The Nonprofit Center of Northeast Florida, The Community Foundation for Northeast Florida, and the Jessie Ball duPont Fund awarded their annual “Local Focus. Lasting Impact.” awards the week of June 14 in Jacksonville. Changing Homelessness and the Mayor’s Taskforce on Homelessness won the Collective Power Award while Gateway Community Services took home the Social Innovation Award for its Project Saves Lives.
Changing Homelessness and the Mayor’s Task Force on Homelessness collaborated to screen nearly 700 homeless Jacksonville residents for coronavirus. The Sulzbacher Center’s Urban Rest Stop program and the Salvation Army of Northeast Florida added resources to assist as well. “It is an honor that the Shelter Task Force has been recognized for the COVID-19 response. In less than 90 days this group of service providers, health care professionals, and government agencies were able to create the screening protocol for homeless shelters. This included creating telehealth and isolation options when necessary, coordinating with all local hospital systems on discharge planning for medically stable COVID-19 positive homeless persons, and offering COVID-19 testing to all shelter residence over a 5-day period. Normally work of this scope and coordination would have taken two or more years to complete,” says Dawn Gilman, Chief Executive Officer of Changing Homelessness.
Gateway’s Project Save Lives (PSL) is an opioid overdose intervention program delivered in hospital emergency departments (ED). Trained peer specialists work with individuals who have been revived from an overdose to create a warm handoff, helping them properly transition to treatment services for substance use disorders and mental health challenges after leaving the ED. The program began as a 6-month pilot at Ascension St. Vincent’s Riverside in Jacksonville and has since expanded to 6 EDs across Duval County, with Clay Behavioral Health and Starting Point Behavioral Health using similar models in their local ED’s based on PSL. Dr. Candace Hodgkins, Gateway’s Chief Executive Officer, thanked many: “Gateway would like to thank all of our funding sources for supporting us since November 2017: The City of Jacksonville, Councilman Bill Gulliford, who championed the project in the beginning, and Councilman Ron Salem who has continued the effort, JFRD, LSF, the State of Florida, Duval and First Coast Delegation and Florida Blue. I would like to thank my amazing staff, especially our Chief Medical Officer, Raymond Pomm, MD, that created the program with community stakeholders.” Dr. Hodgkins says peers are on the frontline every day sharing their lived experience to help others find a new life.
Five additional organizations were honored with a new “Moments Recognition Program” created in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. In a recent Florida Times-Union article, Nonprofit Center CEO Rena Coughlin said, “Each of these nonprofits is an incredible example of the vital work being done in the local community day in and day out. Though their services and programs are varied, each organization meaningfully enhances the quality of life for participants, creating lasting ripples of impact across our community.” The five additional organizations included:
- Ability Housing, recognized for working directly with homeless individuals who are often disqualified from permanent housing because of low income, low credit scores and previous evictions.
- Starting Point Behavioral Healthcare in Nassau County, recognized for its efforts to reduce readmission rates among individuals experiencing mental health and substance use disorders.
- Youth Crisis Center, recognized for purchasing technology for staff members to provide mental health counseling and other services virtually during the pandemic.
- Feeding Northeast Florida for Project SHARE, a collaboration to hire out-of-work kitchen staff to prepare thousands of hot meals for seniors.
- The Arc Nassau for a new job-task demonstration component for its Job-a-Palooza event, which matches employers with potential employees who have disabilities.
Congratulations to all for this well-deserved recognition!