Quantum invests in Palm Beach County’s health

WEST PALM BEACH — The Board of Trustees of the Quantum Foundation, under the chairmanship of Ethel Isaacs Williams, recently approved nine new grants totaling more than $800,000 to Palm Beach County-based nonprofits.

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News
Angela Culler does the honor of cutting the tape on her brand new home, while Daryl Huston, and Bernardine Atkins look on.

Quantum Foundation’s mission is to fund initiatives that improve the health of Palm Beach County residents. In 1998, Quantum Foundation marked its rookie year as one of Palm Beach County’s newest and largest philanthropic organizations with an impressive $7.6 million granted to more than 40 Palm Beach County projects. Twenty years later, with assets of approximately $150 million, the organization’s focus remains on keeping Palm Beach County healthy. Their 20 years’ worth of awards totals more than $140 million and has impacted hundreds of local nonprofit organizations. Every dollar the foundation grants continues to stay in the county to benefit local communities. The most recent cycle of grants focuses on better engagement in health, greater access to resources for health, and stronger connections for healthy communities.

Of the nine grants allocated for the first quarter of 2019, $75,000 went to Habitat for Humanity of Palm Beach County (HFHPBC) to support their Western Communities Expansion Program, which will provide affordable housing for home ownership, home preservation and repair services, financial counseling, and other supportive services for families in the Glades area, as well as the creation of a Habitat satellite office in Belle Glade. This new and permanent presence will allow HFHPBC to contract with local vendors and hire local residents to help fulfill the mission of Habitat to build homes, communities, and hope for families in the Glades.

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News
Erin and Angela Culler str on the porch of their new home.

“Recognizing the importance of housing as it relates to health has become an increasingly important part of our community investment,” said Eric Kelly, president of Quantum Foundation. “Since 2011, our foundation has addressed the county’s basic needs such as food, housing, transportation, and financial assistance at the grassroots level. But we know that healthy homes promote good physical and mental health. Good health depends on having homes that are safe and free from physical hazards. In contrast, poor quality and inadequate housing contributes to health problems such as chronic diseases and injuries, and can have harmful effects on childhood development. We hope with projects like Habitat, we can begin to have a greater impact by addressing housing as a social determinant of health and other related issues.”

The City of Belle Glade has given the HFHPBC group eight lots, on which to build homes, with more to follow. Construction will begin once funding has been secured and families identified. Besides adding convenience, the establishment of a western Palm Beach County Habitat office location would make it easier to build partnerships within the community, recruit volunteers, and spread the word about HFHPBC’s services.

“The grant from Quantum is essential to the work we’re doing in the western part of the county,” said Bernard Godek, chief executive officer of HFHPBC. “We want to provide the people of Belle Glade, Pahokee, and South Bay opportunities for home ownership with affordable, stable, and quality housing and fill the need to provide adequate residences for the people who live and work in the area.”

HFHPBC will hire local people and contractors to build and repair the houses. The grant will also fund repair work on existing homes for projects such as new roofs, hot water heater repairs, and even installing air conditioners.

Special to the Lake Okeechobee News
The new Culler family home in Belle Glade.

“Habitat has a responsibility to offer these services to the often-neglected Glades area of the county. We have not failed any of the promises we’ve made and projects we’ve undertaken yet, so we will work tirelessly to fulfill our goal to provide residents with affordable housing,” Mr. Godek said.
Other grants approved in this cycle include:

• Health Council of Southeast Florida (serving all of Palm Beach County) — $65,000. HCSEF will partner with local nonprofits serving a distressed and underserved population to provide health literacy workshops for those clients in order to help them better navigate the healthcare system and lead healthier lives. They will also conduct trainings for health and human service professionals to help them improve their abilities to teach health literacy to their clients.

• Families First (serving all of Palm Beach County) — $250,000. The Connected Care Program is executed by a coalition of partners serving 1,280 at-risk children and 895 families over a two-year period. Families First and Center for Child Counseling will provide evidence-based individual and family therapy to these children and their families. Florida Atlantic University Westgate Clinic will provide psychiatric and primary healthcare services on-site and remotely via telehealth. Finally, the National Alliance on Mental Health will provide peer and family support, functional skills training, advocacy, and outreach to children and families with behavioral health needs.

• Farmworker Coordinating Council of Palm Beach County (serving all of Palm Beach County) — $150,000. The Community Health Access Teams (CHAT) program serves the farmworkers of Palm Beach County who have a unique set of barriers preventing them from having health insurance coverage and access to resources to help them lead healthier lives. The three main barriers for farmworkers to gain health insurance coverage are language, immigration status, and affordability. The farmworker population is vulnerable to pesticide poisoning, heat stroke, kidney diseases, and other job-related illnesses, and many of them are forced to live in overcrowded rooming houses where several families must share common bathrooms and kitchens. The spread of diseases, such as tuberculosis or hepatitis B, is common among this population due to unsanitary living conditions. CHAT will help with healthcare applications, provide monthly outreach activities, and host monthly health workshops with information on nutrition and illness prevention. This program will enroll 510 individuals in health insurance coverage, engage 1,200 individuals with outreach activities, and educate 240 families with health workshops.

• Project LIFT (serving the Belle Glade area) — $50,000: Project LIFT provides a 14-week mental health and vocational program to male teens ranging from ages 14-19 who are referred to them by county courts, the juvenile justice system, and local high schools. Project LIFT utilizes licensed psychotherapists in a hands-on/high-touch vocational setting, working intensely with the teens to replace negative behaviors with positive self-esteem while teaching skills such as carpentry, welding, screen printing, and more. In addition to serving at-risk teenagers, a two-generational approach fosters child-to-parent interaction. This intergenerational initiative creates a legacy of economic security that passes from one generation to the next. Licensed therapists and skilled tradesmen work intensely with groups of teens to replace self-destructive behaviors with productive work and personal habits that allow the clients to become self-sufficient and stabilized for long-term success. These therapists apply best practice, Trauma-Informed Care and Motivational Interviewing to help foster resilience. In the next 12 months, 50 youth will participate in this program.

• Speak Up for Kids (serving all of Palm Beach County) — $35,000. The Therapeutic Court is a one of-a-kind program using a team approach to help challenged youth in the foster care system overcome the effects of abuse and neglect. The selection of children is based on criteria that identifies them as high-risk, and this program provides specialized care which reduces Baker Acts, placement disruptions, and helps the child transform into a healthy and productive citizen.

Groups funded by Quantum Foundation must meet strict grant criteria and must be classified as tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. All grants must benefit the people of Palm Beach County. For information about Quantum Foundation, or to learn about applying for grants, please visit http://www.quantumfnd.org/ or call 561-832-7497.

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