A man sought services with the Free Clinic of the New River Valley because he was motivated to fix his smile for family photos with his newborn daughter. He hadn’t seen a dentist since he was five-years-old.

Six visits later, he has a smile he’s proud of and has come to consider the employees at the clinic friends. He’s also become a spokesperson for their services and has vowed not to neglect his daughter’s teeth.

The Free Clinic of the New River Valley is the largest and most comprehensive Free Clinic in the Commonwealth of Virginia, serving more than 2,500 individuals in the New River Valley region of Southwest Virginia. The Clinic is accredited by the Virginia Association of Free Clinics and is committed to providing high quality health care and dental services to people who lack insurance and cannot afford healthcare.

Woman and child

“What makes the Free Clinic of the New River Valley work and work so cost-effectively, is that many different groups contribute financial, in-kind, and volunteer support,” said Brauns.

Karen Watson, Virginia Tech’s director of academic support, lost a friend to several years ago to an illness that could have been prevented if the young man had sought out medical treatment earlier.

In his case, he wasn’t working and didn’t have an income, so getting sick meant disaster in his life, said Watson. And, even though he was a trained EMT, he had no idea, she explained, that he would get so sick that he would die from the illness, she said.


Watson honors her friend and supports the Free Clinic’s mission through a monetary donation to the Commonwealth of Virginia Campaign (CVC) each year.

She is one of 96 Virginia Tech employees who donated more than $22,000 to the Free Clinic of the New River Valley through the annual Commonwealth of Virginia Campaign in 2012.

“I donate to the Free Clinic because I can’t imagine what it would be like to be without medical insurance. People’s lives should not depend on health insurance and it is so important that all people have access to adequate care. By donating to the Free Clinic, I know that someone else can get medical care.  I might not have been able to save my friend, but I can make a difference in someone else’s life in his memory” said Watson.

Please consider donating to any of the 1,000 charities participating in this year’s Commonwealth of Virginia Campaign. The online CVC Pledge System enables salaried Virginia Tech employees to make fast, easy, and secure donations via payroll deduction. All donations are tax deductible, as allowed by law.

First published on October 29, 2013.

Written by Nadia Groome, a junior majoring in communications at Virginia Tech.