Every year, but this year especially, Florida Insurance Trust has been pleased to host its annual Holiday Miracle Contest, which allows three Florida nonprofits the opportunity to win extra money for their organization. This year, we asked our nonprofit members to tell us a story about how they made a difference in 2021.

We received many wonderful responses but ultimately, three winners were randomly chosen. Below our three winners share how they made a difference in 2021.

Grand Prize Winner: STEPS

The opioid epidemic has no boundaries and does not discriminate, bringing with it enormous financial costs to our community. Impacted by the ongoing stress and uncertainty of COVID-19, this led to increased use of opioids and stimulants. Overdoses spiked since the onset of the pandemic and increased the need for Substance Use treatment. Losing friends, family and loved ones is the ultimate loss to our community but STEPS has provided access to a safe, efficient and cost-effective treatment and a pathway to recovery. It is the goal of STEPS to reduce immense costs for multiple publicly funded systems by reducing child welfare removals, reducing emergency room visits and reducing arrests and incarceration. We accomplishing this by delivering a client-centered approach to Evidenced Based Treatment services that includes group therapy, individual and family counseling. We’ve saved our community money this by providing over 10,000 residential treatment bed days to Women, Women with Children – that’s $500,000+ saved in lieu of jail time by diverting offenders to treatment. Our collaboration with primary healthcare providers has saved over $1 million in emergency room visits. (State average ER visit cost $6,909, consumer health ratings). The availability of treatment has also saved the foster care system over $300,000 by allowing children to remain in the home or in the home of family members.

Cheryl Bello, Executive Director

Second Place: Henderson Behavioral Health

Three simple but meaningful words in our Henderson Behavioral Health (HBH) slogan have never resonated so strongly as they have during these past years amid the global COVID-19 pandemic. Yet, HBH has continued to positively impact the south Florida community in several important ways.

Innovation: Recent challenging times made it clear that Henderson’s focus needed to adapt to changing consumer attitudes and preferences, and that we had to explore innovative ways to improve our efficiency, effectiveness, and client access to services. Henderson embraced these challenges by creating and implementing several new initiatives and services. The expansion of telehealth services increased access through virtual technology and bridged gaps for continuity of care. As one of the first four organizations in Florida to receive funding to become a Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic, Henderson was able to expand outpatient services and enhance ease of access. The completion of our new Crisis Stabilization Unit, thanks to generosity of the Pulte Family Charitable Foundation & the Mary Porter Legacy Fund of the Community Foundation of Broward, brings a state-of-the art facility to help meet the needs of individuals experiencing a behavioral health crisis. Selection to be part of the National Council for Mental Well Being Trauma Informed Resilience Oriented Learning Community and the creation of an internal Diversity and Inclusion Committee are helping our team recognize that trauma impacts everyone.

Compassion: The pandemic has led to sweeping changes and disruptions in nearly every aspect of daily life including exacerbated feelings of stress, anxiety, isolation and depression. Recognizing the negative impacts of this public health crisis, our staff found ways to continue to go above and beyond, providing services with kindness and empathy, while many faced their own challenges. Through compassion, we are helping and supporting others – and ourselves.

Hope: The cornerstone upon which recovery happens. At Henderson, we have seen that people with behavioral health conditions can and do recover. By providing hope and encouragement to persevere when times are difficult, we offer motivation to individuals under our care to achieve personal goals, empower catalyst for change, and positively impact a person’s quality of life. We have all been through this life-changing pandemic together and will never forget our capacity to change course, adapt and overcome the challenges with which we have been faced. Henderson Behavioral Health and our team of professionals look forward to continuing to serve our community and to provide HOPE; HOPE for recovery, HOPE for stability, and HOPE for a brighter future!

Theses are Holiday Values we cherish year-round and we appreciate the opportunity to share our joys this glorious season.

John Aquino, Director of Administration

Third Place: Treasure Coast Hospice

Treasure Coast Hospice makes an impact every day to the 430+ patients our team cares for daily. Among the many patients we care for, our organization strives to be a leader in caring for and honoring veterans in our community and supporting their families. Treasure Coast Hospice improves the quality of life for veterans and their families by providing them with the compassionate care and support that they deserve; engaging and connecting with veterans through the Veteran-to-Veteran Patient Visiting Program; organizing Veteran Cafes or Coffee with a Veteran gatherings, and honoring our military men and women through Veteran Pinning Ceremonies. This year, Treasure Coast Hospice’s deep commitment to understanding and addressing the unique needs of 481 veterans helped our organization earn the highest distinction as a Level 5 We Honor Veterans partner. This accolade places our program among the Top 5% of more than 3,300 We Honor Veterans programs across the nation.

Maryellen Murphy, Marketing Manager

Congratulations to them and thank you to everyone who entered. We will be sharing a few of our favorite entries over on Facebook. Check out our Facebook page and give us a like!

Happy Holidays!