Dee Scott couldn’t a;ord the cost of a
dentist for the twin 8-year-old girls she
was raising with her husband in Crestview, Fla.—and she was feeling desperate. Scott had become the girls’ legal
guardian after their father, a single parent who is her husband’s brother, could
no longer care for them. When she
learned the twins, Lakesha and Nevaeh
Marion, had never been to the dentist,
she knew she had to do something.
“The girls were complaining about
their mouths,” Scott says. “I didn’t realize how severe
the issues were, but I had been praying for some way
to pay for the appointment.”
Her prayers were answered. The Children’s Vol-
unteer Health Network o;ered free dental care for
the girls, who turned out to need eight to 10 fillings
each. CVHN, founded by Tricia Carlisle-Northcutt,
facilitates no-cost, immediate access to medical,
dental, and mental health care for uninsured and un-
derinsured children in Florida’s Walton and Okaloosa
counties. Finding CVHN meant that the twins no lon-
ger had to su;er from untreated medical and dental
issues. “CVHN was a godsend for us,” Scott says.
CVHN had its genesis because of a young boy,
Tyler, whom Carlisle-Northcutt met nine years ago
at her church’s outreach program. Tyler had severely crooked teeth. “Kids were calling him names,” she
says. “He was always in trouble, and I worried that his
bad behavior due to being bullied would escalate as
he got older. If I could get his teeth fixed, kids might
stop making fun of him,” says Carlisle-Northcutt. It
worked. Tyler, now 20, finished high school and enlisted in the military.
Carlisle-Northcutt founded CVHN in 2005, and
the program quickly blossomed. It has grown from
three volunteer providers to a health care referral
program that now includes 90 providers, a dental bus
that visits 10 schools, and a three-chair dental clinic.
While CVHN started with a focus on dental proce-
dures, the group also makes referrals to medical care
providers with a wide range of specialties. Children
are treated for everything from ear infections to ma-
jor heart conditions.
An impressive number of children have been
helped through the network. “Last year we treated
796 kids on the dental bus and 330 kids in the dental clinic, and we provided 123 kids access to other
volunteer providers,” Carlisle-Northcutt says. Now
in its ninth year, CVHN has helped more than 7,000
children through 50,000 procedures with a value of
$3.7 million. The success of CVHN has everything to
do with Carlisle-Northcutt’s ability to dream big. “
Tricia had this vision, and her passion has helped her get
people involved in a huge capacity,” says Zach Billing-sley, CVHN executive director. She has even recruited
volunteers to drive kids from school to their appointments.
CVHN receives an annual grant from the United
Way and hosts five signature fundraisers. Most of the
network’s Circle of 100, those who pledge $1,000 per
year, are real estate professionals, she says.
While she has stepped away from her administrative role, Carlisle-Northcutt remains active as a fundraiser and program ambassador. “I’m working on getting money for a second dental bus,” she says. Named
a Good Neighbor Awards honorable mention in 2007,
Carlisle-Northcutt says she’s proud to have built an
organization that can continue in her absence. “We’ve
gone through a journey. It’s like birthing a baby and
letting that child go o; to college. I want it always to
be its own strong foundation,” she says.
BY TRACEY C. VELT
Brightening Smiles Tricia Carlisle- Northcutt cuts through the financial barriers
that deny children the
health care they need.
TRICIA CARLISLE-NORTHCUTT BEACH PROPERTIES OF FLORIDA | SANTA ROSA BEACH, FLORIDA
Contact Tricia Carlisle-Northcutt at firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn more at cvhnkids.org.