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Need support? St. Pete has a new community resource

Mark Parker



City officials look on as Dr. Ladonna Butler, founder of The Well, addresses attendees during Friday afternoon's event. Photos by Mark Parker.

Help is just a walk away for thousands of South St. Petersburg residents, as the city’s first Community Support Hub has officially opened its doors.

Myriad city officials and community leaders participated in a festive event Friday outside a repurposed home along the historic Deuces (22nd Street South) corridor. The crowd gathered to celebrate an innovative, trauma-informed approach to increasing mental wellness.

The St. Pete Community Support Hub initiative was born from city administrators dedicating $11 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding to health and social equity efforts. Several local organizations then came together to provide a welcoming, community and trauma-informed approach to mental health care that will serve as a new city model.

“It was clear that the need was for accessible and comprehensive mental health and other support services,” said Mayor Ken Welch. “And the importance of addressing the root causes of so many of the issues that impact our families and neighborhoods every day.”

City officials, community leaders and area residents celebrated Friday’s opening of St. Petersburg’s first Community Support Hub.

The first Hub opened at 1427 22nd St. S. in a predominantly Black area of St. Petersburg. It represents a collaboration between the City, the Pinellas Community Foundation (PCF), The Well, Gulf Coast Jewish Family and Community Services (GCJFCS) and People Empowering & Restoring Communities (PERC).

The Hubs will provide direct counseling, care management, assertive outreach and additional services according to each community’s needs. Duggan Cooley, CEO of PCF, called the facility a “beacon of hope.”

He noted that the pandemic exacerbated mental health challenges, and many people seek a place to be “seen, heard and valued.” Cooley said the Support Hub embodies a collective commitment to “normalize the pursuit of good mental health.”

Welch selected PCF to administer program funding and The Well to oversee Hub operations. Dr. Ladonna Butler, founder and executive director, said the initiative represented a shifting dynamic that melds community strategies, scientific data, service providers and counselors with shared experiences.

Butler said the Hub’s staff and volunteers would “walk people through the gate” to receive assistance from surrounding organizations and programs. She also explained the difference between case management and a care management approach.

“We are not cases – and we deserve care,” Butler added. “And when we actually care about each other, we take the time to listen to what is actually going well in people’s lives.”

She explained that efficiently directing people to accessible, needed programs would save time and resources. Butler said funding flexibility allows the Hub’s staff to engage service providers with the “right skills, right strategy and neighborhood alignment.”

Dr. Sandra Braham, CEO of GCJFCS, told attendees that her mother suffered from schizophrenia and wandered area streets for six years before admitting herself into a facility. She believes her mother, who died from Covid complications in 2020, could have passed by the Hub and opened the door.

“I look at this place, and I know this is a lifeline for so many community residents who are going to just stumble in here, wondering what it is and seeking help,” Butler said.

Michael Jalazo, CEO of PERC, said the initiative underscores the collaborative spirit found throughout St. Petersburg. Supporting mental health is critical to his organization’s mission of helping the formerly incarcerated become productive members of society.

Jalazo noted that Welch held listening sessions to determine how the city’s ARPA funding could most impact the community rather than using it to supplement tax dollars. He added that Friday’s ceremony was “just the beginning,” as the partners will establish additional Support Hubs according to neighborhood needs.

“When people used ARPA for buildings, we used ARPA for people,” Jalazzo said. “That’s why we’re here today, and I don’t think that should ever get lost.”

Residents can walk in the Hub’s front door anytime between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., Monday through Friday. For more information, visit the website here.

City officials, community partners and local stakeholders cut a ceremonial ribbon.


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  1. Avatar

    S. Rose Smith-Hayes

    March 2, 2024at8:02 pm

    I understand the need for this type help. Life can be veey traumatizing. One never knows what catastrophic things that can shake your very core. Thank you for thinking about us.

  2. Avatar

    Velva Lee Heraty

    March 1, 2024at6:39 pm

    As a licensed clinical social worker and Depth Psychologist I applaud this much needed resource for all of St. Pete.

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