Health First Wellness Grants Saved Lives: Awarded More Than $360,000 to 12 Brevard County-Based Nonprofits in 2022
By Shona Price, Director of Community Engagement for Health First // March 28, 2023
2023-2024 application period opens on April 1
Last year, Health First awarded more than $360,000 to 12 Brevard County-based nonprofits; the 2023-2024 application period opens on April 1.
By Shona Price, Director of Community Engagement for Health First
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Last year, Health First made a bold statement about healthcare: We are a wellness company. We’re still the go-to for state-of-the-art acute care for sickness, but we must be in the business of wellness, too. So, we began partnering with local non-profit organizations to expand wellness throughout our community.
As a not-for-profit healthcare organization, our mission is to improve wellness in our community. And we cannot do it alone. We’re always on the lookout for strategic partnerships with seismic potential.
And we’re looking again – we’re looking for more.
Last year, Health First awarded 12 nonprofit Wellness Grants that totaled more than $360,000. These were investments, not giveaways. Our partners have ambitious plans to improve the wellness and health of those they serve and are telling us about their successes and challenges in quarterly reports.
Funding Big Plans
One grantee was Streetside Showers. This mobile shower unit started by John Adams makes stops up and down the Space Coast, offering showers and free toiletries to those in need, laundering clothes and providing a home-cooked meal (literally) to all who come. Their Wellness Grant funded expansion of their services (toiletries and laundry services) along with the purchase of a handicapped-accessible mobile unit.
In the first quarter, Streetside Showers provided 638 hot showers, dispensed 665 hygiene packs and did 39 loads of laundry.
Or consider Junior League of the Space Coast and its Fueling Families program. Their Wellness Grant increased access to healthy and nutritious food for children and families in need through local elementary schools. This program delivered 1,700 pounds of non-perishable foods and 300 pounds of fresh foods – and these are just the first quarter reports.
Saving a Life
Two other nonprofits that received Wellness Grants are WAYS for Life and Who We Play For. The latter is a youth heart-screening non-profit that aims to eliminate preventable cardiac death in young people.
About one in 300 young people have a detectable life-threatening condition. The Wellness Grant awarded to Who We Play For continued support of heart screenings for Brevard student-athletes. In this first quarter, the non-profit identified three kids whose screens indicated the need for immediate clinical follow-up.
Who We Play For performed 293 heart screenings this first quarter. One Edgewood Junior Senior High School student who attended a Who We Play For presentation and screening later complained to his mother that his chest was pounding. It turns out he was suffering supraventricular tachycardia (SVT) and required an ablation. The mother later attended another Who We Play For screening event with her two other children, tearfully thanking organizers for saving her son.
A WAYS To Go
We’re looking for big wins like we found at WAYS for Life Brevard – a non-profit that provides wrap-around services to help teens and young adults avoid homelessness and crime. This Wellness Grant is helping expand WAYS for Life’s essential services and continued support of healthcare navigation programs.
It was there we learned about KS and MD. KS was a homeless young adult who found shelter, transportation, and mentorship at the wraparound services provider.
“WAYS for Life is beyond grateful to Health First for its award of a Wellness Grant,” said Pamela Bress, Executive Director of WAYS for Life Brevard.
“Most kids who come to our center have aged out of foster care or are experiencing homelessness, and with the help of this grant, it’ll create better ways for life for our vulnerable youth by providing them with services to meet their basic needs which provides them an opportunity to successfully transition to adulthood and independence.”
MD lost both his parents and was homeless and attending Eastern Florida State College when he arrived at WAYS. He received shelter and substantial healthcare and dental care navigation services. He secured healthcare insurance on the public Marketplace.
MD dreams of obtaining a four-year college degree in Theater, and in November, the nonprofit matched him with a mentor with a fine arts background who taught dance. Together, they’re applying to colleges with plans to tour some together.
That kind of success is very personal, but what it says about all of us is collective. Communities need cooperation; they thrive when strengths are shared. Our Wellness Grants aim to do just that. We want non-profits like WAYS to dream just as big as those they serve. That takes cooperation and investing in one another’s strengths.
Wellness Grant Application Window Opens April 1
Health First is prepared to do more in 2023-2024. Our application process is competitive, and our reporting is stringent, but our partners find value in it.
Each application is thoroughly vetted, and selected applicants are invited to present to the Community Health Improvement Committee (CHIC), comprised of senior leaders at Health First. This committee appreciates learning about our community partners’ work and becomes strategic thought partners through the process.
If your organization is interested in becoming a wellness partner with us, we have great news – our Wellness Grant application window opens April 1.
Wellness is always worth it. Our own, our family’s – our community’s.
To learn more about our Wellness Grants, and to apply, visit hf.org/wellnessgrants.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Shona Price is the Director of Community Engagement for Health First and a proud graduate of Titusville High School. Visit HF.org/news to keep up on the latest at Health First.