 98. Since its inception, CVHN has helped 2,697 children, providing health services including root canals for 274 children, glasses for 157, and braces for 22.

 

But the story of giving doesn’t end here. The local community now enters the story, since the giving hearts of concerned individuals are what keep CVHN’s mission accomplishable. Funded only by donations, assistance from foundations, and free service from providers, 86 cents of every dollar goes directly to the children. To raise funds, the CVHN staff and board of directors have strategically placed themselves in the South Walton social scene to help raise money for children’s assistance through multiple events held throughout the year.

CVHN’s first event was held over seven years ago at the then 331 Restaurant. “We basically went to the owners and said, ‘We have kids with no insurance that need help. We have to do something,’” said Jane Bahr, a founding member of CVHN. After garnering $39,000 in donations, the inaugural Hurricane Party was deemed a success. Each year, the Hurricane Party is the most successful fund-raising event held for CVHN, with the most recent raising over $38,000 at Pandora’s Steak House in Grayton Beach. Since that first fund-raiser, the CVHN calendar has grown to include events for all kinds of celebratory tastes—all have been successful in aiding children in need.

View of Navy Pier Featuring Lake Michigan And The Centennial Ferris Wheel

 

But the story of giving doesn’t end here. The local community now enters the story, since the giving hearts of concerned individuals are what keep CVHN’s mission accomplishable. Funded only by donations, assistance from foundations, and free service from providers, 86 cents of every dollar goes directly to the children. To raise funds, the CVHN staff and board of directors have strategically placed themselves in the South Walton social scene to help raise money for children’s assistance through multiple events held throughout the year.

CVHN’s first event was held over seven years ago at the then 331 Restaurant. “We basically went to the owners and said, ‘We have kids with no insurance that need help. We have to do something,’” said Jane Bahr, a founding member of CVHN. After garnering $39,000 in donations, the inaugural Hurricane Party was deemed a success. Each year, the Hurricane Party is the most successful fund-raising event held for CVHN, with the most recent raising over $38,000 at Pandora’s Steak House in Grayton Beach. Since that first fund-raiser, the CVHN calendar has grown to include events for all kinds of celebratory tastes—all have been successful in aiding children in need. View of Navy Pier Featuring Lake Michigan And The Centennial Ferris Wheel

View of Navy Pier Featuring Lake Michigan And The Centennial Ferris Wheel

 

CVHN in 2012

Throughout the year, there are many opportunities to give to Children’s Volunteer Health Network—and have a great time while doing it!

The first of March will usher in the inaugural 30A Wine Festival for wine lovers and connoisseurs alike. Slated to take place March 3 and 4, the new wine festival will be an exclusive, intimate weekend affair of fine wines and food pairings. The walkabout will take place at Alys Beach beginning Saturday morning, where select vintners will be discussing their featured wines in seminar fashion. That afternoon, light hors d’oeuvres will be paired at the grand wine tasting where the lucky attendees will have the opportunity to sample up to eighty different wines on Kelly Green while the Sean Dietrich Trio plays. Attendees will also have the opportunity to enjoy music by Cloud 9 Orchestra and sample more fine wine and food pairings from local restaurant sponsors from 6 to 9 p.m. The weekend will wrap with a champagne brunch on Sunday morning.

For those looking to wine and dine, CVHN, in partnership with the Destin Charity Wine Auction Foundation, will host an exclusive patron dinner at Caliza Pool in Alys Beach in April—a perfect gourmet evening of fine wines and foods. Patron packages include access to a full weekend of festivities, including a reserve tasting and auction at Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort and the Sandestin Wine Festival in Baytowne Village.

View of Navy Pier Featuring Lake Michigan And The Centennial Ferris Wheel  

In May, the Premiere Golf Tournament will take place at Shark’s Tooth Golf Club to benefit CVHN. A tee-off party and silent auction will take place the evening of May 14 at WaterSound Beach Club, while May 15 will serve as a day for golf enthusiasts competing in honor of CVHN. Sponsorships varying from to $500 to $4,000 are available, while the presenting sponsorship, valued at $7,500, is reserved by Alys Beach.

View of Navy Pier Featuring Lake Michigan And The Centennial Ferris Wheel

 

Each November, Cottages for Kids, a unique event especially popular with families, takes place in Rosemary Beach. In 2011, three playhouses were brought from dream to reality by local builders, architects, and designers working with other community members to create exciting, new cottage displays. The creative structures were raffled off to lucky patrons who had purchased tickets at $5 apiece. The result: $13,000 to help uninsured and underinsured children gain access to the care they need. With volunteers ranging in age from 15 to 80, builder teams made up of high school students, and the support of many local businesses, positive feedback was plentiful and a good omen that the event will continue to grow in 2012.

This Christmas, be sure to watch for the annual CVHN Holiday Party to be held at V Seagrove. This event is an exciting way to give to CVHN—live music and fabulous food draws crowds from up and down 30A.

— V —



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