Health First Awards Wellness Grants Totaling More Than $400k To Community Partners
By Space Coast Daily // October 13, 2023
Wellness Grants focus on addressing disparities
Health First strategically partners with non-profit organizations to expand the wellness and health of Space Coast community.
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – Health First has awarded more than $400,000 in Wellness Grants to 15 community partners to support their 2024 health and wellness programs in Brevard County.
These Wellness Grants focus on addressing disparities identified in the Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA). With input from the most recent CHNA conducted in 2022, Health First identified improving access to healthcare, providing more physical activity and nutrition options for children, and addressing other social determinants of health as our community wellness focus areas.
“We are delighted to continue growing our community as we award these wellness grants to our community partners,” said Paula Just, Chief Experience Officer with Health First. “It takes a true team effort in elevating our communities and by working together, we can make a real difference towards improving our health and wellness.”
The community partners approved for a 2024 Wellness Grant are:
■ 211 Brevard
■ Boys & Girls Club (Brevard clubs)
■ Club Esteem
■ Complementary Cancer Care
■ Junior League of the Space Coast
■ Family Promise of Brevard
■ Neighbor Up Brevard – The DOCK
■ New Life Mission
■ Promise in Brevard
■ South Brevard Sharing Center
■ Space Coast Sled Hockey
■ Streetside Showers
■ Ways for Life Brevard
■ Who We Play For
■ Women’s Center of Brevard
A Community Health Improvement Committee, comprised of Health First leaders across the organization, evaluated and approved applications for Wellness Grants with the goal of improving the wellness and health disparities in our community.
Health First is proud to invest in wellness programs that align with the current community wellness focus areas, and officials made special visits today to three of the 15 recipient organizations:
New Life Mission is a Melbourne nonprofit dedicated to providing resources to affect generational change in families that are homeless or at risk of becoming homeless.
“The Health First Wellness Grant provides life-changing funds to our mission and will dramatically improve the chances of success for the women with children that we serve. We are grateful beyond measure,” said Amy Lyon, CEO of New Life Mission.
“We’re being part of the solution along with Health First here in Brevard County,” added Maria Santiago, Program Director.
New Life currently can support up to 26 families (women and their children), and the ultimate goal is 40.
Resident Sandra Galan Vega said the counselor position the grant funds, which she dealt with directly and exclusively at her intake, has helped her “cope, and grow, she’s helped me stay positive, me and my daughter, and let me know we’re going to make it.”
“Before, I thought I was a nobody, a failure. Now I know I’m somebody,” Vega said. “If you want to keep on, you’re in the right place.”
Neighbor Up Brevard’s “The DOCK” has stood as a pillar of the Booker T. Washington neighborhood in north Melbourne since 2004.
“Through this afterschool and summer program, The DOCK provides a secure and nurturing environment where young minds can flourish, focusing on their academic, spiritual, social, physical, and intellectual growth,” said Lynn Brockwell-Carey, Executive Director of Neighbor Up Brevard’s The DOCK.
“We are deeply grateful to Health First for their invaluable support in enabling The DOCK to offer expanded and ongoing mental health therapy and counseling services for the DOCK children and their families.”
Andrea Sasson, Community Engagement Director with The Dock, said the program provides a holistic program for youth and teens, gives them opportunities for mentorship, spiritual guidance, career guidance.
“It’s a critical need for our youth here. For after school hours, without a structured program like The Dock, they might be led to things that aren’t healthy for them. This is a safe haven and grow,”
Club Esteem aims to inspire children in under-resourced communities to achieve academic and personal excellence through tutoring, mentoring, and enrichment programs.
“We’re grateful for Health First’s support of our afterschool and summer program with a Health First Wellness Grant,” said Ellena Little, Executive Director of Club Esteem.
“Health First’s investment in Club Esteem’s Equity Through Education Expansion program will allow us to serve additional students. Partnering with Health First is an exciting opportunity to bring more equity through education in the Melbourne area, and to help youth and families break free from the cycle of poverty by achieving academic and personal success. It is because of partners like Health First that Club Esteem continues to see a 100% high school graduation rate year after year.”