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Psychiatric Aid for Families in Southwest Florida

Psychiatric Aid for Families in Southwest Florida

by Alex Olivares, M.S., Executive Director, The Center for Progress and Excellence Inc.

The Center for Progress and Excellence Inc. (CPE) applied for a community impact grant in 2017.  The proposed project was to provide assistance with psychiatric care for families that were at or below the accepted federal poverty guidelines or for those families that were uninsured.  CPE determined that this was a major need for the community based on the fact that multiple families and parents reported difficulty accessing psychiatric care as well as the fact that there is a large percentage of individuals living in poverty and struggling to pay for behavioral healthcare.

Our initial proposal stated that we would be providing these services at a planned community mental health clinic, co-located at Hodges University.  Due to delays in the development of the clinic, CPE proceeded with the service provision at our existing clinic at 6360 Techster Boulevard in Fort Myers, FL.

Since beginning to provide services, CPE has received referrals from local schools, youth shelters, social service providers and internal referrals of clients that had unexpected problems with insurance or finances.  Our psychiatrists provide eligible clients with an initial assessment session, as well as three follow up appointments completely free of charge.  These services are also accompanied with direct financial assistance either with transportation (in the form of a gas card or bus pass) or assistance in paying for prescriptions.  CPE partnered with Carrell Discount Pharmacy, a local business that provides prescription medications at cost, thus providing a highly reduced price for our clients.

One of the first families we assisted involved a youth that had been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder.  This youth had not been able to see a psychiatrist due to financial hardships and our program was able to not only provide the family with the psychiatric services, but also have a case manager assist with enrollment in other community-based programs that would provide relief and wraparound care to the family.  The youth’s mother stated that “After so many years without being able to afford help, this has been a life changer for my son.”

Another family had suffered through a personal tragedy with one of their members and their youngest child had witnessed the event.  This youth had been struggling with feelings of anxiety and depression for many years without proper care.  After being referred for our services, the youth was prescribed with medication assistance as well as scheduled for continuous individual therapy to help the youth continue to cope with his family situation.

In a short amount of time this program has touched the lives of multiple families and provided hope to many parents and individuals in our community.


This summer, Florida Weekly has graciously allowed us, the Southwest Florida Community Foundation, to spotlight the nonprofit organizations funded through the Foundation’s 2018 competitive grant cycle.  We have asked these grantees to share their stories. We are pleased to partner with these change-makers.


About the Southwest Florida Community Foundation
 The Southwest Florida Community Foundation, founded in 1976, cultivates regional change for the common good through collective leadership, social innovation and philanthropy to address the evolving community needs in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties. The Foundation partners with individuals, families and corporations who have created more than 400 philanthropic funds. Thanks to them, the Foundation invested $5.4 million in grants and programs to the community. With assets of more than $120 million, it has provided more than $71 million in grants and scholarships to the communities it serves since inception. The Foundation is the backbone organization for the regional FutureMakers Coalition and Lee County’s Sustainability Plan. The Southwest Florida Community Foundation’s regional headquarters are now located in the historic ACL Train Depot at Collaboratory in downtown Fort Myers, with satellite offices located on Sanibel Island, in LaBelle (Hendry County). For more information, call 239-274-5900 or visit



Southwest Florida Community Foundation
Southwest Florida Community Foundation

Our ambition is a more vibrant community that will continually address the evolving community needs in Lee, Collier, Charlotte, Hendry and Glades counties in Southwest Florida. We invite you to join our family and invest in the community with us!