Palm Coast, FL (January 25, 2022) There are a variety of agencies tasked with addressing the social services needs of Florida residents across the board, but it can be difficult to know where to turn, especially in a time of crisis.
Helping to take the mystery out of finding the right agency at the right time is Flagler Cares, a non-profit organization created in 2015 to help residents navigate what can be a confusing and convoluted process when seeking resources.
Welcoming the public to the newly opened Flagler County Village on Monday, January 24, which currently houses four non-profit agencies – Flagler Cares, the Early Learning Coalition of Flagler and Volusia, Healthy Start Coalition of Flagler and Volusia Counties and The House Next Door, Flagler Cares executive director Carrie Baird and her staff were pleased to offer tours of the location, answer questions and make new connections within the healthcare and wellness industry.
Flagler County Commissioners David Sullivan and Donald O’Brien joined commission chairman Joe Mullins for a tour, expressing support and appreciation for the work being done by the agencies to assist residents in their time of need.
“(We’re) celebrating a much needed service for our community and it’s exciting to see what they’re doing here,” said Mullins.
“I think this is something you tackle with a public-private partnership. Government has to be involved but we have to get out of the way and let people like these organizations do what they do best and we just need to be there to support them,” he said.
The open house drew industry partners from the surrounding counties including Karen Chrapek, executive director of the Volusia Recovery Alliance, who was curious to tour the facility. Chrapek hopes Volusia County will one day have a similar resource service center to assist their residents.
“When people are new in substance abuse recovery or mental health it’s so hard to be sent from pillar to post all over the place. Having behavioral health services all under one umbrella, in one spot, makes it easier for the person to get the help they need and they won’t get frustrated and possibly return to use and have a relapse with mental health,” she said.
“This is such a great idea. I wanted to do this in Volusia County because part of my training came from Connecticut and they have a similar thing in Connecticut that works really well,” shared Chrapek, considering the options for Volusia County.
“We could, if we could find a big enough space. It would be absolutely helpful.”
It Takes A Village
Creating space for a nonprofit to call home is no easy task but with board members who are willing to gift their time, talent and treasure to ensure success, it’s a step in the right direction.
Among her many contributions to the community, former Flagler County Commissioner Barbara Revels is a co-founder of Flagler Cares, and while she has since moved on from politics, she has maintained her support for the social services organization.
Proud of the growth over the past six and a half years, Revels and her husband volunteered to build out the Flagler County Village location in the Palm Coast City Marketplace. Once home to the City of Palm Coast’s offices, the third floor has been refurbished to offer a welcoming, serene atmosphere and one-on-one support from social services professionals.
“We’re so excited to see all the people here and the great services that all of our residents can now get in one place,” said Revels, Flagler Cares’ immediate past president.
Having seen the frustration of residents who’ve attempted to navigate social service needs over the years, she’s remained dedicated to helping them.
“There’s a saying called ‘no wrong door’, where you go here and they go ‘oh, you need five pieces of paper’ and to come back, when you really need go over to this office. You go to that office and they say ‘no, you need three more pieces of paper’ and so in a scenario like this, you try to make it where there is no wrong door,” explained Revels.
“All of our organizations that are members are in a coalition. We share information. We can make sure that they can sit here, do an application, get assistance and maybe one of the different organizations that are housed here can assist that client,” she said.
“Flagler County hasn’t had a consolidated service location in a long time, if ever. The county of Flagler through their social services has tried to do it, but they were very limited in their ability and budget, and employees. Now we can kind of do it all, and we’ve done it with grants and donations,” said Revels thanking benefactors and supporting agencies that include AdventHealth, Flagler County and private donors.
Sharing his passion for health and wellness in the community, Tony Papandrea, chairman of the AdventHealth Palm Coast Foundation’s board of directors stopped by to wish the Flagler County Village teams well.
“This is exciting because it takes all of our resources from the county and puts it in one place and can help people,” said Papandrea. “Our foundation at the hospital wholeheartedly supports Flagler County Village and Flagler Cares.”
No Wrong Door
The first friendly face clients see walking through the third floor door is Michelle at the reception window. Baird says staff can help with a myriad of issues from housing, to disability, health insurance, mental or substance abuse care coordination, in addition to assisting pregnant women, women with young children and offering counseling services through Flagler County Village partners.
“Michelle greets all our customers and really it’s all hands on deck if someone walks in and needs help,” she said.
As Baird and her staff talked about the services currently available, she’s already looking ahead to the next phase and the potential impact.
“We’ve been asked today about other resources opening up in the community and I think the idea is to tie together all of those front doors to our helping systems so that we can collaborate,” said Baird. “Our goal is no wrong door, so anyone who walks in, we’re going to help them or connect them to the right person.”
For more information, visit www.FlaglerCares.org or stop in for a visit at 160 Cypress Point Parkway Suite 302B in Palm Coast’s City Marketplace complex, located in the building above Dominic’s Deli on the third floor.
Flagler Cares’ mission is deeply rooted in implementing the Flagler County Community Health Improvement Plan, and over the past cycle has focused on mental health and wellness, issues of critical importance to residents of Flagler County.
A survey is currently underway until January 28, 2022 to assess the next cycle of needs for Flagler County, and residents are encouraged to take survey to ensure their voices are heard and that undetected needs are captured, evaluated and addressed.