BREVARD COUNTY — Nonprofits have long been a critical aspect of communities, serving those in need of housing and nutrition to mental health and more.
Local agency 2-1-1 Brevard has once more brought about its annual “Stars of the Space Coast Awards” in which it recognized the work of volunteers and other nonprofit organizations for their “stellar work.”
The first three award winners were chosen by a panel of judges and included: The Women’s Center of Brevard for the Health First Supernova Award; Ginny Gleason of Brevard Public Schools for the CBRE/Imperial Plaza Superstar Employee Award; and Joe Downs of Brevard County Sheriff’s Office Project Lifesaver and Brevard TRIAD for the Superstar Volunteer Award.
The Brianna Marie Foundation for the Florida Power & Light Community Star Award was chosen by more than 500 online votes, according to 2-1-1 Brevard officials.
Lastly, the fifth award honored three volunteers who dedicated their time to help 2-1-1 Brevard’s response to Hurricane Dorian, and were awarded with the Publix Super Market Charities All-Star Award. These volunteers were Barbara Soucy, who donated 41.5 hours; Regina Oenbrink, who donated 20 hours; and Kem Sprawls, who also donated 20 hours.
Everyone walked away a winner, with even the finalists awarded with prizes.
“It’s a nice event because there’s so much positive energy, and we’re thanking people for what they do,” said Belinda Stewart, Communications Manager for 2-1-1 Brevard. “When you hear their stories about all the great things people are doing, several people commented that they got choked up.”
2-1-1 Brevard is a nonprofit organization that has been serving the community for more than 40 years. It operates as a 24-hour helpline for information, crisis and suicide intervention.
As the finicky Hurricane Dorian approached, and residents unsure of its status to how it would impact Brevard, Ms. Stewart said 2-1-1 Brevard logged in about 6,000 phone calls.
“Obviously that call volume is not something we can handle with our regular staff,” Ms. Stewart said. “Through our formal partnership with Brevard Emergency Management, we maintain people as volunteers every hurricane season. This year, we used 18 volunteers, who in total donated almost 200 hours.”
2-1-1 Brevard fielded calls from residents unsure whether they should stay in their homes or evacuate, gave information on where the nearest shelter might be, and even helped to coordinate transportation with Space Coast Area Transit to those under evacuation orders.
“Our mission is to get our callers help, and the way that we do that is connecting them to community resources,” Ms. Stewart said. “If we didn’t have all those resources available, all those strong nonprofits in our community, we would not be able to help all the people we do.”
According to brevard.211counts.org, between Dec. 11, 2018 and Dec. 10, 2019, the nonprofit had received 50,367 service requests. The No. 1 request was for housing and shelter at 11,250 calls, closely followed by “Other” at 10,122 calls, and mental health & addictions at 6,275 calls.
The majority of housing requests was in regard to shelters and rent assistance. Requests for housing and shelter seemed to spike in October of both 2018 and 2019.
To reach 2-1-1 Brevard for help, simply dial 2-1-1 or text a zip code to 898211.
For more information, visit www.211brevard.org.